A Question I Was Asked:


'Who/What Are Your Main Literary Influences?'


Here is the actual question:

"Like myself, you are a keen Bible student who has also been a prolific reader in general. I am really curious to know whom/what you would name as your main literary influences. I can already detect a certain C.S. Lewis influence; Am I correct?!"

My Reply:

Who Was F.F. Bruce?

FF Bruce

Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910 – 1990) was a Bible scholar, and one of the founders of the modern British evangelical movement, along with such men as Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Stott. Bruce's work New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? is now considered a classic in the discipline of Christian apologetics.
He was born in Elgin, Scotland and was educated at the University of Aberdeen, Cambridge University and the University of Vienna. After teaching Greek for several years first at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Leeds he became head of the Department of Biblical History and Literature at the University of Sheffield in 1947. In 1959 he moved to the University of Manchester where he became professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis. In his career he wrote some thirty-three books and served as editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. He retired from active teaching in 1978, and died in 1990.
A member of the 'Open Brethren' movement, he always remained faithful to them, despite never accepting their dispensationalism.

Okay. I think that the Holy Bible is truly my No 1 influence and has been since the age of about 15 or 16. But, yes, it is certainly true that I have also read a lot in general, although, during the last 15-20 years, mostly Christian writers and theologians.


You are correct about C.S. Lewis; he has been a huge influence on evangelical theology, especially over here in the UK. I just love the majority of things which the guy wrote. Yes, I am a huge admirer. Interestingly, some would say that he was not even a true evangelical (whatever that is!) But if we define 'evangelicals' as 'Bible-believers' (which I do), then he certainly was that. But his tradition was probably Anglo-Catholic.

Apologetics-wise, both Lewis and F.F. Bruce have fortified me, not that I have spent that much time reading them; they are an unseen presence, if you will, who have opened a door for many of us.
I love the work of F.F. Bruce. His writing was mostly more academic and he was really a studied theologian and New Testament scholar, not as accessible as Lewis. Again he has especially helped and influenced UK evangelicals. These two guys have set a high academic standard for modern Christian Apologetics which we must all do our best to hold to.
With all due respect to my American friends, I feel that the work of Lewis and Bruce is why British evangelical writing is academically very strong.
In the north America-based modern evangelical movement the influences are not exactly the same: Billy Graham is certainly one influence, probably people like Carl Henry and several others too are up there. Some influences are very strong but some others are somewhat dubious. [It should also be noted that whereas evangelicalism is somewhat distinctive in Britain, Australia and Europe, in the 'Bible belt' of the U.S., evangelicalism is not really all that distinct from the older fundamentalism which continues to exist].

Yes, C.S. Lewis has also had much influence over in the States, but here in the UK, Lewis and Bruce are much more central-focus evangelical influences. Lewis taught us to have confidence in mission even if that is based on a more solid academic approach and Bruce has taught us to have complete confidence in evangelical scholarship. The guy was really very clever and was an academic heavyweight. If you are debating with an atheist, they are scared stiff you will bring up F.F. Bruce! Why? Because the guy cannot easily be countered. Right now we also have Alister McGrath, another modern British evangelical writer who, without question, is an academic heavyweight; Alister would not like me to say that, but it is true.



The Bruce Challenge to Calvin

Like all of us, F.F. Bruce admired the theologian John Calvin, however, he (quite rightly) insisted that Calvin was not beyond challenge.
In his The Letter of Paul to the Romans (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985, page 182), Bruce built on the growing challenge to Calvin's exposition of Romans, chapters nine through eleven. Calvin had built a doctrine of election and double predestination based almost entirely on those chapters, chapters which, for most of the time, do not even appear to be discussing that particular topic. Swiss theologian Emil Brunner (1889-1966), had already challenged Calvin's approach, as did Bruce, and other challenges have come from Nygren, Wright, Dunn and quite a few others.

For Bruce, Jacob and Esau are mentioned in Romans 9:13 - not as examples of election and reprobation - but only as representing the peoples of Israel and Edom and God's choice to bless those peoples or to withold blessings, in the furtherance of His divine plan for mankind, a prerogative which entirely belongs to God.
The modern approach to Romans 9-11 sees its comments corporately, not individually, even where individuals are taken as examples. In this approach, it is about peoples, nations, and certainly about Israel. The chapters are also seen as being very much about the present world, rather than the world which is yet to come.



But I also have to name two other influences. In an age of post-modernism I believe that the time is right for evangelicals to go on the attack against evolutionary influences. I truly believe that the older fundamentalists did not do themselves too many favours in debating evolution. Often they did not have the knowledge and they used poor arguments and frequently finished with the proverbial 'egg on their faces.' But for academically-strong modern evangelicalism the time is right (in my opinion), to go on the attack against an atheistic philosophy which claims academic authenticity (which it frankly does not have). Here my influence is mainly Philip Johnson who has done such a fine job in the US. Of course, Henry Morris might also be said to be an influence, although I never read him until quite recently. Here is a little more about him.
Dr Morris also paved the way for the modern Creationist movement. The older Creationist movement was academically questionable at times but Morris sensed that the time was right to get things moving again. Right now the new Creationist movement has several real scientific innovators on its side, perhaps especially Michael Behe. And yes, Michael's confidence and depth of knowledge in challenging evolution gives much more strength to people like myself. So micro-biologist Michael has also become an influence.
Robin A. Brace, 2007.



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