Jesus in History and Myth

By R. Joseph Hoffmann; Gerald A. Larue | Go to book overview

Antony Flew


Historical Credentials and Particular Revelation

I

Once upon a time, when there was more concern than there is now both with the truth claims of Christianity and with finding some rational warrant for accepting these claims, much was heard of the scandal of particularity. It consisted in the fact that Christianity, alone among the great world religions, centers on what is supposed to have happened during a particular period, in a particular country, and upon this particular planet Earth. Christianity is in this to be distinguished even from Islam. For, although the providing of a revelation of Allah by the prophet was equally particular, its content was not: indeed to the Muslim, any suggestion of ar identification of Mohammed with Allah has to be supremely blasphemous. It is this scandal of particularity that must make the possibility of rational agents elsewhere in the universe embarrassing for Christians in a way in which for adherents of other religions it is not.

Another consequence of the same peculiarity is that any Christians so unfashionable as to want to produce evidences showing the reasonableness of their faith have had to try to come to terms with what, in a landmark paper, F. H. Bradley called "The Presuppositions of Critical History."1 Christians have certainly not been alone in hoping to validate the claims of their candidate's revelation by maintaining that these claims have been, and perhaps still are, endorsed by the occurrence of miracles. Nor does this seem an unreasonable apologetic project. For if the laws of nature express practical necessities and practical impossibilities, as they surely do, then these could be overridden only by some supernatural power. So how

____________________
Antony Flew is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading, England.

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