Re: Is Jonah to be taken literally?

From: george murphy (
Date: Thu Aug 23 2001 - 10:15:04 EDT

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    "Howard J. Van Till" wrote:

    > In response to my recommendation of Richard E. Rubenstein's book, When
    > Jesus Became God, George said:
    > What Nicea did was to formalize the realization that
    > Christian thought had come to over three centuries, that one
    > couldn't make the fundamental affirmations that Christ is
    > Lord and Savior in the fullest senses if one stopped short
    > of saying in one way or another that he is "one in being
    > with the Father."
    > Perhaps you're correct that the Athanasian doctrine re Jesus' divinity
    > won the day because it functioned to warrant other highly valued
    > doctrines. That, by itself, sheds no light on either its truth or
    > falsehood.

            Agreed. & if the belief that Christ is Lord and Savior in the
    fullest sense of the terms is to be placed in question, let's make that
    clear. But of course more is involved in that than the truth or falsity
    of propositions.

    > Of course there were various political factors involved at
    > Nicea and its aftermath - on both sides, it should be
    > noted. Only the most naive about the church will be
    > surprised by that, and only those who don't believe that God
    > can act through the less attractive features of human nature
    > will think that this disqualifies the council's decision.
    > One would have to be equally naive to propose that all major
    > ecclesiastical council decisions should be considered to be, in
    > effect, "acts of God" or human acts that reflect only God's leading.

                There have been only seven generally recognized ecumenical
    councils and their "major" decisions (as distinguished from various
    disciplinary canons &c) were all fundamentally christological - i.e.,
    stating or expressing the implications of the belief that Christ is
    truly God and truly human. If one believes that there is any truth at
    all in NT promises of God's guidance and preservation of the church,
    then it doesn't reuire any particular gullibility to think that those
    councils basically got it right. That doesn't mean that one has to
    believe councils to be inerrant, or even to think that the
    conceptualities and language they used to express their christology is
    beyond question.

    > I continue to suggest that Rubenstein's book deserves a reading.
    > Christians would be illumined by knowing more of Christian
    > ecclesiastical history.

            I agree with the last sentence and would suggest Hengel's book
    for a start and Grillmeier for the more ambitious. Volume I of Justo
    Gonzalez' A History of Christian Thought covers the period up through
    Chalcedon in a non-tendentious way.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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