• Home
  • Expository Times

Expository Times

October 1983

p. 8   T.J. Gorringe “Does Jesus help me because he is the Son of God, or is he the Son of God because he helps me?”  (Rudolf Bultmann’s famous question)

p. 9   “All the NT metaphors cannot be properly understood except against the OT and Jewish background.”

“Redemption is a metaphor from the slave market.”

Sacrifice is a metaphor which has to be treated with the greatest caution . . . speaking of Isaiah 53, C. Westerman talks of the radically desacralized view of sacrifice . . . the metaphor does not lie in the blood itself, but the consecrated offering of life which this represents.

p. 13 (G.T. Eddy) To pray and sing ‘with understanding’ must mean for me, with my understanding not St. Paul’s; and my understanding is part of our understanding, the way we experience and interpret our world today.  Now this undergoes continual change . . . particularly the transformation of our world view by thy physical scientists.

The results of scientific enquiry built up into an immensely impressive account of the universe we are bound to recognize as very different from what was available to earlier ages, and in particular to the Biblical writers . . . our Christian faith must breathe the same air as our other studies.  Our apprehension of reality, gained through all our studies, must be an integrated whole; and above all, our religious beliefs must not be in violent conflict with that understanding of the world . . . which our other studies helped to form.

Nov. 1983. Vol. 95. no. 2

p. 41 When the pastor expounds scripture at his pulpit he can only say what the scripture has said to him . . . the Biblical study which we did in our initial training was not the enrichment that it should have been.  During that training we are fed with Biblical knowledge over a period of two or three years, or even more, and then too often we get up into our pulpits and preach as if we knew none of it.  We have ‘learnt’ it well enough to pass our examinations but . . . have not really allowed it to affect our own thinking.

p. 42 There is a common assumption that Biblical study can be done on two levels: there is first of all a ‘simple’ understanding of the content of the Bible itself, and then a second stage of academic or critical understanding . . . one hears ministers speak of their ‘devotional use’ of the Bible and their ‘Bible study’ as if these were not only separate but unrelated activities.

p. 43 The text is not to be used as an excuse for trotting out what we want to say.

A proper listening to the Word involves looking for the thrust of the Biblical tradition as a whole.  But more important, it involves a dialogue between the Bible and its interpreter in which the interpreter has something to add to the Bible as well as something to learn from it.

p. 44 Inspired scripture if it is to speak to the heart of any generation, requires inspired interpreters. . . . Merely to repeat Amos’ words does not make them God’s words to our society in our time . . . we need to ask: ‘How did Amos know what was the Word of God to his society?  How did he arrive at his judgments?’  Then we must see if we can learn from him how we might discover the word of God to our generation. . . . When we approach the Bible with our Twentieth Century questions, over and over again we find that it does not offer us answers . . . it offers us clues as to how the answers might be arrived at . . . methods by which answers may be found.

December 1983 (Michael Austin)

p. 76 -Title (from Karl Barth) “Who Shall, Who Can, be a Minister and Preach?”  Basic to “that current” very important debate about inspiration and interpretation . . . (for some) it is the men and not the words of the Bible which are inspired.  The problem is how to apply their ideas and beliefs to the contemporary situation. . . . The word of God will make itself heard because it is inspired in some mystical way and the preacher is but the mouth-piece of the Divine Word.  The preacher, be he liberal or conservative in his view of the Bible, is saved from much of his embarrassment because he can take refuge in some doctrine of inspiration.  For me . . . I regard doctrines of inspiration as subversive to a truly Biblical faith. . . . The Bible is the Word as Witness and not word as written.

p. 77 In the absence of a doctrine of Biblical inspiration (or of an inspired church for that matter) one is greatly exposed as one sits pen in hand and Bible open. . . . Has the preacher any security as he prepares his sermon?  The answer must be no, though in his need he might be tempted to find refuge in one of two positions.  I. He might seek refuge in searching for what the Americans call ‘authorial intent’.  Even in the absence of a doctrine of inspiration, it is arguing, we cannot ignore the issue of what the Biblical authors intended to say. . . . When I read Romans I hear Luther as I hear Paul.  When I read Matthew 5-7 Bonheffer’s thought . . . rings in my ears . . . II. A preacher might seek refuge, alternatively in what the Americans call ‘praxis’.  What are the practical, existential issues which confront the preacher and his church?  What is God saying to us in the world of every day?

p. 78 What then does the preacher do, all at sea in his embarrassment?  Clearly he must take what theological bearings he can . . . both from critical scholarship and also from . . . the practical contemporary situation.

Eduard Schweitzer: “Jesus our Lord can be characterized as ‘the man who fits no formula’ . . . he is unrestrained, ambiguous, mysterious, open.  The question, ‘what manner of man is this?’ received no satisfactory answer . . . he gives no sign to this or any other generation of preachers to convince them that the journey of faith upon which they and their congregations have embarked is not a vain one. . . . Even the evidence of the Resurrection is remarkably problematic.  His life ended in ignominious failure at the vindictive hands of the old people of God and in the fearful absence of the new.”

p. 79 Preachers must therefore rejoice in their doubt because it may be an authentic response in struggling faith to the problematic revelation of the incarnate God.  Preaching is thus in itself an enterprise of faith.

p. 80 There is much latter-day Gnosticism in the church in which exclusive claims are made that  ‘Look, here is Christ!’.  Christ is only where he chooses to be, and we are greeted by him in the every day solely because of his graceful love.

The preacher takes his bearings from scholarship and praxis, but then he must allow each to resonate with the other and for God to speak.

March 1984

p. 168 (K.W. Clements) The question of whether the atonement is primarily objective or subjective is old and familiar. . . . I am told that what was done there and then was done ‘for me’.  But the connection seems highly artificial, and one which I have to accept on the word of sheer authority, not of experience.

According to the subjective view . . . atonement takes place within us as we respond in faith and love, but . . . if the cross is the sign, where and what is the reality?  M.W. argues the case for seeing the cross as ‘the supreme of parabolic speech about God which . . . not only describes but creates a new situation and calls for a response.  ‘So the parable of the cross points the human imagination to a vision of God as participating in the continuing conflict of evil . . . the assurance of his ultimate victory over that evil.’

p. 169 ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30) is a real turning point in the relationship between God and human history—including a turning-point for God himself….It was in the cross that God decisively and irrevocably committed himself to the human story. . . . Christ is the kingly liberator of men and we can now claim the spoils of his victory, the liberty of the children of God.

P.T. Forsyth: “We are saved through the Spirit of a new life and indiscerptible life in Jesus Christ.  That is the grand new thing in Christianity.”

May 1984 “Recent Continental Theology”

p. 239 (Walter Kasper) The trinity as ‘the Christian form of Monotheism’ and unity of God is required for the coherence of reality.

p. 240 Thus the confession of the Trinitarian mystery of God turned towards man is faith’s answer to . . . modern atheism concerning man and reality.

Pannenberg: Critical of ‘privatized religion’ (with the confessional wars here among the Christians taking a large share of the blame).

A comprehensive religious dimension is an irrescapable and irreducible feature of human reality.  The repression of the religious dimension, Pannenberg argues, arms the individual and society, while . . . a merely assertory Christian theology [ends up] putting the emphasis on the importance of the number of adherents rather than claims to truth.

E. Juengel: Jesus Christ is God’s coming-to-speech and therefore both the possibility and the criterion of anthropomorphic speech about God.

p. 421 French Catholic theology: the commonality must renounce ‘abstract dogmatism’ in favor of theology as the ‘interpretation’ of the history of Christianity, ‘the discernment of a truth in a history’, and eventually ‘the reflected experience of Christian practice through centuries.’

W. Kasper: To the unconditional and definite content of the Christian message there corresponds an unconditional and definite form, namely a dogmatic way of speaking.  This is an objective form of communication, an efficacious symbol of the faithfulness and truth of God which come to expression and presence through him.

R. Schaefler argues that there are limits to the healing tolerance affordable by an institution to denials to its individual members of its foundational truths.

p. 242 The modern ecumenical movement has restored an essential dimension to the hermeneutical task of understanding and explaining the truth about God and man as it has been embodied in Christ and witnessed to in normative Tradition.

E. Kaesemann . . . must share some responsibility for a current fashion among exegetes to exaggerate the diversity of the NT witness into internal contradictoriness.

Karl Rhaner’s theological pluralism is criticized as leading to dogmatic indifferentism.  It is recognized that the union of churches, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, is already now ‘an objective possibility’ on the basis of a common recognition of scripture and the ancient creeds.

p. 265 “The exclusive streak in Christianity is inherited from Judaism. . . . Jewishness was measured by loyalty to the one true God, hostility to idolatry and faithfulness to the law.”

p. 268 As the Christian-Pagan debate progressed we can observe an interesting bifurcation . . . for Christians became identified with the philosophical critique of religion, Pagans with its defense.  By criticizing traditional religion, philosophy had made possible the development of a refined monotheistic theology to which both sides laid claim.

(Concl.) We might learn that the critique of religion is important and that all-embracing total tolerance will not do, since that means there can be no distinction between truth and falsity.  Mere antiquity and the appeal to tradition is no guarantee of truth . . . we might also learn that the critique of religion is ultimately arid and without corresponding imagination and constructive religious thinking, religion is doomed. . . . We might also learn . . . that the incarnation is not the principal issue dividing us from other religions.  (Judaism and Islam also like to be intolerant and exclusive.

p. 365 There are considerable varieties about outlook among evangelical Christians.  Particular views resting on individualistic interpretations or misinterpretations of scripture are found, and in some cases these can be regarded as touch-stones of orthodoxy.  Specific view about the creation of the world in seven days, denials of biological evolution, literalistic interpretation of Biblical prophecy, rejection of Biblical scholarship, insistence in speaking of tongues as the mark of spiritual progress, authoritarian leadership, disinterest in culture and unconcern for social and political issues, these all can be found.

Vol. 96. Oct. 1984

p.10 “Within the last decade must attention to literary technique has become the rule . . . perhaps the most remarkable of the recent upsurge of literary criticism has been . . . a shift from a primarily historical to a  primarily literary interest in many OT texts.

The anthropological approach . . . starts from the assumption that any quest for historicity is quite useless, though Edmund Leach is at points to emphasize that by ‘myth’ he mans a ‘sacred tale’ and not a ‘fabulously impossible tale’.

p.11 Claude Levi-Strauss is convinced that certain basic structures can be observed and analyzed in the pattern of all known societies . . . thus the basic underlying language (langue) remains unchanged; its actual utterance (parole) differs on every occasion . . . a great deal of attention has been paid to particular ways in which oppositions and parallels are expressed in different languages . . . particularly Hebrew literary technique has come in for much detailed study.

This OT scholarship has contributed to the rise of ‘canonical criticism’, the concern for the final form of the text . . . handed down within the Jewish and Christian communities as ‘Holy Scripture’.

p. 12 There are important ways in which the Book of Isaiah can be considered a unity, in which a literary approach supplements and corrects a purely historical understanding.

Much discussion about the Meaning of Meaning, allowing a text to ‘speak for itself’ distinguishing the ‘intended meaning from the interpreted meaning’.  Thus J.P. Folkkelman in a 500-page book on the narrative style of the Book of Samuel insists that his readers be ‘Open and Empty’ . . . the vast knowledge which a Biblical scholar has acquired must be put in the background during the interpretation of the texts.

p. 13 Sometimes the literary approach is used to avoid awkward questions.  Too often, skillful literary technique has been taken as if it were historical knowledge.

p. 44 The study of apocalyptic literature appears to go in bursts.  The first great period was the two decades just preceding the First World War, the second, the last two decades up to our own time.

p. 105 While the reality of evil is all too evident in human affairs, there would be few who would describe to ‘unclean spirits’ or ‘demons’ to causation of certain illnesses, etc. as did the Synoptic Evangelists.  The Gerasene demoniac (Matt. 8:28ff) is one of the most problematical of all the healing miracles . . . most likely a catatonic schizophrenia.

p. 108 The accounts of exorcism in the NT are far fewer than is frequently supposed.  The whole subject of possession and exorcism is given remarkably little attention, particularly in view of the apparent prominence of these ideas in contemporary society. . . . The felt needs of modern man are unlikely to be expressed in terminology of the First Century and indeed, the language of demons and unclean spirits may seem embarrassing or at least strange today.

p. 136 Whereas we in English invariably speak of the Holy Spirit, the Greek text of the NT does not do so….statistical study shows that in the NT the Holy Spirit is described both as a power and as a person, and the use of the Greek article clarifies the distinction.

p. 228 “A Charismatic Movement” At a time when society feels so unsure, and so confused about where hope lies, the renewal movement has been heard to promise power, certainty, healing and joy….The charismatic movement about a renewed relationship with God through the Holy Spirit is vital and timely, but the way the movement has developed has meant that the actual experience of it has been a source of deception and harm to many.

At heart the movement is a deeply felt need for growth and renewal, but. . . . something of great power is being handled by those who are not always mature and experienced enough to understand what they have unleashed.  The weak and desperate become attracted to such movements and discover their terrible vulnerability.

p. 229 It has been characterized as an experience of ‘baptism of the Spirit’, . . . after prayer and perhaps laying on of hands. . . it is associated also with the experience of ‘gifts’ which have a powerful experiential character, like speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing.

It seems contradiction that a movement which spoke of freedom, openness and exploration should become particularly associated with literal fundamentalism . . . hierarchal regimes are experienced as the way the authority of God is transmitted . . . those who feel insecure and unsure can find in this great strength.  It can equally be experienced as very threatening or at least excluding.

p. 230 Differences of opinion, even of personal style, cannot be tolerated . . . while they were promised power, gifts and victory, they did not experience love. . . . there is a black and white definiteness about good and evil.

One striking illustration of how these aspects affect ways of thinking and feeling is in the talk of devils and demons . . . This sense of the pressure of the Devils and devils is used in ‘splitting’ to see oneself as some sort of battleground of the Spirit against the Devil . . . the standard way of dealing with devils is . . . by external authority, deliverance or exorcism.

p. 232 The nuclear bomb has perhaps become a symbol for our age because it expresses the apparently irresolvable contradiction of our present experience.

The subtle pressures to be ‘successful, popular, strong and relevant’ that the church has experienced can all be seen as related.  They lead to a competitiveness between churches which dangers all the ecumenical advance of a few years ago.

p. 266 “Recent Continental Theology” Ed. Schlink: For a return to the primary activities of the church in prayer, proclamation and confession. . . . “reflection gives rise to the Trinitarian formula, which itself recognizes ontic priority to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and so acknowledges the triune God as the proper object of worship. . . . faith is both ‘on trial’ and ‘evolving’.  The Council’s pastoral constitution (RC) is a sign of dogmatic progress.”

p. 268 R. Winling structures his book around Vatican II—a return to Biblical, Patristic and liturgical sources and an opening to the world . . . new voices take up new questions in a new climate, following an inductive method with anthropological accent . . . the present picture is one of confused vitality, a critical search for identity, a world-wide creative fever in faith and theology.

In German Protestant theology the interest shifts from an objective redemption to its subjective appropriation—in justification—by a moral subject, with a corresponding abandonment of the notion of satisfaction or placating a God.  The critique of the older doctrine is viewed as part and partial of the history of the modern consciousness of freedom, whereby modern humanity sees its own activity as that which truly affects reality.

p. 269 At Heidelburg (D. Ritschl) Theology is seen as the critical and reflective task determining coherent ‘rules’ for the speech and action of faith that is appropriate to its content and object.  The story of God’s self-revelation provokes theological reflection, which in turn issues in doxility.  Doxology is considered as a strictly ‘last word’ which must not become the basis for further speculation.

French Catholic works on initiation: Mediator of the new covenant, Jesus is the new Adam, in the following of whom is offered new, death-free life in a spirit.  The glorious humanity of the risen Christ is the image of a transfigured world.  Creation, redemption and eschatology are held together by the notion of the ‘accomplishment’ of God’s project.  Jesus taught discreetly, and that he did not himself see and know all things in God, or due to the divine mode of self-revelation in ‘accommodation’ to the limits of human capacity.  Confirmed by Easter and Pentecost the Jesus of the Fourth Gospel is the true Jesus of history.  The mystery of his person being correctly seized in such words as John 8:58 and 7:5.

F. Dreyfus, desiring to break for a triumphalist and all dominant Christology – whether of a metaphysical (the singular history of Jesus is swallowed in supra-history), a soteriological (narcissistic humans look to God and Jesus only for their own salvation), an ecclesialogical (the church in Christ is identified with the kingdom), or an anthropological kind (God is dead and has been replaced by a Man, maintains the ‘distance’ of Christ from the hidden – but not absent – as God whom Christ nevertheless reveals.  He stretches Jesus’ non-messianism).

p. 270 “The current baptismal crisis in Europe is the sign of the crisis of faith.  It is perhaps in Germany . . . that the erosion and collapse of the folk church is at present most acutely felt/

p. 301 (N. Pittenger) The center of Christian faith is to be found in the belief that somehow God was in Christ . . . highly important is how we are to make sense of this affirmation. . . . the so-called ‘quest of the historical Jesus’ . . . has failed to deliver the goods.  Yet we do possess the first ‘witness’ to what and how this Jesus was remembered as being and doing. . . . to have faith in him is, as it were, trust in the voracity of what witness granted the uncertainty of details of the actual teaching, of acts done and the like.

What we are given in the NT is an account of the impact or impression which the historical event made.  It was such that a fairly simple, ‘Jesus is the Lord’, could and did emerge . . . later it was to be reconceived and rephrased in the language of Hellenistic philosophy . . . sometimes in a way that either neglected or ignored the dynamic quality of early, more Jewish patterns of interpretation; yet it had to be done or the Christian enterprise would have been unable to continue.

When we speak of ‘the event of Jesus Christ’, we must not restrict the meaning of the phrase to the person of Jesus alone.  Rather we must understand ‘event’ in a more modern (and I should say more accurate) manner . . . it involves the past which makes his emergence real . . . hence properly to speak of the even demands our awareness of its antecedence in Judaism and elsewhere.

p. 302 Whitehead’s idiom ‘the stream of influence’ caused by the event shows that it was the originative Christian event that made the difference and really mattered.

The language in which high religion necessarily speaks is a metaphorical type.  If you will, it is “mythological” . . . We cannot ‘posses God’ either concretely or linguistically.  Thus it is absurd to think that affirmations of faith can ever be literal.  They are evocative, suggestive, imaginative, poetical.  For John Cobb the Logos is God’s ‘primordial nature’ as . . . luring the creatures their actualization . . . whereas Christ is incarnate in everyone, Jesus is Christ because the incarnation is constitutive of his very selfhood. . . . the church is called ‘the extension of the Incarnation’.

E. Peters: “Jesus is a language about God which for Christians speaks most faithfully and truthfully of its objects.  Jesus is ‘the word, by and through a man, about God’.”

p. 304 In the old ‘sociological interpretation’ school of Christian scholarship, now so often dismissed as out-of-date . . . the Christian ‘thing’ was seen as a living process, not a fixed and static position . . . S.J. Case gave something of great significance in that.

p. 329 P. Schenk attempts to write a new type of commentary employing the techniques of general linguistic theory.  Words and phrases are discussed in detail, both in relation to one another and in their and in their relation to their semantic equivalents in other Pauline letters.  No attempt is made to produce a one-for-one equivalence between the original Greek and the German rendering.  This is in accord with the modern translation theory.

p. 332 There is a contemporary crisis in NT exegesis, relating to its place within a total area which includes theology, the existence of the church, sociology, etc.  The origin of the crisis was the rise of historical criticism in the 19th century.  Textual exegesis led to theological exegesis.  There is a need now to show the significance of the challenge of Biblical infallibility.

p. 333 At each stage one seeks the meaning first for the contemporaries of the material and then for us.

p. 336 M.H. Grumm: Paul after using the creative word of God to establish small congregations, did not wait for an extended paternalistic training period of instruction before establishing an official ministry to guide them, but at once entrusted the full ministry of that word directly to these congregations which then became new sub-stations for the spread of that word . . . he had faith in the inherent power of the word to bring about spontaneous expansion. . . . the word is what the spirit uses for the self expression of God to and in and through men.

Volume 97

p. 8 C. Mearnes on the different categories of the Son of Man saying: The apocalyptic Son of Man’s imminent return is expected, 2) the Son of Man as a term circulated among the first generation (20 years) of Christians, 3) the original meaning if the saying is authentic at all.  If Jesus appeared as a charismatic eschatological messenger . . . there would have been no place for him as a NT titular Son of Man.  It was the Galilean Aramaic use of the Son of Man in a definite generic sense.

p. 36 W. Marxen Christology: “Gott existiert nicht, er geschieht”.  Through a man who was . . . nothing but man the rule of God . . . Breaks in.  “Authentic speech about God can be made only by one who lets himself be reached and countered, by the event which is God.  To make authentic statements about God without being betroffen is impossible.  Jesus confronted his disciples with a claim.  He could not in any way legitimize that claim . . . one could only entrust his words.  People can now not meet Jesus directly, they can only be confronted by the word of proclamation, and that word is just as ambiguous as the human appearance of Jesus was.

p. 37 God does not bring into being through his ministry a new state of the world, a new heaven and a new earth . . . through his declaration of forgiveness the rule of God breaks into this present world again and again.  Only it does not abide. . . . The moment of transfiguration is followed by the reality of every day (Mark 9:8).

p. 38 Those who entrust themselves to Jesus and experience salvation can make soteriological statements which justify Christological statements which develop into theological statements.  Marxen’s emphasis on soteriology; the Resurrection means that ‘the phenomenon of Jesus goes on,’ Die Sache Jesu geht weiter, and “With his activity he himself also remains present.  He is to be known only and through his continued activity.”

p. 40 Provided that his words, along with some indication of his conduct had been preserved and were now proclaimed to us, we could experience his call and take the rik of faith.  Marxen has a clear preference for the Jesus kerygma rather than the Christ kerygma.

p. 47 D.A. Pailen: The burning question is how to distinguish between warranted uses and bigoted abuses of the bible in determining Christian faith and practice. . . . students must so be equipped with philosophical and historical knowledge that they can avoid misapprehending the sense of the scriptures and misapplying it . . . to solve contemporary controversies. . . . granted then the Bible, why the bitter disputes? . . . If scholars could not agree over the sense of the Bible was there any other authority.  The so-called ‘left wing of the reformation’ developed a ‘spiritualistic’ way of understanding the Bible. . . . in practice the Bible gradually lost its effective significance as it was increasingly interpreted and its ‘sense’ determined by what ‘nature’ and ‘reason’ were held to establish.  The story from the Reformation to the middle of the 18th Century is therefore one of decline of Biblical authority, a decline produced by the inability of references to the Bible to solve disputes and by the manifest ability of protagonists to make it suit their own policies. . . . Once the inner light as a charismatic force has been made a sure possession, it has only to be turned into the light of reason which all human beings have at their disposal . . . for the transition to the “Enlightenment” with its replacement of divine revelation with human understanding.

p. 48 In the case of ‘Deism’ it is arguable that no definition of this term fits any of those whom it used to label – or that it equally well fits those who are not so labeled!

p. 71 M. Pamment: In John, no description of the appearances of characters is allowed to obscure concentration on their speech . . . Marsh gives each detail a symbolic meaning. . . . Similarly, when times are noted, they usually reflect a Christological motif.

p. 72 The Prologue presumes knowledge of God’s eternal existence and of his purpose in creation.

p. 74 It could also be true that John the Baptist gradually comes to believe in Jesus.  In the Fourth Gospel the narrator’s voice is entirely reliable. . . . This means that the text is uniformly didactic.  I suggested that the form is closest to that of OT narratives, but it lacks their subtlety and variety.

p. 102 APB William W.M. Temple: Bishop BP Gore once said to me that he paid visits to St. John as to a fascinating foreign country, but he came home to St. Paul.  It is the opposite to me.”

The face of Johannine studies has changed radically since William Temple.  And it is still changing.  For in our generation fresh ideas have come to the surface, so that books and articles on John continue to appear in great profusion.

The first question is of John’s tradition.  Since 1950 the ‘new look’ has dominated, concentrating on the Johannine tradition rather than the authority of the Gospel.  His tradition is independent of the Synoptic Gospels.  His work is a serious witness to the Jesus of history as well as the Christ of faith . . . reflecting an early stage in the development of First Century Christianity.

p. 103 Today some conclude that John depends entirely on the witness of the other Gospels, others that he did not know the Synoptic Gospels in their final form.  Others that he knew them in their earlier, developing versions of the Jesus tradition, e.g. Matthew and John may both have had access to the same ‘underground’.

When we say ‘John, who or what do we mean?’  In the late 1960’s Reymond Brown made John the son of Zebedee the author of the Gospel, an idea then ‘gradually returning to favor’ . . . he argued that this disciple was the originator of the Johannine tradition without being the actual writer of the Gospel. . . . Thus the work is apostolic, but not in fact, written by the Apostle.  Today there is a lessening of confidence in John as the son of Zebedee, Reymond Brown has changed his mind, concluding with O. Collman that “we cannot know the name” of “the Beloved Disciple.”  Dr. John Robisson identifies the Beloved Disciple as John the Apostle, and also the Fourth Evangelist.  He gives a pre-70 date, but it cannot be much before the 80’s, because of the “need to allow sufficient time for the distinctive theology we know as ‘John’s’ to develop . . . The ‘new’, and the ‘newest’ looks on John have convinced many that the historical reliability of the basic Johannine tradition is a possibility which must now be taken with great seriousness.  However, that still leaves open the question of the reliability of John’s theological interpretation of the historical tradition.  What about the accuracy of his salvation history, and in particular of his estimate of the person of Jesus, his Christology.

p. 104 Scholars today see John either as a stepping-stone towards later gnostic heresy or as authentic or authoritative only insofar as it can be shown to draw on early historical tradition.  Dunn argues that we prejudge the issue from sights which we ourselves have set, and thereby treating the Gospel anachronistically.

R. Bultmann finds three principle sources for John, but others (E. Ruckstuhl) claim that John was composed by one hand without the use of any sources at all.

I believe stage 1 transmission by John to his immediate circle of disciples in Palestine.  2 the Johannine group, 3 after the death of John the Fourth Gospel is finally redacted and authenticated and published by the Johannine Church.  The dramatic elements in John have been neglected.

p. 105 The Fourth Evangelist will not allow his audience to remain aloof.  C.K. Barrett claims that John wrote ‘primarily to satisfy himself’.  Today the idea of a community setting makes great sense.  The Johannine circle was not exclusively located in Ephasis; all sorts of ideas are being presented about it.

p. 106 The problem of the identity of Jesus.  Who was he?  There was a polarization of opinions about Christ’s person.  The Jewish Christians found it difficult to accept Jesus as more than ‘a man chosen by God’, while the Hellenistic Christians . . . would have been reluctant to embrace the idea that Jesus was less than a divine being. . . . But in neither case was the estimate of his person adequate.  The tension increased and a polarization of opinions took place, and in 1, 2, 3 John secessation from the community began. . . . Orthodoxy has become heresy and the reverse!  John’s recall to the fundamental of Christian belief . . . seems to have gone unheeded.

I propose a hypothesis that the apocalypse reflects the history of John’s church at its earliest rather than its latest stage of development . . . written by John the Apostle himself, it well may have been composed first followed by the Gospel and last of all by 1, 2, 3 John in that order.  Kaesemann regards John’s community as a “conventicle with gnosticizing tendencies”.

p. 107 The writer of the Fourth Gospel is not concerned in any leading way with the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist. . . . For John the basis of salvation . . . is historical; even if, in Christ history has now become salvation history.  His ‘two-level’ Christology puts the incarnate Jesus one with God and one with the church.  Dunn insists that John alone refers to the personal pre-existence of Jesus as a divine being. . . . According to Robisson, John, like Paul and the writer of Hebrews is presenting in his Gospel a real pre-existence of Jesus, and a genuine incarnation; but this, took place in a man who embodied in his fullness the self-expressive ideal of God from the beginning and not by any means of a ‘heavenly being who came to earth in the form of a man.’  The controversy continues and it must do so, for John’s presentation of Jesus is fundamental . . . right up to our own day. . . . We need constantly to inquire exactly what John said about Jesus and whether his understanding was true.

p. 108 In the next decade studies in John may become increasingly coherent, and thus of even greater value to students of the NT.

p. 138 P. Nott: Leadership may be defined as the means by which authority is made effective. . . . Church leadership in Europe and North America has been, and still is closely related and largely dependent upon models exemplified in judicial, military, social, educational and, more recently management spheres.  In the corporate leadership of the church through synodical government we have developed methods and structures which bear more than a passing resemblance to those of parliamentary democracy.  In other areas of the world there is a similar interdependence where in parts of Africa, for example, church is often closely related to tribal styles.

p. 139 This link prompts the question ‘Is a theology of leadership possible?’. . . . It is impossible of course to construct a systematic doctrine of leadership for today’s purposes from the Old and NT’s alone.

p. 141 The ordained leadership of the church . . . has on the one hand performed certain functions appropriate to it.  On the other hand it has also stood as a sign to the whole church of the meaning of its ministry, episcopal, priestly and deaconal . . . commonly held notions of the bishop as the focus of unity need reexamination . . . the Bishop exists as a sign to the whole church of its vocation to be a sign, agent of unity (but the Monoepiscopacy is a corporate episcopate, bishops working as a team at every level, surely the more effective sign of unity of the Body than solus episcopace.)

p. 202 W. Pannenberg maintains that “Christian theology in the modern age must provide itself with the foundation in general anthropological studies. . . . It will not do to talk glibly of the ‘spiritual’ constitution of man, for this word ‘spirit’, so easily bandied about by theologians has become, as Pannenberg recognizes, so laden with obscure and obsolete connotations as to be hardly usable in serious discourse.

p. 203 Of all the disciplines which study the nature of the human being, history is the one that comes closest to grasping the reality in all its wealth of concreteness.

p. 263 G. Bostock on the virgin birth: “We see Jesus conceived through an act of pure obedience, which was unaffected by physical desire or by psychological need; we then see him born into a situation where the love of his parents has been purified by a personal baptism by fire.  We should ask no more.”

p. 267 G. Wainwright: Philosophy of religion, basic views. 1) Religion as a ‘pre-rational consciousness . . . primitive hopes and fears which science should eventually enlighten.  2) Hellenism: positive anticipations of the insights into ‘ever-greater truth’ that have or may yet be brought by the natural sciences, politics or psychology.  Philosophy understands itself as religion having reached self awareness and penetrated further into a truth that in the end ceases to be divine (Socratic-Platonic, Hegel).  3) Philosophy at the service of religion, which is itself the service of God (Aristotle, Augustine) replaced by Kant’s set of ‘postulates’ making possible the moral life.  4) The ‘phenomenology’ of religion, seeking basic patterns of religious experience.  5) The ‘linguistic’ turn in contemporary philosophy using linguistic analysis.

p. 268 The doctrine of creation has received little attention in German Christian theology since WWII.  J. Moltmann: “Today the adversary is the practical nihilism displayed in the destruction of nature.  Both perversions (nazi) spring from “the will to power” and manifest “the godlessness of the modern world and its terrifying godforsakenness . . . in the 1980’s to know creation calls for theology to expand its horizons in order to reveal the cosmos as God’s. . . . God is no longer viewed ‘monotheistically’ as Absolute Subject, but rather as trinitarian communion. . . . It is the divine purpose that creation will become a ‘home’ for God in which all living creatures will find peace and rejoice together in God’s love.

p. 269 A. Milano on the shift from ‘cosmocentric-sacral’ antiquity to ‘anthropocentric-secular’ modernity.  The ‘epistomological break’ was in fact wrought by Christianity and its evaluation of the individual subject, the anthropological move was theologically grounded.

Sundermeier sees myth, symbol and ritual as the ‘royal door’ by which Christ enters Africa and makes the distant God near.

Rahner’s plan for church unity in Germany has met with strong opposition from E. Herms, the Luteran.

p. 270 The reformation accepts God’s revelation as an act of pneumatological providence that is at best served by human witness, but may dispense with or contradict it.

The Subilia: modern Protestant anthropocentrism is in fact a decline from the great Reformers . . . the central message of the Gospel is that ‘God has put Jesus in the place of man’.  This ‘grace alone’ can properly be met by ‘faith alone’ which is itself a creation of the Word and Spirit.

The joint commission of Roman Catholics and Evangelical Lutherans is able to envisage a ‘unity ahead’, but basic dogma and constitutive ministerial structures will set limits. . . . Agreement has not yet been reached on justification.

p. 271 In the end the theological strength of the Stuttgart confession is its entrusting of everything to God as a judge and the source of renewal.  But one may wonder whether the price of this avoidance of ‘moralism’ is not too high when it demands a Lutheran view of the ‘unfree will’ and the sheer paradoxicality of God’s actions in history.

Theology is struggling to mediate between a strange Gospel and an alienated world . . . the Western churches have still far to go in their reception of the intellectual and spiritual contribution of the Russian Diaspora.’

p. 294 The Lima Report: After fifty years of discussion . . . the theologians concerned unhesitatingly attribute their success to the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon their deliberations.  They avoided past controversies and defined the meaning of baptism, eucharist, and ministry exclusively on what the NT says.  Baptism is described as ‘the sign of new life through Jesus Christ’ . . . the critique shows awareness of the gulf.

It must be acknowledged that the churches at present fall so short of these ideals that a complete transformation of their ethos would be required before one could being to see any approximation between these ideals and the empirical situation in the contemporary church.  If Lima is intended to describe what baptism actually means today one can only say that it is engaging in massive self deception and bad faith. . . . Almost no organization is more thoroughly tainted by sexism, racism, and classism than the Christian church.

p. 296 It is bewildering to find so many church members willing to assent to a doctrine of substitution atonement which has been vigorously criticized on moral, intellectual and Biblical grounds for the past 200 years . . . The morality of a God who cannot forgive without demanding sacrifice needs urgent consideration.

Ordination to the ministry is defined in almost wholly ‘magical’ terms. . . . It is ‘an action by God and the community by which the ordained are strengthened by the spirit for their task.’

p. 297 For the minister training can be bypassed in some situations and ‘preparation may take a form other than prolonged academic study.’  The stress is on the sacramental rather than the natural preparation for Ch

[manuscript ends here]

Contact Info


Browse by Format

Related Links