Hermeneutics and The Shape of the Future - Edited by Frank K. Flinn
Anthony Guerra: I found the topic a large one and I decided to get at it by looking at Divine Principle's reading of the New Testament from the perspective of a particular problem in historical critical scholarship, namely, the quest of the historical Jesus. No w in doing that I have initiated a dialogue between higher criticism of the German kind and Divine Principle. Anglo-Saxon and French scholarship have not taken account of most of the problems German scholarship has sought to deal with. I am dealing with German higher criticism on the problem of the historical Jesus and how Divine Principle might come face to face with it.
Kapp Johnson: Is your schematization and delineation of the life of Jesus appropriate because it better explains the scholarly debate or because it better explains the text as it now stands?
Anthony Guerra: I don't like the form of your question because it implies a radical disjunction between biblical scholarship and the biblical texts.
Kapp Johnson: But you argue that it is best because it explains the scholarly debate.
Frederick Sontag: I would like to know whether your question is really, "Are Divine Principle's key concepts derived from scripture?" That seems to me to be the real question, but I don't think you really answer that in the paper. When you talk about cooperative interaction as a principle by which God works, that is an interesting principle but I don't think that is derived from scripture. Then you say that biblical figures have to set certain conditions. That way of speaking is very common in Divine Principle, but I don't find that in the Ne w Testament. On your key point about John the Baptist in Divine Principle, I don't think you want to say that it is correct, but that there is nothing in the statements about John the Baptist which forbids the interpretation you give. I don't think one can get the interpretation you give out of the scriptural passages alone. I would have a hard time doing it. Finally, you give very few of Jesus' words as justification for the notions of "foundation of faith" and "foundation of substance." Jesus doesn't explain his mission that way. You may interpret it that way, but then you come back to your question of whether the concepts in Divine Principle are biblically based. I don't see that you have proved it at all.
Anthony Guerra: What I say is that the question whether it is from scripture or divinely inspired is impossible to answer. It cannot be a concern in a discourse among scholars.
Frederick Sontag: What is the question?
Anthony Guerra: I think that the question is whether or not Divine Principle makes sense of the elements of the biblical traditions. Not only makes sense of them, but also finally aids one in living the life of love of Jesus. How can we decide whether or not it is derived from scripture? No person can stand outside the hermeneutical circle and rise above the presuppositions from which he inevitably begins.
Frederick Sontag: We could decide that it isn't derived from scripture. What does that have to do with the historical Jesus, then? What you are now talking about is that these are ways of understanding Jesus and ways which relate one to God and to Jesus. I wouldn't deny that. But what does that have to do with the question of the historical Jesus?
Anthony Guerra: What I mean by history in this case is not a nineteenth century view of history as a chronicle of events simply, but primarily the intentionality of Jesus. If you want to be connected to Jesus you need to know his intentions, otherwise you are connected to some figment of your imagination. So the question about what Jesus really intended is a very important question.
Frederick Sontag: I've said that you haven't proven that. I think that one must understand Jesus' intentions, but Jesus does not say, "I have come to provide a foundation of faith and substance and John the Baptist has made this impossible for me."
Anthony Guerra: I was never arguing that. In any Christian theologian from Tertullian onwards, you are going to find that much of the language doesn't come from scripture. The point is -- and this gets back to Kapp's question as well -- that Divine Principle is providing concepts which make more sense of the biblical sayings and material than any other construction has.
James Deotis Roberts: My problem with the discussion is not so much what is here, but what isn't here. The issues that should be raised when you discuss the historical Jesus in relationship to Divine Principle and the whole Unification movement would imply a concern for experience and interpretations which are not limited to the Germanic perspective. You put aside the Anglo-Saxon contribution. I don't think even that is adequate. The broadening discussion of the real initiative in theology is coming from the third world theologians where contextualization is taking place. Certainly the implications of this movement are that it is a universal worldwide movement and to create a dialogue simply between the Germans and Divine Principle limits the discussion unduly.
The other point is that prominent Anglo-Saxon theologians have made a credible contribution to the quest for the historical Jesus. One of the classic statements from that point of view would be Donald Baillie's. He included engagement with the Germans, but he brought Scottish Common Sense to the discussion. His was a mediating position which was not as extreme as the Greek dichotomous approach, or the Germanic "this or that" approach which seems not really to cover the human experience. There is also the contribution of liberation theology to an understanding of the implications of the life of Jesus. You do not even mention it. Liberation theology has great importance at the present time. It seems to me that you have a very limited sample here. It is not adequate, even for the Unificationists point of view, which has this worldwide all encompassing concern about the human family.
Herbert Richardson: I think that Anthony has provided some very significant material for us. I would like to agree with him and then even broaden it a bit more. Let me say what it seems to me he has said. Something the Bible teaches has been neglected in biblical scholarship until recently: John the Baptist in relation to Jesus. John comes up again and again. John is a figure who is presented in interaction with Jesus. The British scholar T.W Manson makes the point that the decision of Jesus to go into Jerusalem demonstrates a change in the form of his mission. He decides to go to Jerusalem to sacrifice his life. This decision follows the death of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew. Insofar as I recall, the role of John the Baptist was bracketed out in nineteenth century historical Jesus scholarship. One dealt with Jesus as an isolated figure and John was not seen to have an important formative role in shaping Jesus' ministry. No w twentieth century scholarship shows that John played a formative role in shaping what Jesus did and that there was an interaction between them.
As an aside on Fred's question, maybe one doesn't want to use the words give-and-rake and cooperation. But on the historical level there was or there wasn't formative interaction between these two figures. I think that contemporary biblical scholarship says that, yes, there was.
That's the first point I'd like to make, now the second is this. Let us take as examples contemporary liberal theology, that builds on the historical Jesus, and liberation theology (Deotis' question). By liberal theology I understand a theology that takes as its foundation the historical Jesus and the quest for the historical Jesus. Contemporary liberal and liberation theology do not take into account on the doctrinal level the scriptural fact that John interacts with Jesus in shaping the form of the messianic ministry. That is to say, there is a doctrinal lacuna in contemporary liberal theology. Conservative, fundamentalist theology tends not to worry about John the Baptist for quite different reasons. Fundamentalist and conservative theology holds the view that the life of
Jesus is not salvific but it is the death of Jesus which is salvific. We can talk a little bit about that in a minute. All I want to say now is that the long history of theology has been governed by the problem of whether the historical life of Jesus before his death is salvific. Is Jesus' life already part of the new aeon or does the new aeon begin with the death and resurrection of Jesus? St. Anselm argues the entire life of Jesus belongs to the Old Testament. It is just obedience under the law and there is nothing significant in it, except his death which is a work of supererogation followed by resurrection. I believe that the Lutheran tradition, drawing on the Anselmic tradition, has always tended to believe that the life of Jesus is not salvific, but only his death. When Kasemann argues that the life of Jesus is salvific, he is arguing really with the Calvinist tradition which asserts that in Jesus' earthly obedience salvation for the world is already accomplished.
My third point includes my criticism of Anthony. The theology that was interested in the historical Jesus was interested in the historical Jesus not for purely academic reasons but because it believed that the life of Jesus belongs to the new aeon, that is, that the life of Jesus together with the obedience of Jesus is salvific. That meant a concept of salvation which is worldly. The theologians who said that the salvific significance of Jesus is in the death of Jesus always believed that salvation is other-worldly.
It is perfectly clear then, that Unification theology in being interested in the historical Jesus and in exposing the significance of John the Baptist (or, we can say, in understanding the intentionality of the historical Jesus) is making a couple of contributions. It is linking up its understanding of the ministry and salvific work of Jesus to the older theological debate about whether salvation takes place through the death or the life of Jesus. Unification theology makes a clear decision on the question of life, because it believes that you have a salvation in this world rather than in the other world. It claims that salvation has got to happen here. It then argues quite consistently that John the Baptist is a significant scriptural datum that has been neglected by liberal theology and proposes to look at the role of John the Baptist in shaping the ministry and intentionality of Jesus in order that we can understand more fully not only what Jesus does but the meaning of the salvation that Jesus sought through his earthly obedience. Unification theology makes rather significant advances in relation to liberal theology and in relation to scriptural criticism by tying up the contemporary discussion with the longer tradition.
The thing that I find most wrong with your paper, Anthony, is that the people who argue that the historical life of Jesus is of salvific significance were always people who understood that the "old aeon, new aeon" language -- with which you began your paper and which is coined from the sides of Bultmann, Anselm and Luther -- means that God shifts from one kind of salvation to another kind of salvation. He is not going to try to save the world, bur just souls from the conflagration of the world. The kind of sharp dichotomy with which you began your paper simply is inconsistent with the argument that you want to make. W e can say that Calvin understood and Divine Principle teaches that whatever is new in the Ne w Testament is not so new that the kind of salvation that is being sought -- or really the mode of seeking it -- are fundamentally different. It is only new in the sense of another try. There is where I detect your real failure and the problems that you are going to run into in trying to advance your theory as you have.
Anthony Guerra: I don't think that I was trying to say that Bultmann's interpretation of the old aeon and new aeon was Divine Principle's point of view. I think that issues that informed Bultmann's refusal to say that Jesus begins the new aeon are comprehended in Divine Principles assertion that because of John the Baptist's failure, Jesus had to assume the role of precursor.
Durwood Foster: First just a word of appreciation for Anthony's paper. It is a very rich paper and could be addressed at a number of levels, some of which are very general and important. Then there are certain pivotal concrete, extremely specific issues. I want to address two of those very quickly.
I want to address the point on which Herb spoke illuminatingly. To recapitulate, this way of contrasting sharply the old and the new aeon is really unacceptable and quite inadequate at this point. The Bultmannian Fragestellung at this point is entirely too simplistic, for example, in suggesting that the Old Testament is all law and the New Testament is all grace, or that the kingdom has not yet come at all, that it is coming at some further moment rather than dialectically standing over and invading the present in every moment. Implicitly there is a kind of interplay and intermixture of the old and the new aeon running through both the Old and the New Testaments and that needs to be said. I think it has been said very clearly that Jesus as the Christ clearly indwells and participates in the old aeon as the one in and through whom the new aeon is also breaking in. By the same token it is quite wrong to think of Jesus' death only as salvific in contrast to his life. I think substantively St. Anselm does not do this. It is very clear in St. Anselm and in the classical tradition that the life of Jesus as the Christ is the indispensable presupposition of the saving significance of the death, and in that sense then the life is also decisively salvifically significant. We just have to see that Bultmann blew it. Bultmann is a very bright mind and has contributed tremendously, but there are certain points where he has twisted the discussion and we ought to be clear about that.
The other specific point that I want to speak to is this question of the role of John the Baptist in salvation history. The striking thing about the presentation in Divine Principle is that John the Baptist is saliently indicted as the one who fouled up what God and Jesus had in view, and thus in some very decisive way was the one who was at fault that the kingdom did not come through the ministry of Jesus as had been planned. I would like to point out that, incidentally, that is contrary to the historic classical Christian theological way of assessing the role of John the Baptist. Unificationism sharply departs from the tradition in its theological evaluation of John the Baptist. Whatever the underlying history might be -- and there are some very intriguing issues, as Anthony sees -- in the tradition, John the Baptist is given a positive role as forerunner and witness.
One great symbolic expression of this is the Isenheimer altar painting of Grunewald where John the Baptist is the climactic witness to Jesus as the Christ. In the classical tradition John the Baptist figures largely, however deficient liberal theology may be on this. Unificationism reverses the judgment of the classical tradition and Christian iconography and negates John the Baptist rather harshly. You can't, of course, swiftly settle the issue in its historiographic aspects. Nevertheless it seems to me that this indictment of John by Divine Principle and by Unification theology is greatly exaggerated. It is overdoing it by far to single him out in this almost exclusive way as the one who failed to provide the foundation of faith and the foundation of substance that would have implemented the salvific plan. The failure that occurs here -- as the New Testament itself makes very clear and as the tradition has seen -- is much more general than this: "He came unto his own and his own received him not." Well, "his own" wasn't just John the Baptist. The failure of faith and of substance was a failure in the religious situation of the time but even more importantly and essentially it was the failure of humanity. Humanity was in the final and ultimate sense "his own." It was the failure of faith and of substance on the part of us all that frustrated the immediate coming of the kingdom and that necessitated the cross, all foreseen according to the tradition in the providence of God. To single out John and to put the whole burden on his shoulders seems to me implausible and unconvincing. This is not to say that John played his role perfectly. No, we wouldn't for a moment think that. In, through, and under the somewhat legendary form in which the remembrance of John appears in the scripture there were probably things that happened that made John even more responsible for things going awry than the tradition leaves in the picture. We can all say that, but to single him out as the only one seems to me to be quite wrong and I think that the traditional image is far more adequate.
Anthony Guerra: I find that very helpful, Durwood. May I make one small point? I have always wondered why Divine Principle, in order to explain the failure of John the Baptist, goes into his fallen nature. Now I am beginning to understand why there is that section in Divine Principle which talks about the failure of John the Baptist not in terms of John the Baptist as a person but rather in terms of his fallen nature, that is, in terms of the condition of sin in which we all participate as children of Adam and Eve. What you have just said in any case helps me understand the explanation for the blame in terms which I had not seen before.
Andrew Wilson: The focus on John the Baptist is very helpful in overcoming some of the anti-Semitism in the gospel narratives. Divine Principle focuses on John, instead of on the Jewish people as a whole, as a primary stumbling block in the way of Jesus. This provides one avenue which can help overcome some anti-Semitic tendencies in Christianity. Secondly, the focus on John grows out of the Confucian background of the importance of hierarchy and leadership in the way an Asian would see it.
Klaus Lindner: I would even go a little bit further and say that the focus on John is partly brought about by the focus of the Bible on John as the one who prepared the way for Jesus. The Bible singles out John. Therefore Divine Principle follows precisely that avenue and singles out John, too, and why the people were not prepared.
Lonnie Kliever: Taking my own reading of Divine Principle and picking up on the title of part four of Anthony's paper," Divine Principle as Reconstruction of the Historical Jesus,"it seems to me that one way to understand what Anthony is doing is to see the use of historical critical methods as a way of recovering the problematic that the early Christian movement faced. That problematic focuses dramatically on three problems: 1) the problem of the relationship between Jesus and John, 2) the problem of the meaning of the death of Jesus, and 3) the problem of the delay of the parousia. This last problem has not entered our discussion. One can see the written gospels as a way of wrestling with those three problems. My reading of Divine Principle is that it is an alternative to the way in which the written gospels solve those three problems. Now that creates an embarrassment. On the one hand, we could say that Divine Principle is an alternative to the written gospel's account of these three problems and, on the other hand, we could say that Divine Principle is in some sense a commentary on, or completion of, or fulfillment of the scripture itself. What then interests me in a more careful reading of Anthony's paper is how historical critical methods themselves support an alternative handling of these problems, and if Divine Principle's reconstruction handles the problems more creatively with greater historical fidelity and theological richness than the written gospels do themselves. Darrol Bryant: I think that is a good point at which to bring Don Deffner's contribution into this discussion.
Donald Deffner: The first point is a quotation from Roland Bainton's Here I Stand: "Luther read the New Testament in the light of the Pauline message that the just shall live by faith and not by works of the law."
I'll pick some of Luther's main themes and comment on them with reference to or in contrast to Unification theology.
Our Lord commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to all the nations, for repentance and the forgiveness of sin (Luke 24:44-47). Christ swallowed up death. For Luther the work was complete. I would disagree with Unification theology and I know that Luther would too, to say that Christ suffered an undue death, that in effect God's will was tragically thwarted by the crucifixion of Jesus (see Divine Principle, p. 217). I believe with Luther that Jesus did fulfill his mission and sin was overcome.
Again Luther picks out certain books of scripture because they show that faith in Christ overcomes sin, death and hell. This is the real nature of the gospel. Paul says not another gospel but Christ always at the center of it -- this one person alone, know nothing but Christ, him crucified. Luther would also say, I believe, there is no need for a Lord of the Second Advent.
Luther places emphasis on sola gratia: by grace were you saved through faith, not of yourself but by the gift of God. W e hear in Unification theology that five percent is our responsibility. Luther would say that it is totally God at work in us. Looking at scripture itself, Luther never doubted that the will of God was revealed and is comprehensible to man solely through the holy scripture. I would go along with many Lutherans who at least idealistically strive for the principle that the scripture interprets itself -- the Bible in the light of the Bible. Sola gratia is really Luther's hermeneutic, being the grace that is the presence of the Holy Spirit. A key to this is the concealment of God on the cross which is paralleled by the structure of faith which, in turn, is concealed beneath a contrary. It was the Augustinian friar Luther who discovered that the Deus absconditus is really the Deus revelatus.
Andy Wilson said that there is an uncomfortableness in Unificationist thought with paradox and mystery. I think the fantastic thing about the cross and resurrection is that God was concealed beneath that which the human mind does not want to accept. So absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The silence of God is the silence of God.
For Luther there are three solas: sola scriptura, solafide, and sola gratia. This is at the heart of much of our discussion. Where some feel that Christ failed on his way to the cross and that the mission was not accomplished, to me the incredible thing is that the beauty of God's plan of redemption is that he completed it in the face of rejection. Herein is love, not that we love God but that he loved us and sent his son tor us.
Herbert Richardson: Are you going to tell us now, Don, what this salvation is that is accomplished in this way? Isn't the Deus absconditus the God in the midst of what we see? Is not this the God who is invoked in the midst of Auschwitz while everybody says, "It is all right, it is all right; God is here," while Auschwitz goes on?
Luther manages to say all these things about Christ by denying salvation and by accepting sin as an unconquerable reality. Everything that you have said seems to me to be an apologia for Satan. The people who believe that Jesus Christ is the kind of person that you have described are people who have found through that faith a way of accepting the world in its sin as an ultimate that can never be redeemed. I would like to know from you what that redemption is that Jesus Christ brings us in the way that you just described. I want to know what is accomplished by this, other than that Satan goes on reigning in the world. Did Luther by the way believe that Satan will go on in the world forever and ever? Did Luther believe that?
Donald Deffner: I think that he would say until the parousia, Yes. To answer your question on salvation, I would say I have forgiveness by grace through my faith in Christ. I would have to add that Luther was speaking to a certain situation in his day and age. But as I read the whole of scripture this faith must be lived out. I grant that those who would just read Luther and misapply it have done nothing in terms of social justice.
Herbert Richardson: Why is that misapplication? That seems to me to be consistent application. What theological foundation is there within that position that you have advocated for anyone feeling that God wills him to live justly in this world?
Donald Deffner: In my own theology there is a foundation. But I don't equate that with Luther. In this presentation I was seeking to explicate what Luther's approach was to the Ne w Testament.
Herbert Richardson: Well, that is to say you believe that the teaching you have just presented is unacceptable because it has these demonic consequences.
Donald Deffner: I don't feel that Luther is complete in terms of what I need to do today.
Herbert Richardson: Fine. Now I would like to hear a contemporary Lutheran tell me what foundation is going to be built theologically for going beyond those statements in Luther that are so unacceptable.
Darrol Bryant: Let me interject one point here. I think these are interesting questions to pursue but in a sense you are being fundamentally unfair to what I asked Don to do. I asked Don to present Luther's reading of the New Testament. I think that is what he has done. One point for asking him to do that was to get it on the table that within the history of theology there are different readings, different interpretations, different identifications of central structures of interpretation which we find within the Christian tradition for the understanding of the scripture.
Donald Deffner: I would just refer to one other thing about the implications of Luther's theology for Auschwitz. I think it is in Elie Wiesel's Nights where a young boy and two men are hung and this one person whispers to the other, "Watching this, where is God now?" It took the boy about a half an hour to die, and the answer was, "He is at the same place as when his son died on Calvary." But this is not meant to be an easy answer to Herb's question.
Could we deal at some point with the absence or undesirability of paradox and mystery in Unification theology and the implications of the contrary?
Klaus Lindner: I found Herb Richardson's comments very interesting because they relate to something I have been working on -- Luther's concept of immanent eschatology. What was inadequate in Luther's concept of redemption is something that Luther himself thought was inadequate too, namely, the concept of the parousia. This is something which has been much neglected in Luther but which Luther stresses very often. He considers the last days to be sweeter than the gospel. He says something to the effect that if the world stays the same and if the last days will not come soon then I would rather not have been born. He sees precisely that the present social and religious situation is intolerable to God and to himself and that is why he prays so desperately for the coming of the last days. That is something which has been in much of Lutheranism. I think that side of the Lutheran tradition against which Herb reacted has reflected that fundamental conviction of Luther that the present order is not a situation which should be tolerated and which should continue.
Jonathan Wells: This issue of the completeness or incompleteness of Christ's work is very important. But I would like to get back to the specifically hermeneutical question. I thought your paper was a very important contribution. I was particularly interested in your distinction between an understanding based purely on the outward meaning of a text and an understanding based on its inner significance -- between remaining satisfied with the lifeless letter and going on to penetrate the living spirit of a text.
I would like to make some methodological distinctions which may help our discussion. On the one hand we could be debating with each other whether a particular interpretation is better than another interpretation, or whether in fact there is one best interpretation that happens to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. However, I am inclined to think that the Bible could be interpreted in many different ways, all of them valid on different levels. But I do believe in the law of non-contradiction. You do too, Fred, don't you?
Frederick Sontag: I guess so, what are you getting at? (laughter)
Jonathan Wells: Although there may be many valid interpretations, I don't think that they could contradict each other. If they do, then we have to get to the bottom of the contradiction and solve it. That would be my approach.
David Kelly: You mean mutually exclusive interpretations?
Jonathan Wells: Yes, exactly. That has to be resolved. On another level, it seems that what we are doing is trying to find out whether our various interpretations are justifiable or pertinent, and not necessarily whether one is "better" than another.
My last point deals with the distinction between the letter and the spirit. W e need to concede right off the bat that there are no presuppositionless interpretations. To talk about the Bible interpreting itself in some way that everyone can agree with is obviously not true or it would have happened a long time ago. What we are dealing with here is a variety of ways of interpreting the Bible. All of us come to the text with some presuppositions. W e owe it to ourselves and each other to consider what those are and be responsible to justify them.
Andrew Wilson: I would like to second Jonathan's point. In my own presentation earlier this morning I spoke about what I thought were certain presuppositions or certain contexts out of which Divine Principle does its hermeneutic. Luther makes a big point about how his interpretation of scripture is the result of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I would like to ask if you know of Luther scholars who have tried to understand what the cultural philosophical presuppositions are that Luther brought to the scriptures to make the various hermeneutical decisions that he made.
Donald Deffner: All I can say is that Lutherans have sought an ideal of letting the Bible interpret itself.
Frank Flinn: I am a Roman Catholic as everybody knows. I see this strange paradox in the two wings of Protestantism. O n the one hand you have the Calvinist impulse which I see epitomized in the most beautiful way by Milton, namely, trying to make plain the ways of God to man. On the other hand you see this more paradoxical approach in Lutheranism. I see a kind of conflict about the sola scriptura principle itself that needs to be resolved. There is a contradiction here, for both Luther's and Calvin's hermeneutic are based on sola scriptura. I have a little understanding of this conflict within Protestantism, but it still mystifies me. That needs to be gotten at on a much deeper level than it has ever been gotten at. But I'm just an outsider looking in.
Durwood Foster: Just a word about Luther and the assessment of the Lutheran heritage in more recent and contemporary theology. I think that is interesting, at least in the context of this discussion. I think that certainly in the Protestant spectrum, and maybe even in the general Christian spectrum, we recognize Luther as a great saint of theology who laid a foundation of substance, if I can lift that phrase from Divine Principle...
Frederick Sontag: Durwood, there are no saints in theology.
Durwood Foster: In my theology there are (laughter). We can talk about categories later, Fred. I just want to say that as far as Luther himself is concerned, he is what Karl Barth has characterized as an aphoristic rather than primarily a systematic theologian. I think this is generally granted. Further there is a certain preeminence, or salient conspicuousness in his message of the theme of justification by faith alone, the sola gratia, solafide theme. Nevertheless, as was mentioned here by one or two people it is very clear in Luther that there is a very painful consciousness of the lack of the full and complete coming of the kingdom of God. The parousia is still outstanding in the full pathos of Luther's consciousness. Still, this motif is registered in spite of his aphoristic one-sidedness in which other themes like justification seem to hit you first in the face.
But let's go beyond Luther himself. Catholic theology on the whole sees Luther as singling out a fragmentary motif that needs to be placed within the more comprehensive synthesis of Christian truth. The Catholic analysis of Protestantism is that it is a fragmentation of the whole Catholic faith. But within Protestantism itself I think there tends to be a general agreement that this theme in Luther and/or in Lutheranism has been one-sidedly and therefore deficiently expounded.
One manifestation of that is of course what Frank Flinn called attention to. That is, alongside Lutheranism you have Calvinism and Methodism. Alongside the Lutheran emphasis upon the paradox of justification you have the Calvinist and Methodist emphasis upon the perfection of the moral life and moral obedience to God in history -- and that very self-consciously. Other Protestant traditions have been supplementary to what Luther has stressed.
In modern theology particularly within Lutheranism itself, you have a number of theologians who strive to go beyond Luther. One who always comes to my mind because I have a kind of special liking for him is Albrecht Ritschl who flourished toward the end of the last century and who indicted not so much Luther himself, because he had a deep respect for Luther, but Lutheranism. Ritschl, by the way, was a Lutheran who had a kind of special affinity for Calvin. That is my kind of theologian (laughter). Ritschl indicted Lutheranism rather than Luther himself as having foreshortened and forfeited the full Christian concern for the actuality of the kingdom of God.
Jumping up to the present day, let us take Karl Barth briefly. Karl Barth in his exposition tried to do justice to Luther but in volume four of Church Dogmatics he says Luther is not enough. Along with the principle of justification by faith, we need other principles to get the whole of the Christian gospel.
Last of all and most especially, I want to mention Dietrich Bonhoeffer who is a deeply faithful Lutheran and a splendid son, if you will, of the Lutheran tradition. Yet Bonhoeffer provided a very incisive indictment of Lutheranism under the rubric of "cheap grace." This has somewhat the same impact as Ritschl's analysis, but in some ways it is even more pointed and telling. Let me note that Bonhoeffer attempts to justify Saint Martin himself (or Saint Luther). He says Luther has to be understood as emerging from a polemical context -- which is a very good hermeneurical point. You have to see Luther in his own context and if you do see Luther in that context according to Bonhoeffer, you will see that Luther doesn't really mean to rest everything simply on faith alone. Faith alone is to be seen in terms of Luther's immense commitment in his own existence to satisfying the demands of the law. If you take it out of that context you totally falsify him. You always have to have the paradox or the dialectic that is expressed by this context. On the one hand, Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship, says that only a person who believes can be obedient. On the other hand, only he can believe who is committing his whole life to obedience. If you compromise that dialectic you ruin Luther and you mess up the whole issue.
Frederick Sontag: There is actually a passage in Deffher's presentation which gives me a clue to what I want to say about Anthony's paper. I think the two go together. I am still struggling with the notion of trying to figure out why Anthony is interested in the quest and what the point is. I think I have got it now. Don Deffner used a quote from Luther: he says "The primary gospel books are St. John's gospel and St. Paul's epistles." You have a clue there, in the fact that Luther likes John. I know many New Testament scholars who would have been much happier if John had been left out of the canon because they think it is too theological and too interpretative. Here is where you get your contrast. You are going to have a harder time with Divine Principle if John is the primary gospel because it is already high theology.
Frank Flinn: More accurately it is Romans and John 3:17 only. It wasn't the whole gospel of John (laughter).
Frederick Sontag: It is still the picture of Jesus as it is in the fourth gospel that is the key. The issue is that a key principle in Divine Principle is that Jesus' strategy changed. Unless that is held, I don't know what Divine Principle is saying. But we know from modern textual scholarship that we do not have Jesus' own pure words but we have interpretations of Jesus. Therefore, in order to try to find out what Jesus is really saying, we have to get at the historical Jesus. This is the whole thrust behind the quest for the historical Jesus.
Frank Flinn: But you use the word we "know" that. We do not "know" that. W e do not even know that we do not have the words of Jesus!
Jonathan Wells: No one knows what the words are so you could just as well begin with the assumption that what we have got in the text are the words. Frederick Sontag: That is the craziest conclusion that I have ever heard. We don't know which they are, so we might as well... Andrew Wilson: That might be the least speculative and the least arbitrary.
Anthony Guerra: You are both wrong (laughter). Even under the strictest historical critical 'criteria -- of dissimilarity and coherence -- some authentic sayings of Jesus can be determined.
Frederick Sontag: There is a reasonable agreement. Let me get to my major point which I think I can put fairly simply. What I think you really want to do is to be agnostic or skeptical about the possibility of the quest for the historical Jesus. If we could complete that and get to the definitive doctrine of Jesus, then I think Divine Principle is out. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that we are going to be able to get to the historical critical statement which says, Yes, this is Jesus' own self-consciousness: "I have to play my role as it comes, I see certain changes and I adapt the role as it comes." There is very little evidence for anything like that. You have to be skeptical about the possibility for the quest for the historical Jesus, because that leaves you open to make an assumption about Jesus' own understanding of his role which the texts do not support.
Andrew Wilson: I would like to get back to the relationship between the historical critical method and Divine Principle. I think the main thing that Fred was getting at is that there are two very different methodologies here. The historical critical method presupposes that, through some kind of scientific investigation with rigorous criteria which can be debated on their own merit and which have absolutely nothing to do with theology, we can arrive at some kind of historical picture of Jesus, perhaps of his life, perhaps of his intentionality. Anthony seems to be claiming in his paper that Divine Principle by a very different process, not using scientific method at all but rather through perhaps the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is claiming we can arrive at a historically accurate picture of the life of Jesus.
Frederick Sontag: What do you mean historically accurate?
Andrew Wilson: If Divine Principle is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, coming to something that is congruent with the results of historical science, then this is a very radical statement about the hermeneutic of Divine Principle. It elevates the inspired quality of Divine Principle and makes the inspiration of Divine Principle testable. Because if it turns out that scholars using the historical critical method after another generation come up with very different conclusions about, say the role of Jesus and John, then this claim by Divine Principle will challenge it.
Kapp Johnson: I would like to affirm what Jonathan said about the importance of method. I think that is where the crux of the whole thing lies. The appropriateness or inappropnateness of the methodology is where I think the discussion has to begin and maybe we can even do that tonight. As tar as Anthony's question or Andy's question on contemporary Lutheran scholarship, of course there are various movements in Lutheranism, right and left. But generally contemporary Lutheran scholars recognize the contemporality of Luther's own method in his own angst. What was coming out of him certainly very much influenced the way he read the New Testament and where he found light became the principle whereby it opened all the rest of scripture and his theology from that. What Lutherans now have tried to do in remaining true to the insights of that tradition is to talk about the categories but in somewhat different kinds of ways. Categories are not entirely thrown out but we have to recognize that there is law/gospel in the Old Testament as well as law/gospel in the New Testament and these kinds of things.
Jonathan Wells: It seems to me that the discussion of the last twenty minutes has demonstrated the importance of distinguishing between the levels on which we are operating. For example, Rahner points out that we know (in a rigorously historical way) only that Jesus lived and that he was crucified, because Josephus told us so. This information is independent of the Bible. But when we deal with the scripture itself we talk about the more or less probable. We have very good reasons to doubt the truth of some statements, while others seem to be more reliable. Or, we can take everything in scripture as a statement of the piety of the early Christian community. A lot of the disagreement is really about what level we are operating on here.
Herbert Richardson: The whole discussion about John and Jesus has focused on Ne w Testament texts because we have a couple of New Testament scholars. In fact the Old Testament hasn't been talked about at all. We talk about sola scriptura but the Bible is the whole Bible and there are a lot of things in the Old Testament -- I don't like the word "old." From the Bible's point of view, there are a lot of things in the earlier part of the Bible (laughter) that illuminate later things. I stress "from the Bible's point of view" and not from the historical point of view say of Ernst Kasemann. From the Bible's point of view many earlier things illumine what is going on between Jesus and John. Now what would those things be? Divine Principle says that all kinds of brother relationships in the Bible illuminate a little bit what is going on between Jesus and John. In reality, it is in terms of the internal historical symbology within the Bible -- not the modern critical history, but this is real history -- by which claims can be made, and probably sustained, that the John-Jesus relationship be interpreted in the light of Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, and a number of other similar relationships. This is not a matter of doctrine or faith, but a matter of how you interpret the text if you have a text of a full five-act play. If you decide that you are going to interpret the whole play in terms of just the content of the fourth act, you will never adequately understand what is going on. In the Bible itself there are things about the way in which God deals with human beings, the way in which human beings deal with one another, that is part of the Bible's story of how Jesus and John are dealing with one another. That is part of the internal symbology of the Bible.
And we haven't even talked about here the fact that the reason why John is so essential to the history of Jesus is because within the Bible the brother pattern comes up again and again in relation to the structure of salvation and reprobation beginning with Cain and Abel and running on through. Now that is not a matter of doctrine or faith. That is a matter of the internal meaning of the text on a historical level which has not been talked about here.
When Andy Wilson, for example, said, Well maybe Divine Principle says it is going to illuminate history, I would say Divine Principle illuminates that the modern notion of critical history is not an adequate notion of history to interpret the full teaching of the Bible.
These are the two points that I want to make. First, the Bible is the whole Bible and the church has accepted that when we start talking about interpreting the Bible through the Bible, it means basically that you cannot interpret texts in Matthew without taking into account texts in Genesis and in Kings. That is what is meant by interpreting the Bible through the Bible. You can't run directly from a Bible text to how you feel about it when you hear it, but you have to relate texts to one another. That is the sola scriptura principle and I think we haven't given adequate attention to the Old Testament. Second, when you do relate the Old to the Ne w Testament, John is important to the ministry of Jesus because on a certain level of symbology within the Bible patterns of historic interaction between brothers emerge and give rise to symbolic meanings.
Is it significant, for example, that Mary and her father Joachim are in the priestly pattern and representatives of the priestly tradition in Israel? This is a historical datum in the Bible which is very important for understanding the ministry of Jesus, one would think, right? Where does contemporary Christian scriptural study or theology do anything about this? It is simply not dealt with at all. Now these are questions worth discussing a bit.
Henry Vander Goot: I was going to say nothing about how the previous discussion tied in with this but I would just say that so much of the historical method is beside the point. We have to deal with the text as we have it as a structural narrative whole. The historical method doesn't help us to get on with that. In that sense it is a frustration.
Herbert Richardson: Let me just add to Henry's point. I am sorry that Lonnie Kliever is not here because he said that what an embarrassment it is to Unification theology which says the Bible has a doctrine of the parousia that is so unambivalently clear and so different from what the Unification Church teaches. If there is any clear doctrine of the parousia in the Bible I sure have never known anybody who thought that there was one. There is total disagreement on the matter. As to Lonnie's other points, I thought his first one was really good, namely that the Ne w Testament has canonical interpretations of John the Baptist. If there were a canonical interpretation of the parousia, why would Christians and Jews be disagreeing with each other today?
James Deotis Roberts: I want to limit the discussion of interpretation of scripture. I refer to my involvement at present with the movement in South Africa. What is on my mind is the actual situation of millions of people in that country who have been oppressed because of the tradition which we all know. What kind of difference does this make whether we interpret the Bible from a Lutheran point of view or a Catholic point of view if in fact our interpretation gives complicity with the oppression of millions of people? One reason why the situation is so intractable is because interpretations of scripture in some of the church traditions in that land actually sanctify the status quo. If scripture interprets itself, whether we talk about a Lutheran point of view or a Catholic point of view, how do we have a breakthrough in the church for the liberation of the oppressed anywhere in the world? This is a question which needs to be raised by those interpreting scripture from Roman Catholic or Lutheran points of view or from the point of view of Divine Principle. We are dealing with a real situation in the contemporary world, not with something like slavery or the holocaust which are behind us, but with people who are actually suffering at this moment. Ho w do we have a breakthrough with the interpretation of scripture that speaks to this situation?
Andrew Wilson: I want to speak both to Deotis' point and to Herb's point on the paradigm of the brothers. The relationship of brothers in Divine Principle is very interesting. It is clear in Divine Principle that in terms of relationship between elder and younger brother the biblical witness is the reverse of the Confucian relationship. In the Confucian relationship it is the younger brother who must defer to the elder, but in Divine Principle it is the elder brother who must defer to the younger. Certainly that is true in the case of Jacob and Esau and it is true in the case of John the Baptist and Jesus because John the Baptist is Jesus' elder. In Divine Principle there is a tremendous amount of respect for the biblical text and for seeking to find meaning in the biblical text. Even though there may be Confucian ideas behind Rev. Moon's exegesis of scripture, when the scripture unequivocally comes out against Confucian notions and particularly the relationship of brothers, scripture has priority. In fact this is a very important scriptural concept which Divine Principle applies in many relationships in the world today among nations and among peoples where the wealthy nations in the position of elder brothers should defer to and serve their younger brothers in the third world.