Wednesday, December 25, 2013

* Christmas Minus Christ

The late
Douglas Clyde Macintosh
(1878 - 1949)
Dwight Professor of  Systematic Theology
Yale University

Douglas Clyde 


Centennial Tribute 

September 11-17, 1978 

at Yale Divinity School

Works:  (1911). The Reaction Against Metaphysics in Theology  (1915). The Problem of Knowledge  (1919). Theology as an Empirical Science.  (1921). Christianity in Its Modern Expression  (1931). Religious Realism  (1937). The Nature of Religious Experience  (1939). Social Religion  (1942). Personal Religion.

 UNITED STATES V. MACINTOSH, 283 U. S. 605 (1931) U.S. Supreme Court No. 504 Argued: April 27, 1931. Decided: May 25, 1931. Overturned: 1946.

He described his own religious position as that of "untraditional orthodoxy."  While always a defender of the faith, he considered the best defense to be the relinquishment of the untenable.  This meant that the theologian could not hold out against the historian: whatever happened in the past happened, and whatever did not happen did not happen., and the only way to find out is through examination of the documents.  The scrutiny must be as rigorous in the case of the Biblical documents as for any other.  But research implies uncertainty and religion can brook no uncertainty, at least not on points of vital importance.  Therefore, religion must be independent of history, even the Christian religion, which takes its rise from the Jesus of history. Should it be proved, as it had not been, that Jesus never lived, Christianity might nevertheless survive.  On this assumption, in a book entitled 

The Reasonableness of Christianity, Macintosh devoted one hundred and thirty-five pages to a defense of Christianity without mentioning Jesus at all.  In defense of the procedure he said:

"It has been through no oversight that nothing has been said of Christology or the historical Jesus.  There is an important tactical advantage in showing how extensive and vital is that content or essence of Christianity which can be defended successfully without any assumption as to particular facts of history.  We escape the danger of infecting the entire content of essential Christian belief with the necessary incertitude of historical opinion.  All that has been said of the reasonableness and truth of Christianity is demonstrably valid, whether we have any Christology or not, and whatever we may or may not believe about the historical Jesus.  It would still be valid if it should turn out that Jesus was essentially different from what has been commonly believed, or even that he was not truly historical at all . . . it is the systematic thinker's task to lead faith to a sure foundation, independent of the uncertainties of historical investigation."

Roland H. Bainton

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