Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The New Perspective We Had To Have

That goes for the Third Quest too. This astonishing statement is from Rudolph Bultmann, who went on to cast a large shadow of influence over 2oth century theology. Bultmann argues that the whole Old Testament narrative is of no importance to the Christian faith.
"To the Christian faith the Old Testament is no longer revelation as it has been, and still is, for the Jews. For the person who stands within the Church the history of Israel is a closed chapter... Israel's history is not our history, and in so far as God has shown his grace in that history, such grace is not meant for us... The events which meant something for Israel, which were God's Word, mean nothing more to us... To the Christian faith the Old Testament is not in the true sense God's Word." - Rudolph Bultmann, 'The Significance of The Old Testament for Christian Faith,' pp.8-35 in B Anderson, The Old Testament and Christian Faith, 1963.
These breathtaking denials come not from ignorance - they represent the thought of one of the 2oth century's most 'outstanding' theologians, and represent the theology of many who came after him. Yet it is as odds with the New Testament. Which is why the New Perspective on Paul (I use the term loosely here - the NPP is not a monolithic ideology) and the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus were somewhat inevitable and to be welcomed for their attempt to address these errors. For we gentiles have now been united together with believing Israelites by faith in Christ Jesus. Not only do we share in the access to the Father, forgiveness of sins and a hope in the resurrection of our bodies (and the whole creation), but the very promises of God to Abraham, and the story of Israel are now ours:
"Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands — remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." - Ephesians 2.11-21


Mike Bull said...

A lot of these 20th century theologians ruminate on the implications of the cross, and come up with all sorts of complicated ideas, some good, some bad. But we have the Old Testament history, sovereignly directed by God so we can understand both the cross and the events of the first century, typologically. If we reject this method, we are deliberately reading the Bible with one eye. And often even that eye is glazed over with remnants of high criticism and/or scientistic methodology.

Moderns Christians often don't know who they are. Israel's history is most assuredly our history, as much as a narrow trunk suddenly fills the sky with branches.

samplerlover said...

Hi there,

Just stopped by to wish you and Spally a very Merry Christmas. I hope Santa is good to you both.