Re: A Bit of Christmas Levity

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Fri Dec 27 2002 - 17:42:27 EST

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    I have recently re-read ELM's The secularisation of Chritianity written in
    response to Honest to God in 1965. It is equally valid for extreme liberal
    theollgy today. A wonderful read.
    I must read my copy of his Christian Tehology and Natural Science.

    I think Bultmann conned us over the 3 decker universe, as I am sure that
    Paull and Luke definitely did not accept and were typical greeks accepting a
    spherical earth etc. I am not sure about other writers of the NT.

    Anyway I think we can dismiss Bultmann's theolgy as he most problably did
    not accept Plate Tectonics as thsi came in about the time he died!

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Robert Schneider" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, December 24, 2002 9:53 PM
    Subject: A Bit of Christmas Levity

    > Some of you may be familiar with Dr. Eric L. Mascall's Gifford Lectures
    > other serious writings on theology. This Anglican Thomist also from time
    > time indulged in the writing of theological doggeral, composed, he
    > confessed, while in the bath ("let the Freudians do their worst with this
    > damaging admission"). One of the contemporary theologians (for him) he
    > enjoyed skewering was Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann, as you probably know, a
    > towering figure in European liberal theology, argued that we need to
    > the proclamation of the gospel (the "kergyma") from the mythological
    > world-view it was clothed in, and speak it in the context of the modern
    > scientific outlook, with the aid of a Christian existentialist philosophy.
    > Following the publication of Bultmann's _Kergyma and Myth_, Mascall wrote
    > duo of pieces called "Christmas with the Demythologizers." Here they are,
    > in part (dated in the late fifties):
    > I.
    > Hark, the herald angels sing:
    > "Bultmann is the latest thing!"
    > (Or they would if he had not
    > Demythologized the lot.)
    > Joyfull, all ye nations, rise,
    > Glad to existentialize!
    > Peace on earth and mercy mild,
    > God and Science reconciled.
    > Lo, the ancient myths disperse,
    > Hence, three-storied universe!
    > Let three-decker pulpits stay:
    > Bultmann has a lot to say,
    > Since Kerygma still survives
    > When the myths have lost their lives,
    > Hark, the herald angels sing:
    > "Bultmann shot us on the wing!"...
    > Let us with a gladsome mind
    > Leave the ancient world behind.
    > Modern man, rejoice with us!
    > We have read Copernicus.
    > While the herald angels sing:
    > "Bultman ist ein gutes Ding!"
    > We respond in simple trust:
    > "Demythologize or bust!"
    > (_Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate_. By Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst
    > Lohmeyer, Julius Schniewind, Friedrich Schumann and Helmut Thielicke, with
    > an appreciation by Austin Farrar. SPCK, 1953. See also Bultmann's _Jesus
    > Christ and Mythology_.)
    > II.
    > (Air: 'Good King Wenceslas')
    > Dr. Bultmann ventured forth
    > Boldly from his study,
    > When the wind was in the north
    > And the roads were muddy.
    > All his thoughts were in a maze;
    > This was not surprising.
    > He had spent some weary days
    > Demythologizing.
    > "Hither, pupil, strain they sight
    > If thou canst, descrying
    > Yonder folk who shove and fight--
    > What can they be buying?"
    > "Sir, 'tis card with scraps of verse,
    > Pictured with a fable:
    > Shepherds and astrologers
    > Kneeling in a stable."
    > "Bring my writings, if you please,
    > In the last editions.
    > Du und ich we'll stifle these
    > Outworn superstitions."
    > Sage and pupil forth they go,
    > Braving every stigma,
    > Shedding myths like billy-o*,
    > Clinging to kerygma.
    > "Sir, my thoughts begin to stray
    > And my faith grows bleaker.
    > Since I threw my myths away
    > My kerygma's weaker."
    > "Think on Heidegger, my lad,
    > That pellucid Teuton;
    > Than you won't feel half so bad
    > When they talk of Newton."
    > Existentially he thought,
    > As his master hinted.
    > All the learned works he bought
    > Which the sage had printed.
    > Therefore, folk, when science sends
    > Doubts and fears depressing,
    > Demythologize your friends--
    > Then you'll win their blessing.
    > [*many ancient authorities read "flakes of snow"]
    > A joyous Christmas, complete with shepherds and astrologers, be with you
    > all. And God bless us, every one!
    > Bob Schneider

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