The Myth of God Incarnate: Hick, John

Authors

Use and Abuse of the Bible – Part 1

by Neil Godfrey
Filed under: Nineham: Use Abuse of Bible
Tags: Bible, Dennis Nineham

There are many useful and interesting insights into the way the Bible has come to be (mis)used by scholars and laity alike in Dennis Nineham’s The Use and Abuse of the Bible (1976).
One cameo that attracted my attention (over half way through the book) was what Nineham had to say about the New Testament evidence for Christian origins. Being consistent with his opening arguments ***Nineham acknowledges that we know nothing of the “history” behind the mythical narrative of the “Christ event” in the Gospels. All we know “historically” is that, whatever the historical or biographical reality of Jesus was, it must have been remarkable enough to spawn new communities imbued with a whole new sense of the divine.
The bottom line of the argument is this:
Christians appeared on the historical landscape.
And we “know” from the Gospels that the first Christians were transformed from fear and weakness to a people of courage and dynamism as a result of what they proclaimed to be the resurrection.
Therefore, God had done “something” (we don’t know what, exactly) most remarkable in the life of Jesus Christ in order to have caused this emergence of Christian communities.
One might think that the hypothesis is thus declared true because faith in God and the Bible permits no other hypothesis. (Nineham writes as a Christian and makes clear that his belief in God is bound up in his belief in “the Christ event”.) That’s not how Nineham explains it, however.
Non-Christian scholars of earliest Christianity today sometimes echo a mundane (cynical?) version of this argument: There can be no better explanation for the origins of Christianity than a failed life of yet another common healer/exorcist, preacher of platitudes and false prophet. (This latter explanation probably requires a greater miracle to make it work than the Christian explanation.)
True, Nineham does make passing mention of “extremists” who have proposed alternative hypotheses, but he dismisses these as quickly as he mentions them because the conventional wisdom does not accept their views. Ironically, in the first chapter of his book, “Cultural Change and Cultural Relativism”, he explains clearly why unconventional hypotheses, in particular those that affect the way we view the Bible, have such a hard time being taken seriously.
Before addressing the details of Nineham’s argument relating to Christian origins I’ll highlight some of his main insights into the ways the Bible has come to be misread and misused, and why, up to his own day.
Traditional use of the Bible

***We know the Bible has for centuries been regarded as a sacred book, invested with infallible authority, wrapped in a mysterious quality and virtual sanctity. Its formal title accordingly Holy Bible.
What does this mean, exactly? These are the particular beliefs that have long accompanied readers of the Bible since late antiquity:
Cabanel-Monk-Reading-the-Bible *** It was produced by God — God was its author.
Thus it contains no errors in any passage.
Every passage must have some meaning — because it’s God’s book and he would not inspire frivolous content; everything is there for some purpose and has some truth to reveal.
Thus there is no real need to take notice of any human author’s historical situation — or even of the historical and social context of the books.
***Every passage has a meaning but it need not be the obvious literal sense. It can be allegorical or other figurative sense. (It has been said that “allegory saved the Scriptures for the Church.”)
***Thus Christians of a pre-critical period felt no need to be bound by literal statements of bible.
***Generally, though, Bible was the authority on history and science as well as faith and morals — it was viewed as Truth guaranteed by divine inspiration.
Nineham points to the primary result of the above premises. ***This is
the belief that every biblical passage has what may be called a factual reference and meaning, and that if these references are all correctly read off and put together they will form a coherent account of things, which may fairly be described as the meaning of the Bible. Orthodox dogma was in fact an attempt to formulate such an account; and being a Christian meant accepting that account and endeavouring to live in the light of it. (p. 49, my bolded emphasis)
Thus, if the Bible spoke of Christ expelling demons, then it followed for the Bible believer that demons really exist; if the Bible spoke of a Messiah “coming into the world” then it followed that there really is a supernatural Messiah from heaven who did enter into a life on earth.
***So each passage was studied for its literal sense and all of these meanings were put together into some sort of “single coherent corpus of information.”
The wider frames of reference

Early Christianity developed in close association with the dominant philosophical outlooks of the day — Platonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism principle among them. These philosophical outlooks provided believers with fundamental metaphysical themes through which to interpret their faith. Accordingly the Church of the Middle Ages, followed by Protestantism, took over the following world views:
Reality was dual: there was this world that one could see, and there was the other world, hidden, that was in some way responsible for the existence of this material world. These two worlds interact. Things done in this world had the power to impact on what happened in the other.
***Reality was ordained in a hierarchy of chain of being, with every component — God, angels, humans, animals, rocks . . . — having their divinely appointed place.
Thus the death of Christ was of supreme significance not because of any natural effects it had on people in this world, but because of the changes it wrought in the supernatural realm of that other world. God chose to forgive people.

Two results flowing from all this

***1. Comprehensive system of knowledge, the meaning of the Bible
Christianity in the West was influenced by philosophical traditions that sought to create tidy, systematic views of everything. It was natural to read the Bible’s statements and place them, likewise, into a coherent system or account of things. This was then taken to be the meaning of the Bible.
The only question was whether this should be limited to subjects the Bible directly addressed or be applied more widely. In practice what was attempted was to find compatibility between biblical and extra-biblical authorities. The biblical data was combined with other philosophical knowledge to create ‘comprehensive systems of universal knowledge.’
***Where there was conflict, however, then of course the Bible trumped any other knowledge.
2. The function and fruit of exegesis
Another consequence was that biblical exegesis took on a very specific function:
Given these presuppositions, the ‘meaning’ of a biblical passage could only be some statement or statements which fitted into the overall system derived from Christian and non-Christian sources. Thus exegesis was understood essentially as the translation of biblical statements into the categories of that form of the dominant philosophical tradition which appealed most to the exegete doing the work. (p. 53)
We can see how such an approach led to much distortion, but then it was taken for granted as the only way.
These exegetes
performed their task so skilfully that by the end of the fifth century there emerged a widely accepted and authoritative formulation of Christian truth couched in current philosophical categories . . . the Trinity, the Incarnation and the rest. (p. 53)
These doctrines then came to be understood as expressions of the meaning of the Bible:
[T]hey inevitably provided both a framework of reference and also an ultimate criterion for all subsequent exegesis. Anyone, for example, interpreting the New Testament passage which referred to ‘the Son’, now started from the conviction that the reference was to the Second Person of the Trinity as defined at Nicaea and Chalcedon. . . .
This inevitably led to a few passages in the Bible not fitting quite perfectly so special attention had to be given to understanding the “correct” way to interpret these. The references to Jesus’ brothers and sisters needed special interpretation in order to conform to the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity; Jesus’ saying that his Father was greater than he (John 14:28) needed special elucidation in the light of the Trinity.
Timeless validity and truth

Dennis Nineham reasons that since the philosophical tradition generally emphasized analysis and systematization of knowledge and ideas at the expense of experimental approaches and radical innovation, and since this approach essentially continued unchanged from ancient through to relative recent times, there was embedded an assumption that
certain methods of interpretation were timelessly valid, and
statements could be timelessly true
***Consequently everything in the Bible could be assumed to be timelessly true in some sense, if only the sense could be discovered.
As for the ethical teaching in the Bible, or at least in the New Testament, these were also taken as binding in all ages and all circumstances.
In the next post I’ll look at Dennis Nineham’s discussion of what happened in the nineteenth century in particular when the natural sciences and historical understanding challenged the above traditions and how Bible scholars responded to these respective challenges.

Even the most outstanding human being

This one is for those who believe that God has made astonishingly radical innovations in human affairs through solitary human agents.
It must be recognized that even the most outstanding human being can conceive and communicate only relatively modest changes of outlook. So limited are the measures of man’s mind that no individual, or even group of individuals, can in their lifetime envisage more than a limited revision of the position they inherited; and if per impossibile they could envisage more, their contemporaries would not be able to comprehend it.
The thunderings of a great prophet may demand changes which appear radical, and in comparative terms are radical. Yet when viewed from a historical perspective, what was demanded — however great its eventual implications — will be found to have left the greater part of the status quo unchallenged and unchanged.
We can see this if we consider the achievements of men who are generally regarded as having been responsible for major changes of outlook, men like Mohammed, Martin Luther or Karl Marx. It implies no underestimate of their real achievements to insist that what they left unchallenged in the presuppositions of their times was far, far more than anything they challenged or changed. From our perspective the chief impression made by Luther, for example, is that of a late medieval theologian, while Karl Marx strikes us in many ways typical middle-class nineteenth-century German intellectual who took over a great deal of Hegel’s philosophy and a lot more of the generally accepted ideas of his period and class. Even the most revolutionary thinker must speak — and think — in the language of his day . . . . (pp. 13-14, bold emphasis mine)
Miracles are not what they used to be

[T]he very concept of a miracle has changed significantly. So long as the universe was thought of as being directly and continually under the personal control of God, the line dividing the miraculous from the normal was relatively thin. . . . [I]t was only to be expected that while God would often move the universe in a regular way, as a man moves his body rhythmically when walking across country at a regular pace, he would want occasionally — for reasons which approved themselves to him, even if men could not understand them — to move the world in an exceptional way, just as the man may suddenly take a flying run in order to leap over a stream, comprehensibly to a distant onlooker who cannot see the stream.
As defined in terms of modern presuppositions, however, the word miracle takes on a greatly heightened meaning. That is . . . because in the light of our modern understanding of the physical universe as an impersonal interlocking system, a miracle would entail an exercise of divine power on a far vaster scale than previously periods envisaged. . . . . To believe now in the halting of the sun, or for that matter the raising of Lazarus, is to hold a quite different belief from that which was held by the biblical writers. (pp. 32-33, bold emphasis mine)

http://vridar.org/2013/04/09/use-and-abuse-of-the-bible-part-1/#more-37508

Dennis Nineham Obituary

11 MAY 2016 • 4:54PM
The Reverend Professor Dennis Nineham, who has died aged 94, was one of the Church of England’s *****most distinguished scholars and teachers.

He occupied chairs at London, Cambridge and Bristol universities, and from 1969 to 1979 was Warden of Keble College, Oxford. His primary field was the New Testament, but he was also a good all-round theologian and insisted that, since the Church’s beliefs and practices were built upon New Testament foundations, its preachers, teachers and liturgists must take full account of contemporary scholarship in this field.

***The result was to make him less popular than he might otherwise have been among Church leaders; for, while he was never other than a staunch churchman, his approach to the historicity of the Bible was highly critical, and in this he was much closer to many German scholars than to most of his English contemporaries.

Thus his commentary on St Mark’s Gospel (1963), which achieved wide readership as a Pelican book,***** cast considerable doubt on the historical basis of the life and teaching of Jesus portrayed in the Gospel. He argued, with a formidable range of scholarship, that it consists almost entirely of preaching material designed to win others to Christian faith. ***The fact that its history is dubious is less important than its powerfully accurate presentation of the central message of Jesus.

Nineham took this further and asserted, again in the company of certain German scholars, ***that the expressions of faith found in the Bible and in the credal statements compiled during the early centuries of the Church were inevitably influenced by cultural factors and needed to be disentangled from these factors if they were to be of use to people living in different ages and with different understandings of the way in which the universe is ordered.

This view was most powerfully argued in his major work, The Use and Abuse of the Bible (1976), but it received much wider notice through the essay he contributed in the following year to a highly controversial volume, The Myth of God Incarnate, which, in a matter of weeks, sold more than 30,000 copies.

Nineham was at this time a member of the General Synod and also of the Doctrine Commission and, as a former Regius Professor at Cambridge and now the head of an Oxford college, could not easily be dismissed as a wild radical who had been nurtured in the trendy 1960s. In his contribution to a report of the Doctrine Commission, Christian Believing (1976), he had also argued persuasively for a faith that was not dependent upon a neo-fundamentalist approach to the Bible and the classical Creeds.

But the days of such arguments by those in official positions were numbered. The arrival of Archbishop Donald Coggan at Canterbury led to a change in the membership of the Doctrine Commission in a more conservative, and it has to be said less distinguished, direction. Nineham left the Commission and also the General Synod in 1976 and henceforward concentrated on teaching, writing and university administration.

Dennis Eric Nineham was born in Southampton on September 27 1921. He went from King Edward VI School in that city to Queen’s College, Oxford, as a scholar, and took Firsts in Mods and Greats, followed by a First in Theology.

He then went to Lincoln Theological College to prepare for ordination and straight back to Queen’s College in 1944 as assistant chaplain, becoming Chaplain and Fellow two years later.

He remained in Oxford until 1954, when his friend Eric Abbott, who had moved from the Wardenship of Lincoln Theological College to become Dean of King’s College, London, persuaded him to take the chair of Biblical and Historical Theology at King’s and thus help strengthen the theological faculty of both the college and the university.

This he achieved with considerable panache. He was both a demanding and a popular teacher who soon began to achieve impressive results from his undergraduate and post-graduate pupils. He made theology exciting and helped to make King’s College one of the foremost centres of theological research and teaching in the world. When the Regius chair of Divinity at Cambridge became vacant in 1964, Nineham was the obvious choice for the post and he entered fully into the lively theological debates that characterised Cambridge life throughout the 1960s. He was a Fellow of Emmanuel College.

In 1969, however, the early death of Austin Farrer left Keble College, Oxford, without a Warden and, since at that time tradition required the head of the college to be an ordained Anglican, Eric Abbott, who had been Farrer’s immediate predecessor, once again persuaded Nineham to go. It was a good move in that it provided Keble with a distinguished Warden and an able administrator, but it was a wasteful move in that it deprived the realm of theological research and teaching of one of its most able practitioners.

After 10 years, Nineham returned to teaching as Professor of Theology and head of the Department of Theology at Bristol. It was a less elevated position for a scholar with such a past, but the small yet lively ecumenical department at Bristol suited him well and left time for further writing, mainly essays in symposia on biblical interpretation and hermeneutics. He retired in 1986.

Dennis Nineham was also an Honorary Canon of Bristol Cathedral and generous in accepting invitations to lecture and preach both locally and internationally. He was an avid reader of detective novels and a railway enthusiast.

He became a Governor of Haileybury College in 1966 and was awarded an Oxford DD in 1978.

His wife Ruth and a daughter predeceased him and he is survived by a daughter and two sons.

The Rev Prof Dennis Nineham, born September 27 1921, died May 9 2016

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2016/05/11/the-rev-prof-dennis-nineham-scholar–obituary/

 

The Myth of God Incarnate: Hick, John

As quoted by Anti-trinitarians “There is actually nothing new about the central themes of this book … ***That the historical Jesus did not present Himself as God incarnate is accepted by all [theologians] … Christian laymen today are not fully aware of it. … (Jesus) did not teach the doctrine of the trinity.” (The Myth of God Incarnate, John Hick)
Our Comment
  1. Hick is a flaming modernist who doesn’t believe the Bible! The title of the book “Myth of God incarnate” not only denies that Jesus was God incarnate, (trinity) but denies any incarnation period! In other words, Hick and his collection of liberal theologians, don’t even believe that Jesus was a pre-existent angel!
  2. John Hick, and his associates who wrote this book are flaming modernists. It is unbelievable that anti-trinitarians would use this book as proof that trinity is of pagan origin. The central theme of the book is to say that “incarnation of Christ” itself is a pagan doctrine and myth. Hick is not debunking “divine incarnation” but “any incarnation” (including the Jw view that Jesus was an incarnate created angel).
  3. Not Even Christadelphians, who also deny the incarnation, would want to quote from this guy!
  4. To quote this book as proof that trinity was not taught in the Bible is no more valid than the other quote from the book that says the entire incarnation theology is not taught in the Bible.
  5. Therefore such a quote is deliberately misleading and unscholarly.
What they don’t quote from the book “The question that I shall be asking in this chapter is whether incarnational faith in this second, more precise sense is in fact essential to Christianity. Could there be a Christianity without (in this sense) incarnation?” (The Myth of God Incarnate, John Hick, p. 1)

Full text:

“For many people, the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is the essence of Christianity. Here a group of distinguished theologians and Biblical scholars ask whether the idea of the incarnation is essential to Christianity; and they question the whole development of the doctrine. Their thesis is that “Jesus was (as he is presented in Acts 2.21) ‘a man approved by God’ for a special role within the divine purpose, and . . . the later conception of him as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity living a human life, is a mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us.” This reinterpretation of the doctrine of the incarnation has been criticized as sensational and destructive, but the authors declare a constructive purpose. They have examined evidence from the New Testament onward with care and thoroughness and have asked their questions because they are concerned with the consequences of their findings for a full and living Christian faith for today. Their work is something that no thinking Christian can ignore. There are ten essays in all, written by editor John Hick, Don Cupitt, Michael Goulder, Leslie Houlden, Dennis Nineham, Maurice Wiles, and Frances Young.” … “Don Cupitt is a University Lecturer in Divinity and Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Michael Goulder is Staff Tutor in Theology in the Department of Extramural Studies at Birmingham University. John Hick is H. G. Wood Professor of Theology at Birmingham University. Leslie Houlden is Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon. Dennis Nineham is Warden of Keble College, Oxford. Maurice Wiles is Regius Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and Chairman of the Church of England’s Doctrine Commission. Frances Young is Lecturer in New Testament Studies at Birmingham University.” (The Myth of God Incarnate, John Hick, back cover, inside cover)

Many people, including both conservative believers and perhaps a still larger group of conservative unbelievers, will take exception to the thinking that is going on in this book. They will hold that Christianity consists and always has consisted in a certain definite set of beliefs, and that theologians who seek to modify or ‘reinterpret’ those beliefs are being disingenuous: it would be more honest of them frankly to abandon the faith as no longer tenable. To this it must be replied that modem scholarship has shown that the supposed unchanging set of beliefs is a mirage. (The Myth of God Incarnate, John Hick, p. X)

http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-Hick.htm

John Hick (1922—2012)

John Hick was arguably one of *****the most important and influential philosophers of religion of the second half of the twentieth century. As a British philosopher in the anglo-analytic tradition, Hick did groundbreaking work in religious epistemology, philosophical theology, and religious pluralism.

As a young law student, Hick underwent a strong religious experience that led him to accept evangelical Christianity and to change his career direction to theology and philosophy. This experience would prove not only life-altering but also important for his subsequent philosophical views. Early in his career, Hick argued that Christian faith is based not on propositional evidence but on religious experience. He thus defended Christian faith against the evidentialist criticisms of the then dominant logical positivists. During this stage Hick also developed his Irenaean “soul-making” theodicy in which he argued that God allows evil and suffering in the world in order to develop humans into virtuous creatures capable of following his will.

In the late 1960s, Hick had another set of experiences that dramatically affected his life and work. While working on civil rights issues in Birmingham, he found himself working and worshiping alongside people of other faiths. During this time he began to believe that sincere adherents of other faiths experience the Transcendent just as Christians do, though with variances due to cultural, historical, and doctrinal factors. These experiences led him to develop his pluralistic hypothesis, which, relying heavily on Kant’s phenomenal/noumenal distinction, states that adherents of the major religious faiths experience the ineffable Real through their varying culturally shaped lenses. Hick’s pluralistic considerations then led him to adjust his theological positions, and he subsequently developed interpretations of Christian doctrines, such as the incarnation, atonement, and trinity, not as metaphysical claims but as metaphorical or mythological ones. However, despite Hick’s changes theologically, many of his underlying philosophical positions remained largely intact over the course of his long career.

Hick’s most influential works include Faith and KnowledgeEvil and the God of LoveDeath and Eternal LifeThe Myth of God Incarnate (ed.), and An Interpretation of Religion. Other of his significant works include Arguments for the Existence of God, God Has Many NamesThe Metaphor of God IncarnateA Christian Theology of ReligionsThe New Frontier of Religion and Science, and his widely used textbook, Philosophy of Religion.

ooooooo

5. Criticisms and Influences

Because Hick was such a highly original thinker, whose work fits into neither the established orthodoxies of conservative Christianity nor of philosophical naturalism, his work has been both widely influential and widely criticized. Hick writes in his Autobiography that he has been “attacked from different quarters as anti-Christian, as too narrowly Christian, as an atheist, a polytheist, a postmodernist, and as not postmodernist enough!” (321). While virtually all the ideas he has proposed, including eschatological verification, “replica” theory, epistemic distance, and soul-making have been subject to scrutiny in countless articles and sometimes books, it is his pluralistic hypothesis and its resulting implications for Christian theology which have received the heaviest criticisms by far. Many of these criticisms have been largely theological, but there have been a number of substantial philosophical criticisms as well. For example, William Rowe, Alvin Plantinga, Keith Yandell, George Mavrodes, and others have argued that Hick’s Kantian distinction—as well as his related notion of transcategoriality or ineffability—is philosophically untenable. Mavrodes takes Hick’s phenomenal/noumenal distinction at face value and asks why this does not amount to polytheism, since “all the gods [of the various world religions] are real in the same sense that cantaloupes are real on the Kantian view” (“Polytheism,” in The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity, 147, italics original). Rowe and Plantinga each argue that for every set of contradictory properties, one of them must literally apply to the Real. So, for example, Plantinga argues that between the logically contradictory properties of being or not being a tricycle, the latter is literally true of the Real. Likewise, Plantinga and Yandell each argue that if the Real is in fact ineffable, then it could not serve as the explanatory ground for religious experience. If it is beyond the distinction between good and evil, why believe that it is the ground of moral development rather than moral degradation? Hick has responded to these and other criticisms in his introduction to the second edition of An Interpretation of Religion and has published the back and forth conversations with a number of his critics in his Dialogues in the Philosophy of Religion.

Though Hick’s work has faced some of the strongest criticisms from more traditionally orthodox Christians, he also had a strong influence among this group. Many of his former students are now established Christian philosophers in their own right, including Steven T. Davis, William Lane Craig, and Harold A. Netland. Moreover, his more orthodox contemporary, William Alston, has credited Hick’s Faith and Knowledge as a major influence on his widely influential epistemology of religious experience. However, Hick’s most indelible influence comes not in the form of individual scholars or schools of thought but in the fruit of his efforts to revive philosophy of religion as an academically viable field at a time when it had all but died. The renaissance of philosophy of religion today owes a great debt to Hick’s work in the 1950s-70s, when theism was still very much on the defensive due to the legacy of logical positivism and the impact of the later work of Wittgenstein. It was within this hostile environment that Hick took the tools of analytic philosophy and aggressively defended the rationality of religious practices. Moreover, at a time when philosophy of religion was still dominated by Western theistic discussions, Hick introduced religious diversity as a serious philosophical topic. Today no serious discussion of religious language, religious epistemology, the problem of evil, Christology, or religious pluralism can ignore Hick’s influence

http://www.iep.utm.edu/hick/

Comments

The Myth of God Incarnate:  John Hick & Dennis Newham

This is a topic that theologians tip-toe around with political correctness yet essential to reach the fundamental truth of the historicity of the narratives. Although this topic will forever be debated to infinitum I will confine it to the words of just two of the world’s most respected theologians.

The first theologian who recently died is:

Dennis Nineham Obituary

The Rev Prof Dennis Nineham, born September 27 1921, died May 9 2016

11 MAY 2016 • 4:54PM
The Reverend Professor Dennis Nineham, who has died aged 94, was one of the Church of England’s *****most distinguished scholars and teachers.

His primary field was the New Testament, but he was also a good all-round theologian and insisted that, since the Church’s beliefs and practices were built upon New Testament foundations, its preachers, teachers and liturgists must take full account of contemporary scholarship in this field.

***The result was to make him less popular than he might otherwise have been among Church leaders; for, while he was never other than a staunch churchman, ***”his approach to the historicity of the Bible was highly critical”, and in this he was much closer to many German scholars than to most of his English contemporaries.

Thus his commentary on St Mark’s Gospel (1963), which achieved wide readership as a Pelican book,*****” cast considerable doubt on the historical basis of the life and teaching of Jesus portrayed in the Gospel.” He argued, with a formidable range of scholarship, that it consists almost entirely of preaching material designed to win others to Christian faith. ***The fact that its history is dubious is less important than its powerfully accurate presentation of the central message of Jesus.

Nineham took this further and asserted, again in the company of certain German scholars, ***”that the expressions of faith found in the Bible and in the credal statements compiled during the early centuries of the Church were inevitably influenced by cultural factors and needed to be disentangled from these factors if they were to be of use to people living in different ages and with different understandings of the way in which the universe is ordered.”

Comments on Dennis Nineham

Although Dennis Nineham “has cast considerable doubt on the historical basis of the life and teaching of Jesus portrayed in the Gospel” but as a Christian theologian he has accepted that the Gospel’s dubious history is less important than its powerfully accurate presentation of the central message of Jesus.”

John Hick (1922—2012)

John Hick was arguably one of *****the most important and influential philosophers of religion of the second half of the twentieth century. As a British philosopher in the anglo-analytic tradition, Hick did groundbreaking work in religious epistemology, philosophical theology, and religious pluralism.

***That the historical Jesus did not present Himself as God incarnate is accepted by all [theologians] … Christian laymen today are not fully aware of it. … (Jesus) did not teach the doctrine of the trinity.” (The Myth of God Incarnate, John Hick)

  1. Hick is a flaming modernist who doesn’t believe the Bible! The title of the book “Myth of God incarnate” not only denies that Jesus was God incarnate, (trinity) but denies any incarnation period! In other words, Hick and his collection of liberal theologians, don’t even believe that Jesus was a pre-existent angel!
  2. John Hick, and his associates who wrote this book are flaming modernists. It is unbelievable that anti-trinitarians would use this book as proof that trinity is of pagan origin. The central theme of the book is to say that “incarnation of Christ” itself is a pagan doctrine and myth. Hick is not debunking “divine incarnation” but “any incarnation” (including the Jw view that Jesus was an incarnate created angel).
  3. Not Even Christadelphians, who also deny the incarnation, would want to quote from this guy!
  4. To quote this book as proof that trinity was not taught in the Bible is no more valid than the other quote from the book that says the entire incarnation theology is not taught in the Bible.
  5. Therefore such a quote is deliberately misleading and unscholarly.

“For many people, the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is the essence of Christianity.

Their thesis is that “Jesus was (as he is presented in Acts 2.21) ‘a man approved by God’ for a special role within the divine purpose, and . . . the later conception of him as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity living a human life, is a mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us.”

They will hold that Christianity consists and always has consisted in a certain definite set of beliefs, and that theologians who seek to modify or ‘reinterpret’ those beliefs are being disingenuous: it would be more honest of them frankly to abandon the faith as no longer tenable. To this it must be replied that modem scholarship has shown that the supposed unchanging set of beliefs is a mirage. (The Myth of God Incarnate, John Hick, p. X)

Comments on John Hicks

The Academic standing of John Hicks is without question. But Hicks has his doubt of the historicity of the Gospels.

  1. Hick is a flaming modernist who doesn’t believe the Bible! The title of the book “Myth of God incarnate” not only denies that Jesus was God incarnate, (trinity) but denies any incarnation period! In other words, Hick and his collection of liberal theologians, don’t even believe that Jesus was a pre-existent angel!
  2. John Hick, and his associates who wrote this book are flaming modernists. It is unbelievable that anti-trinitarians would use this book as proof that trinity is of pagan origin. The central theme of the book is to say that “incarnation of Christ” itself is a pagan doctrine and myth. Hick is not debunking “divine incarnation” but “any incarnation” (including the Jw view that Jesus was an incarnate created angel).

This short summary of two World prominent theologians raises serious doubts of the historicity of the Gospels. It raises the whole question of the integrity of Christianity.

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