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Religious Authority and Divine Action1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

M. F. Wiles
Affiliation:
Regius Professor of Divinity, the University of Oxford

Extract

‘Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: and then stop.’ The King of Hearts' advice is not as easy to follow as might seem on first hearing. It is not simply that I want to speak about the interrelation between two major subjects and there is a certain arbitrariness in choosing with which of the two to start. The problem is far more fundamental than that. Where for the theologian is ‘the beginning’? At whatever point he does begin he is always uneasily aware that way back behind the point that he has chosen there probably lie a number of unquestioned assumptions which have largely prejudged the kind of answer he will give to the very question he is setting out to investigate. This difficulty is not, of course, peculiar to the theologian. None of us, whatever the subject of our investigation, can ever really ‘begin at the beginning’. But if this is a difficulty which the Christian theologian shares with other scholars it is none the less real for that. One obvious and important feature of the tradition in which the Christian theologian stands is that it gives some kind of special authority to the Bible, to the Church and above all—though it is sometimes a little bit elusive to know exactly what is meant by saying this—to Christ himself.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1971

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References

page 3 note 1 Otto Kuster cited by Zahrnt, H., The Question of God, p. 246.Google Scholar

page 3 note 2 Cf. ed. Bartsch, H. W., Kerygma and Myth, Vol. i, pp. 197, 198–9.Google Scholar

page 4 note 1 Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 47 (01 1965), pp. 6680.Google Scholar Cf. also Gilkey, L. B., ‘Cosmology Ontology and the Travail of Biblical LanguageJournal of Religion, Vol. 41 (07 1691), pp. 194205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

page 4 note 2 art. cit., p. 78.

page 6 note 1 ed. Kegley, C. W., The Theology of Rudolf Bultmann, p. 122.Google Scholar

page 7 note 1 Williams, D. D.How does God act?: an essay in Whitehead's metaphyics’ in edd. Reese, W. L. and Freeman, E., Process and Divinity, pp. 179–80.Google Scholar

page 8 note 1 Baelz, P., Prayer and Providence, pp. 81–2.Google Scholar

page 9 note 1 Aquinas, , Summa Theologica i a, 13, 7.Google Scholar

page 9 note 2 The Reality of God, p. 180.

page 11 note 1 Edd. Ice, J. L. and Carey, J. J., The Death of God Debate, p. 223.Google Scholar

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