Conclusion An Unbridged

The early Wesleyan holiness movement, for example, which lasted from about 1740 to about 1760, reverted to a more rigorous, inward-looking holiness technique, so that some Protestants thought of it as a regression to Catholicism. But in the perspective of the period one sees that there was a relationship between Wesley's idea of holiness and the subjectivism of the nascent Romantic movement. Wesleyan women, for example, benefited as much in terms of personal...

Enlightenment And Society The Idea Of Progress

A different, more widespread element in 'enlightened' attitudes was a belief that visible progress in civilization was possible. This was progress in a limited sense, relatively uninfluenced by utopianism (which had its own marginal revival in the eighteenth century), but it involved faith in the possibility of human happiness. This attitude emerged as both a religious and a political alternative to the social theories of mainstream Christianity, Protestant as well as Catholic, in which society...

Stephen Prickett

The concept of the Bible as a holy book contains special pitfalls. Even the apparently simple question of definition raises acute problems of circularity and question-begging. Conventional academic methodology would presumably begin with defining what is a 'holy book' and then proceeding to enquire in what ways the Bible might or might not be held to conform to this genre. Yet even the most cursory inspection of the historical material reveals how much our idea of a holy book is rooted in, and...

Further Reading

Banner, M.C. (1990) The Justification of Science and the Rationality of Religious Belief, Oxford Clarendon Press. Br mmer, V. (ed.) (1991) Interpreting the Universe as Creation, Kampen Kok Pharos. Clayton, P. (1989) Explanation from Physics to Theology, New Haven Yale University Press. Davis, P. (1983) God and the New Physics, New York Simon and Schuster. Dawkins, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker, London Longman. Heim, K. (1953) Christian Faith and Natural Science, London SCM Press. Montefiore,...

The Study Of Culture Within The Study Of Theology

Apart from culture there could be no religion. Although religious faith may seek to transform culture, a religion can take shape for the faithful only as it develops some kind of cultural 'body' consisting in distinctive patterns of language, thought, art, ritual, and social organization. Thus every religion necessarily participates in culture by making and transmitting its own kind of cultural tradition, which may vary from place to place and time to time. Furthermore, every religion must...

Law

Israelite law developed in its early days along lines familiar from other cultures of the area, with similarities to the law codes of ancient Mesopotamia, such as the famous Code of Hammurabi (Greengus 1992). The early law codes in the Hebrew Bible may have been taken over from the indigenous Canaanite population of Palestine. The earliest, the 'Book of the Covenant' (Exod. 21-4), concentrates on providing the rules needed for life in a fairly simple society, regulating tenure of land and...

References

Aarsleff, H. (1982) From Locke to Saussure Essays on the Study of Intellectual History, Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press. Caird, G.B. (1980) The Language and Imagery of the Bible, London Duckworth. Carroll, R.P. (1991) Wolf in the Sheepfold The Bible as a Problem for Christianity, London SPCK. Damrosch, D. (1987) The Narrtive Covenant Transformations of Genre in the Growth of Biblical Literature, San Francisco Harper & Row. Ernst, C. (1974) 'World Religions and Christian Theology',...

Acceptance Of The Hebrew Writings As Scripture

As just indicated in the case of the prophets, it is not easy to say at exactly which point in their development the writings that now form the Hebrew Bible became 'Scripture'. Canonization, in the technical sense of inclusion in a fixed list with absolute boundaries, can hardly be spoken of before the first century BCE, perhaps not even then (Barr 1983 Sanders 1992). But already by the early post-exilic age all the types of literature discussed above were acquiring a high status and authority...

Theology Now Its Inheritance

Theology now, as in every historical context, has a sense of the legacy bequeathed by the past. A peculiar mark of Western theology in the last two decades is that as the twenty-first century approaches, so its appreciation of the nineteenth seems to increase. Writing from prison in 1944, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the most seminal influences on theology in the second half of the century, commented There are so few people now who want to have any intimate spiritual association with the...

Liberation And Feminist Theologies

In the 1970s and 1980s a quite new agenda for using the Old Testament was set by social materialist, liberation and feminist theologies. Social materialist scholars used a refined form of historical criticism to study the social background of Israelite society they were also informed by Marxist theories about the development of societies and were sympathetic to left-wing political aspirations. A major contribution in this field was N.K.Gottwald's The Tribes of Yahweh The Sociology of Liberated...

The Liturgy And The Renewal Of Christian Community

The liturgical movement, which has restored the centrality of corporate worship, especially eucharistic worship, to the life of the Church, has also given to Christian spirituality and life a more earthy and material focus. At the heart of the renewal of the liturgy was an emphasis on the Church as the body of Christ and as an integral element in the proclamation of the Gospel. The origins of liturgical renewal go back to the nineteenth century, to such figures as Dom Prosper Gueranger, the...

Fidelity

What human relationships need, all human relationships not just marital ones, is faithfulness. If this seems vague outside the context of marriage, there is a promising way of making it more specific encouragement of ordinary and not so ordinary truthfulness to one another. If people stopped using big and little deceptions as an appropriate oil for the wheels of relationship, they and their spouses, children, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, could live in a less uncertain and inhospitable...

Kinds Of Writing

The oldest type of Christian writing to survive is the epistle. Though this word derives from the ordinary Greek term for a letter, there is some advantage in keeping the traditional name. For among the many letters that have survived from different levels of society in the ancient world, these early Christian communications have their own characteristics and have become something of an independent genre. They are neither upper-class literary products, such as were written in many cases with an...

Outstanding Problems

The New Testament was formed as a collection of writings at a time when its sheer verbal content was uppermost in people's minds. Whatever the importance of apostolic authorship, real or supposed, and whatever the degree of a writing's usefulness for Christian devotion or guidance, it was the actual words that counted. So it has continued to be through most of Christian history. While academic interest in some questions of context and history has arisen from early times, the words have...

Problem or solution

At this point it seems obvious to some, and question-begging to others, that we must develop a true personalism before the question becomes too polarized. 'Personalism' has various connotations and its commendation needs care. If one believes that personalism properly understood is profoundly congruous with the Christian faith, one should be the more careful not just to assume its obviousness, still less to treat it as almost synonymous with Christianity. For some traditionalists, personalism...

The Problem Of Reference

Here we arrive at the third of the problems I distinguished at the outset. The term 'God' seems partly to behave as a proper name. For instance, in response to the question 'Whom do you worship ' I may reply simply 'God.' But at the same time the term seems to have some sort of descriptive content, and so to differ from proper names like 'Mark' or 'Jane'. Thus in the tradition of Saint Anselm (1033-1109), we may say that God is definitionally that than which nothing greater can be conceived....

From Faith To Religion

It is neither easy nor, perhaps, necessary to define the criteria whereby a faith, a way of devotion and commitment, such as the followers of Jesus gave to him in his lifetime and afterwards, turns into a religion. Such a question has institutional as well as conceptual aspects, and there is a difference between things as they saw them and our perception in the light of history. But a crucial moment must be Jesus' becoming an object of worship and prayer. The indications are that this preceded...

Peter Byrne

The relations between theology and the natural sciences are relevant to a range of problems in the philosophical underpinnings of Christian thought. The importance of theology's relation to science arises out of the fundamental ways in which Christianity and natural science are linked with the character and evolution of Western culture. For many centuries Christianity, in the characteristic fashion of religious systems, provided Western culture with its understanding of human nature and of the...

Mutual Independence

One important way in which theologies have sought to establish the complete and mutual independence of science and religion is through some version of the distinction between nature and spirit. The foundations of modern efforts to enforce a separation between the concerns of science and theology lie in the thought of such writers as Descartes and Kant. However, it can be argued that the grounds for such a divorce lie deep in early reactions to the complaint that emerging natural science...

The Catholic Reformation

Catholic reform in the sixteenth century did not begin as a response to the Protestant movements of the age it is much more accurately seen as a parallel reaction to some of the same problems and stimuli, and it very notably has the same interest in the 'interior' and the individual. Erasmian influence had already spread to southern Europe before Luther's breach with the Catholic hierarchy, and the reforming movements of Spain in particular reflect this independent stimulus. Sixteenth-century...

Human Rights And Natural

In the old 'Christendom' model of Church and State relations organized society was seen as a unity divided into spiritualities and temporalities by function. The two areas of responsibility, for the souls and for the bodies of men and women, were regarded as equally Christian and as interdependent. The great strength of the arrangement was that it recognized that social organization unavoidably embodies ideological preferences, and it simply imposed Christian beliefs and practices rather than...

Black Theology And The Struggle Against Racism

The black theology movement grew from a sense of solidarity in oppression, rooted in skin colour and aligned with slavery, poverty and inequality. Black people were the first community to create a vocabulary to counter the oppression of those defined by something other than class. Later concepts such as 'sisterhood' and 'gay power' helped to define movements of those whose experience of oppression was rooted in gender and sexual orientation. But it was the black struggle which provided the...

Theologically Significant

In modern European languages the word 'art' and its equivalents can be used to refer to an ability or skill, such as that shown by a potter or to a process, such as the act of making pottery or (most often) to a product, such as an earthenware communion cup. There are several things that together distinguish the work of art from other objects and products. Normally it is made or shaped by human beings its making exhibits skill, know-how, or inspiration it has a publicly recognizable (though...

Modern Business Ethics

If society as a whole has responsibilities for the ultimate well-being of all its members in terms of the distribution of wealth and of access to the earth's resources and the value which can be added to them, when one focuses on the theological and ethical considerations which apply to the actual creation of wealth in society, then attention inevitably turns to the business sector as that part of society which is most involved in this process. For the shape and the conditions of contemporary...

The Marginalizing Of History

It has already been suggested that the history surrounding Jesus, which it now seems so important to get as clear as possible, even if as ground-clearing en route to belief, was not seen in that way by Christians of the first century. Where we might feel it to be honest and clear-sighted to establish 'the facts', and then move on to the task of deciding what interpretations they might justify, and where we might write first of the one and then of the other, they drew no such distinction. Even...

The title of the New Testament

We might begin with the very title of the collection, known from the time of Tertullian onwards as the New Covenant (Latin Test amentum). Like the word Gospel, it had evolved from reference to the reality of salvation in Christ to the form of its written representation. The basis for such a title is decidedly thin in the New Testament itself. Apart from some versions of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, it does not figure in the Gospels at all. Paul occasionally exploits the two senses of...

Four Distinctive Features

The history of biblical interpretation is a massive subject even when the scope of the enquiry is limited to its inner developments and major contributors, it fills three great volumes of The Cambridge History of the Bible (Greenslade 1963 Lampe 1969 Ackroyd and Evans 1970). The following discussion selects four distinctive features, which may be said to characterize traditional interpretation as a whole, though they will be described in relation to particular periods in order to offset the...

From History To Faithagain

So the question arises has the advent of historical criticism then been all loss from a religious point of view, and has Jesus disappeared behind a screen of obscurity or positive distortion And has belief about him become disjointed from history, incapable of being connected plausibly to things that once happened in Palestine The questions are inescapable, for it would be a strange (if not wholly impossible) sort of Christianity which was indifferent to the career of Jesus and its historical...

Experience Without Doctrine William James

One of the characteristics of Western culture in the twentieth century has been the influence of psychology. There is now widespread acceptance that each person has unconscious depths which, if explored and analysed, will yield valuable insights about the person concerned and perhaps about human nature itself. Among the first to apply psychology to religion was William James (1842-1910). His conclusions helped shape and limit the interpretation of religious experience. James's influence in...

Biblical Theologies Of Wealth

The question needs to be considered, however, whether the sum total of the Christian evaluation of wealth is that it constitutes a major source of temptation and is nothing more than an occasion of sin for individuals, or whether the New Testament's silence on wealth as a social issue, for whatever reason, can be supplemented for believers who live more consciously in the long haul of history than did the early Christian community, and who have come to adopt a wider view of their place in human...

The Prospects For A Radical Spirituality

For many people today the quest for spirituality must take place outside the framework of institutional Christianity. Since the counter-culture of the late 1960s, there has been a marked shift away from the 'mainstream' churches into a variety of new religious movements (including new churches) while for many the spiritual landscape is increasingly idiosyncratic and syncretistic. The women's movement, therapy groups, new age, movements for peace and ecological renewal, are among many areas...

Century

The next two examples come from Germany in the late eighteenth century, and concern scholars who, whole not producing a coherent theological reading of the Old Testament, adumbrated opposing principles that laid down two lines of approach that have been followed many times. They are Johann Philip Gabler (1753-1826) and Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803). In 1787 Gabler delivered an inaugural address at the University of Altdorf, near Nuremberg. This address, on how to discover a pure biblical...

Christian And Nonchristian Theories Of

Broadly speaking, there are four main types of theory about war just war, holy war, pacifism and realism. Of these, a just war tradition has been the mainstream of Christian moral theology since Augustine. The early Church was in some sense pacifist. It is, however, unclear to what extent this derived from a principled objection to war as such. The early Church was a persecuted minority largely preoccupied with its own concerns, from which the wars of its hostile host the Roman Empire may well...

Philip Sheldrake

'Spirituality' is a word that is commonly used yet difficult to define. Theologians sometimes level the criticism that spirituality as a discipline claims unlimited resources (for example, historical, theological, philosophical, psychological and anthropological) without having its own methodology. In recent years, attempts have been made to provide a coherent definition and methodology from both a theological and historical standpoint (Kinerk 1981 Principe 1983 Schneiders 1986, 1989 Hanson...

Can personalism be Christian

Christian moralists have been much influenced, indeed too much, by Anders Nygren's magisterial and profound book Agape and Eros. True Christian love is supposed to be 'unmotivated'. Modelled on the love of God, agape must not expect its beloved to be lovable or deserving. This orthodoxy would make the personalist emphasis on the value and the flourishing of human beings too selfish to be part of Christianity. Nygren said many fine and important things about agape but in so far as he belitted...

Light And Darkness

On several occasions the New Testament 'defines' both the Father and the Son as 'light'. In 1 John 1 5, 'God is light and in him there is no darkness whatever' and in John 8 12 Jesus says, 'I am the light of the world.' The prologue to the Fourth Gospel announces that ' the word was the true light'. On the other hand, in 1 Timothy 6 16 we read that 'God dwells in unapproachable light.' And at the end of the prologue to the Fourth Gospel we find 'No-one has ever seen God.' Clearly there is a...

Christianity And The Specific Encounters

Having looked at a theology of religions, we now turn to the question of the different theologies for the meeting with each specific religion. Questions of mission and indigenization inculturation are obviously central, but they in turn depend on doctrines regarding God, Christ, the Church and humankind. When Christianity meets Judaism, the questions are very different from when Christianity meets Hinduism and this occurs not only because of the historical differences between Judaism and...

Men women and people

Children of God come in two kinds, men and women and through most of history, for reasons bad and good, women's lives have had a narrower scope than men's. Feminists believe it is high time for women to enter the full heritage of humanity, but there are better and worse ways of this happening. In reaction against ancient stereotyping, the first instinct of people who want to liberate women may be to deny that gender matters and try to make men and women interchangeable. Though a man cannot bear...

Criteria for evaluating spiritualities

Spirituality as an area of study obviously needs tools both to analyse and to evaluate different traditions, their texts and other modes of self-communication. Given the plurality of contemporary approaches to spirituality, and the apparent novelty of some of them, the question of criteria for assessing what is authentically Christian takes on greater importance. These criteria will be based on central theological principles developed within the faith community. The process will involve...

Roger Trigg

The very notion of theological anthropology suggests that ideas of human nature cannot in the last resort be separated from questions about God. Indeed, the problem of who we as humans really are and of our place in the world leads us immediately to the question whether we have been created by a God or not. The issue of theism or atheism is fundamental to any consideration of human nature. It is not a separate problem or an interesting side issue. The nature of human beings is indissolubly...

Definition of scholasticism

'Scholasticism' is an elusive term, which is resistant to precise definition. The polemical origins of the term are partly to blame for this imprecision however, the intellectual diversity within the movement is also a contributing cause of importance. Despite these difficulties, the following general characteristics are sufficient to define a general 'family resemblance' of the various components of the movement, as it is encountered in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Scholasticism was...

Political Readings In The Seventeenth And Eighteenth Centuries

The first examples to be considered here are what can be called political theological uses of the Old Testament and they are an interesting anticipation of the liberation theologies of the twentieth century. They did not begin with the Enlightenment indeed, we find Josephus in the first century CE using the Old Testament to make political points. These political readings show, however, what uses could be made of the Old Testament under the Enlightenment (Rogerson 1992b). Holland was a part of...

The Old Testament Historical Study And New Roles

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a fundamental change took place in Europe in the way in which thinking people understood the world and the place of the human race within it. This change is usually called the Enlightenment and it can be defined for our purposes as a move from seeing humanity as part of a divinely ordered universe, to understanding the universe in terms of human reason, experience and discovery. These broad generalizations need to be qualified, of course. If thinking...

Liberal Thought In Nineteenthcentury Britain

In Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century a creative use of the Old Testament is to be found among so-called liberal Anglicans, men such as Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) and Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-72). While they rejected the theories of verbal inspiration that characterized British theology, they were not biblical critics in the German sense (Rogerson 1984 188-92). Their view of the Old Testament was that its history was by and large accurate if not infallible, and it had...

The arms trade

The supply and transfer of weapons is widely felt to be reprehensible, but arguments to this effect are often weak. It is said that scarce resources are wasted on weapons, but this is to forget that the arms trade is driven by demand rather than supply. It is insecure States and weak rebels who seek to buy weapons and it is not obvious how to put a price on the 'security' that they seek. From a just war perspective, however, certain crisp observations suggest themselves. First, the tradition's...

Continuities And Disturbances

A theologian of the turn of the century being reincarnated in the West (certainly the British part of it) of the present decade would find a good deal of congeniality. Much that has caused controversy in the past twenty years has represented intellectual values and approaches highly reminiscent of both the idealistically-based theology characteristic of much Anglicanism, and of Liberal Protestantism, of that earlier generation. In the writings of Maurice Wiles, for example, one sees a concern...

Terrorism

Terrorism is a much-used word which in practice is apt to be discredited by the cliche that one person's terrorist is another's freedom-fighter. The classic just war doctrine allows much greater precision. It directs us to ask whether the case is one of rebellion, and whether the rebellion is just or unjust. If the cause is unjust (e.g. the IRA's anti-democratic activities) then there are no legitimate targets. If the cause is just and there is legitimate authority and last resort, it still...

Wellintended tyrannies

Exaggerations react against each other, making overstatement hard to eliminate. The liberal oversimplification which assimilates relationships, permissively, is reacting against a traditional oversimplification which distinguishes relationships, prohibitively. Liberals make the pair important at the expense of the bond, indignant at the tyranny of making the bond important at the expense of the pair. Traditionalists reasonably deny that the rigorism they commend ignores human happiness. They...

Personalism as ghostbuster

When personalism is claimed as a breakthrough it has more to offer than short-term concern with the sexual fulfilment of individuals. The clue is the imputation of atomism. A main point, even the main point, that personalists want to make is the denial of atomism. Something has gone wrong, at least with the vocabulary. Personalism considered as the most promising way of understanding what human beings are should be contrasted, not with traditional or radical sexual morality, but with rationlist...

From History To Faith

Jesus preached the kingdom of God the Church preached Jesus. Some such formulation often comes to expression as a way of summing up a crucial (and perhaps discomfiting) transition at the roots of Christianity. Like most such succinct statements, this one is as problematic as it is illuminating. It is true that if we concentrate on the first three Gospels (called 'synoptic' because of the amount of material they share, in one combination or another), Jesus' preaching centres on what can best be...

Northern European humanism

The form of 'humanism' which proved to be of especial importance theologically is primarily northern European humanism rather than Italian humanism. We must therefore consider what form this northern European movement took, and how it developed. It is becoming increasingly clear that northern European humanism was decisively influenced by Italian humanism at every stage of its development. Although there are major variations within northern European humanism, two ideals seem to have achieved...

Churches And The Left

It is often contended, by unsympathetic commentators, that the leading thinkers and officers of the Western Churches are actually committed in some sense to the political Left. The impression derives from their sympathy for Third World radical movements, from the undoubtedly socialist preferences of the World Council of Churches in the 1970s and 1980s, from the apparent preoccupation of Christian bodies with welfare issues which bring them into conflict with conservative political forces, and...

Feminist Theology And Spirituality

Feminist theology is not a homogeneous entity like theology as a whole, it comes in a variety of forms, some of them extremely conservative and conformist. I exclude from this account those forms of theology which call themselves feminist but which in fact merely offer a 'feminine dimension' to dominant theological assumptions, or which seek to modify language without questioning relations of power and domination. Modern feminism began as a critique of patriarchy and male domination within...

Textual criticism

We may begin with an uncontroversial point, but one whose full significance is not always appreciated even by critical scholars. We do not have direct access to the New Testament documents, we can only read them in later copies. Although important papyrus discoveries over the last hundred years have pushed our knowledge of part of the textual tradition back to about 200 CE, the variety of readings does not diminish in the earlier period. And the other sources of knowledge about the text, the...

Beyond The Reformation

In spite of the Reformers' concern to recover something of the purity of the apostolic Church, their spirituality failed to restore the catholicity and solidarity which was so central to its life and practice. The tendency towards a spirituality which was not wholly Christian and which neglected the material base of spiritual life, as expressed in the doctrines of creation and incarnation and in the sacraments, was continued and strengthened within many parts of Protestantism. Some followers of...

From Spiritual theology to Spirituality

In recent decades a major shift has taken place in Western theology. The move has been from a more deductive, transcultural theology towards serious reflection on experience of God in its cultural particularity and pluriformity In harmony with this shift, and partly provoked by it, understandings of the Christian life have also changed. 'Spiritual theology' has given way to a more dynamic and inclusive concept, 'spirituality'. The result is that the separations noted at the end of the medieval...

Art And The Varieties Of Religious Experience

The plurality of Christian religious styles naturally goes well beyond anything suggested by the simple distinction between the arts of 'more' and 'less'. The wider spectrum of Christian aesthetic expression becomes visible if one observes that contrasting kinds of art potentially mediate a sense of divine transcendence, and do so in at least four different modes negative, radical, proximate, and immanent (see Brown 1989 115-30). As regards the first mode, it can be said that certain works of...

Sociobiology

Can biology help to clarify matters concerning human nature Does our biological nature provide a basis for understanding Of particular relevance in this area is sociobiology, which was defined by E.O.Wilson, its founder, as the 'the scientific study of the biological basis of all forms of social behaviour in all kinds of organisms, including man' (1978 222). Based on neo-Darwinian insights about the way genes can be selected and passed on in the course of evolution, it has at times made...

Gavin DCosta

In the modern world Christians cannot ignore the existence of other religions. Global communications, extensive travel, migration, colonialism, and international trade are all factors that have brought the religions closer to each other in both destructive and creative ways. While statistics are difficult to interpret and their accuracy is open to question, the changing situation is clearly depicted in a comparison between 1491 and 1991. In 1491 roughly 19 per cent of the world's population was...

The Return To History

The history of beliefs about Jesus in as long a period as the last seven hundred years may be viewed, with a strong dose of hindsight, as a laborious and many-faceted reclamation of a sense of historical realism with regard to Jesus. The twelfth century saw the beginnings of natural portrayals of Jesus and Gospel episodes, which came to clearest fruition in Renaissance art. Crucifixes that depicted Christ suffering, as the Gospel story told, superseded stylized crucifixes where Jesus was robed...

The Glory Of The Lord

Medieval devotion to God was based on the Latin Bible, the Sacred Scriptures, heard, read or seen. For a thousand years it formed the imagery through which reality was explored, both as a pantechnicon containing all knowledge and as that to which all learning was to be brought for its elucidation, but above all as a word of God to the soul. It was copied often and gloriously, and studied closely, so that the commentaries upon 'the Sacred Page' (as it was often called) were integral to it. The...

Secondcentury interpretation

In pre-modern exegesis, doctrine and ethics appear to be deduced straight from the text, and prescribed for the reader's assent and action. By contrast, critical interpretation typically affects a tone of neutral description. In both cases, what is actually going on is much more subtle and complex. It was by no means clear, during the course of the second century, that the documents we know as the New Testament would emerge as Christian Scripture. The early Fathers afforded higher authority to...

Great Cloud Of Witnesses

This understanding of the glory of the Lord and the nearness of Jesus was joined by a third feature, an urgent sense of the use that could be made of the relationship with the saints, those who were known to be already alive to God in Christ. The theology of intercession was developed in this period especially in the increasing number and scope of prayers for the dead. In the one household of faith, the prayers of the saints were woven into the fabric of daily life at every level, but also...

Recompense And Limitations

There are two further classic responses of theodicy which should be noted and which are often put forward as supplementary rather than alternative to the free-will defence. They are both well encapsulated in St Paul's haunting expression of human mortality 'Now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face' (1 Cor. 13 12). The two elements are the possibility of recompense and justice in the life to come, and the limitations of human beings in grasping eternal perspectives...

Relationships and community

The image of God in human beings is both creative and relational. God says, 'Let us make man in our image.' Christian Trinitarian hindsight has relished that 'Let us'. Without naive over-emphasis, one can appreciate Sherwin Bailey's judicious summary 'Man in the image of God is essentially a being-in-relation, and human existence is essentially existence-in-community ' (Bailey 1959 267). Since Bailey's great book was published, these ideas of 'relation' and 'community' have been much bandied...

The two shall become one

Various oversimplifications and overstatements hinder the sorting out of what needs to be said about Christian personal ethics. The trouble with creation stories as a theological foundation is not that they are 'unscientific', provided that they are not taken as proofs but as elucidations nor that they are sexist, if they are given a chance not to be but that, in using them as a resource, it is tempting to try to make them say everything that needs to be said all at once. 1 Personalists are not...

Conscientious objection to military service

Conscientious objection to military service is a perennial issue which brings into sharp focus many of the issues of individual responsibility that we have been discussing. During the Vietnam war, US courts granted exemption from the draft to pacifists but not to objectors who based their arguments on just war principles. Similarly, UK exemption from conscription was (and if conscription returned would almost certainly again be) confined to pacifists. The reason is clear. The just war objector...

Contemporary Problems

We have examined the inter-relationships of four types of theory about war just war, holy war, pacifism and realism. Let us now consider their relation to contemporary problems. A sketch of the modern period must serve to define the context. The modern period of military affairs is usually regarded as beginning in the eighteenth century, an era of limited wars between dynasts whose aims were confined to family aggrandizement and whose military commitments were proportionately moderate. It was a...

Special Studies

Throughout Christian history until the Enlightenment, Christian authors made particular studies of individual Old Testament books or episodes or themes. The Hexaemeron was especially attractive, at first because it was important for Christians to take a view of the differences between the Bible's account of creation and that of late antique philosophers and later because there always remained (and still remain) important differences from the current scientific understanding. At first it was...

Just war and pacifism

There are many varieties of pacifism (Yoder's Nevertheless (1971) distinguishes thirty-four types ) of which three are especially important. First, so-called 'pacificism' is not pacifism in the strict sense but the belief that war has become intolerable or irrational. Much of the pacificism which followed the First World War collapsed during the 1930s as it became clear that the world was faced with an evil so radical that even the horrors of modern war could arguably be justified as the only...

Formal Model For Theology

Houlden proceeds to ask the following question Is there not then freedom for other Christians, receiving the impact of Jesus in their own time and place, to form their own identity by seeing past and future, and indeed the wider present, in terms drawn naturally from present circumstances The answer can only be yes. The contribution of historical study to theology could well consist in liberating the religious quest from false expectations concerning the Bible. Indeed, biblical criticism may...

The Western And Eastern Empires

Both the English missionaries and the Popes received protection from the Carolingian dynasty which had, by the mid-eighth century, become supreme de facto in the realm of the Franks. When the Lombards seemed finally to be on the point of engulfing Rome, the papal call for help was answered by the Carolingian Pepin, who crushed them. Shortly after that, in 751, the Pope duly agreed that the last Merovingian king should lose his royal office (which had long been purely nominal) to Pepin. This was...

The Impact Of The Natural Sciences In The Late Nineteenth Century

In the nineteenth century, until around 1870, it was possible for scholars to use the Old Testament as a resource for theological insights that applied to their contemporary situation. From around 1870 the picture changed radically. There were several reasons for this. First, the rise of the natural sciences as subjects in their own right, and backed by professional associations, led to the demise in Germany of idealistic and speculative philosophy. Further, the new social sciences such as...

Reactions To Confessional Orthodoxy In The Nineteenth Century

By the time that Vatke's Biblical Theology was published, the theological mood in Germany was moving strongly against the type of criticism represented by him and de Wette, criticism that resulted in radical reconstructions of the history of Israelite religion that were at variance with the picture presented in the Old Testament itself. The reunion of Lutheran and Reformed Churches in some parts of Germany occasioned by the defeat of Napoleon, and the 300th anniversary of the Reformation (1817)...

Leslie Houlden

Looked at from the side of theological thought, the Christian tradition is a sustained process of reflection on the significance and implications of Jesus of Nazareth in the light of the being of God. The process has two other fundamental features. First, it did not start from scratch, but (as Part 1 demonstrates) arose as a development within and out of the already long tradition of the religion of Israel, crystallized above all in the Hebrew Bible. Second, in this process belief about God...

Jesus In History

Given the historical orientation of modern scholarship, it is not surprising that a vast amount of learned effort has been and still is applied to the identifying of the history behind the Gospels and the historical context of Jesus' life (Schweitzer 1910). That over the years so many quite different and even contradictory accounts of these matters have been put forward is due in part to the sparseness and uncertainty of evidence concerning the ancient world, partly to the large...

The Modern Relevance Of Traditional Interpretation

After such a catalogue of complaints, it may seem strange to end with a section, on the modern relevance of traditional interpretation. And there can be no question of a return to the sort of errors and distortions we have just mentioned. But there are, on the other hand, signs that it is no longer to be dismissed summarily, as though predicated on totally false premises, like pre-Copernican astronomy. Research into the work of pre-critical exegetes and commentators is now accepted as a...

Responsibility

We have seen how some accounts of humans can locate sin only in the structures of society. It is a strength of a greater emphasis on the role of the individual and of personal responsibility that sin can also be located at the individual level. A determinist must have difficulty in taking sin seriously as there seems little possibility of holding anyone morally responsible for what he or she does. According to such a picture, we are all the products of forces beyond our control, whether social...

Late Medieval Scholasticism

The term 'scholasticism', along with a group of related terms, owes its origins to the agenda of the later Renaissance. Humanist writers, concerned to undermine the intellectual and cultural credibility of the period still known as 'The Middle Ages', developed a vocabulary designed to discredit it. The term 'Middle Ages' begins to emerge in the early sixteenth century, in writers such as Vadian (Joachim von Watt) and Beatus Rhenanus. The term is intended to imply that the 'Middle Ages' is to be...

Narrative Law

When the Pentateuch was edited into its present shape, probably in the late sixth or early fifth century BCE, the legal material surveyed on pp. 9-10 above was placed in its 'correct' historical context. The Book of the Covenant and the Holiness Code were presented as part of the divine revelation given to Moses at Sinai, the Deuteronomic law as part of his final address to the Israelites in the plains of Moab, just before they were to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. This had the...

Renaissance Humanism

The second great theme to be surveyed in this chapter is the movement known as 'humanism', which is closely linked with the northern European Renaissance of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Burke 1986). A central component of the world-view of the Italian Renaissance is a return to the cultural glories of antiquity, and a marginalization of the intellectual achievements of the Middle Ages (Kristeller 1979). Renaissance writers had scant regard for these, regarding them as outweighed by...

Practical Theology

The idea of Christian ethics James M.Gustafson 34. Violence, warfare and peace Barrie Paskins 35. Ethics and the personal life Helen Oppenheimer 36. Theology, wealth and social justice Jack Mahoney 37. Power and the State Edward Norman 38. The pastoral experience Jack Dominian 39. Theology, medicine and health John Morgan 40. Environmental ethics Stephen Clark PART VI CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY SCENE AND PROSPECT PART VI CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY SCENE AND PROSPECT The character and possibility of...

Growth Of The Literature

The bulk of the Hebrew Bible was composed between the early days of the monarchy (tenth century BCE) and the period of Persian dominance (fifth century BCE). Most of the books we now have are the result of a long process of reworking and rewriting, in which editors introduced new material, either composed for the purpose or taken from existing documents. Hardly any of the major books of the Bible seems to derive from a single author in the modern sense, and the few that may do so (e.g. Jonah,...

References Of Liberation Theology

Alt, A. (1967) 'The Origins of Israelite Law', in Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, New York trans. from Die Urspr nge des israelitischen Rechts, Leipzig (1934). Alter, R. (1981) The Art of Biblical Narrative, New York Basic Books. Barr, J. (1983) Holy Scripture Canon, Authority, Criticism, Oxford Oxford University Press. -(1993) Biblical Faith and Natural Theology, Oxford Clarendon Press. Barton, J. (1986) Oracles of God Perceptions of Ancient Prophecy in Israel after the Exile,...

Covenant Obedience The Reformed Tradition

Luther and Calvin disagreed about christology, among other things and this disagreement may help to illuminate the differences in emphasis between Lutheran and Reformed concepts and images of the holy life. Calvin (like Knox and some other non-Lutheran thinkers in the Protestant camp) laid a good deal of stress on the way in which Christ's human life 'recapitulates' the human condition, fulfilling at every stage what is required from us by the holiness and justice of God. Christ as man must in...

Law And Grace

The relationship between the Law of the Old Testament and the operation of grace in the New is a strong Pauline theme in Scripture itself. It became topical in Augustine's time because of his battle with the Pelagians. Pelagius, a society preacher in Rome at the end of the fourth century, had argued that the Christian was responsible for his own actions and not necessarily dependent upon grace to be good. Augustine wrote a good deal on the issues Pelagius' teaching raised, both pastorally and...

Out Of Pessimism And Apathy

The 1950s in Britain had been a period of pessimism and retreat in much Christian thinking. The older 'social gospel' had given way, with the advent of the welfare state, to an inward-looking Church, concerned with reunion schemes and other ecclesiastical issues, and to a more individualized approach to the Gospel. The preaching of the Gospel itself had gone awry, commented Michael Ramsey in 1955 (Ramsey 1955), while a writer in the previous year referred to 'a crisis of Christian thought'...

Conclusion

We have taken foundationalism to be the thesis that a belief is only to be judged rational if it is a belief of an epistemically favoured class, or is validly inferred from a belief of that favoured class. Its theological counterpart is the thesis that belief in God, or beliefs that presuppose the existence of God, are only rational if they are inferred fronx other beliefs that do not presuppose the existence of God. Natural theology is the attempt to infer God's existence, or doctrines that...

Some Western types

Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961-74, was an undergraduate when he came to find in Anglo-Catholic worship the sense of mystery and awe, and of another world at once far and near .a sense that we were vividly in the presence of the passion of Jesus and also vividly near to heaven, to which the passion mysteriously belonged, so as to be brought from the past to the present. He came to value communion after careful preparation at 8.00 a.m. and then High Mass at which (in that...

Religious Experience And Language

Modern philosophers have focused almost exclusively on two aspects of the spiritual life spiritual states and their epistemic status. What is the reason for this A remark made by William James in 1902 suggests an answer. 'Feeling is the deeper source of religion . . . philosophic and theological formulas are secondary products, like translations of a text into another tongue.' While 'conceptions and constructions are.a necessary part of our religion', 'these intellectual operations. presuppose...

Marian devotion

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is central to the story of the Presentation and became increasingly prominent in both personal prayer and liturgical worship in both Eastern and Western Christianity. Devotion to her had its germ as early as the second century and her story was elaborated during the patristic period. She was believed herself to have been miraculously conceived by aged parents and her perpetual virginity became an article of faith for the Roman tradition from Jerome onwards. The...

Church And State In The Middle Ages

Even for the West the limits of the period cannot be drawn sharply. In the West, as in the East, some of the characteristics acquired by Christianity under the Christian Empire before c.400 were carried over into the succeeding period notably the interestingly ambiguous relation between religion on the one hand and secular culture and government on the other. In many (if not most) religions, there is no real distinction between Church and State, religion and culture, except in modern times when...

Jack Dominian

The object of the Christian life is to know, love and serve God. In fact Jesus made it clear that the heart of faith is love. But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, 'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law ' Jesus said 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it You...

Spiritual Decline

However, the history of Christian spirituality prior to the collapse of the medieval synthesis was itself marked by a shift towards individualism and pseudo-interiority. In the West, while the fourteenth century saw both a flowering of mysticism and a rebirth of the radical Christian tradition of social protest, there was a marked tendency towards an individualistic and passive approach from the twelfth century onwards. We can already see the beginnings of the split between spirituality and...

The Formation Of The Bible

This curious ambiguity between implied pluralism and effective singularity is as typical of the Bible structurally as it is historically. Our English word 'Bible' is derived, via the French word bible, from the late Latin biblia, a feminine singular noun that meant simply 'the book'. In its older Latin form, however, biblia was not read as the feminine singular, but as the (identical) neuter plural form, which was, in turn, derived from the Greek ta biblia, which meant 'the books' essentially...

The Late Development Of Christendom

The term 'medieval Christendom' is normally applied to the Latin West, and tends to call to mind an 'Age of Faith' beginning with the conversion of the barbarian conquerors of the Western Roman Empire, reaching its apogee under papal leadership between the late eleventh and the early thirteenth century, then sliding into the decline which would in the end provoke the Reformation. That schema is not particularly accurate. Only from the beginning of the thirteenth century did Greek Christianity...

Mysticism And Language

William James thought that ineffability was a defining characteristic of mysticism 'the subject of' a mystical state 'immediately says that it defies expression, that no adequate report of its contents can be given in words' (James 1902 371). James seems to have believed that the mystic's difficulty is akin to that which we encounter when we try to express other unusual or deeply emotional experiences. Others have thought that it is a consequence of the nature of the experience's object....

Feminist Ethics

The area of feminist ethics is large and important enough to deserve a chapter to itself within the context of feminist philosophy of religion, however, a brief account of it must suffice. The impetus to much recent writing in feminist ethics came from the now very famous work of Carol Giliigan, a Harvard psychologist who pointed out that much of the work on the moral development of children by Kohlberg and others was in fact based on studies where all the subjects were male. Giliigan conducted...

Conclusion On Feminist Liberation Theolgy

The deeply experiential character of much late twentieth-century theology, from Karl Rahner to liberation and feminist approaches, is a remarkable shift given centuries of a priori theological method. Western theology and spirituality are in the process of overcoming an ancient and radical divorce between them. The beginnings of a separation can be traced to the beginnings of 'philosophical theology' around the thirteenth century. This was accelerated and deepened by Enlightenment...

Rebellion

Attitudes to armed rebellion in Christianity and other religions have varied in ways that are closely connected with the distinctions that we have drawn between pacifism, holy war, realism and just war. The pacifist will no more take arms against the State than on behalf of one State against another. A person or group filled with the type of enthusiasm that motivates holy war of the biblical type will take arms against a godless State without compunction. A kind of mirror image of such zeal is...