Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jesus Christ and mythology part 2

I finished Bultmann's book today. The second half was not as offensive as the first half. In this section he describes his method of hermenuetics and defends against some potential complaints against his position.

He claims that to think about a supernatural being intervening in our world is to be a primitive person; and he wants to make the Bible easy to digest for non-primitive modern people.

"Of course, there are today some survivals and revivals of primitive thinking and superstition. But the preaching of the Church would make a disastrous mistake if it looked to such revivals and conformed to them. The nature of man is to be seen in modern literature, as, for instance, in the novels of Thomas Mann, Ernst Junger, Thomas Wilder, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Graham Greene and Albert Camus, or in the plays of Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Anouilh, Jean Giraudoux, etc. Or let us think simply of the newspapers. Have you read anywhere in them that the political or social or economic events are preformed by supernatural powers such as God, angels, or demons? Such events are alwas ascribed to natural powers." (p.37)

Bultmann then describes how good hermenutics will be combined with existential philosophy. He takes an entire chapter to describe how we have to use what existential philosophy has taught us in our Bible interpreting.

In the final section, he brings up the following potential complaints that people may have when reading his book:
- Doesn't science change? Then how can science be a solid foundation for belief and Bible interpreting?
- Isn't this subjective arbitrariness?
- Isn't de-mythologizing just another way of saying rationalizing?
- Doesn't faith only have meaning if God truly exists outside our own ideas, and is able to act?

His answers to these objections are:
- Yes, science changes - but it's still the most reliable tool we have.
- No, because trusting in a supposed supernatural being would be true subjective arbitrariness ("Freedom of subjective arbitrariness believes itself to be secure precisely because it is not responsible to a transcendent power, because it believes itself to be master of the world through science and technology." p.42-43)
- No, because we are finding theoretical thoughts that we can agree with - we are just questioning God as a being with personal existance and ability to act.
 - He says that "to think of God is to think of our own personal experience" (p. 70) because God is something we create in our own souls. However, says Bultmann, God is still something outside of us - because He existed inside the souls of other people at other times too.

The whole book is pretty annoying and sacreligeous. He's a name-dropper and makes arguments based on what is "modern" or "reasonable". Funny that our modern culture today is completely different, (that book was written in the 50's) and yet people still make the same argument. I think that his goal in this book is to try and shame spiritual people for believing in the supernatural. He may as well just shout "That's so idiotic! What modern-day person could believe such a thing?!" We need to know how to make our stand in the face of such unreasoned peer pressure.

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