The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine: Essays in Honour of Maurice Wiles

By Sarah Coakley; David A. Pailin | Go to book overview

of such knowledge. In spite of the way in which believers and theologians have traditionally asserted that their knowledge of God is based upon history (and so, according to the more naéng them, upon fact), consideration of the relationship between history and theistic understanding suggests that while references to past events may indicate where and when certain theological insights emerged, the identification and justification of such claims to understanding rest upon metaphysical reasoning. Such reasoning either approves the knowledge directly (if the relationship to events be seen as having the story and its moral form) or holds that some events at least are to be understood as being due in part to divine agency. What is important to note is that in both cases the fundamental judgement is not that of history but that of metaphysical understanding.

If, therefore, Lessing's 'ugly, broad ditch' between history and theistic belief can be bridged, it can only be through metaphysical insights which show how God is to be discerned as agent in specifiable ways in specifiable events for specifiable purposes. If no such metaphysical case can be produced, there seems to be no way of basing the knowledge of God upon the happenedness of certain events. The relationship between the two has to be seen as the accidental one that certain events, as observed or as reported from a particular standpoint, just happen to evoke or illustrate insights into the nature and will of God which must be independently confirmed to be true.

Surprising, then, as it may seem to those who emphasize the historical basis of the knowledge of God and the historical foundations of Christian belief, the material as well as the formal content of that understanding is primarily a product of metaphysical reflection. As Whitehead remarks, 'the ages of faith are the ages of rationalism' ( Whitehead 1927: 73).


REFERENCES

Barth Karl ( 1954), Against the Stream: Shorter Post-War Writings, 19461952, London.

Braithwaite Richard B. ( 1955), An Empiricist's View of the Nature of Religious Belief. Eddington Memorial Lecture, Cambridge.

Knox John ( 1958), Jesus Lord and Christ, New York.

-235-

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The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine: Essays in Honour of Maurice Wiles
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vi
  • List of Contributors viii
  • 1 - Divine Action and Hebrew Wisdom 1
  • Notes 11
  • References 12
  • 2 - Making and Remaking in the Ministry of the Church 13
  • 3 - Why Three? Some Further Reflections on the Origins of the Doctrine of the Trinity 29
  • Notes 50
  • References 53
  • 4 - Interpretation and Reinterpretation in Religion 57
  • Notes 71
  • References 72
  • 5 - Chalcedon and the New Testament 73
  • Notes 91
  • References 92
  • 6 - Reconstructing the Concept of God: De-reifying the Anthropomorphisms 95
  • VI 113
  • References 115
  • 7 - St Gregory the Theologian and St Maximus the Confessor: The Shaping of Tradition 117
  • Notes 129
  • References 129
  • 8 - Lex orandi: Heresy, Orthodoxy, and Popular Religion 131
  • References 140
  • 9 - The Theologian as Advocate 143
  • Notes 156
  • References 158
  • 10 - Doctrinal Development: Searching for Criteria 161
  • References 176
  • 11 - Revelation Revisited 177
  • References 191
  • 12 - A Priori Christology and Experience 193
  • References 211
  • 13 - The Supposedly Historical Basis of Theological Understanding 213
  • References 235
  • 14 - Doctrinal Criticism: Some Questions 239
  • Notes 261
  • References 263
  • 15 - Paideia and the Myth of Static Dogma 265
  • Edition's 283
  • Bibliography of Writings by Maurice Wiles 285
  • Index of Names 291
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