Chapter 3: The Disintegration of Orthodoxy

The World to Come: From Christian Past to Global Future
by Lloyd Geering

Chapter 3: The Disintegration of Orthodoxy

Since Christianity existed for at least three centuries before the formation of Christendom, there is no reason why it should end at the same time. Indeed, during the gradual demise of Christendom, Christianity has increased in vitality and spread its influence much further afield -- rather like a living entity released from the protective shell which it had produced for itself. Thus, as the framework of Christendom began to crumble under its own weight from the sixteenth century onwards, Christian belief and allegiance experienced a surge of new life, first in Protestantism and then in Catholicism. As recently as the middle of the twentieth century, church historian K.S. Latourette described the period 1815-1914 as ‘the greatest century which Christianity has thus far known’ in its 2,000-year history.1 Christendom might be dying but Christianity was very much alive. Some Christian leaders have even rejoiced in the dissolution of a Christendom that allowed, or perhaps encouraged, an excessive degree of nominal Christian allegiance: the impact of modem secular society has challenged people to make a conscious choice about whether they are either for or against Christianity. Such leaders prefer to speak of the present as the post-Constantinian age rather than a post-Christian one, and some claim that Christianity is stronger than ever today.

But what sort of Christianity are we talking about? The term Christianity is, as we have seen, relatively modern in its current usage. And it has come to mean different things to different people. From the Protestant Reformation onwards, Roman Catholics saw themselves as the guardians of the only genuine form of Christianity, and they judged Protestants to be heretics and apostates. The Protestants were equally adamant that they alone were faithful to the original and only true form of Christianity, and they condemned Catholics as idolaters. So were there now two (and perhaps even more) forms of Christianity?

For many centuries before the Reformation, there was substantially only one form of Christian teaching and it was clearly set out in a set of doctrines now often referred to as Christian orthodoxy (literally meaning ‘right belief’). What became Christian orthodoxy was largely hammered out by debate in the ecumenical councils of the first few centuries, sometimes using concepts of Greek thought used by non-Christian philosophers. In the early centuries, Christian faith was sufficiently flexible to incorporate valid criticisms of its various verbal expressions. Only later did it assume the steadfast rigidity that it then displayed until modern times.

To deviate from established orthodoxy in one’s beliefs was to be guilty of the heinous sin of heresy. The Inquisition was set up in the thirteenth century to search out, condemn and put to death all heretics. This assumed its most violent form in the Spanish Inquisition which lasted from 1479 to 1820. Defending orthodoxy by the severe punishment of deviants was not only a Catholic practice. The Protestant Reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) was instrumental in having Michael Servetus burnt at the stake in 1553 for denying the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Christ. At first, the critics of orthodoxy were often lone voices that could be quickly silenced. But from the time of the Protestant Reformation, and more particularly over the last 200 years, criticism of Christian orthodoxy has grown.

More latterly a succession of voices from within the Christian tradition itself has warned that Christian orthodoxy is coming to an end. In 1963 Bishop John Robinson’s Honest to God, advertised with the slogan ‘Our Image of God Must Go’, became a runaway best-seller. Some months before, in 1962, a course of lectures began in the Catholic University of Nijmegen, Holland, entitled ‘The End of Conventional Christianity’. The lecturer, W.H. van de Pol, later published a book with the same title in which he sought ‘an answer to the question of why it is that conventional Christianity has become so undermined that we are experiencing its collapse’.2

By the term ‘conventional Christianity’ van de Pol did not mean the Christianity of the first three or four centuries, but rather Christianity as it was believed and has been practiced since the Christianization of Europe; that is, since the formation of Christendom. This Christianity is expressed in the creeds, confessions, hymns and liturgies, and is substantially what may be called Christian orthodoxy.

To understand the demise of Christian orthodoxy we must turn to four particular areas that are vulnerable to what have been called the corrosive acids of modernity -- that is, the church, the Bible, the person of Jesus Christ and the reality of God.

The Church

The church had long seen itself as a divine institution, different from all natural institutions such as the family and all humanly created institutions such as the monarchy. The church was believed to have been founded by Jesus Christ, who remained its king and head, exercising his rule through his vicar the Pope. Thus the church mediated a unique and divine authority, wielding a power that could not be matched by kings and princes. The church claimed to be able to speak with finality on all matters of essential truth. The remnant of this is still to be found in the Roman Catholic Dogma of Papal Infallibility. Belief in the divine institution of the church became an article of faith, as in the words of the Creed, ‘I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church’.

Various aspects of this doctrine of the church were challenged at the Protestant Reformation. Yet the Reformers, critical though they were of the Pope and of the mediaeval church, were anxious not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. First they identified the church with the Christian people, rather than with the ecclesiastical institution which now ordered their lives. Secondly, they conceded that church councils were not infallible but were prone to error. Thus, although the church consisted of people who professed the Christian faith, its institutional form was human and fallible. Yet for a long time after the Reformation much of the traditional holiness was believed still to adhere to the church and its officers, the holy ministry.

The fact that the Reformers rejected the Pope entirely (even referring to him as the anti-Christ) meant that the Protestant churches lacked an authoritative personal voice. They were thrown back more and more on the words of the Bible, the very instrument they had used to bring criticism to bear upon the church. This proved something of a two-edged sword, leading to two extremes. Either the Bible was absolutely infallible, as it is for the fundamentalists; or it was subject to the same type of rational criticism that the Protestants had already brought to bear against the papacy. Thus Christian orthodoxy lost first a divine and infallible church and later, a divine and infallible Bible.

The Bible

Prior to the Enlightenment, Christian thought and practice appeared to be built on the firmest of foundations -- the Bible. Both Catholic and Protestant accepted the Bible as the divine revelation of infallible truth. As the Westminster Divines of 1643 declared: ‘The authority of the Holy Scripture depends not on the testimony of any man or church, but wholly on God, the author thereof; and it is to be received because it is the word of God.’ The Bible was therefore believed to reveal without error the origin of the world, the meaning of history, the moral laws by which all should live, and the only path to salvation. People, whether educated or not, generally accepted at face value everything written in the Bible. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century there seemed little reason to doubt its stories of creation, the Great Flood, its history of humankind, and the story of Israel culminating in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But in the nineteenth century this widespread confidence in the Bible was badly shaken, as biblical scholars began to study it with the modern tools of literary and historical criticism. These pioneers often found themselves rejected by their churches, and even dismissed from their university posts as a result of their publications. Only slowly did their work come to be known by the general public. The process by which people lost their faith in the Bible as an infallible source of knowledge is thus a complex one, stretching over some two centuries. From time to time fierce theological debates took place, such as that which followed the publication of Charles Darwin’s (1809 -82) theory of biological evolution in 1859. If Darwin was right, then the opening chapters of the Bible were false and misleading. If the Bible was found wanting in its account of Creation, how could one be sure of it anywhere? Although liberal Christians quickly found ways of accommodating the idea of evolution, more conservative Christians reject Darwinism to this day.

Fuel was added to the fire by the work of the seminal biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) about 1880. This led scholars to reject the tradition which regarded Moses as the author of the first five books of the Bible. Behind these controversies lay a growing awareness of the human origin of the Bible. For scholars were discovering that the Bible -- far from being the ‘Word of God’, dictated by God -- was written by humans. Its various books reflected many aspects of the cultural environment in which they were composed, including even the prejudices and limited knowledge of their authors.

This new understanding of the Bible has by no means dampened the interest, indeed the enthusiasm, of scholars and the Bible has been more studied in the last 150 years than in the previous two millennia. This has enabled us to gain a more reliable picture of the ancient world reflected in the Bible. The Bible’s value remains high, but it is value of a quite different order. The Bible remains our chief collection of extant records describing the origin and early development of the Judeo-Christian path of faith, but it no longer prescribes, as it was once thought to do, what devout people of all later ages should believe and do. The churches have found it difficult to come to terms with this fact, and often refuse to acknowledge that they have lost for ever what they took to be an authoritative source of religious truth. This revolution in our understanding of the Bible has had serious consequences for two other key concepts in Christianity: the person of Jesus Christ, and the reality of God.

Jesus Christ

What Christian orthodoxy meant by the term Jesus Christ is best understood by quoting from the Nicene Creed:

(I believe) in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Begotten of His father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day rose again according to the scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.

This Jesus Christ stands at the center of Christian tradition and is the foundation of Christian orthodoxy. But what sort of person or being is the Creed referring to as the Lord Jesus Christ? Up until 200 years ago the term Jesus Christ implied all of the following things at one and the same time, for they were implicit, if not explicit, in the language common to all Christians in their devotions and their theology:

1. the Divine Son of God, who existed from the beginning of time, having been begotten before the Creation of the world, and who became the maker of all things;

2. the second ‘person’ of the Holy Trinity, who became incarnate in the man Jesus to become the Christ and Savior of the world;

3. the historical figure of Jesus, who lived in Palestine some 2,000 years ago, who became a travelling teacher and healer before being crucified and who did and said all the things the four Gospels ascribed to him;

4. the Christ who rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and, while sitting at the right hand of God, is also now eternally present everywhere, sharing the timelessness of God;

5. the church, since it is called the ‘body of Christ’ and since Christ resides spiritually in all Christians and all Christians are said to be ‘in Christ’;

6. the Eternal Judge, who now hears the prayers of his followers and who will come again in judgement at the end of the world.

These ways of thinking of Jesus Christ were all accepted as simply different facets of the one spiritual reality. As a result of the new understanding of the Bible, from the study of the last 200 years, the once seamless robe into which all these strands of thought were woven has been torn apart, just as surely as the curtain of the Jewish temple was said to have been rent in two on the first Good Friday after the death of Jesus. The Jesus Christ who is the foundation of Christian orthodoxy has disintegrated into a collage of history, myth and devout imagination. Based initially on personal memories of the historical figure of Jesus, the Jesus Christ worshipped in the Christian tradition has been shaped by the collective imagination and devotion of the Christian community.

The traditional mental picture of Jesus Christ was not dismantled intentionally by scholars hostile to Christianity. On the contrary, the long and complex process which has forced us to distinguish between the historical figure of Jesus (who is open to historical research) and the religious figure of the Christ (who can be affirmed only by Christians and who is subjectively ‘known’ in Christian devotion) has been undertaken by Christian scholars bringing the best of contemporary analysis to their study of the Bible.

First came the pioneering work of the Enlightenment scholar Hermann Reimarus (1694-1768), who made a critical study of the New Testament running to 4,000 pages of manuscript, entitled The Defense of a Rational Worshipper of God. He so surprised himself by his conclusions that he dared not publish this work during his lifetime but entrusted it to his friend G.E. Lessing, a dramatist and philosopher. Reimarus showed that it was impossible to reconcile the stories of Jesus as told by the four different Gospels (and particularly their accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection), so the Gospels could not be accepted at face value as genuine records. He concluded that the disciples, distraught by the unexpected end to the ministry of Jesus, stole his crucified body, concocted the story of his Resurrection and turned the message of Jesus into the message about Jesus. After the death of Reimarus, Lessing published seven excerpts from the manuscript under the title The Intention of Jesus and his Disciples. It caused such an outcry that the King of Prussia forbade any more to be published.

The second step occurred when David Strauss (1808-74) published a two-volume work, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, in 1835.3 This is a most remarkable book to have been written by a young scholar of only 28 years. Strauss was the first to introduce into the study of the Gospels the categories of history, legend and myth. He defined legend as a story which has expanded and embellished the memory of an original historical event. A myth he defined as a story wholly created by devout imagination on the basis of an original idea. Strauss showed that the portraits of Jesus in the Gospels were already a mixture of history, legend and myth. In creating their stories, Strauss wrote, the early Christians drew largely upon Old Testament motifs and themes; they used them as models with which to describe how they saw the role of Jesus. In this way Strauss was able to see where Reimarus had gone wrong and why his hoax theory was false. The Gospel writers were not presenting eye-witness accounts, but simply collecting the stories already circulating about Jesus in the expanding oral tradition.

Strauss’s book, translated into English by novelist George Eliot, was widely read. It aroused such opposition that various attempts were made to have the book suppressed and Strauss lost all chance of a career in either the church or university. Many recognized that if his interpretation of the Gospels were true, then Christian orthodoxy had no future. Strauss overstated his thesis, but he opened up such a problem for Christianity thereafter that Bishop Stephen Neill, a moderate scholar, wrote in 1964 that ‘this book marked, as few others have done, a turning point in the history of the Christian faith’.4

Ever since Strauss’s first book, and his later book The Christ of Faith and Jesus of History (1865), it has been necessary to distinguish between the historical figure, now known as Jesus of Nazareth, and the symbolic object of Christian worship, called Christ. The original Jesus became Christ by being clothed and partially hidden in the stories of early Christian devotion. The Gospels can no longer be read as an accurate account of the historical Jesus of Galilee. Jesus became Christ, not in human and cosmic history, but in the experience and thinking of the first generations of Christians.5 This distinction between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith meant that the traditional picture of Jesus Christ, as portrayed in the Creeds, was being torn apart. The only words in the Creed (as quoted earlier) that are historical are ‘was crucified … under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried’; the rest is the language of myth.

Attention was then fastened on the historical Jesus as the founder of Christianity, and this led, through the rest of the nineteenth century. to an intense historical search for the genuine and original Jesus. The search was brought to a climax with the third milestone, the publication by Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) of his book The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906). In this book Schweitzer surveyed the whole of the critical research into the life of Jesus that had been undertaken in Germany in the previous century. He showed that the attempt to penetrate the Gospel portraits and recover the original historical Jesus of Nazareth failed, because each of the written histories of Jesus unconsciously reflected the subjective hopes and ideals of the author. He put it this way:

The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of God upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb.6

The failure to recover the historical Jesus did not unduly worry Schweitzer. He said: ‘The truth is, it is not Jesus as historically known, but Jesus as spiritually arisen within men, who is significant for our time . . . Not the historical Jesus, but the spirit which goes forth from him . . . is that which overcomes the world.’7 This was also the conclusion of a slightly earlier book which never received the publicity of Schweitzer’s work. In The So-called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ (1896), Martin Kähler described the search for the historical Jesus as a ‘blind alley’. Not only, he said, does it fail to recover the historical Jesus but it actually ‘conceals the living Christ’. Thus we do not have the necessary sources for writing ‘a life of Jesus’, for the Gospels are proclamations (or extended sermons), reflecting the testimonies of the first believers in Christ. As Kähler said, ‘The risen Lord is not the historical Jesus behind the Gospels but the Christ of the apostolic preaching, of the whole New Testament.’8 The real Christ, therefore, is the one who was proclaimed by the Apostles and who continues to be preached on the basis of the biblical proclamations.

For both Kähler and Schweitzer, Christ is the name of the spiritual influence which has flowed from the original Jesus, now lost in the mists of history. This is why Kähler referred to the biblical Christ as ‘historic’, in contrast to the ‘historical’ Jesus. ‘The truly historic element in any great figure,’ he said, ‘is the discernible personal influence which he exercises upon later generations.’9 This means of course that the living Christ is not open to historical enquiry and ‘Christian language about Christ must always take the form of a confession’.10 The only real Christ is the Christ who is preached, and the Christ who is preached is precisely the Christ of faith.

From Strauss onwards, when the distinction was first being made between Jesus and Christ, attention switched from the Christ of dogma to the Jesus of history. At the beginning of the twentieth century, from Kähler and Schweitzer onwards, attention switched from the Jesus of history to the Christ being preached. It was on this activity of preaching that both Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976), fastened -- not unlike St Paul, who not only showed little interest in the historical Jesus but also spoke in mystical terms of the in-dwelling Christ and of Christian believers being ‘in Christ’. So long as the Christ who was preached continued to influence people spiritually, as was the case for some decades into the twentieth century, Christianity remained very much alive, even if some aspects of Christian orthodoxy were being quietly ignored. But by the middle of the century it was becoming apparent that the Gospel was falling on deaf ears. Rudolf Bultmann, arguably the greatest New Testament scholar of the twentieth century, and in many ways the logical successor of Kähler, blamed this failure on the outmoded mythological language of the New Testament. In a celebrated essay published during World War II, he acknowledged that the classical form of Christian proclamation (kerygma) in which the living Christ was communicated was couched in terminology drawn from the now obsolete cosmology of the ancient world." Since this had become quite unbelievable to modern humankind, he called for a radical program of re-interpretation which he called ‘demythologizing the Gospel message’.

After World War II Bultmann’s plea for demythologizing the Gospel led to widespread theological debate. Conservatives rejected his approach entirely. Many others agreed that he made a valid point but they could not accept his existentialist re-interpretation. Some of Bultmann’s own pupils began what has been called ‘A New Quest for the Historical Jesus’.12 These scholars, recognizing the pitfalls of the first quest, were more modest in their aims. They were primarily concerned to investigate the overlap between the genuine memories of Jesus embedded in tradition and the church’s proclamation of him as Christ. More recently a group of New Testament scholars from USA and Germany, calling themselves the Jesus Seminar,13 have initiated a third quest for the historical Jesus. The results of their work are to be found especially in Robert Funk’s The Five Gospels, What Did Jesus Really Say? and The Acts of Jesus. What Did Jesus Really Do?’4

We now know that the most we can really say about Jesus of Nazareth as an historical figure is that he was a first-century Jew who developed a reputation as a teacher and healer. He antagonized the authorities of his day, both Jewish and Roman, and he was executed by the Romans. What he actually taught has become so integrated with what his followers taught about him that it is difficult to recover his own words. The Jesus Seminar has concluded that only about 20 per cent of the words attributed to Jesus originated with him. He almost certainly reflected the beliefs of his day. He may have been a teacher of wisdom rather than a prophet. He did not claim to be the expected Messiah, the Savior of the world or the divine Son of God. The stories of his birth, transfiguration, resurrection and ascension are not historical but belong to the categories of myth or legend.

Whether these radical findings of New Testament scholars mean the end of Christianity we have yet to discuss. They certainly entail the demise of Christian orthodoxy, which is wedded to the divinity of Jesus Christ. And this brings us to the fourth and ultimate foundation of Christian orthodoxy -- the being of God.


The understanding of God as the supreme personal being has been basic to Christian orthodoxy from the beginning. Christians inherited this from the Jewish religion, out of which they emerged and of which they were originally a sect. The concept of one supreme being was readily adopted, as it seemed greatly superior to the plethora of gods that were worshipped in the ancient world. Christians drew upon this understanding of God in order to interpret the significance and role of Jesus, whom they recognized as the one anointed by God to be Messiah.

The first rift in Christianity occurred when the first Christians, being Jewish, continued to affirm the full humanity of Jesus, while the Gentile Christians led by Paul increasingly affirmed the divinity of Jesus. As the Christians moved away from Judaism into Hellenistic culture, their understanding of God and of Jesus Christ was influenced by the Greek concept of God (theos), particularly as it was defined by both Plato and the Stoics. This influence can be documented clearly during the first five centuries when the orthodox Christian doctrine of God was debated and expressed in the creeds of the ecumenical councils.

The reality of God as the spiritual Creator of the physical universe seemed to be self-evident. In the ancient world, it was not atheism against which Christianity had to defend itself but polytheism, the belief in too many gods. Christians even found themselves being called atheists because they dismissed the gods that people had traditionally worshipped. The various attempts of Christian philosophers through the centuries to prove the existence of God were never much more than academic exercises, for the reality of a heavenly designer and sustainer fitted the pre-modern view of the universe so convincingly. John Calvin was able to declare in 1555 without fear of contradiction: ‘There is no nation so barbarous, no race so brutish as not to be imbued with the conviction that there is a God.’15

That was soon to change, but those who dared to question openly the reality of God faced the punishment of death. Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), an admirer of Copernicus, was burnt at the stake for contending, among other things, that God was not to be understood as a personal being distinct from the world but was to be encountered as immanent in nature. The divine life, he said, permeates everything including ourselves.

This kind of pantheism, shared by the Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-77), and to some extent by the earlier mystics, was the first alternative to traditional theism to be expressed. It was not until the eighteenth century that real doubt began to be raised about whether the concept of God referred to any kind of objective reality. The universal acceptance of the God reality was then beginning to weaken. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) gave dramatic expression to this in his parable of the madman who declared that ‘God is dead’. He was describing the fact that the traditional understanding of God (theism) was becoming dead for the modern human mind, because the modern view of the universe was vastly changed from that in which monotheism had arisen. Nietzsche’s announcement surfaced more widely in the 1960s, when even Christian theologians began to accept the significance of what he had said.

At the beginning of the twentieth century there were still only a few who dared to call themselves atheists. In the western world they remain a minority, but they are still growing in number. Traditional theism is declining even more rapidly, and is being replaced by agnosticism or by a use of the word ‘God’ that is both vague and variable from person to person. The God concept no longer has any agreed or universal meaning. There have, however, been some valiant attempts to defend the continuing use of the term God. Paul Tillich has spoken of God as ‘being itself or as the symbol which points to whatever is of ultimate concern for us.16 He spoke of the ‘God above God’17 Don Cupitt has expounded what he chooses to call a non-realist view of God, saying, ‘God is the mythical embodiment of all that one is concerned with in the spiritual life.’18 In this non-objective view, God is a symbolic term referring to our highest values and aspirations. Similarly, Gordon Kaufman has written: ‘The symbol "God" presents a focus for orientation which claims to bring true fulfillment and meaning to human life. It sums up, unifies, and represents in a personification what are taken to be the highest and most indispensable human ideals and values.’19

No matter how the concept of God is to be understood, the fact remains that this central religious symbol on which Christian orthodoxy has always depended is today severely eroded. As Catholic theologian Johann-Baptist Metz and Lutheran theologian Jürgen Moltmann have said in their book Faith and the Future, there is ‘a permanent constitutional crisis for theology’ because of ‘a withering of the imagination and a radical renunciation of symbolism and mythology’.20

When we turn to the concept of relativity in Chapter 6 we shall find further reasons why such concepts as Jesus Christ and God have, during the twentieth century, lost their significance as absolutes. The Bible, the church, Jesus Christ and God have all lost their absoluteness in modern times, and the attempt of the guardians of Christian orthodoxy to restore any of them to the pillars from which they have fallen becomes only a new form of idolatry.

Of course there is much more to Christian orthodoxy than these four pillars, but they do support a system of thought which, within the cultural context of its time, was both impressive and convincing. Today, these pillars no longer offer a firm and absolute foundation, and, as a consequence, the system of thought built upon them comes tumbling down like a house of cards. Traditional Christians refuse to accept that orthodoxy is in any kind of crisis. In vindication they point to the large numbers of professing Christians who remain. Is this because Christianity is broader and more flexible than orthodoxy?


1. K.S. Latourette, A History of Christianity, p. 1063.

2. W.H. van de Pol, The End of Conventional Christianity, p. 12.

3. See the author’s Faith’s New Age, Chapter 6.

4. Stephen Neill, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961, p. 12.

5. Peter de Rosa, Jesus who Became the Christ.

6. Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. p. 396.

7. Ibid., p.399.

8. Martin Kähler, The So-called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ, p. 65. For a fuller account, see pp. 42-71.

9. Ibid., p. 63 (italics added).

10. Ibid., p. 68.

11. Hans Werner Bartsch (ed.), trans. Reginald Fuller, Kerygma and Myth.

12. James M. Robinson, A New Quest of the Historical Jesus.

13. Marcus J. Borg (ed.),Jesus at 2000.

14. Robert Funk, Honest to Jesus, The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, and The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus.

15. John Calvin, Institutions of the Christian Religion, Book I, Chapter 3, para. 1.

16. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 17, 181, and other writings.

17. Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be, p. 176.

18. Don Cupitt, Taking Leave of God, p. 166.

19. Gordon Kaufman, In Face of Mystery, p. 311.

20. Johann-Baptist Metz and Jürgen Moltmann, Faith and the Future, p. 31.