Christianity and Paradox: Critical Studies in Twentieth- Century Theology

By Ronald W. Hepburn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
HISTORICITY AND RISK (1)

1

T HERE is a great area of theological reasoning at which we have scarcely glanced so far: reasoning that is aimed not at singling out God directly or indirectly for ostensive definition, but at displaying him as the explanation of certain phenomena. The phenomena that he is held to explain may be restricted to particular historical events, notably miracles, or extended (say) to moral experience or even to the whole universe, which is said to demand an Author or First Cause. If the concept of God is indispensable to the explaining of these phenomena, then, however paradoxical it may seem to be, we cannot afford to scrap it. In this and the following chapter we shall sift through some recent arguments used by Christian writers attempting to interpret historical events in terms of the divine activity. Chapter Eight will discuss the relation of belief in God to moral experience: and Chapters Nine and Ten the 'Cosmological Argument' from the existence of a world to the 'Ground' of its existence. In none of these studies will anything like a comprehensive outline of current argumentation be attempted: in each I shall simply select for discussion certain treatments of those problems that seem to me both influential and logically interesting.

Two general points must be made about arguments to God from history. In the first place, there is the difficulty of understanding how exactly events in time could speak of a God of eternity. This problem has already vexed us in the preceding

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