Shuck and Jive

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bultmann and Resurrection

What is the Resurrection? We had a fun discussion on my previous post. I like the quote from St. Anselm of the 11th century:

Theology is faith seeking understanding.

I have faith in Resurrection but I do not understand it. So I seek. On my quest, I have discovered numerous thinkers with numerous thoughts. This is from regarding the idea by Rudolph Bultmann:

Another important aspect of Bultmann's biblical interpretation was his effort to separate the essential gospel message from the 1st-century world view. This "demythologizing" did not mean the elimination of the miracle stories or the account of demonic powers. Rather, it meant their reinterpretation "existentially" in terms of man's understanding of his own situation and its fundamental possibilities.

Here is the key sentence:

To Bultmann the story of the Resurrection is not an account of the reanimation of a corpse; instead, it expresses the possibility of man's entrance into a new dimension of existence, free from guilt and anxiety and open to all people in love.
Not bad. I should add this about Bultmann:

During the Nazi regime Bultmann was one of the most outspoken members of the "Confessing Church," which refused to follow the "German Christian" clergy in supporting Hitler's non-Aryan exclusion policies. Throughout his career Bultmann continued to preach as well as teach. Bultmann married and became the father of three daughters. He died on July 30, 1976, in Marburg, (then West) Germany.
I am getting to like him better already. Sounds like he lived the Resurrection. His Confessing Church was antithetical to the anti-scholarship, homophobic modern Presbyterian version. Check here.

For those interested in issues that Bultmann was discussing see Mahlon Smith's The Synoptic Gospels Primer, a nice on-line resource for issues of scholarly discussion of the Gospels. Mahlon has a nice bio and on-line reproductions of some of Bultmann's works (scroll down and click Bultmann).


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Humm…

    There is something some great humanities professors taught this budding scientist once, regarding the stars: “In order to understand the stars you must first stand under them”.

    They also taught me regarding poetry that poems are like roses: they are meant to be appreciated whole. If we cut a rose into pieces to understand it, what we have at the end of the day even if we can properly name all its parts and all its functions are chopped up pieces of a dead flower.

    I think that to begin to understand the resurrection we must start by fully standing under it.


  3. I'm surprised to see you use the word 'homophobic' John - that's a slanderous & judgmental term.

    I thought you were about accepting others? I don't make any claims to being so, but you often do.

  4. John,
    I believe you are trying to quote from Anselm’s Proslogion which also means, “Faith Seeking Understanding. It was perhaps Barth who used the term Theology is faith seeking understanding. And excuse me for saying so, but neither Barth nor Anselm would have agreed that you have faith in the resurrection as either one of them thought of it. Actually Anselm is noted for his proof for the existence of God which is prefaced by this statement. “For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, that unless I believed, I should not understand.”.

    As for Rudolph Bultmann and the Confessing Church it should be noted that in his moral life he did stand behind the Confessing Church, but it was the theology of Barth that countered the theology of those churchmen supporting the Nazi’s. One might want to hear the word’s of Pastor Han’s Asmussen as he gave the address before those gathered at Barmen expounding on the meaning of the Declaration. After each statement he gives an explanation, so after the words “We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this One Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation,” he says/writes:

    “For the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ we may not become weary of stressing repeatedly that it is false doctrine when other authorities are set up for the Church beside the incarnate Word in Christ and the Word proclaimed in him. That is what is happening today. The demand is constantly and everlastingly being made upon the Church and its members to acknowledge the events of the year 1933 as binding for its proclamation and exposition of Scripture, and as demanding obedience alongside Holy Scripture and over and beyond its claim. When we protest against this, we do not as members of our people in opposition to the recent history of the nation, not as citizens against the new State, nor as subjects against the magistrate. We are raising a protest against the same phenomenon that has been slowly preparing the way for the devastation of the Church for more than two hundred years. For it is only a relative difference whether beside Holy Scripture in the Church historical events or reason, culture, aesthetic feelings, progress, or other powers and figures are said to be binding claims upon the Church. All these factors cannot limit the proclamation of Christ, nor can they take a place beside Christ as subjects of proclamation. In proclamation they can have no other place than that of various marks of the one, basically unchanged world, which can find redemption in Christ and only in Christ.”

    I am sorry; this is a very long quote. But I constantly see your theological remarks aligning itself with that two-hundred years of theology in Germany that lead to the devastation of the Church in Germany.

  5. I know very little of this Bultmann - but if he stood against the Germans ideas about exclusion - I have to give him that hand-clap...that segregation ended up becoming very monstrous.

  6. From what I have seen of the comments that Viola has left here and elsewhere, she frequently accuses theologies she doesn't agree with of having something to do with Nazism.

  7. Dear Mystical Seeker,
    Did you read all of what I actually wrote? Perhaps you did not understand what I was saying. Maybe I didn’t write clearly enough!

    I love history and I believe that one of the important crisis periods of Church history was among the churches of Germany during the Nazi era. It is very relevant for today. The reason I bring it up to those who keep promoting different revelations beside Jesus Christ found in the Scriptures is because something of a similar case was happening in Germany for two-hundred year until the time of the Nazis. The theologians and ideologies John is constantly pushing on his blog are not Nazi nor is he in anyway. However, like the theologians in nineteenth century Germany who opened up room for a second revelation while at the same time denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ, those promoting a different revelation besides Jesus Christ today leave the door open for any kind of evil.

    Some of the theologians in Germany who refused to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only Lord instead acknowledged, first, creation and nature, than the “volk” (the German Community) as a new revelation. Because Hitler glorified the Volk they included him in that revelation. The Declaration of Barmen is certainly relevant for today.

  8. Oh, I get it. John isn't a Nazi, but his theology leads to Nazism. And religions that you don't agree with open the door to evil.

    Yeah right. Whatever.

  9. Yeah, what really is the deal with the Nazis? Here is a chance for you to tell us about the Confessing Church Movement in the PCUSA and the Voices for Orthodox Women. I have my thoughts, what are yours?

  10. Oh, brother ... the PCUSA's Confessing Church is "anti-scholarship" and of course, "homophobic."

    Translation from liberalspeak into English:

    The Confessing Church movement affirms scholarship that leads to different theological and ethical conclusions than those held by John Shuck and John Spong.

    The CCM also opposes homogenital sexual acts and adultery ... like 99% of the Church has for 99% of her history.