John W Burgeson wrote:
> George wrote: "& the death of Jesus on the cross?
> I am NOT playing the "If we don't believe in the floating ax
> our children won't believe in the resurrection" card. But some
> claims are important for Christian faith, & I believe that this one is
> Hmm. My first impulse was to heartily agree. But having listened to
> several lectures by Marcus Borg last week, and having read two of his
> books (so far), I am hesitant to agree so readily. BTW, as far as I
> understand Borg, he also believes the above, but, of course,
> differentiates more than some, including me, of the "historical Jesus,"
> and the "risen Christ." I would not do his thought justice to go into it
> here; I do recommend his books for heady reading as he explains more of
> his panentheistic viewpoints.
> We speak of the historical events of scripture as "history in metaphor,"
> particularly when we speak of early Genesis. As we come closer to the
> events of 28-32 AD, however, we are less ready to do so. Suppose the
> cross story is also "history in metaphor?" After all, it was not written
> down, as far as we know, until at least two decades (or more) had passed.
> That Jesus the man lived, and taught, and was a person of great
> significance, is not in question. That Jesus, the risen and present
> Christ, is alive and with us today may also be agreed upon. Does what
> happened in between make a difference as far as one understanding and
> "believing in it" literally make a difference?
1st, there is the extreme implausibility that the first Christians
would have developed the idea that the one they believed to be Messiah and
Lord had died what was generally believed to be the most humiliating and
degrading of deaths unless they had been forced to by brute historical fact.
2d, what does "risen Christ" mean if not "risen from the dead"?
3d, can it really be "agreed upon" that "Jesus, the risen and present
Christ, is alive and with us today" more than it can be agreed that he was
4th, if it is not "Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified" who "has
risen" (Mk.16:6), then what really is the Christian message?
> I think of Bultmann, whom I wrestled with last year. He did not even
> believe in the resurrection, yet I could find no reason to consider him
> "not a Christian."
Bultmann did not deny that in some sense Jesus had risen. "Jesus is
risen into the _kerygma_ (proclamation)" - which is true as far as it goes
(which isn't far enough). But again, the proclamation is of the crucified.
(As far as the empty tomb is concerned, Bultmann is supposed to have said,
"That is a question of archaeology and I am not an archaeologist.")
Bultmann, like some other Christians, may "spiritualize" the
resurrection. Denial that Jesus died on the cross, OTOH, is Islam rather
> Once again, the difference is between "believing in the truth of a
> historical statement" and "belief-in-the-sense-of-trust" (which was the
> meaning of "belief" before 1600) on or in the person of God as revealed
> in Jesus. The second is what is important; the first usually follows, at
> least to some degree, but does not seem, to me, to have the attribute of
Yes, trust is the essential element of faith, and a person can accept
the historical truth of the crucifixion without in any way trusting in
Jesus. But who is the Jesus who is to be trusted? Is it the gnostic Jesus
who fooled the Jews & Romans into crucifying Simon of Cyrene in his place?
Is it the Muslim Jesus who was saved from the cross by Allah? Or is it the
Jesus who was "crucified under Pontius Pilate"?
Trust is the essential element of faith, but there has to be some
idea of who or what you're trusting. Otherwise it's just faith in faith, or
like that pop song of the 50s, "I believe for every drop of rain that falls,
a flower grows, &c".
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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