Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:483 (Jul 1964)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Honest To God. By John A. T. Robinson. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1963. 143 pp. Paper, $1.65.

Few theological books have had the impact upon the contemporary, secular scene that this book has. It is not often that the layman is introduced to discussions on the highest level of theological interchange or to the self-examination of the faith of an Anglican bishop. This book by Bishop John A. T. Robinson opens the door to both of these areas.

For Robinson, the need for being honest stems from the fact that the Christian Church seems increasingly incapable of reaching its world and that the Christian faith therefore needs not restatement in modern terms, but needs to be recast in its most fundamental categories. A further need for being honest rests in the unsatisfactory nature of the bishop’s own experience with historic Christianity. He observes that modern science has made the belief in “supranaturalism” impossible. Freud has made Christian experience a psychologically explainable phenomenon, and Biblical criticism has made literal interpretation of Scripture unnecessary.

In recasting Christian theology, Robinson turns to three primary sources, Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Rudolph Bultmann. From Tillich the author has drawn the concept of God, not as a being or a person or personality, or as transcendent, but as “being itself” of “depth.” This includes a denial of the God of Scripture. But to deny God completely is insufficient to deal with the evidence. “The necessity for the name ‘God’ lies in the fact that our being has depths which naturalism, whether evolutionary, mechanistic, dialectical or humanistic, cannot or will not recognize” (p. 54). Therefore, “belief in God is a matter of ‘what you take seriously without any reservation,’ of what for you is ultimate reality” (p. 55). The resulting theology has a God which is “the ultimate depth of all our being, the creative ground and meaning of all our existence” (p. 47). The ultimate description of this “God” is love and then “to believe in God as love means to believe that in ‘pure personal relationship we encounter, not merely what ought to be, but what is, the deepest, veriest truth about the structure of reality.’“ Love then becomes “the ground of our being, to which ultimately we come home.”

From Bonhoeffer, who becomes a strange partner in this trinity of sources, he attempts to draw the desire to get religion out of Christianity and to interpret this as the

need for recasting Christianity. From Bultmann he gets the framework for mythological interpretation that allows him to reinterpret the Bible. He accepts B...

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