"If the Apostles taught anything contrary to the authenticated revelation of God, they were to be rejected." Charles Hodge, Syst. Theology (1871) at 763.


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Bible Encyclopedia of 1915 & Paul

James Orr, M.A., and D.D., in 1915 was Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology in the United Free Church College in Glasgow. In 1915, he edited the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (The Howard-Severance company, 1915). In James Orr's article "Christianity," at 625, Orr essentially instructs us not to put Paul on the same plane as Jesus, and not foolishly think we need to reconcile Paul to Jesus. His article explains the reason is that Paul was a fallible human being providing his own explanations, but Jesus was the supernatural divine one whose words are authoritative.

First, the ISBE starts by reminding us that a conflict between human authors in their letters is to be expected, for each must give his own interpretation of Jesus. This does not detract from the fact that the same Christ is being preached:

It can scarcely be claimed that NT Christianity was in a theological point of view absolutely homogeneous. Various types can be distinguished with more or less clearness; Types of even the ordinary reader feels a difference of theological atmosphere between e.g. Romans and James. This is inevitable, and need occasion no perplexity to Christian faith. All theology is partly interpretation—the relation of universal and eternal reality to personal thought. Hofmann rightly says that, genuine Christian faith is one and the same for all, but that everyone must have his own theology, if he is to have any at all. In all genuine serious thought there is a personal element not precisely the same for any two individuals. It is possible to find in the NT foreshadowings of all the great distinctive types of historic Christianity. But the essential purpose of the NT is to make Christ real to us, to proclaim reconciliation to God through Him, and to convey the Christian power to our lives. The NT everywhere exhibits the same Christ, and bears witness to the same redeeming, life-transforming power. Id., at 624.

Then James Orr addresses the differences between Jesus and Paul. He does this in the context of the claim there is a difference between Christ and Christianity:

(1) The historical Jesus is supernatural.—It has already been pointed out (under I above) that the view of Jesus on which the assumed contrast rests is not one truly historical. The fallacy lies in regarding the Jesus of history as simply a man among men—holier, diviner in insight, but not essentially distinguished from the race of which He was a member. This is not the Christ of apostolic faith, but as little is it the picture of the historical Jesus as the Gospels actually present it. There, in His relations alike to God and to man, in His sinlessness, in His origin, claims, relation to OT revelation, judgeship of the world, in His resurrection, exaltation, and sending of the Spirit, Jesus appears in a light which it is impossible to confine within natural or purely human limits. He is the Saviour who stands over against the race He came to save. It is the same fallacy which underlies the contrast frequently sought to be drawn between the religious standpoints of Christ and Paul. Paul never for an instant dreamt of putting himself on the same plane with Christ. Paul was sinner; Christ was Saviour. Paul was disciple; Christ was Lord. Paul was weak, struggling man; Christ was Son of God. Jesus achieved redemption; Paul appropriated it. These things involved the widest contrasts in attitude and speech. (ISBE I, at 625.)