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An Historic Faith

Oscar Cullman, the Swiss scholar, wrote strenuously combating the vertical, existential theology of Bultmann by doing a fascinating study of the concept of time itself in Scripture. He emphasized, for example, the distinction between two Greek words, both of which can be translated by the English word time. The two Greek words are kairos and chronosChronos refers to the moment-by-moment passage of time. It is the word from which English words like chroniclechronology, or chronometer are derived. It refers to the ordinary passage of time in history. Kairos refers to a particularly pregnant moment in history that is of enduring significance. A kairotic moment is a moment that shapes the history of everything that comes after it. In the Old Testament, for example, the exodus was a kairotic moment. In the New Testament, the birth of Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection are all kairotic moments. The closest word we have to this in English is the word historic. Every event that takes place in history is historical, but not every event that takes place in history is deemed historic. To be historic it has to have special significance and special impact on life. So the Bible is the record of God’s historic works of redemption within the context of space and time. Take the Gospel and its message out of the context of history, and Christianity is destroyed altogether.

This article about the history of the Christian faith originally appeared here and is used by permission.

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1939–2017: founder of @Ligonier, founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel, and first president of @RefBibleCollege.