In this groundbreaking work, John Hick refutes the traditional Christian understanding of Jesus of Nazareth. According to Hick, Jesus did not teach what was to become the orthodox understanding of him: that he was God incarnate who became human to die for the sins of the world. Further, the traditional dogma of Jesus' two natures--human and divine--cannot be explained satisfactorily, and worse, it has been used to justify great human evils. Thus, the divine incarnation, he explains, is best understood metaphorically. ...
In this groundbreaking work, John Hick refutes the traditional Christian understanding of Jesus of Nazareth. According to Hick, Jesus did not teach what was to become the orthodox understanding of him: that he was God incarnate who became human to die for the sins of the world. Further, the traditional dogma of Jesus' two natures--human and divine--cannot be explained satisfactorily, and worse, it has been used to justify great human evils. Thus, the divine incarnation, he explains, is best understood metaphorically. Nevertheless, he concludes that Christians can still understand Jesus as Lord and the one who has made God real to us. This second edition includes new chapters on the Christologies of Anglican theologian John Macquarrie and Catholic theologian Roger Haight, SJ.
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I used to be an Evangelical Christian and so I can appreciate the fear and the loathing that this book can generate - but I urge people to actually read it instead of just saying it talks rubbish.
Professor Hick is one of the most clear, articulate and formidable spokespeople for the suggestion that we revise the traditional understanding of Jesus as the literal Son of God and instead adopt a metaphorical understanding that far more accurately reflects the reality.
His basis for this suggestion is many layered but to give you some idea: - 'salvation' is far better defined as what it is, a living reality in the lives of those who have moved from self-centredness toward God-centredness, rather than any of the divine justice and paying the price of sin approaches, which centre on what we believe more than the actual central reality of what it means to be savingly influenced by God etc - the historical roots of the incarnation doctrine are highly debateable, and the NT roots are very shaky, when even conservative evangelical scholars admit that John's gospel (the only one with "I am the Way... no man" etc sayings) is very late and so largely unreliable - the Atonement doctrine in its four primary forms is decimated in one single chapter, which includes a critique of Richard Swinburne's (Oxford University Professor) recent book Responsibility and Atonement, to devastating effect - however Hick's chief criticism beyond all these is that the actual concept of Jesus being "fully God and fully man" is itself fatally flawed and technically incoherent, and he challenges any scholar to show him he's wrong. He then systematically takes on (and takes out) all the theories on just 'how' Jesus could have been literally God AND man at the same time, ironically and rather comically showing each to be in fact heretical as ALL without exception fail to do full and requisite justice either to Jesus' humanity or to his divinity. - this second edition takes account of more recent Anglican and Catholic thinking, examining the two most important contributions in these two camps, and again offering a full critique of both to show how nothing has changed in the debate in the last 14 years.
The book closes by outlining pluralism - which stands in marked and far more powerful contrast to the broad Christian lines of response to the problem of how there can be one God yet so many religions, and how 2/3rds of the world are not Christian and what we might believe about this.
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