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The task of understanding the uniqueness of human being which underlies the obligations obtaining among men in distinction from all other creatures, is a perennial task of Christian theology. The one complete and final revelation of God in Jesus Christ has planted this task firmly and unalterably at the centre of theological reflection rather than at its periphery. In our generation the search for theological clarity on this matter receives heightened urgency from the pervasive assault on dignity of human being coming from recent developments in the modern sciences and technologies. This assault is conducted simultaneously in the theoretical and practical realms, armed by the increasing coalescence of the two realms in advanced scientific method.1 Today the most consequential knowledge of human life is produced by the most exact, intricate, and complex forms of manipulation and control. In the enthralling feats of biochemical technology the coming–into–being of individual human life is now the object of experimental making.2 Whetheror not our mastery of the reproductive process will ever lay bare the mystery of human generation, it certainly throws open to an unprecedented degree the question of what human being is, and by what its uniqueness is constituted.
This article seeks to define one important way in which idealist thought, for which Edward Caird will serve as spokesman, can help us understand Barth's doctrine of the essential Trinity. It is hoped that this will in particular clarify the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and help qualify some recent criticism levelled at Barth's teaching. The treatment falls into two parts, the first expository, the second analytical.
To speak, in general terms, of trends in modern biblical study is often to over-simplify; and certainly to claim that there has been, in recent years, a trend away from the traditional classicist or ‘hellenist’ approach to New Testament problems towards a more Hebraic or semitic-centred approach would be to be guilty of the same exaggeration as E. C. Hoskyns in 1930: ‘(There are) grounds for supposing no further progress in the understanding of … Christianity to be possible unless the ark of New Testament exegesis be recovered from its wanderings in the land of the Philistines (sic) and be led back not merely to Jerusalem, for that might mean contemporary Judaism, but to its home in the midst of the classical Old Testament Scriptures — to the Law and the Prophets.’ There is, nevertheless, some truth in A. M. Hunter's later statement: ‘After ransacking all sorts of sources, Jewish and Greek (and, we may add, starting all sorts of “hares”, some of which have not run very well), (scholars) are discovering the truth of Augustine's dictum, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is made plain in the New”’ (Novum Testamentum in vetere latet, vetus in novo patet).
It was a fundamental principle of the great Athanasius that to approach God through the on and call him Father is amore devout and accurate way of knowing him than to approach him only through his works by tracing them back to him as their uncreated Source. To know the Father through his Incarnate Son who is of one and the same being as God is to know him strictly in accordance with what he is in his own being and nature as Father and Son, and as Holy Spirit, which is the godly and the theologically precise way. On the other hand, to seek knowledge of God from what he has created out of nothing would be to operate only from the infinite distance of thecreature to the Creator, where we can think and speak of God only in vague, imprecise and negative terms, for what God has created out of nothing does not tell us anything about who God is or what he is like in his own being. It is through God alone that we may know God in accordance Cross with his nature. We may know God in truth only as we are given access to him as Father through Jesus Christ his Incarnate Son and in his one Spirit, an access opened to us as we are brought near to God and are reconciled to him through the Cross (Ephesians 2.14–18).
Our conduct is shaped by the condition of our vision; we are free to choose or to struggle against only what we can see. Our vision, however, is determined by the most important images of the self from which we have fashioned our sense of identity. These furnish us with our perspective upon everything else; they finally legislate not only what we will and what we will not see, but the particular angle or point of view from which the whole of reality will be assessed. How we see ourselves, then, determines how we will conduct ourselves in relation to others, to the world, and even to God — and all this is ultimately a matter of images. If we cannot see ourselves as Christians, we shall scarcely be able to act except in the ways that the fashions of this world legitimate.
Romans 8.26f. has no parallel in the NT. A. J. M. Wedderburn writes,
Today it is still puzzling, troublesome, divisive; for some it is the essence of the Christian faith, to others it is incomprehensible and repellent.
This statement sums up adequately the position of most NT scholars on Rom. 8.26f. Its strangeness derives from three basic ideas. First, this is the only passage in which it is asserted that the Christian does not know how to pray as he ought. This is an exception to what is otherwise said of prayer in the NT. Second, this is the only passage in biblical writings where the Holy Spirit is described explicitly as an intercessor. Third, the passage appears disjointed from its context. The guiding thought in vv. 18–25 is suffering but in v. 26, Paul talks about prayer. Can these themes be related in a single unit?
The Christian canon contains only two apocalypses: the Book of Daniel and the Apocalypse of John. Today no less than 19 apocalypses and closely related documents are gathered together in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 volumes; Garden City, New York, 1983–1985). In light of these apocalypses and apocalyptic writings new possibilities for interpreting the documents in the New Testament can be seen. Only one example can be chosen now; it is a significant one, revealing the indebtedness of the Apocalypse of John to the continuum of Jewish apocalyptic thought and clarifying the roots of Christology in Early Judaism.
For three decades I have lived in the United States. After the war-torn forties, there came the smug fifties, when Americans saw opportunities and the British difficulties; then the searing sixties, which, along with much that was very salutary, brought the tragic suffering of Vietnam and the horrendous human wreckage of the drug culture; followed by the sobering seventies and now the unpredictable eighties. It is tempting to ask how the developments in biblical and theological studies are related to the social, political and economic changes which those decades saw. But I must confine myself to my discipline.
What does it mean to be a man over against a woman, a woman over against a man? The Bible offers various paradigms and insights, and I do not attempt here to analyse all of them, but rather to reflect on a number of key passages which I have found illuminating in the context of contemporary questions.
In a discussion in this journal of Kant's ‘moral proof’ of the existence of God Peter Byrne describes what he takes to be the ‘fundamental incoherence’ of Kant's position. Kant, it is well known, wishes to hold together two claims concerning our epistemological relationship to God: the claim that we can have no ‘theoretical knowledge’ of God's existence; and the claim that we nonetheless have ‘moral certainty’ of God's existence. The first claim arises out of the Kantian criticism of the pretensions of speculative metaphysics, a criticism developed most rigorously in the Critique of Pure Reason. The second claim, in turn, arises out of Kant's so-called ‘moral proof which appears in skeletal form in the firstCritique and acquires more detail edelaboration in the Critique of Practical Reason.
Ever since Charles Darwin first published his revolutionary book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, there has been considerable disagreement among Christians concerning both the truth of evolutionary theory and its possible reconciliation with the Bible. Some Christians have taken the so-called ‘fundamentalist creationist’ position believing in a literal interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis. Others have adopted so-called ‘theistic evolutionist’ views accepting to various different degrees Darwinian ideas about origins. One point however on which most Christians (and indeed non-Christians) are agreed, is that an evolutionary process based on blind chance must necessarily conflict with all possible theistic world views and stands irreconcilable with the biblical text. It is this assertion which in this essay I hope to refute, as based on misunderstanding of the meaning of blind chance, of the mechanism of evolution and of the involvement of God in the universe.
Précis: Here is a call for an investigation of the linguistic formulation of the term ‘Trinity’. Can it be that the phrase ‘kingdom of God/heaven’ is a functional equivalent in the New Testament of the later term ‘Trinity’? As a political term, kingdom (or monarchy) provides a framework for collegiality in the exercise of an undivided power. As a philosophical term, however, monarchy (or monotheism) entails subordinationism. Recent theological works recall that time is an essential category in theology. The description of time is compared to the description of light in physics, and the principle of complementarity is used to hold together spatialized time (Parmenides) and dynamized space (Heraclitus). The first use of the term ‘Trinity’ (by Theophilus of Antioch, ca. 170 C.E.) referred to the first three days of creation, which are called types of the Trinity. Thus, God was not described as beyond time and history, as Origen assumed, but rather we are summoned to a quest for the historical God, who takes our individual stories up into the total story of God and the world.
With increasing contact and knowledge of non-Christian religions and in the light of colonialist missionary endeavours, a number of Christians have recently advocated what I shall call a pluralist approach to non-Christian religions. This pluralist paradigm may be characterised as one which maintains that non-Christian religions can be equally salvific paths to the one God, and that Christianity's claim to be the only way (exclusivism), or the fulfilment of all other religions (inclusivism), should be rejected for good theological, phenomenological, and philosophical reasons. This view is shared by Christians from different denominations, and is best expressed in the works of Professors John Hick, Paul Knitter, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, and Mr Alan Race.
E. L. Allen, writing in a little noticed article in 1953, claimed that just as the early Christian Apostles were the representative of Jesus in accordance with the shaliach conception of Rabbinic Judaism, Jesus himself was portrayed as the representative or shaliach of God in a number of New Testament works from the writings of Paul to the Gospel of John. Some fifteen years later, apparently without knowledge of Allen's essay, Peder Borgen examined the representative idea, or the agency idea as he more aptly called it, in Jewish halakhic writings and argued that the long recognized sending motif in John showed close affinities with this material. He went on to argue that the portrayal of Jesus as a ‘heavenly agent who has come down among men’ needed to be understood in terms of Jewish Merkabah mysticism. Merkabah mysticism combined among other things,halakah, heavenly figure and the heavenly world just as the concept of agency does in the Gospel of John. He was also able to show the same phenomena in Philo and suggested that this too must be seen as part of the background for the agency concept in John.
In the age of the Enlightenment men were inclined, despite their great confidence in human reason, to invoke the deity in support of ‘the rights of man and of the citizen’1 whereas theologians are nowadays somewhat hesitant in suggesting a possible theological basis for human rights.2 Whatever this may indicate about a more aggressive secularism and a more modest theology and church during much of the twentieth century, it will be the contention of this paper that those who drafted eighteenth century statements and declarations of human rights were closer to the truth about their basis. In support of this contention I shall argue, first, that the doubt which some philosophers have expressed about finding a sure foundation for human rights is quite justified and, second, that the purpose for which some theologians have recently offered a theological basis has therefore been unduly limited. Finally, however, and rather ironically, I shall demonstrate that the bases suggested by these theologians are far too grandiose and all embracing and that what is required is the quite specific teaching of eschatology, the theory of Christian hope.
To date, work on Theodore Beza has dealt with his life, his theology, his biblical works, some aspects of his political activity and treatises, and his contribution to literature. Beza as a pastor, as a shepherd of souls concerned for their growth in Christ, has not yet received attention. But it is through such a study that Beza's character becomes known to us. Beza was not merely a skilled diplomatist, an excellent poet, and a devoted professor of the Genevan Academy. As a theologian he defended Calvin's doctrine, developing it as he thought necessary in response to attack or because of a profound insight into the nature of word and sacrament. But at the root of these activities was Beza's own life of faith nourished by Scripture and the Lord's Supper and shared with his flock and his students through a drama, commentaries and sermons, two manuals of prayer, and letters of spiritual advice or consolation.