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...

References

Austin, W.H. (1976) The Relevance of Natural Science to Theology, London Macmillan. Barbour, I.G. (1974) Myths, Models and Paradigms, London SCM Press. -(1990) Religion in an Age of Science, London SCM Press. Bartholomew, D.J. (1984) God of Chance, London SCM Press. Berra, T.M. (1990) Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, Stanford Stanford Univer sity Press. Brooke, J.H. (1991) Science and Religion Some Historical Perspectives, Cambridge Cambridge University Press. Byrne, P.A. (1985)...

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...

Biblical Language And Divine Kinship

The shape of the classical doctrine of the Trinity was given by the Holy Scriptures. The Church Fathers insisted that the Scriptures held a privileged place in Christian thinking. Consequently they were chary of efforts to 'translate' its terms and concepts into a conceptual idiom that was thought to be more intelligible. To be sure, some thinkers, for example Gregory of Nyssa, drew on philosophical terms and concepts to aid in expounding the Bible. Yet even Gregory believed that the biblical...

Endorsing Democracy

The extent of Christian endorsement of democracy cannot be understated. Yet there have been few coherent and considered theoretical explanations offered by contemporary Christian thinkers which display the religious basis of what, after all, has for most of the history of civilization been regarded as the worst form of government. Many Christian apologists are content with accepting secular justifications, depicting democratic practice, therefore, as having to do with just social order and with...

The Problem Of Predication

The second of the general problems I distinguished above had to do with the sense of the terms we predicate of God. Neo-Wittgensteinians and others who question the metaphysical reference of God-talk will have their own perspective on this issue. (Thus Wittgensteinians will say that the sense of God-talk is evident from the forms of life in which it is embedded.) But if we adopt the approach of metaphysical theism, a rather different set of problems emerges. In brief, the difficulty can be...

Terry Tastard

Early in the nineteenth century there was a hopeful mood in Western Europe. The spread of industrialization and scientific advance had created a new confidence in human ability. The defeat of French expansionism and the apparent concert of European powers at Vienna in 1814 led to new hopes for international co-operation. The spectre of war created by religious or political fanaticism was diminishing. The power of human understanding seemed to be fulfilling the hopes expressed for it by Immanuel...

Rowan Williams

Late medieval culture was heavily weighted with symbolism its world was one in which virtually anything could speak of or point to virtually anything else. But, more specifically, it was a world in which events and objects might be expected to speak of God, in such a way that (in the words of one of the greatest scholars of late medieval thought, Johan Huizinga) 'Nothing is too humble to represent and to glorify the sublime' (Huizinga 1965 198). Qualities or characteristics in common between...

Image And Likeness

The whole of patristic spirituality could be summed up under the simple rubric 'we are made in the image of God and are in the process of gradual transformation into his likeness'. This sentence encapsulates the optimistic, realistic and progressive character of much writing on the subject. It is also essentially biblical. Genesis 1 26 had insisted on the image of God in all humanity when it said, in the person of God, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' This verse expresses the...

Moral Agents And Christian Ethics

A second aspect of the idea of Christian ethics is the construal of moral agents and activity, personal and collective, in the light of Christian beliefs and experiences. Moral philosophers provide different interpretations of the nature of moral agency some stress rationality and the capacity of reason to determine volitions, some stress basic drives or orientations of persons, e.g. towards pleasure of happiness some stress the power of traditions and the communities that embody them to shape...

Spirituality And Christian Ethics

Several ways in which the person and work of Christ have effects upon the idea of Christian ethics have been noted in parts of this chapter Christ as pattern, as teacher, earlier as redeemer whose work brings inner freedom, as mediator of grace that heals and restores nature, as empowering a theonomous conscience, as the source of specific new interiority and motivation. Other examples are now noted to call attention to the wide range of claims that may be made. K.E.Kirk's classic study argues...

God And Christ

Plato and the Old Testament had been at one in viewing the vision of God as the goal of human life. How does the person of Christ fit into this scheme As we have seen, the New Testament endorses it, sometimes actually identifying Jesus as God. On the whole, though, he is the way to the Father, the one through whom the knowledge of God is made available to us. He is not 'absolute' himself. The New Testament remains theocentric and the main aim of the early Fathers was to define the special...

Grace And Freedom

The New Testament insists that the responsibility for our future rests firmly with us. The parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 makes it quite clear that our free choices, our willingness to help those in need, because they are in the place of Christ for us, are what decide our future with God. We are free to respond positively or negatively to the divine imperative. On the other hand, other passages in the New Testament also make it clear that we can do nothing without the help of God,...

Conclusion On Women Liberation Theology

There is throughout history a two-way traffic between spirituality and liturgy and sometimes a tension between them. Both need the control of theology, though both also breathe religious life into theology. This may seem a disputable statement and uncongenial to an age where anti-intellectualism is in vogue and there is in the churches great suspicion of theologians, if not downright hostility. As Aidan Kavannagh declared, what happened at the burning bush was a revelation not a seminar...

Conclusion

From the time of the Israelite monarchy to the early rabbis, Judaism had been transformed from a cultic religion centring on sacrificial practices to a religion of the book. The reading, study, and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible had replaced the Temple as the central focus of the religion. Differences persisted in terms of the language, method, sophistication, and genre in the interpretations. Nevertheless, they all shared the basic goal of providing new understandings to ancient texts. As...

The Enlightenment

According to this agenda the Old Testament was completed by, and looked forward to, the New Testament. Old Testament prophecies were principally forecasts of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, of the spread of the Gospel among the nations. Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Psalms such as Psalm 22 also described the passion of Jesus, while the great characters of the Old Testament were models of virtuous living, to be imitated by Christians....

Individual Responsibilities For Wealth

These various theological considerations on wealth have evident ethical application in the way in which individuals use their personal resources. If the teaching of Jesus warns of the dangers which wealth can bring individuals, the complete picture of a Christian attitude to wealth here identified can also give a more positive orientation to the responsibilities of ownership, and to the creative use of one's personal income and resources. Thus, one form which this can take is in recognizing the...

Narrative

Is it possible to say anything about the original social context of Hebrew narrative All the texts that we now possess are the product of scribes, and presuppose a literate society in which written narratives could be collected and revised. How early such a society existed in Israel is disputed, but it will hardly have been before the early monarchy (tenth century BCE). Where the underlying sources of the finished narrative texts are concerned, we have to look in two very different directions....

Sources Of Religious Knowledge

Christian theologians have traditionally based the possibility of religious knowledge on three main sources revelation, tradition, and reason, to which might be added religious experience. Differences between theologians and ecclesiastical divisions have occurred over which of these is to have priority. Philosophers of religion have spent much energy debating the arguments for and against each of these as sources of religious knowledge the question of proofs or evidence for the existence of God...

Terms Of Reference

The late twentieth century is a strenuous time, full of danger and hope. One of its best hopes is a renewed appreciation of our embodied natures. The tendency of high-minded people to try to keep 'the soul' separate from the body is being replaced by a good emphasis on the wholeness of the human being. There are practical explanations for this change. Medicine, hygiene, and reliable contraception make the body less of an enemy, easier to appreciate (Oppenheimer 1988 33-4). There are...

Spirituality And Liberation

Christian theology, spirituality and social commitment are rooted in a belief in the importance, significance and sanctifying potential of matter. This belief is expressed formally in the doctrines of creation, incarnation and resurrection, and is manifested visibly in the materiality of the Church's sacramental celebrations, and in Christian action in the world. In contrast to the Platonist tradition, which lacked any real historical concern and saw the world in static terms, Christian...

Consonance

Consonance, as a middle path between independence and integration, is argued for by Drees (1990), Gilkey (1970) and McMullin (1981). A broadly similar view of the relation of science to theology can be discerned in such works. It denies any irresolvable clash either in claim or method between science and theology. It affirms the necessity for theological symbols to have implications for our understanding of nature as well as humankind, and the possibility of a fruitful dialogue between science...

Challenges To The Historical Approach

Not surprisingly, such an outcome of the reign of the historical method has been detrimental in the eyes of many. Where people have looked to biblical scholarship for spiritual guidance, disappointment has been unavoidable. Predictably, the dominant position of the historical approach has been challenged from various quarters conservative theology, pastoral psychology, contextual theology, and literary criticism. Conservative theologians have stressed the alleged theological unity of the two...

The Renaissance and Reformation attitudes towards scholasticism

The predominant attitude within both the Renaissance and early Reformation towards scholasticism can perhaps best be described as a studied indifference. This attitude treats the movement as something which is not worthy of being taken seriously. Reformers sympathetic to the Renaissance outlook such as Melanchthon, Zwingli and Vadian are generally dismissive of the petty views of the scholastici. However, others, including both Luther and Calvin, deemed the movement worthy of criticism,...

Immortality And Survival

Part at least of the meaning traditionally discerned in the phrase 'resurrection of the body' is that you or I survive as recognizably distinct individuals into the Life Everlasting. I am still me, linked by some common thread to the life I have lived on earth. Some views of resurrection have taken this excessively literally, and have then been confronted by such difficulties as what happens when a body has been totally destroyed, or even eaten by someone else. How can it be reconstituted Even...

The Contemporary Debate About Natural Theology

While, however, attempts continue to be made to establish a natural theology on more or less traditional lines by revising and reformulating the arguments for the reality of God in order to avoid particular criticisms, objections have been made in principle to any kind of natural theology. Some of these objections have taken the form of radical re-interpretations of what is meant by 'God' that claim to show that the proper reference of the concept is non-theistic. Ludwig Feuerbach, for example,...

Forming The Bible

From the time of the Babylonian Exile to the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud over a millennium later, Judaism underwent a tremendous change. Developments in political and religious leadership, conceptions about the divine world, the locations and practices of worship, and relations with non-Jews helped to mould Judaism in this formative period. The changing religious landscape also influenced the shaping and interpretation of Judaism's sacred texts. Although containing earlier traditions,...

The rise of rationalism

A point of major importance here concerns the political situation in Europe, especially Germany, in the later sixteenth century. In the 1550s, Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism were well established in different regions of Germany. A religious stalemate had developed, in which further expansion into Roman Catholic regions by Lutheranism was no longer possible. Lutheran writers therefore concentrated upon defending Lutheranism at the academic level, by demonstrating its internal consistency and...

Theology Of Business

When one thus considers the myriad possibilities for the exercise of power in modern business and wealth creation and the ethical responsibilities which are entailed, then perhaps one will return with fresh appreciation to the spiritual warnings of Jesus. For all its positive creational and social justification, participation in the enterprise of wealth-creation does need to be balanced by other, spiritual, considerations. It is a risky occupation spiritually, as are many other worthwhile human...

Faith Against The World Luthers Discovery

Luther is hardly a 'humanist' he has no interest in classical learning as such, let alone classical ethics. But his personal and professional concern with the interpretation of Scripture drives him to a more sustained engagement with what lies behind the surface of the text than can be managed within the framework of conventional scholastic theology, and he shares with the Erasmian circle a problem over reality and appearances. He is also very clearly the heir of the negative mysticism of...

Christian Doctrines And Wealth Creation

A properly developed theology of wealth, however, does not just depend on returning to earlier and hitherto neglected or forgotten passages of the Bible in order to supplement what teaching we have in the sayings of Jesus and the early Church. It becomes a matter of developing and appreciating a fuller theology and doctrine of creation, and of noting how considering or reconsidering this doctrine can throw light on various aspects of contemporary living, including how Christians should relate...

Definition of humanism

The term 'humanism' is difficult to define, not least on account of the strongly secular overtones which the term now possesses. In modern use, the term has come to designate a world-view which denies the existence or relevance of God, or which is committed to a purely secular outlook. This is not what the word meant at the time of the Renaissance. Most humanists of the period were religious, and concerned to purify and renew Christianity, rather than eliminate it. In any case, intensive study...

Interpreting The Bible

The growing importance of the biblical texts in the life of Jewish communities coupled with their often enigmatic language spawned a host of interpretations. The translations discussed above are themselves one form of interpretation. In addition, the Second Temple and early rabbinic periods were inundated with far more expressive and imaginative examples. While diffuse in method, each one attempted to infuse the ancient texts with new meaning, and thus allow them to speak to a contemporary...

Figurative Interpretation

Figurative interpretation was by no means a Christian innovation. It was recognized even in pagan antiquity that inspired utterance will often be obscure. Oracles required interpretation. Philo was anxious to show that Moses had anticipated the best in Greek thought, and he himself used allegorical interpretation for the purpose. But Christian interpreters developed the figurative rendering to unprecedented heights of sophistication under the stimulus of the need to show the harmony of Old...

Candlemas

Throughout history, particular features of liturgy have gained disproportionate prominence because of their popular appeal. Some of these have been minor. For example there is no mention of candles in the Gospel narrative of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Luke 2 22ff), but by the high Middle Ages the feast on February 2nd, 'celebrated as of lesser solemnity only than the supreme feasts such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, but of equal status to Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and...

Bible As Problematic

Though historically European Christian communities may have had little difficulty in accepting the Bible's general relevance to their immediate situation, they have always been simultaneously aware that in some very profound sense it was nevertheless an alien book. That such a statement immediately sounds as if it is flying in the face of two millennia of often highly rhetorical and emotional polemic to the contrary is an indication of the tensions behind all discussions of the 'relevance' of...

Poetry

Almost all extant Hebrew poetry is religious, and most is probably liturgical (see above). Some fragmentary poems in the Hebrew Bible, however, look as though they originally had a secular setting take, for example, Numbers 21 14, 15, 17-18, 27-30. There are funeral dirges (2 Sam. 1 19-27 cf. Jer. 22 18-19), and we know from texts in the prophets that Israelite society had professional lament-singers who could be employed to use such poems on behalf of the mourners (see Jer. 9 17-22, and cf. 2...

Wisdom

Just as the roots of Hebrew law go down into a common ancient Near Eastern soil, so do those of 'wisdom' (Crenshaw 1981). The only clear example of wisdom literature in the Hebrew Scriptures is the book of Proverbs, and this manifests all the defining characteristics of the genre as found throughout the ancient Near East and, indeed, further west in the classical world (Hesiod's Works and Days is a Greek example). Typically a wisdom book is a collection of aphorisms or 'sentences', often only...

Conflict

A great deal of writing on modern science and religion has assumed that with regard to fact, explanation, method or metaphysics there are fundamental conflicts between them. For many decades the historiography of science and religion was dominated by 'the conflict thesis'. This thesis interpreted the history of the rise of modern natural science in Europe as the result of a war between Christianity (representing superstition, authority and prejudice) and science (representing freedom, reason...

Medieval Developments

There are many fascinating theologians of the early Middle Ages, but the doctrine of God remained basically Platonic. It found a particularly clear expression in the work of Anselm (1033-1109), whose ontological argument is considered elsewhere. In the course of that argument he propounded a definition of God as 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' (2 Anselm 1965 117). He added that God is in fact 'a greater than anything that can be conceived' (15 ibid. 137). This is an elegant...

Process Theology

In complete contrast to Barth's approach, an important strand in twentieth-century thinking about God, especially in the United States, is process theology. It represents a development from a Hegelian view, together with new insights derived from mathematical physics. Its originator was A.N. Whitehead (18611947), a mathematical physicist who wrote Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell. Among theologians, the work of Charles Hartshorne and David Griffin is representative of the school....

Just war and realism

All the approaches to war that we have discussed so far lean heavily upon moral judgements. The more convincing forms of 'realism' tend to mistrust this central reliance on moral judgement and to strive instead for a more 'dispassionate, objective' attitude to 'the phenomenon of war'. Self-styled realists tend to be a mixture of two ideal types which are in theory starkly contrasted. One type might be called 'the reductionist' the other type is the pragmatist. One of the ways in which realists...

Prospects

If theology, as classically conceived, is the pre-eminent means by which Christian faith seeks to understand itself, and if the arts afford insights and experiences significant to Christian life and faith, then it might stand to reason that the fullest Christian understanding of the arts would be found above all in the works of professional theologians. In actuality, however, the arts have been marginal to the study and practice of formal theology. This does not change the fact that some sort...

Natural Theology In The Seventeenth And Eighteenth Centuries

In the first half of the seventeenth century, Edward Herbert, first Baron Herbert of Cherbury, looked to reason to find a credible alternative to fanaticism and scepticism. According to his De Veritate, certain 'common notions' that express fundamental truths have been planted in humankind by divine providence. All people, therefore, recognize them to be true once they become aware of them. They provide the foundation and touchstone for all true understanding (Herbert of Cherbury 1937 116-18)....

Characteristics Of Enlightenment

When one talks about 'the Enlightenment', 'les Lumi res, or 'die Aufkl rung', one is thinking of a period of European cultural change which lies between the early seventeenth century and the first French Revolution, and doing so from the point of view of a series of radical thinkers thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Beccaria, Hume and Lessing for whom intellectual experiment was to be valued rather than resisted. The Tridentine form of Roman Catholic theology and the...

Reading The New Testament

It is one thing to try to form a picture of how the New Testament came together in the early Christian centuries, another to decide how best to read it today. Over the past two or three hundred years, numerous approaches have been adopted to the text, mostly literary or historical in character in line with general cultural and academic trends. Though usually conducted by religious people, these enquiries have tended to move attention from the New Testament writings as essentially having their...

Leslie Houlden and Peter Byrne

The aim of this Companion Encyclopedia is to provide as comprehensive a guide as possible to the present state of Christian theology in its Western academic manifestations and in the setting of the modern world. To understand the present, especially in the case of a long-standing phenomenon like Christianity, it is necessary to be aware of the past. So here there is much history as well as contemporary reflection and assessment. The contributors are drawn from many different traditions of...

References On Liberal Theology

Bechtle, R. (1985) 'Convergences in Theology and Spirituality', The Way 25, 4, 30514. Bouyer, L. (1961) An Introduction to Spirituality, New York Desclee. -(1981) 'Mysticism An Essay on the History of the Word', in R.Woods (ed.) Understanding Mysticism, London Athlone Press. Bynum, C.W. (1982) Jesus as Mother Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages, Berkeley University of California Press. Carr, A.E. (1990) Transforming Grace Christian Tradition and Women s Experience, San Francisco...

The Reformation

The Reformation was primarily a Western European movement, centring upon individuals such as Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin. For reasons which are only partly understood, the movement had considerable appeal to the cities of the region. Initially, up to about 1525, the Reformation may be regarded as centring upon Martin Luther and the University of Wittenberg, in modern-day north-eastern Germany. However, the movement also gained strength, initially independently, in the Swiss...

Anthony Meredith

Patristic spirituality is the inheritor of two related but distinct traditions, the Hebrew and the Greek. Both of these had offered answers to the all important question, 'How shall I come closer to God ' This means not simply, How shall I find out more about him , but also (or rather), How can I enter into a relationship with him Although the two traditions are in many ways sharply distinguished from one another, they are at one on a central point. For the Psalms there can be no climbing the...

Simony and investitures

A major theme in the religious upheaval is the struggle against Simony (the purchase of Church office), which broadened into a general conflict between Popes and Kings for control of the episcopate. It had for a long time been perfectly normal for strong rulers to choose bishops and abbots, though it would be wrong to regard this as a formal ideological or administrative system or assume that the power could always be exercised successfully. Bishops and abbots controlled great economic, and...

The theological agenda of the Reformation

As will be clear from the analysis thus far, the Reformation was a complex movement, with a very broad agenda. In part, the debate centred upon the sources of Christian theology in part, upon the doctrines which resulted from the application of those sources. We shall consider these matters individually. The mainstream Reformation was not concerned with establishing a new Christian tradition, but with the renewal and correction of an existing tradition. On the basis of their assertion that...

The Tradition Of Sceptical Fideism

One reason for the popularity of the Pyrrhonism that Descartes tried to refute was its tactical value in the battle between Catholicism and Protestantism. Catholic apologists had seized upon the Pyrrhonist abandonment of argument and acquiescence in tradition to recommend a similar conservatism in matters of faith. Religion became, in their hands, what it had been for Sextus a matter of conformity with the subject's own communal observance, unencumbered by dogmatic assertion. This is the...

From relatedness to relationship

Christian personalists propose to banish not only solipsism but legalism. They take the personalist theory of knowledge, in which relatedness is more fundamental than separateness, and build on it an ethic, in which people matter to one another rather than merely bargaining with one another. Self-conscious rectitude must abdicate in favour of generosity. Moral philosophers have emphasized the autonomous 'moral subject' who is primarily characterized as owing duties and bearing rights...

Authorized common prayer

There are and have been those whose whole Christian life and prayer are, in a phrase of Neville Ward's, the extension of the Liturgy into their seven weekly attempts at living (Ward 1967 17). Liturgy is fixed and authoritative. It was so in the beginning in those rudimentary forms we mentioned above, which co-existed with a great deal that was immediate, spontaneous and extempore. The earliest Eucharistic prayers were probably composed by each individual bishop. It was before long necessary to...

The Triune God Of The Bible

The first Christians were Jews who recited the ancient words of the Shema in their daily prayers 'Hear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord and you shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, and with all your might' (Deut. 6 4). Jesus quoted the words of the Shema in answer to the question, 'Which commandment is the first of all ' and the earliest Christians affirmed their belief in the one God. 'We have one God the Father from whom are all things' (1 Cor. 8 6). The first commandment,...

The presuppositions of the exegete

Modern criticism once believed that it had solved the problem of the subjectivity of the interpreter by the objectivity of its method. It has been attacked from many sides for this presumption and accused of several latent prejudices, such as anti-Semitism, patriarchalism and political quietism. The alternative approach adopted now by different forms of liberation exegesis (political, feminist, psychological) is to make explicit from the start the presuppositions and current agenda of the...

Old Testament History Versus Scholarly History

The rise of historical criticism, and especially the era initiated by the work of de Wette, raised a fundamental question for the theological use of the Old Testament. If scholars were correct in arguing that the picture of the history of Old Testament religion present in the Old Testament itself differed radically from what had actually happened, how could the Old Testament be used theologically If all that Moses had instituted at the beginning of Israel's history (according to the Old...

Conclusion The Wider Context

In my remarks so far I have treated the problems of anchorage, predication and reference largely in isolation from broader issues in the philosophy of religion. But any developed philosophical perspective on the nature of religion will involve an interlocking set of views on the epistemology of religious belief, the concept of (for instance) God, and various other issues, including the nature of religious language. Views about the nature of language may in some cases play a foundational role in...

Definition of Reformation

The Reformation movement was complex and heterogeneous, and concerned an agenda far broader than the reform of the doctrine of the Church. It addressed fundamental social, political and economic issues, too complex to be discussed in any detail here. The agenda of the Reformation varied from one country to another, with the theological issues which played major roles in one country (for example, Germany) often having relatively little impact elsewhere (for example, in England). The issue of...

Lay piety

Meanwhile 'pious and literate' laymen and women were becoming more common in the upper reaches of society. Vernacular works of edification (which could be combined with fictional entertainment, as in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzifal or in the anonymous Sir Garwain and the Green Knight) were widely available. Lay people could write as well as read. In the mid-fourteenth century a duke of Lancaster wrote an edifying Book of Holy Medicines in Norman French, and Dante could of course write fluent...

Tradition help or hindrance

For an incarnational religion, Christianity has had remarkable difficulty in coming to terms with embodiment. Christian theologians have found it harder than the children of Israel to comprehend how physical and spiritual are united in one creature. Angels or animals have seemed more comprehensible than people. Human sexuality has been approved, sometimes grudgingly, as a divine arrangement for populating the world. The union of a man and a woman has seemed a matter of duty and obedience and...

Typologies Of Religious Experience

One of the most important early typologies of religious experience is Rudolf Otto's. Otto identifies the religious a priori with numinous feeling. Numinous feeling is woven of five strands. The relation between them is indicated by the following diagram The experience involves 'blank wonder, an astonishment that strikes us dumb, an amazement absolute' (Otto 1958 26). Its apparent object is wholly other, a mystery that is in principle opaque to understanding. Religious dread is distinct from...

The Idea Of Reason

The relationship between philosophy and religious faith has never been an easy one. Philosophers deem it to be peculiarly their business to assess the rationality of others' activities and attitudes. In modern times, most of them have considered the rationality of faith to be at least problematic, and many have judged that it does not meet the standards of rationality they have applied to it. There have always been those on the side of faith who have thought this presumptuous. Some of them have...

Interaction Between The Canonization Of Old Texts And The Composition Of New Ones

A major concern of this chapter has been to show that the formation of the Hebrew Bible did not take place in neat, discrete stages. It is not the case that all the texts were written 'in their own right', then were all 'canonized', and then began to be interpreted. Some books were still as yet unwritten when others were already seen as authoritative. And the way in which books already scriptural were understood influenced the writing of later books, which would in due course become scriptural...

Christianity and Judaism

In this section I wish to make two points. First, in encountering Judaism, Christianity has so often demonized Judaism while being in politically more powerful positions that one must ask (polemically) whether Christianity has really encounted Judaism or whether it has encounted a heresy of its own making. Second, and relatedly, how intrinsic is anti-Judaism to Christian theology, or more specifically to christology Rosemary Ruether has uncompromisingly charged traditional christology with...

Limits To Contextuality

Contextuality, however, is unlikely by itself to be able to provide a totally secure anchorage for theology in the modern, or post-modern, age. In the first place, Christian theology springs not solely from a social context, but from the engagement of the scriptural and doctrinal tradition with the questions and challenges of the context. That is well understood by liberation theologians such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Jose Miguez-Bonino and Clodovis Boff, and by feminist theologians like Elisabeth...

Liturgy Spirituality Contained

There always have been dangers in spirituality, as we have seen a tendency to mistake some experience or phenomenon for a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, or to seek a spiritual religion in some sense free of 'rough, crude history' and the particularities of the first-century 'Christ-event'. Josef Jung mann wrote in a brief study of the Eucharistic Prayer, that 'the remembrance of the facts of redemption is essential and fundamental for Christianity. This is what distinguishes Christianity...

Associators

The Muslims use a very distinctive term to apply to the Christians. They call them 'associators'. The word first occurs in Christian literature in St John of Damascus who was born a generation after the Muslim conquest of the Middle East (675 CE). His father was the chief representative of the Christians to the Caliph who resided in Damascus and John who spoke Arabic had contact with Muslim thinkers. In his monumental work the Fount of Wisdom, written when he was a monk at the monastery of Mar...

The New Testament The Tradition Of Interpretation

Traditional interpretation of the New Testament is discussed in this chapter in both its loose and its strict senses. Loosely, it refers to interpretations which precede the rise of biblical criticism in the eighteenth century or which thereafter, reject or continue in blissful ignorance of it. Strictly, it is interpretation according to tradition, that is, according to the system of belief and practice of the Christian religion handed on within living communities. Even when, as at the...

Transforming Biblical Ideas

As biblical interpretation of the written law and the rabbinic oral law developed, so did Jewish thought. Developments occurred in a wide array of subjects, including conceptions of God, prayer, charity, the family, and relations with non-Jews. To understand Judaism in the first century and the emergence of Christianity, the areas of ritual actions and notions of purity, eschatology and the afterlife, and the messiah deserve particular attention. Ritual actions are typical of much of the...

Four Forms Of Feminism

Within feminist theory generally, four main branches can be distinguished, though there are many interconnections between them each of them is also represented in feminist approaches to philosophy of religion. Liberal feminism, whose early representatives include Mary Wollstonecraft (1985), John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill (1983), has long argued against the inferiority of intellect and morality attributed to women by key figures in the history of philosophy of religion, such as...

On Creating Art Religiously The Role Of The Artist

It is not only the work of art as such that can become religiously significant and a bearer of transcendent meaning. Advocates of art as a spiritual discipline are well aware, for instance, that the very act of singing Gregorian chant in a dedicated group and at prescribed hours can function as a spiritual exercise aside from any purely musical outcome. Even when the artwork can be valued for its own sake, the process of creating the work can transform the creator, who is thus worked on...

The Separation Of Revelation And Reason

John Calvin (1509-64), while not being especially interested in philosophical issues about the concept of God, holds that God is self-existent and eternal. God's essence is incomprehensible, but he relates to us in loving kindness, judgement and righteousness. He is omniscient, in that 'to his knowledge there is no past or future' (Book 3, Ch. 21, 5 Calvin 1989 206). This omniscience follows from the more basic fact that 'God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those...

Disobedience

The idea of sin as disobedience is also deeply rooted in biblical materials and in various ways throughout the history of Christian ethical thought, and has been related to sin as both misplaced desires and misplaced trust. Deontological patterns of ethics have coexisted historically with teleological patterns, and been integrated into them. The corollaries of obedience are law and commands. In Augustine and throughout the tradition one finds statements that sin is disobedience to the law of...

Little ones

Who are those concerned It is strange how, in many of the arguments about sexual ethics, the children have been the least considered. Liberals, concentrating on relationships between adults and the excellence of sexuality, have over-ridden the interests of children a serious indictment against followers of Christ. The strong argument, which many people have found out the hard way, against the hope that a more relaxed family law will make unhappy people happier is the miserable effect which...

The Freewill Defence

The importance of what has come to be known as the 'free-will' defence should not be underestimated. In the first instance, it correlates closely with our experience and moral intuitions. It is undoubtedly true that we bring much of the suffering of sickness and disease upon ourselves. At a fairly trivial level, the pain, gloom and hangover of what has been known in Scotland as a 'Calvinistic Sunday morning' could well be predicted as the inexorable consequence of a 'Rabelaisian Saturday...

Alternatives To The Threefold Typology

Before leaving this particular debate it will be appropriate to note those who have either claimed a fourth option or those who are unhappy with this threefold classification altogether (and, therefore, also with any fourth option). Regarding those who propose a fourth option (DiNoia 1992 Ogden 1992), I can only briefly register some reservations. In DiNoia's case, he restricts the definition of exclusivism to stipulating that only those who explicitly confess Christ in this life will be saved....

Eschatology And Ecclesiology And Christian Ethics

In comprehensive interpretations of the idea of Christian ethics several aspects of Christian doctrine are related to each other as well as to the ethical system which coheres with them. This has been stated and implied above. Attention is here called to some features which have not been isolated for development. The import of eschatological views has only been noted. Whether the kingdom of God is primarily a future reality that assures the ultimate triumph of good over evil, as e.g., in...

Confessionalization and the concern for right doctrine

Lutheranism and Calvinism were, in many respects, very similar. Both claimed to be evangelical, and rejected more or less the same central aspects of medieval Catholicism. But they needed to be distinguished. And doctrine proved to be the most reliable way of distinguishing two otherwise very similar bodies. At most points of doctrine, Lutherans and Calvinists were in broad agreement. Yet there was one matter the doctrine of predestination upon which they were radically divided. The emphasis...

Ecological Matters

The final instance of theological use of the Old Testament is taken from the context of renewed general concern about the environment, and the rise of so-called creation spiritualities. The passage in Genesis 1 26-30, with its command to the humans to fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over it, has brought the accusation that the Judeo-Christian tradition, obedient to this passage, is responsible for the current ecological crisis in the world. This is, of course, nonsense and the main...

Narrative criticism

It is not surprising in view of the insolubility of the questions posed by historical criticism, that some scholars have recently abandoned the attempt to go behind the text of the Gospels and have begun to concentrate instead on their final form, using the literary technique known as narrative criticism. This method concentrates solely on the story world of the text and asks how the implied author achieves rhetorical effect on the implied audience by means of plot, setting and...

The Concept Of

It is obvious that there is a direct correlation between what are considered to be the privileged sources of religious knowledge and the concept of God or gods that could be derived from them. Feminists like Welch and Irigaray are often reproached with the observation that the divinity they advocate will be purely subjective and relative, a wish-fulfilment on the part of women. Far from denying this, they will respond with astonishment that anyone could think that the patriarchal God of...

Foundationalism Natural Theology And Revelation

Descartes himself, although he uses proofs of God to cement the structure of his intellectual foundation of human knowledge, does not involve himself with any implications his epistemological programme might have for theology. His anxiety to remain a loyal son of the church while establishing the bases of science, precludes such an extension of his programme. It fell to those who followed him to discern these implications. They were radical. The first was the severance of the two key parts of...

The Idea Of Human Nature

Nowhere is the danger of science undercutting its own possibility more evident than in the field of the social sciences. Much modern controversy has dwelt on the old question of nature or nurture. Are we the product of our biological inheritance or of our social surroundings Is heredity or environment the dominant factor in making us what we are The controversy has political overtones, in that the more it is stressed that human nature is fixed, the less we can, it seems, do anything about it....

Spiritual classics and hermeneutics

The complexity of historical and textual interpretation in reference to spiritual classics has received increasing attention in recent years. Previously, histories of spirituality tended to present and analyse spiritual traditions in relative isolation from their wider social and historical contexts and paid scant attention to the contingency of their theological assumptions. Classical spiritual texts were treated as though their perspective and language raised no major problems. There was an...

The Integration Of Science And Theology

The plea for a return to theologies of nature offered by Moltmann (1985, see above) has been well heeded by contemporary theology. Attempts to show that the doctrines and methods of Christian theology can be harmonized with, and even illuminate, the doctrines and methods of contemporary science are legion. This effort to integrate theology and science is in part a continuation of the theological critique of the conflict thesis in the historiography of science and in part a reaction to the...

The theological impact of humanism

The impact of humanism upon the theology of the early sixteenth century was considerable, and may be illustrated by considering its implications for biblical scholarship. The literary and cultural programme of humanism can be summarized in the slogan ad fontes back to the original sources. The squalor of the medieval period is bypassed, in order to recover the intellectual and artistic glories of the classical period. In much the same way, the 'filter' of medieval biblical commentaries was...

The Liberating Word The Rediscovery Of The Bible

The 1960s initiated a period of self-criticism and renewal in many areas of Christian life and thought, leading to shifts in Christian consciousness of a very profound kind. One key area was the recovery of biblical wholeness. In these years new translations of the Bible became popular, and, for the first time for centuries, readings from the Old Testament became an established feature of the eucharistic liturgy. These, and other factors, were important in bringing about a renewal of biblical...

History of the term Spirituality

'Spirituality' has become the standard word for the theory and practice of 'life in the Spirit', or of discipleship. However, in its present sense, the word has a relatively short history. The Catholic Encyclopedia, published before the First World War, contained no references to 'spirituality' while The New Catholic Encyclopedia, published in the 1970s, contained eight articles on different aspects of the subject. Standard reference works such as The Oxford Dictionary and Websters...

Biblical Basis Creation stories

Traditional theological views need to be shown to make contemporary sense. Novel theological views need to be related to characteristic Christian affirmations. Christian personalism claims to be almost platitudinously traditional in ascribing such importance to people, it treats them as God's children. If this sounds novel, is that an indictment of Christians Or is the very assumption that fulfilment is truly Christian itself an accommodation to the spirit of the age Personalism generally seems...

The Son Never Acts Alone

What had been disclosed in the economy gave early Christian thinkers the confidence to explore the nature of God afresh, guided of course by the Scriptures. Thinking about God could no longer be carried on independently of what had occurred in the evangelical history. Of course, in the strict sense of the term, the argument that God was not a 'solitary God' was not concerned with the doctrine of the Trinity. The debate focused on the status of the Son and whether the Son or Word is an emanation...

Theology As Related To Communal Identityconsciousness

However, even such a wide-ranging and subtle analysis of theological types as the above fails to do justice to one of the most outstanding features of theology over the past two and a half decades, namely, the tendency for certain groups in society, marked by a realization of their marginalization, oppression or exploitation, to claim a specific perspective on, and a methodology for, theology. For such, the notion of theology as self-description by the Christian community has proved too general...

Work In Progress Pros and cons

The thorniest recurrent problems are how to avoid the perennial optional compulsory dichotomy and how to be generously flexible about exceptions without letting exceptions swallow up valuable norms. Permissiveness is the obverse of rigorism, part of the same trap. Christians need to appreciate, not smugly but gratefully, what really is life-enhancing, and not allow what they know to be good to be reduced to optional extras or unrealistic ideals. To let fidelity go by default in discouragement...

Church And State

There has been much discussion in the last couple of decades about the notion of 'doing' theology in the area of Christian political thinking this idea can be given a particularly apposite meaning. For although there has been quite a lot of recent writing about the State and public policy from a Christian viewpoint and especially much occasional writing in the press it has all been rather episodic and, compared with the systematic offerings of the past, fragmentary. As this doubtless...

Jack Mahoney

Both historically and in the present a variety of Christian attitudes can be identified towards wealth, influenced to a significant extent either by explicit teaching about it in the Bible or by reflecting on wealth in the light of various basic Christian beliefs. Thus, the powerful words of Jesus on the spiritual dangers of money and wealth (Mark 10 23-7) have imprinted themselves so deeply on the Christian community through the centuries that those who are well off, or even comfortably off,...

Action Guides And Christian Ethics

One aspect of the idea of Christian ethics is how Christians do, or ought to, make choices which determine their actions. Two moments in this can be distinguished. What are the standards, values, ends, ideals, rules, or principles that ought to govern their actions And, what processes of choice do, or ought, they to use Casuistic applications of principles and rules, means end calculations, intuitive insight, etc., are some of the alternatives. The first moment points to the controverted issue...

Radical Critique Of Christian Religious Experience

At the heart, then, of the religious attitudes of what may be collectively called 'the Enlightenment' lay a scepticism about the value of the dogmatic systems of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism together with the world-views which these theologies supported, and the religious experience which they engendered. Nothing was more characteristic than Goethe's decision, when he arrived in Assisi in 1786, to go and look at the almost unaltered portico of the surviving Roman temple which was now a...

Traditional Uses Of The Bible Become Unviable

The late eighteenth and especially the nineteenth century saw a paradigm shift in theology, in particular as regards the role of biblical study. From divine revelation, usable as a string of proof texts for doctrines, the Bible was turned into materials for historical reconstruction. Since then, scholars have developed a set of historical-critical techniques, each of which has produced remarkable results. Source criticism showed for example that the Fourth Gospel could no longer be assessed as...