Wednesday 15 July 2009

In Depth Theology

The presentation I made to In Depth (an Anglican group locally) is available as a web page. It wasn't the smoothest piece to read and ad lib from because I had edited it late by adding in material so the result was the flow was a bit backwards and forwards.

Well I presented this piece on Robinson and Honest to God as a follow-up to his 1945 Ph.D thesis Thou Who Art, and as such my presentation surely needs a further section to tackle Robinson's use of 'out there' as a representation of Thomist and all that theology. I won't do that yet. Is his 'out there' a good enough representation of the philosophical theology that was, for Robinson, surely, worse than the 'up there' of the biblical three decker universe?

It was a good and lively discussion, and I like these when people get stuck in. Honest to God matters to people, because of what it represented individually (as indeed it did to me - it got me chucked out of a church on the basis both that it was "old hat" and that my theology using it creates too many doubts).

My own view is that Honest to God was a failure of a book: it failed because, although it had impact theologically and indeed socially, it didn't make any long term changes happen - as we can see in the previous blog entry when looking at where the Anglican dogfights are now to be found. Things have gone backwards, and there are fundies on the march. The discplined up front (liturgical and restricted preaching) presentation in churches does not outsiders about the diversity of beliefs within these churches that can only be realised through conversation. It also failed because it was misread, and because although Bonhoeffer and Bultmann were treated properly (I'd assert), Tillich was misrepresented, even if creatively used. It failed too because along with the panentheism there is no satisfactory defence of a unique Jesus as the Christ, as indeed proved impossible for Robinson in later books beyond his own dogmatic assertion. And yet it represented a period of time quite well and was of an important moment, either to recoil from to set up the barricades, or sharpen blades, or to move on (or back to Jowett and company) to something more consistent and radical.


laBiscuitnapper said...

I can't believe that the book I just picked up at a church fair for 10p was so amazing and influential. I really have to read it over the holidays - I always feel like my theology is a tad crude, probably a result of all that physics!

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Well read it in order to go on and read something else.