Re: Response to Howard on Tillich & Bultmann

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Tue May 20 2003 - 12:19:16 EDT

  • Next message: D. F. Siemens, Jr.: "Re: God and nature; miracles"

    I will put in my pennyworth!

    George is fair on Bultmann. Among anglican theologians many assume some kind
    of conflict thesis as a reason why they must reject orthodox christianity.
    e.g Don Cupitt in The sea of Faith, Paul Badham in The Contemporary
    Challenge of Modernist Theology (1999), both are similar to Spong in his
    recent pukings. Likewise John Hick. Their refrain is that they must have a
    theology which takes modern science into account and that means no miracles.

    In a sense they adopt the opposite argument of creationsits and say that
    becuase science has disprooved genesis and miracles we have to have a faith
    which excludes the Virgin Birth and empty tomb and is soft on atonemnt etc.
    At times the argument is extended to disallow any historicity in the old and
    new testament.

    I am sure that there are parallels in US liberal theology.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Burgy" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 2:27 AM
    Subject: Response to Howard on Tillich & Bultmann

    > Howard asked: "Interesting comment. Could you elaborate on that a bit? In
    your judgment, what was/is the character of the misunderstanding of science
    that "liberals" manifest?"
    > I like George's answer, but mine is a little bit different. As I read
    Bultmann, he seems to have been so awed by the success of modern science
    that he decided that the resurrection and other biblical miracles had been
    quite thouroughly disproven. For him, it is the story (symbol) of the
    resurrection which works within us to transform us. When I read him, I
    conclude that while he was misled about science, he was none the less a
    Christian, converted by the power of the myth-story.
    > Tillich is more opaque (to me), but I see him doing much the same thing.
    Both men, observing correctly that (1) the resurrection cannot be proven
    true and (2) belief in a particlar historical fact alone seems to be a poor
    basis for a Christian worldview, focus on the symbols of the Christian faith
    and how we handle them (or they handle us). Tillich does very well, I think,
    in introducing the necessity of doubt into the Christian's faith as an
    integral part.
    > Hume had shown 150 years earlier the induction fallacy of science; I find
    nothing in the writings of either man that they understood the significance
    of that -- however, I have by no means read everything each man wrote. I did
    peruse Tillich's magnum opus, his SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, through all the index
    entries for "resurrection." I'm sure george has read more of both men than I
    have, so if he takes an agrument with anything here, he's probably right.
    Still -- it is useful to return to primary siurces for what each man
    actually wrote, and that's what I have been trying to do.
    > Popper's falsification ideas came along later -- I wish both Bultmann and
    Tillich had had a chance to interact with those concepts. Observing that
    sciece proceeds by induction, Popper suggested that science advanced by
    deducing testable theories from the data; if a theory passed all tests, it
    had a place at the table -- until, of course, some data came along that
    falsified it or some other theory, either simpler, more beautiful or more
    consilient with other theories came along, in which case it might be
    supplanted. See UNENDED QUEST by Popper.
    > Anyway -- that's my 2c worth. All the books are packed now for our move
    out of Denver -- it will be at least a month before I see them again.
    Otherwise I would have tried to give some citations.
    > Burgy (John Burgeson)
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