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By John Hick

For lots of humans, the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is the essence of Christianity. with out the incarnation, Christianity will be anything else. but this assumption is open to an exceptional many questions, and in a single of the main fascinating and provocative collections of reviews to seem for a very long time, a gaggle of theologians asks no matter if the belief of the incarnate God isn't one other of these patristic doctrines which have to be criticized and interpreted afresh within the smooth international. the possibility might sound sensational and harmful, yet this quantity has neither attribute. it's been produced through distinctive students, who research the facts from the recent testomony onwards with care and thoroughness. And as they ask their questions, they're even as fascinated by the results in their findings for an entire and dwelling Christian religion this day. Their paintings is anything that no considering Christian can forget about. There are ten essays in all, written by means of the editor, and through Don Cupitt, Michael Goulder, Leslie Houlden, Dennis Nineham, Maurice Wiles and Frances younger.

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Each is self-sufficient and adequate up to a point, but no single model 34 The Myth of God Incarnate represents on its own the total complex reality which we perceive, and in our present state of knowledge it is impossible to see how they ultimately fit together. As Paul said in a quite different context, 'Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully . '. As Christian believers, then, we work with (i) the scientific model which finds explanations of phenomena, behaviour and events in terms of natural causes, and (ii) what we can only describe as 'mythological' or symbolic models, models which however inadequately represent the religious and spiritual dimension of our experience.

But is it? There are, I think, good reasons for thinking that this is not so: (i) The simple equation Jesus God not only fails to represent what Christian tradition has claimed, but is distinctly odd. To reduce all of God to a human incarnation is virtually inconceivable, a fact to which Trinitarian doctrine is the traditional response. The status of all language about God, as we have already noted, is peculiar. The simple equation cannot help confusing the two models with which, I have suggested, we are obliged tq work; in other words, it turns 'myth' into 'science'.

It is not by accepting traditional formulations as God-given and unquestionable that we join the band of witnesses in the New Testament and the early church, but by wrestling with the problem of expressing intel­ ligently in our own contemporary environment, our personal testimony to the redemptive effect of faith in Jesus of Nazareth. 3. A Personal Testimony In any attempt to rethink christo logical belief, the primacy of soteri­ ology must be recognized. This sense that the story of Jesus Christ provides the key to life, the answer to man's moral idealism, and above all, a revelation of divine involvement in the suffering and evil of the world, has been mediated to us through the faith of generations committed to the church, and through the witness of the New Testament.

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