F.F. Bruce on the Scriptures and the Christian Faith

The Scriptures

In this little-known article within a Symposium presenting key elements of the Christian Faith, F.F. Bruce writes on the importance of the Scriptures for the Christian. I came across this at Book Aid and noted that it was not included in many of the standard bibliographies of Bruce’s works. My thanks to F.F. Bruce Copyright International for this kind permission to digitise and host it.

F.F. Bruce, “The Scriptures,” Frederick A. Tatford, ed., The Faith. A Symposium. London: Pickering & Inglis Ltd., 1952. Hbk. pp.13-27. [Click to download this article as a PDF]

Three hundred years ago the Assembly of Divines at Westminster introduced their best-known summary of Christian doctrine, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, with the following three propositions: (1) ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever’; (2) ‘The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him’; (3) ‘The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.’

If it be true, as these three propositions declare, that the Bible is the only means by which we can know and achieve the true purpose of our being, then no special argument is needed to justify giving a statement of the Bible’s authority a prominent place in a symposium on the Christian faith. For the Holy Spirit speaking through the Bible is acknowledged by us, in common with all heirs of the Protestant Reformation, as the supreme judge by whom all questions of doctrine are to be adjudicated, and as the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

It might have been expected a priori that if God wished to communicate a knowledge of His will and character to men He might have done so in a series of propositions. But in fact He has not done so. We may draw up statements of doctrine and confessions of faith, article by article in logical sequence, and base them firmly on the Bible; but the Bible itself does not take this form. At first glance, the Bible is seen to fall into two parts of unequal length, known respectively by the not very illuminating names of the Old Testament and the New Testament. But if for the misleading word Testament we substitute the word Covenant, and then think of the Bible as divided into the Books of the Old Covenant and the Books of the New Covenant, we shall come to a much closer realization of what the Bible is. It is, in fact, a record of God’s revelation of Himself among men, culminating in the incarnation, death and exaltation of Jesus Christ His Son, and intimately bound up with the relations established by God with His covenant-people-the nation of Israel in earlier times, and the Christian community in the new age which was inaugurated by Christ. There is an organic unity between these two groups of people, in that Jesus (who i-s the very embodiment of God’s revelation) is both Israel’s Messiah and Head of the Christian Church, while His first followers represent both the last faithful remnant of the old covenant-people and the nucleus of the new covenant people….

Pages 13-14.

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  1. Rob: Thank you very much for making this available. A few places where this chapter was mentioned or listed are as follows:

    F. F. Bruce, In Retrospect: Autobiographical Remembrances (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), pg. 276, s.v. Ch. 34, “Collaboration and criticism;” on Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=Vj9QuSrC9cQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 12 JUL 2019].

    Tim Grass, F. F. Bruce: A Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), pg. 92; on Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=Vj9QuSrC9cQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 12 JUL 2019].

    Grass’ book has a “Bibliography of the Writings of F. F. Bruce” which includes this chapter (pg. 237). See the “Look Inside!” preview on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/F-Bruce-Life-Tim-Grass/dp/0802867235 [accessed 12 JUL 2019]. This bibliography, including the listing of this chapter, has been adapted as “His Books and Articles” on FF Bruce at https://www.frederickfyviebruce.com/books-and-articles/ [accessed 12 JUL 2019].

    1. Yes, I was able to help Tim Grass with his research on FFB articles and he was kind enough to mention me in his book.

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