In a book I recently began reading, I came across this quote from German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer:
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.
Very interesting to ponder with regards to the past and the future, and for me, especially as it relates to the church’s engagement with theology.
I would love any thoughts on this quote, both of agreement or disagreement.
I think he was on target, but I would add an additional stage:
First, it is accepted by a minority
Second, it is ridiculed
Third, it is violently opposed
Fourth, it is accepted as self-evident
Yes, good addition. But I suppose that was the starting point, at least some accepted it, and that is why it began to be known and proclaimed, which brought on ridicule.
Yes. We have plenty of examples from science and medicine (e.g. Galileo, Jenner, Bassi, etc.) but I believe we also have some examples from religion.
Definitely. Charismatic gifts, modern instruments, acceptance of Bible translations outside of KJV, and these are simply more current. I think we will see such with women’s roles, evolution as a plausible Christian view, new perspective on justification and others.
Speaking as a Christadelphian, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of mainstream theologians who are now advocating our theology. It’s a refreshing turnaround.
But we’ve had this discussion before. Is it advocating your theology or biblical theology? And I am not sure you are going to see a departure from 2000 years of teaching about Christ and the triune nature of God. 🙂
Well Scott, it’s advocating a theology that I believe to be Biblical, and just happens to be identical to my own. Make of that what you will. 😀
Here’s a few examples:
Hell and Immortal Soulism
The Anglicans abandoned their traditional understanding of hell in the 1940s. Today it continues to lose support among Protestant denominations (even evangelicals). Immortality of the soul is now rejected by many (most?) modern theologians, who note that it cannot be supported from Scripture. Christadelphians have been saying this all along.
The “new perspective on Paul” advocated by theologians such as N. T. Wright is virtually identical to the position Christadelphians have always believed and preached.
1st Century Christology
The earliest Christology is now recognised as Unitarian by theologians such as James D. G. Dunn and James McGrath (note that I am not claiming they are Unitarians). This accords with the Christadelphian view.
Penal substitution has been under serious attack for decades. You will now find it rejected by theologians such as James McGrath, E. P. Sanders and John Dominic Crossan. Modern scholars (including those aforementioned) have increasingly begun to advocate participatory atonement as the older and superior theology, noting its prevalence along the earliest church fathers.
Needless to say, participatory atonement has always been the Christadelphian interpretation. If you’re not familiar with this model, see the article by Bayne and Restall (here: http://bit.ly/nAal6d). I was interested to discover recently that the Orthodox Church also subscribes to a version of participatory atonement.
You’re right that mainstream Christians will never abandon the Trinity. They can’t afford to; there’s too much a stake (no pun intended). But I’ve noticed the steady rise of Unitarianism over the past couple of decades, and that’s good enough for me. 😀
Can’t help but think of the origins/age debate within the church….
I am aware of some of these rethinkings taking place in theology. I’m not sure there is a great acceptance of unitarian Christology and theology (doctrine of God). But I would need to read some of these newer works arising, but also know Nick Norelli over at http://rdtwot.wordpress.com has some good interaction with all such things.
Yes, I am thinking about this with the evangelical church with regards to origins, women’s roles, new perspective on justification and a few other things.
Considering that my community has endured two centuries of demonisation as heretics for holding doctrines now accepted by leading thinkers in the evangelical world, I think we’re entitled to a little recognition.
Christadelphians rejected hell before the Anglicans dropped it, refused immortal soulism before 20th Century theologians abandoned it, taught the new perspective on Paul before it was known as the new perspective on Paul, argued for Unitarianism in the early church before Dunn and McGrath, and taught participatory atonement before Sanders and Crossan.
That puts us 200 years ahead of the game, which is no mean feat.
Ouch, that heresy still doth hurt! 😉 The Anglican Communion has been suffering since the revision of the Irish Articles 1615, at least theologically. Perhaps the last great Archbishop was Ussher who wrote them! Lord have mercy on Your True Church!
*The Thirty-nine Anglican Articles were still taken from the Irish Articles, but they cut down the Articles: Of God’s Eternal Decree and Predestination in them. Numbers 11 and 12 were taken out sadly!
Scott: We can see where a Christianity without both the historical and the creedal leads! I am always just an old Anglican Calvinist, with a premillennialism till the end! (Which is coming on faster now!) 🙂
Yes, if some of these things are what Christadelphians have been considering and holding to, then it is a worthy contribution. But as I said before, I suppose that groups within the church considered and held to some of these beliefs before John Thomas and his followers embraced them. But it is worth noting Christadelphian beliefs in these areas. We must be willing to engage with them, though I must admit I don’t know all of the in’s and out’s (though more now because of my great interaction with you, and I am still awaiting your book ;)).
But, while I am willing to give way that some of the more ‘developed’ Christology and Trinitarian theology seems a bit over-done that took place in the first few centuries following the completion of the NT canon (though I actually don’t think the councils were bad), I still don’t think a Christadelphian unitarianism is fully centred in Scripture (at least as I read of your’s in the debate with Bowman). I think it somewhat problematic in some of the things you deny about Christ and the Spirit. But I suppose we will not be able to hash this out in comment boxes.
Yes some groups within the wider Christian church considered and held to some of these beliefs before my community existed. That’s something else we’ve been telling people for the past 200 years. We’ve never claimed we were the first to revive these doctrines.
A discussion of the BIblical basis for Unitarianism can wait for another time, as you say. Until then, I recommend you read a bit of Dunn and McGrath. 😀
Indeed Dunn is lost here, but not Alister McGrath! The main of McGrath’s work is simply orthodox and certainly historically Anglican..in his case. Which work do you refer to McGrath?
Oh sorry, you are thinking of that other American “McGrath”! Duh….!
James McGrath.. I am not sure about that boy, either? 😉 Note, I am 61.
Jimmy McG is sound as a pound, mate. It’s all good from where I’m standing. Can’t go wrong with a geezer who rejects penal substitution. 😀
Well “Jimmy” is not my “mate”, but he can be yours! 🙂 Note again, I am an Anglican Calvinist, and penal substitution is ‘straight as a gate’ truth! (Gal.3:13) Btw, this moves theologically out of Anselm, and of course Augustne. In more so-called modern times, penal theories move from Dr. R.W. Dale (1829-1895), to Dr. James Denney (1856-1917), etc. Note also, Dr. J.K. Mozley, one time Dean from Cambridge. He wrote an excellent book: The Doctrine of the Atonement (1915), there he gives short summaries of the views of Dale, Denney, Forsyth and Moberly. And yes note too the great P.T. Forsyth’s works! Yes indeed, ‘The cry on the Cross was much more than purely physical death’. But Christ’s Death changes “death” itself! “The just for the unjust (the righteous for the unrighteous), that HE might bring us/you to God, “after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.” (1 Peter 3:18, HCSB).
Hmm, I’ve never really seen penal substitution in Augustine. Even Anselm only prepared the foundations; in my view, the real spadework was done by the Reformers like Calvin and Zwingli.
I’ve recently read a defence of penal substitution by Leahy which you might enjoy (here: http://bit.ly/roPZzq). 😀
Certainly the Reformers brought the Atonement to the best depth of the Pauline! But they certainly followed Augustine’s ideas of sin! I think it was Luther first (beside Paul of course!), that first brought the great emphasis of the “curse” attaching to sin! Luther: “He bore in His soul the tortures of a condemned and ruined soul.” Again certainly this aspect of Christ’s suffering for sin (vicariously) was developed by subsequent thinkers, until it became a clear-cut and definite conception of the punishment of Christ in His suffereings and death for sin, (2 Cor. 5:21). Note besides Luther, of course Calvin, and all the Reformers. Then later too the development in Osiander, Turretin and Quenstedt, etc. But the best thought here is the great stress of the “holiness of God”! “God justifies Himself forever in the Cross as His final achievement”. On the Cross Christ does a work for God and for man. We can say, that on God’s side He (Christ) accepts God’s judgment on man and expresses God’s judgment on sin. It moves in both the “holy” and the “ethical”, but always Godward, for both! And it is only from here.. that we can have “Union with Christ”, as the way of deliverance! But it is both the union and merit of Christ – Himself, the Mediator!
Dave: Thanks for the link! 🙂
^^ You’re welcome. 😀