Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith

Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith

Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith

Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith

Synopsis

This book is an attempt to survey the main areas of Christian thought and doctrine. The authors are convinced that many thoughtful Christians or would-be Christians are puzzled and even alarmed by the difference between the Christian faith as it is usually presented in pulpits, Sunday Schools,and popular Christian literature on the one hand, and on the other realities of contemporary scientific, philosophical, and historical thought. Many are repelled from Christianity by the inadequacy of the way in which it is conventionally presented. This book sets out to preserve the great centralconstitutive truths of Christianity (in opposition to many contemporary reductionist tendancies in theology), while presenting these truths in such a way as to suggest that they are relevant to twentieth-century society and not irretrievably involved with an obsolete world-view. The doctrines of God, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of the Trinity, of the relation of Christianity to history are surveyed, and of the Church, ministry, and sacraments. The authors endeavour to do justice to the views of the significant thinkers both of the past and of the present, while suggesting their owninterpretation on several points. Both authors are Anglicans and on several issues write as Anglicans, but they believe that their point of view is a comprehensive and inclusive one which should be of interest and concern to Christians of all traditions.

Excerpt

This volume is a survey of the Christian faith by two Anglican theologians who have spent most of their lives studying and teaching theology. It is written in the conviction that such a book is needed at the present time and that no other book precisely fills that need. Readers may recall three works written within the last forty years which might be thought to have the same intention as this one, Doctrines of the Creed by O. C. Quick (1938, repr. 1949, 1963, 1968), The Christian Faith, by C. B. Moss (1943), and Principles of Christian Theology by J. Macquarrie (1966). Of these the first was written in a markedly different atmosphere, reflecting different pressures and circumstances, from those of today; the second, marked by a certain glibness and cut-and-dried confidence, can scarcely be called a work of critical theology, popular though it (perhaps unfortunately) is with theological students and clergy; the third, which is still in print and enjoying a wide readership because of its undoubted merits, is a work of systematic theology which therefore has a different aim and treats its subject in a different perspective and proportion from this work.

Our book is not a work of systematic theology. That is to say, it does not articulate first its philosophical assumptions and logically deduce all its theology in the light of this articulation. It does not commit itself to either a philosophy of Being or a Process philosophy or an Existentialist philosophy; instead it treats each part of Christian doctrine historically, starting from the Bible and often describing some part of the history of the particular doctrine in Christian tradition, and attempts ultimately to suggest the most satisfactory way in which the reader can approach and understand the doctrine today. This has been for over a hundred years a characteristically Anglican way of dealing with the subject of Christian doctrine. It has its limitations and is open to the criticism that it is not a thorough or logical way of treating the subject, and it does not easily appeal to those whose theological education has been primarily philosophical rather than historical. But it has the virtue of paying serious attention to the basic documents of Christian faith and tradition; it avoids the temptation of allowing speculation or dogmatic preoccupation to evade the witness of historical fact; and it places each doctrine in a proper historical perspective. At the same time, the authors have tried to avoid the pitfall of credulity or . . .

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