F.F. Bruce on Evangelicalism

Over at Euangelion, the blog of Mike Bird and Joel Willitts, Mike has posted the following excerpt from F.F. Bruce’s book “In Retrospect” (which I just bought myself and look forward to reading this semester). I have posted the entry in full because I want people to read it. Bruce’s thoughts are the same things that I have been recently thinking about myself (see previous post “Christian Unity and Disagreement”). I am comforted that a man of such high standing amongst Evangelicals see things somewhat similar as I.

On Evangelicalism, Bruce writes:

“I cannot remember a time when I did not hold this to be the essence of the gospel [Jesus’ sacrificial death], but questions which attached themselves to it in earlier days have apparently resolved themselves. It is for this reason that I am always happy to be called an evangelical, although I insist on being an unqualified evangelical. I do not willingly answer, for example, to such designations as ‘conservative evangelical’. (Many of my positions are indeed conservative; but I hold them not because they are conservative – still less because I myself am conservative – but because I believe they are the positions to which the evidence leads). To believe in the God who justifies the ungodly is to be evangelical. On many points of New Testament criticism I find myself differing from such post-Bultmannians as Ernst Kasemann and Gunther Bornkamm, but critical differences become insignificant in the light of their firm understanding and eloquent exposition of the Pauline gospel of justification by faith, which is the very heart of evangelical Christianity. I deplore the misuse of the noble world ‘evangelical’ in a party sense. I emphasize this account of what it means to be evangelical because from time to time speakers or writers try to limit the scope of the word by imposing further conditions, as who should say: Unless you subscribe to b, c, and d in addition to a, you cannot be recognized as evangelical. All that this amounts to is that they are imposing their own ‘pickwickian’ sense on the word.” (In Retrospect, pp. 309-10).

Amen, Brucey my Boy!

One thing for Bruce that gets repeated in his book is that faith, evangelical faith, is about “I know whom I have believed in” and not “I know what I have believed in”.


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