Bernard Ramm

Bernard Ramm

Bernard L. Ramm (1916-1992) was born in Butte, Montana and was a Baptist theologian and apologist within the broad Evangelical tradition. He wrote prolifically on topics concerned with biblical hermeneutics, religion and science, Christology, and apologetics.


Ramm's tertiary education included a B.A. (University of Washington), B.D. (Eastern Baptist Seminary), M.A. & Ph.D. (University of Southern California). He also undertook additional studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Basel, Switzerland, and the Near Eastern School of Theology, Beirut, Lebanon.


His academic teaching career began in 1943 when he joined the faculty at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University, La Mirada, California). He became Professor of Philosophy at Bethel College and Seminary, and then Professor of Religion at Baylor University, Texas. Most of his academic teaching was conducted at the American Baptist Seminary of the West at Covina, California, where he taught between 1958-74 and again from 1978-86. At that seminary he held the post of Professor of Systematic Theology.


Ramm wrote eighteen books, contributed to chapters to other books, and composed over one hundred articles and book reviews in various theological periodicals.

In his contributions to Christian apologetics, Ramm began his career in the evidentialist camp. However his later work reflected a shift in viewpoint over to a modified form of presuppositional apologetics that had some affinity with the work of Edward John Carnell.

Ramm did not utilise the classical or Thomist approach in arguments for God's existence. He maintained that apart from faith God was unknowable. He likewise emphasised that the noetic effects of sin rendered the theistic proofs useless. For Ramm the proof of God's existence is in Holy Scripture.

He argued that the primary use of Christian evidences is to create a favourable climate of opinion so that the Gospel may be proclaimed, and believed. In this respect he felt that both fulfilled prophecy and miracles provided a factual basis for that climate of opinion. Ramm placed strong emphasis on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit verifying the gospel to the believer.

In some respects Ramm's emphasis on the inner witness of the Spirit reflected the view of John Calvin, but it also reflected the influence of Karl Barth under whom he studied in Switzerland.

Near the end of his life Ramm was honored with a book of essays by his colleagues and younger contemporaries.

In his book, "The Christian View of Science and Scripture", published in 1954, he was critical of "flood geology" and the notion of a young earth [ [ Radiocarbon Dating and American Evangelical Christians ] ] and influenced the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) in not supporting "flood geology" during the 1950's before Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb popularised Young Earth Creationism and Flood geology in their 1961 book entitled "The Genesis Flood".

His work "Protestant Christian Evidences" is considered a classic and is still often cited.

Professor Ramm is often quoted for writing the following in his work "Protestant Christian Evidences":

"Jews preserved it as no other manuscript has ever been preserved. With their massora they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity – scribes, lawyers, masoretes.

In regard to the New Testament, there are about 13,000 manuscripts, complete and incomplete, in Greek and other languages, that have survived from antiquity.

A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put. No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles lettres of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet?

The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions."

Ramm also stated, in his often cited work "Protestant Christian Evidences", the following: "A historic person named Jesus gave certain men such an impact as to be unequaled by far in the entire annals of the human race. After nearly two thousand years the impact is not at all spent, but daily there are people who have tremendous revolutionary experiences which they associate with Jesus Christ, be He dead or risen in Heaven. The personality of Jesus is without parallel. It is unique and incomparable" (Protestant Christian Evidences [Chicago: Moody, 1953] , p. 171).


External links

* The Goal of Bible Study by Bernard Ramm. []

* "An Interview with Bernard Ramm," "Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation" 31 (September 1979) 179-186. []

* Bernard Ramm, ""The Relation of Science, Factual Statements and the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy," "Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation" 21 (December 1969) 98-104. []

* Short Critical Review of Ramm's book "Offense to Reason" in "Theology Today" 43 (2) (July 1986) 306. []

Books authored

* "Problems in Christian Apologetics", Western Baptist Theological Seminary, Portland, Oregon, 1949.
* "Protestant Christian Evidences", Moody Press, Chicago, 1953.
* "Types of Apologetic Systems", Van Kampen Press, Wheaton, 1953.
* "Christian View of Science and Scripture", William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1954.
* "The Pattern of Authority", William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1957.
* "The Witness of the Spirit", William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1960.
* "Special Revelation and the Word of God", William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1961.
* "Varieties of Christian Apologetics: An Introduction to the Christian Philosophy of Religion", Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1962.
* "The Christian College in the Twentieth Century", William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1963.
* "Them He Glorified", William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1963.
* "A Handbook Of Contemporary Theology", William B. Eermans, Grand Rapids, 1966.
* "Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics", 3rd revised edition, Baker Book House, 1970.
* "Right, the good and the happy: The Christian in a world of Distorted Values", Word, Waco, 1971.
* "The God Who Makes A Difference: A Christian Appeal to Reason", Word, Waco, 1972.
* "The Evangelical Heritage", Word, Waco, 1973.
* "Rapping About the Spirit", Word, Waco, 1974.
* "Devil, Seven Wormwoods, and God", Word, Waco, 1977.
* "After Fundamentalism: The Future of Evangelical Theology", Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1983.
* "An Evangelical Christology: Ecumenic and Historic", Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1985.
* "Offense to Reason: A Theology of Sin", Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985.
* "God's Way Out: Finding the Road to Personal Freedom Through Exodus" (Bible Commentary for Laymen), Regal, Ventura, 1987.
* Ramm and others, "Hermeneutics", Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1987.


* Stanley Grenz (ed). "Perspectives on Theology in the Contemporary World: Essays in Honor of Bernard Ramm", Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia, 1990.

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