When A Revolutionary Writer Needs Revisions

1305 words - 5 pages

In orthodox Christianity, myth in scripture makes objectifying claims on the real universe. With the prevalence of scientific reasoning in modern time, however, many theologians, including Earnest Wright, have seen a need to demythologize our understanding of historical biblical events in order to allow them to rationally fit into our understanding of the laws of nature. In so attempting to demythologize, as Langdon Gilkey points out, many theologians have rendered the scriptural language meaningless because, for example, saying, “The Hebrews saw God as acting,” does not make any claim as to what God actually did. Rudolf Bultmann’s approach to interpreting scripture uniquely preserves the meaning of God as acting while effectively eliminating the problem of biblical incompatibility with the natural universe by repositioning God’s action into a personal frame of reference. Bultmann, who was heavily influenced by existentialist philosophy, notes that the realm of existential faith is much different than the realm of science and history, and he proposes an analogical alternative for scripture that is within this faith realm. For Schubert Ogden this solution works but needs to be adjusted. He has two valid critiques of Bultmann’s proposition: it does not provide an analogy with which to understand a demythologized God, and it reverts back to myth in describing Christ’s significance. Ogden develops solutions that successfully address both of the problems he finds in Bultmann. He proposes a meaningful analogy of God and God's action while maintaining the existentialist subjectivity of Bultmann, and he presents a demythologized Christology while preserving the peculiarity of Christ so important to Christianity.
As Ogden points out, Bultmann primarily focuses on relating God’s actions to the existentialist man. Bultmann says, “To speak of God is to speak of myself, [but] it by no means follows that God is not outside the believer” (Bultmann 67), and yet he never really elaborates on what God is outside the believer. He shows what God’s actions can mean through personal interpretation, but he does not address what a demythologized God looks like. Therefore, Bultmann’s “fragmentary and undeveloped” view is in need of correction because “the direct reference of some theological statements is not to man and his possibilities of decision, but to God” (Ogden 83-84; 90). Ogden presents an analogy for God that indeed expands on Bultmann’s. The correction he proposes recognizes that, in the same way humans are inwardly defined by our outward actions, the essence of God-ness can be defined by God’s outward actions in the world since “in each new present, he constitutes himself as God by participating fully and completely in the world of his creatures” (Ogden 89). He likens God, therefore, to a mind controlling its body, in this case, the creatures of the world, with the exception that God is ever-present in time and space in the world (Ogden 87,...

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