Essentials of Worldview Analysis - Lesson 2
Philosophy of History (Part 2/2)
In this lesson, you will explore a critique of Rudolf Bultmann's theological ideas, particularly his views on the historical foundations of the Christian faith and the concept of myth. You will gain an understanding of Bultmann's perspective on myths, including biblical myths, traditional Christian dogma, and the acceptance of supernaturalism. Additionally, you will learn about the criticism of Bultmann's naturalism and his ironic similarities to Gnostic doctrines. This lesson will challenge you to think critically about the complex relationship between faith, history, and myth in Christian theology.
Philosophy of History (Part 2/2)
Philosophy of History
I. Bultmann’s view of History
II. Three additional kinds of myth in the Bible
A. Biblical language that conflicts with modern psychology
B. Traditional Christian dogma
C. Intervention of a supernatural god into time and space
III. Bultmann and Gnosticism
IV. Demythologizing the New Testament
V. Why Bultmann Disjoins Faith and History
A. Makes faith palatable
B. History too uncertain
C. Doctrine of justification by faith
VI. The verdict of post-Bultmannian theology
VII. Historical knowledge and interpersonal knowledge
VIII. Models of faith
A. Leaning or resting
B. Walking on a tight rope
IX. Christian Faith
- In this lesson, Dr. Nash introduces the idea of World View Thinking. You will explore the Philosophy of History, Collingwood's theory of history, and Bultmann and his historical idealism leading to understanding of how historical events are integral to the Christian faith.
- In this lesson, we continue with Bultman's view of history and his idea of myth, gnosticism, and demythologizing. Dr. Nash concludes with a discussion of historical knowledge and interpersonal knowledge, and models of faith.
- Delve into the philosophy of history's significance for the Christian faith and American political philosophy, exploring the struggle between freedom and virtue in political liberalism, conservatism, and the state.
A seminary-level version of this class is available in our Institute Program.
Dr. Ronald Nash
Essentials of Worldview Analysis
Philosophy of History (Part 2/2)
[00:00:01] Once again, if it's necessary. Let me remind you of what we've been doing for the last hour or so. This is a summary tape for the longer biblical training, dawg course called Advanced Worldview Thinking. I've decided today to give you a kind of bonus. I could have picked any of the topics that we cover in the longer course. But for some reason, which I have trouble remembering right now, it seems to me that we admitted this historical material, which should be perhaps the most important part of the actual course. So we're giving it to you as kind of a bonus. We're omitting a lot of material as we have to do. If you want all of the missing material, you'll find it in my great book, Christian Faith and Historical Understanding, which is published by AARP Press or Academic Renewal Press. You can go right to its home site, I suppose. Now, I think this next unit of material will finish up what we're able to do with the philosophy of history here. And that's true. Then I'll announce how we'll spend the last hour or so of this tape. But again, the whole idea is to give you a sample of what we do. We're looking at the Christian worldview, at what it has to say in this case about history and where we are in our brief little study of Rudolph Boltzmann is this Boltzmann is one of many liberal. Theologians and liberal philosophers who believe that the historical foundation of the Christian faith is not important. What is important Boltzmann says about the Christian faith is not what happened on a cross in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
[00:02:25] That's not important. No. Altman says what's important is what's happening now in the hearts of people who call themselves Christians. Well, if any of you are old enough to remember the comedian Flip Wilson. This sounds very much like the church of what's happening now. I'm sorry. Dr. Bullmann or others who follow him. But if those events did not happen. In Jerusalem 2000 years ago, then there would be no church today and we wouldn't miss it. It is the fact that Jesus Christ came into this world as the Son of God. It is the fact that he died on that cross for our sins, and it is the fact that he rose victorious from the grave. That there is a Christian faith worth caring about. To quote Paul, or to remember what Paul says in First Corinthians 15, if Jesus Christ is not risen from the grave, we are, of all men, most miserable. And what you have in the case of Rudolf Boltzmann and his liberal disciples and the second and third generation of liberals who follow that way of thinking is we have people who are really ignorant about the Christian faith, and they are enemies of the historic Christian faith. And we're in the business of showing you how bad Altman's rejection of the historical foundations of the Christian faith. Turns out to be. Now, when we left, I had just talked about the first of four kinds of myth that appear in boatman's thinking. We're now ready to look at the second kind of meth. And this turns out to include expressions, uses of language that conflict with modern psychology. Bowman also treats as meth biblical statements that, when interpreted, literally appear to conflict with modern psychology. They really do not conflict.
[00:04:43] They may conflict with what some certain psychologists think. But it doesn't mean that these Christian statements are in any kind of trouble. Beaumont's prime examples here are biblical references to demons and devils. For example, the Gospels report that Jesus explained some normal human behavior in terms of demon possession. But listen to me. It is important to notice also that Jesus never explained all abnormal human behavior in terms of demon possession. Jesus recognized that some instances of physical and mental illness had natural causes. While it is not clear that biblical references to natural phenomena require us to conclude that the Bible actually teaches and endorses an outmoded cosmology, that was the first kind of myth that Pullman talked about. There can be no question but that the Gospels teach that Jesus explained some instances of abnormal human behavior in terms of demon possession. Check out the fifth chapter of March Gospel. Now, Beaumont obviously found the existence of demons incredible. While this may be an interesting bit of psychological information about Beaumont, it does not follow from Boatman's or anyone else's disbelief that demons do not exist. It is obvious that many contemporary humans, including many who are not Christians, including many who treat people with psychological problems, find belief in malevolent, superhuman spirits plausible. Boatman's dismissal of biblical accounts of such spirits as myth appears to beg some more rather basic questions. Boatman's third kind of myth. Traditional Christian dogma. Now, the plot thickens a little bit. Many people who know about man's denigration of biblical myth are unaware of the radical lengths to which he took his doctrine. Boatman branded as myth practically every distinctive belief of traditional Christianity, the incarnation of a myth. The virgin birth is a myth. The vicarious atonement is a myth, the resurrection, the ascension, and the second.
[00:07:12] All of these are supposedly myths for boatmen. In other words, if he doesn't like it, it's a myth. It is at this point that many who might have been willing to follow Bowman's rather ambiguous lead with respect to the first two kinds of myth begin to balk. After all, what Bowman wishes to dispose of in this third category of myth is what most traditional Catholics and Protestants regard as essential elements of the Christian religion. A religion without the incarnate crucified and risen Son of God might be a plausible faith, I suppose, but it is certainly not the Christian religion. What Bowman dismisses as myth in this third category constitutes the unique foundation of historic Christianity. If these foundations are removed, Christianity is altered so dramatically that it becomes a totally new religion. If someone were to come out with a new soft drink. And call it Coca-Cola. He would be sued for stealing a trademark. But this is precisely the sort of thing that theological liberals have been doing for generations. They have taken the old labels and applied them illegitimately to an entirely new product. The religion they set forth is different in every essential way from the historic Christian faith. But for some reason, they lack the integrity to give their religion a new name. They want the advantages that the old name has built up over the centuries. Portman's radical redefinition of Christianity could be compared to the Reverend Jerry Falwell starting a Baptist church in Jerusalem and calling it the Liberty Jewish Temple. In some areas of life, names do make a difference. The Christian faith has suffered immeasurable harm because of the tendency of people to use the word Christian in a careless and non historic way. My argument would not preclude theologians like boatmen from practicing any religion they like.
[00:09:23] But when a person promotes a religion in total conflict with traditional Christianity, he ought to give it a new name. That will indicate to the uninitiated that he is promoting a new product. Bowman finally rejects this myth the fundamental theistic conviction that a supernatural being like God can intervene in the world of space and time. The only support Boltzmann offers for this claim is the simple observation that modern science does not believe that the course of nature can be interrupted, or, so to speak, perforated by supernatural powers. Another quote. Mythology expresses a certain understanding of human existence. It believes that the world and human life have their ground and their limits in a power which is beyond all that we can calculate or control. Mythology speaks about this power inadequately and insufficiently, because it speaks about it as if it were a worldly power. It speaks of gods who represent the power beyond the visible, comprehensible world. It speaks of gods as if they were men and of their actions as human actions. Although it conceives of the gods as endowed with superhuman power and of their actions as incalculable, as capable of breaking the normal, ordinary order of events, end of quote. Boltzmann is attacking a straw man. The simple truth is that Boatman is a naturalist. He believes the world is a closed system, not open to intervention from any forces outside the system. His basic worldview is not that of the traditional theist who sees the world as the creation of a sovereign God. And the universe as an open system. Nature is for boatman and ultimate that boatman's God is powerless to affect. Notice how boatman's meaning of myth has become extended. A myth is no longer just an outmoded belief about the structure of the solar system or the cause of abnormal human behavior.
[00:11:45] The sphere of myth now includes any acceptance of supernatural ism. I quote again The historical method includes the presuppositions that history is a unity in the sense of a closed continuum of effects in which individual events are connected by the succession of cause and effect. The whole historical process must be understood as a closed unity. This close oddness means that the continuum of historical happenings cannot be rent by the interference of supernatural powers, and that therefore there is no miracle in this sense of the word. Such a miracle would be an event whose cause did not lie within history. Scottish theologian Thomas Torrence has criticized Beaumont's naturalism on the ground that it brings to the task a biblical interpretation and essentially closed mind, which can only result in some sort of scientific or sociological reductionism. A major irony attaches to Altman's refusal to allow the possibility that the transcendent God can intervene in the physical universe. It is well known that Boltzmann criticized certain features of early Christianity for what he took to be its undue dependance on Gnosticism. But the irony is that boatman's exaggerated stress on the divine transcendence that rules out any possibility of gods having contact with the physical world turns out to be a capitulation to a major Gnostic doctrine. The Gnostics so exaggerated the otherness of God in contrast to the material world that they ruled out any direct contact between God and the world. This is effectively what Borman did. This does not mean that Borman accepted the entire Gnostic system. In fact, he regarded himself as a critic of what he saw as Gnostic tendencies in early Christianity, such as the belief that a supernatural Jesus from out there enters this world to redeem man. But what was most central in Gnosticism was the utter disparity between the divine spirit and corrupt matter.
[00:14:06] The exclusive separation between God and the world Boatman, the avowed enemy of Gnostic tendencies in Christianity, turns out to be the real Gnostic Will the real Gnostic please stand up? Despite the problems that Bormann perceives in the mythical element of Scripture, he believes the message of salvation comes couched in mythological language. To the extent that modern man regards that mythical component as essential to the message, he will view the message with suspicion or disdain. Such an attitude, says Borman, confuses the husk with the kernel of the New Testament message. Bowman still contends that modern man should not reject the message because of the mythical form in which it comes. Rather, he should strip away the husk and get down to the kernel. He should distinguish the content of the message from the form in which it may come. In. The form of the message includes all the mythological baggage that Boatman believes accompanies the message, the content of the messages, the charisma, the preaching of the early church. What is required is that this outmoded form be reinterpreted so that modern man may see what is really crucial and central to the biblical message. What does Boatman mean by the mythologies? In one place, he explains it like this quote to deep mythologize is to deny that the message of Scripture and of the church is bound to an ancient worldview which is obsolete and of quote. But if this were all that boatman meant by his call to mythologize the Bible, even his most outspoken critics on the theological right would people Mayans, none of them believes the world is flat or that the Bible teaches a flat earth. Theological conservatives are eager to show that the message of the Bible is not tied to an obsolete view of the world.
[00:16:22] In another place, Bullmann writes, quote, de mythologies Zation is a hermeneutic method. That is to say, a method of interpretation and exegesis. End quote. In other words, the mythologies ation is a process of re translating the message of the Bible into language and concepts that modern man can understand and accept the mythologies Asian is translating done with an apologetic concern that leads to more effective proclamation. Bullmann believes that he and his followers are able to preach the word in more contemporary language and thus make it more understandable and acceptable to modern man. But as we have seen the myths that Bowman wishes to strip away from the kernel of the Christian message turn out to include features that traditional Christianity has regarded as an essential part of that kernel. It is clear that at least in Beaumont's hands, the mythologies zation is not a neutral method of interpretation. It is a method used by a group of thinkers who have decided before the fact what is essential and what is not essential to the Christian message. Boatman's de mythologies zation of the New Testament led him to a theology that he admitted was highly reminiscent of themes found in the early work of the German existentialist Martin Heidegger. Pay attention. This becomes pretty incredible stuff. Bowman disavows any dependance on Heidegger, claiming instead only that he saw in Heidegger's philosophy some of the same existential themes he found in the New Testament. Even though his re translation of the New Testament was based on a conceptual framework borrowed from a non-Christian philosopher, Martin Heidegger. Bowman insists that the message of the charisma, as he understands it, would have been the same even if Heidegger had never been born. Well, if you believe that for Bullmann, the goal of the New Testament is human self-understanding.
[00:18:43] When done properly, the mythologized version of the New Testament will tell us what it means for a human being to exist according to boatman's existential reinterpretation of the New Testament. Man does not need salvation from sin so much as he needs salvation from himself. The attainment of existential self-awareness does not depend on Jesus dying on a cross or rising from the dead. Instead of attempting to bring people to a reconciliation with a holy God through the sacrifice of Christ, the Existentialist seeks to bring them to a self-awareness in which one lays himself open to the future with its possibilities of genuine existence. As we have seen, Boatman believes that Christianity need not be concerned with what happens in the objective world studied by science. What is important is what takes place within a human being. Similarly, Christianity is not especially concerned with what may have happened in the past. Its primary interest is in what is happening in the believer's present experience. The real value of the New Testament charisma is not derived from what happened 2000 years ago. That is unimportant. The real value and meaning of Christianity lies in what it means to me today. Always in your present, Boardman writes. Lives the meaning in history, and you cannot see it as a spectator, but only in your responsible decisions. Altmann has at least three reasons for this joining faith in history. The first is an apologetic concern to make the Christian faith. Palatable to modern man. To many events and the alleged history of Jesus are theoretically impossible and thus incredible to modern man. Now, don't get fooled by that language. What you have here is a basic type of naturalist who says, I don't believe in the supernatural. So when he says that much of this is incredible to modern man.
[00:21:05] That's modern man's problem. Claims that Jesus walked on water or turned water into wine or cast out demons or fed 5000 people with a couple of fish and five loaves of bread, according to Bolton, do more harm than good. Boatman thinks attempts to make such events an integral part of the charisma will only succeed and turning off modern people who no longer believe in the possibility of such miracles. If such non-essential elements are stripped from the charisma, it becomes easier for people to accept what is truly essential in the charisma. But of course, it has nothing to do with the essential historic Christian faith. Beaumont Second reason for separating faith and history is this conviction that the gospel is too important to be grounded on anything is unreliable, uncertain and subject to change as history. The results of historical research can never be certain, he says. Therefore, arresting anything as important as the gospel on history is to do the charisma a disservice. As American New Testament scholar Norman Perron explains, quote, Faith as such is necessarily independent of historical facts, even historical facts about Jesus. Now, let me repeat that faith as such is necessarily independent of historical facts, even historical facts about Jesus. In practice, Perrin says, today's assured historical facts tend to become tomorrow's abandoned historical hypotheses. Well, third. Altman grounds his distrust of history. Remember that German word on a surprising appeal to the Pauline and Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith? Now, in one sense, I want to apologize for laughing. But in another sense, this is incredible stuff. To take the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith and to use it to utterly destroy the historical foundations of the Christian faith. Wow. Well, just as the apostle Paul and Martin Luther, prior to their conversions, had sought security in things, many other Christians seek security for their faith in history.
[00:23:39] Bowman believes that the doctrine of justification by faith means letting go of history as well as letting go of good works. Bold Man believes that many Christians are inconsistent in the sense that though they profess belief and justification by faith and they're so Realogy, they practice a doctrine of works in epistemology. Beaumont's comparison of his method to the Pauline and Luther doctrine of justification by faith may be sincere, but it is completely wrong. As British philosopher Basil Mitchell complains, quote, There is not a point. In fact, any warrant in logic for proceeding from the theological doctrine of justification by faith alone to the epistemological doctrine that faith admits no rational support. This is bizarre. The former insists that man cannot earn salvation by good works and is a part of the teaching of traditional Christian theism. The latter claims the traditional Christian theism, of which this theological doctrine is a part, must be accepted without question, by an existential choice for which no reason can or need be given. They are entirely distinct, and it is an evident non-sequitur to suppose that the one follows from the other old man's elimination of knowledge. This is my comment. Goldman's elimination of knowledge as a ground of faith does not stem from Paul VI or Martin Luther. It comes straight from the philosophy of Immanuel Kant Modern theology. Since Könnte has been infected by a faulty epistemology that teaches that faith and theoretical knowledge have absolutely nothing in common. Boardman is captive to this epistemology that has been the legacy of too much Protestant theology since COT, a legacy that exaggerates the difference between faith and knowledge. I've written a book on this theory. It's titled The Word of God in the Mind of Man. It's published by Presbyterian, the Reformed Publishing Company.
[00:26:08] It's available from Amazon.com. This is nothing new, but it ain't what Boltzmann claimed it was. Pardon my language. Genuine faith does not exist in a cognitive vacuum. In everyday life, we proportion faith and trust to the evidences in ordinary, everyday experience. The person who believes is most deserving of respect when his belief is supported by reasons. Believing against reason is not faith, it is credulity. Theologian I Howard Marshall sums up Coleman's existentialist approach to faith in history. Quote The function of the Bible is to bring man to self-awareness and thus to save him by setting him free from himself. So, says Borman, no act of God is needed to save men in the sense that some historical events, such as the Cross, as a means of setting him free from sin. But when the Christian message about the cross comes to men, it enables man to see himself, to acknowledge the poverty of his existence, and to lay himself open to the future with its possibility of genuine existence. Such a message is almost completely independent of history and needs no historical proof or historical backing. On this view, the traditional concept of God is a mythological survival from the past. When mythologized and restated and modern terms, it conveys the existentialist message. Even Jesus himself is scarcely necessary, although the fact of Jesus as the one through whom man comes to self-awareness is strenuously defended. Bowman's writings make clear his indebtedness to historical idealists like Dill, ty and Collingwood. From Dill, Ty Bowman learned that the interpreter must experi experienced the original creative moment in which an author gives expression to life. From Collingwood, Bowman drew the notion that the historian must relive the past in his own present experience. I quote again The meaning of history lies always in the present, and when the President is conceived as the eschatological present by Christian faith, the meaning in history is realized.
[00:28:54] Anyone who complains I cannot see meaning in history and therefore my life is meaningless is to be admonished. Do not look around yourself into universal history. You must look into your own personal history, always in your present lives. The meaning of history in every moment slumbers the possibility of being the eschatological moment. You must awaken it. I suspect it. Bormann had been a preacher. He would not have had many people in his pews. In another book, Boatman discusses our grasp of history in terms clearly reminiscent of Bill Times distinction between the natural and the human sciences. According to Borman, then the essence of history cannot be grasped by viewing it as we view our natural environment. Our relationship to history is wholly different from our relationship to nature. When a human being observes nature, he perceives there is something objective which is not himself. When he turns his attention to history. However, he must admit himself to be part of history. He cannot observe this living complex of events objectively, as he can observe natural phenomena. Hence. There cannot be impersonal observation of nature. During a long and heated debate over boatman's theology post, both mining and theology came to view Bolt Man's radical disjunction between faith and history as the Achilles heel of his system. While the major theologians after boatmen often disagree as to how his challenge should be met and his errors corrected. They agree that boatman's radical separation of history from Schechter must be abandoned. The essence of the conservative rejection of Boltzmann, as expressed by American theologian Kenneth Concern as a great quote boatman who denies the objective reality of the divine human Christ and relegates the mighty acts of God to mythologized insights into the meaning of authentic human history is not really interpreting the teaching of the New Testament.
[00:31:21] He is rather eliminating the teaching of the New Testament. We agree with BART against Bowman that the heart of biblical Christianity is what God did objectively in history, as he, from his eternity, took time to become man, to die on the cross and to rise again from the dead on the third day in order to redeem man to himself. That's the end of the quote. Boltzmann proudly informed the world that he had deep mythologized Christianity in an effort to make paramount the charisma of the early church. Unfortunately, and this is something Boatman himself never realized, he also did Historia sized and declare Sygma ties to Christianity. Let me repeat that he didn't just mythologize Christianity, he historicist it. He cut it off from history. He did Charisma ties to Christianity, that is. He cut the heart out of the charisma. He took the charisma away from the Christian faith. And left it with a few sops from Heidegger's. Hopeless existentialism. Altman may have sincerely believed he was serving the Christian faith by making the Christian message more intelligible and acceptable to modern man. But it is obvious that what Beaumont, regarded as a defense of the Christian religion, involved entirely too many concessions to contemporary unbelief. His own worldview was of view a form of naturalism, and thus resulted in his transforming historic Christianity into what amounted to be a new and different and a pathetic excuse for a religion. Well, we want to turn our attention to some other subjects, but I want to add a few more comments about the philosophy of history, and I want to develop those additional thoughts. Along the lines of the relationship between historical knowledge and inter. Personal. Knowledge. Neo orthodox theologians like Emil Bruner and existentialist theologians like Boltzmann grounded many of their claims on the assumption that ideal knowledge that means the kind of knowledge that exists between two persons I thou knowledge as opposed to the kind of subject object relationship found in I it knowledge is the paradigm of religious knowledge.
[00:34:16] In other words, these liberals, whichever school they belong to, disparaged cognitive knowledge in which a human being relates to objectively true propositions and interpreted divine revelation after the model of interpersonal human dialog. The dichotomy between I thou and I it knowledge and religion can be faulted on many grounds to mention just one. The appeal of this position to the model of interpersonal human dialog is misleading insofar as it suggests that either all knowledge is totally divorced from I it knowledge. It is impossible for two human beings to have a meaningful interpersonal relationship without some prior knowledge about each other. Let me repeat that. It is impossible for two human beings to have a meaningful, interpersonal, I vow relationship without some prior I it knowledge about each other. The dependance of I thou knowledge upon I it knowledge is just as apparent in history. Two people can never have a close personal interpersonal relationship without some knowledge of each other's history. Let me quote Catholic scholar Michael Cook. When two people meet one another, they go through a kind of historical critical process in getting to know one another. Namely, background interests. And history. But if they are to move beyond a merely superficial relationship to something more deeply human, there comes a point at which they must be able to make a faith commitment on the basis of what is known about the other person. But the commitment itself transcends the kind of evidence which would prove to oneself or to anyone else that such a commitment should be made. The moment of trust is a moment of transcendence, a willingness to step beyond what can be strictly proved and make a fundamental affirmation of the goodness of the other person. As such, it is a great risk to oneself because it is at that very moment that one is the most vulnerable.
[00:36:51] Cook is right. Amid the idle chatter that often characterizes the conversation of two people beginning to feel a growing friendship for each other can be found inevitable questions about the other person's history. Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? In other words, tell me the truth about your history. It seems, then, that genuine interpersonal knowledge is impossible, apart from historical knowledge. You cannot have either all knowledge without I it knowledge you can't. To whatever extent faith knowledge is analogous to interpersonal human knowledge. It is obvious that a faith commitment requires prior historical knowledge. Trust is inseparable from knowledge. When a person becomes a friend or falls in love, he makes a commitment that goes beyond what he knows. But nonetheless, the commitment would never have been made without some prior knowledge. The person making the commitment reasons that even though there may be much about this person, he does not know. He knows enough to believe, to trust, to make a commitment that goes beyond the evidence. But the commitment is still based on some evidence, given the tendency of so many contemporary theologians to exclude cognitive knowledge from religious experience. Cook's point is important. Historical knowledge, it turns out, is an important precondition of interpersonal knowledge. But historical knowledge continues to be relevant even after a commitment is made. Suppose one person who makes a commitment to another discovers that what was believed about the history of the other is false. For example, imagine a person whose father died shortly before his birth. Over the years, as this person grew into young manhood, he was told many stories about his deceased father that represented him as courageous and noble and virtuous, holding a faith image of his father as a great man.
[00:39:18] The young man is understandably proud of his father. He believes in his father. But now suppose that the young man discovers that all of the stories about his father are false. Their mythology. And his father, in truth, was just the opposite of what the young man believed him to be. Dare we hold in this case, as theologians like Beaumont appear to suggest in the case of Jesus, that the historical truth is irrelevant to the son's faith in his father. In the case of any normal and reasonable person, we would expect that the correction of the man's false historical knowledge about his father would destroy his faith knowledge in his father. Why should the relationship of faith, knowledge to historical knowledge be any different? In belief in Jesus Christ. Changes in our historical knowledge can change and even destroy interpersonal relationships. This is the way it is in non-religious dimensions of life, and this is the way it is in religion. Our discussion of the relationship of faith to historical knowledge can be concluded with a consideration of several models of faith. Several such analogies can illuminate even further. And finally, the interdependence of faith and history. Number one, faith can be compared to the physical act of leaning or resting. Faith is a kind of surrender or commitment illustrated by the act of resting one's entire weight on some support. When a person prepares to sit, he is about to commit his entire weight to a chair. When a person sits, he exercises the faith that the chair is strong enough to support his weight. A person who believed that a chair could not support his weight but then proceeded to sit anyway is not exactly the model of a rational human being. This model of faith strongly suggests Faith's need for objective support, the kind of support provided by history.
[00:41:40] Two. Faith may also be compared to walking on a tightrope. In other words, it is a balancing act, as Arlie Hoover suggests. Faith, quote, strikes a delicate balance between rationalism and fatalism, Reason and trust, Evidence and commitment. Head and heart. Fact and value. End of quote. The key to success in such an enterprise is maintaining one's balance. Tightrope walkers often lean dangerously to one side because they sense they are in danger of falling. A drastic tilt in the other direction is necessary to prevent the fall, depending on changing conditions in our culture. A tilt to one side or the other may be necessary in order to assure our balance. Kirkuk. Gore's culture was leaning dangerously towards an impersonal rationalism. Anyone who has read Kirkuk or knows how extreme his tilt to the subjective side was. In fact, it was so extreme that he is often misrepresented as a rationalist and a subjectivist. In our day, the tilt has been toward us Subjectivism and irrationalism so severe that a compensating tilt toward rationalism seems justified. Three. Faith may also be thought of in terms of a leap. First of all, faith can be compared to leaping because it requires that the believer go beyond available evidence. If we never trusted beyond the evidence available to us, we would never get very far in life. Most of our beliefs require us to go beyond the evidence to some extent. David Hume's analysis of scientific lore is a good example of this. HUME asked how we know that the future will be like the past, even though we might know that the sun has heretofore always risen in the East. Can we really know that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow? Hume's question raises a fundamental point about scientific knowledge.
[00:43:51] Given our assumptions about the laws of nature, we develop a confidence that nature will continue to behave in the orderly, regular way. We come to assume that the future will be like the past. But what is the ground for this confidence? Every law of science says more than the evidence warrants. The evidence can tell us only what has happened up to the present. Whereas laws of science predict what will continue to happen in the future, since we can have evidence only for what has already happened. It follows that no available evidence can possibly grounds scientific predictions about the future. According to HUME David HUME, what really grounds scientific claims about the future is faith. Our confidence that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow isn't really based on evidence. An act of faith is required to take us from the evidence of what has happened in the past to what we believe or trust will happen in the future. Religious faith obviously includes a similar kind of leap. Paul said that for the present we see only a poor reflection. According to the writer of Hebrews, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith, then, can be compared to a leap in the sense that it involves a commitment that goes beyond available evidence. Much of the confusion about regarding faith as a leap results from imagining faith as a kind of single, gigantic leap into a dark, apparently bottomless chasm. Anyone who leaps off a cliff not knowing how far it is to the bottom is not a paradigm of the man or woman of faith. He is either crazy or stupid. When Soren Kirkegaard talked about faith as a leap, the image he had in mind was that of skipping.
[00:45:49] When a person skips, he is on the ground and off the ground and then back on the ground again. He can never be off the ground for very long. It is in this sense that faith can be compared to leaping. We must never get very far from the evidence from our objective ground of support. We have to keep coming back to something solid. History provides the kind of solid support required by the man or woman of faith. Finally, faith can be compared to a leap in another sense, because, like leaping faith requires a solid jumping off point. People who doubt this should try leaping off a water bit. If faith is a leap, then there must be something solid to support that leap. There must always be grounds or reasons or evidence to support the faith initially. Well. I've considered a number of questions in this last discussion about the relationship between faith and history. What is the relationship between individual Christian faith and history? Is Christian faith totally dependent on history or totally independent? We have seen that faith of any kind and history are interdependent in more ways than people realize. Personal faith or trust in other people often proceeds on the basis of beliefs about that person's history. When that historical knowledge is shown to be false, belief in that knowledge can be weakened or destroyed. The kind of personal faith and trust that grounds human friendship and love has an inherent historical component. The person who trusts and loves another naturally wants to know more about the other person's history. Historical knowledge of this kind can cause trust and love to grow or can lead it to die. Christians are people who have a loving trust in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ.
[00:47:58] Their Christian faith and trust also has an inherent historical component. From its beginning, Christianity has been a religion with a past. Without that past. Christians have no grounded hope for the future.