The concept of miracle in modern theology

Hay, Eldon R (1960) The concept of miracle in modern theology. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

What is meant by the concept a miracle? What is a miracle? The purpose of this thesis is to try these questions and, to some extent at least, to come to satisfactory answers. When one reads the works of contemporary theologians on the subject of the concept of miracle differences immediately become apparent. I have divided those differences into nine arguments: and a chapter is devoted to each. In each chapter the argument is presented in a straightforward manner, largely drawn from the representatives it. The view is also criticized and evaluated: criticism and evaluation is largely my own. The three traditional interpretations of the concept (as mirrored in their contemporary representative presented and criticized in Part One of the thesis, which consists of three chapters. The contranaturalist bellow that a miracle is unlawful and inexplicable; and 'this not only at the time of its occurrence, but forever so. The preternaturalist believes that a miracle is inexplicable at the time of its occurrence, but it need not remain so, and (in contradistinction to contranaturalism) it is categorically denied that a miracle is unlawful, The super-naturalist believes that there can be no adequate understanding of miracle without due consideration being given to the person of Jesus Christ and that the divinity of Christ makes miracle natural and necessary, In order to criticize these and other views use Tillich's definition of theology: a sound theology is one which is 1) faithful to the eternal truth of the message and which is 2) meaning-fully applied to the questions and claims of the temporal situation, The three traditional views fail on both counts. All three are unbiblical and all three are scientifically unsatisfactory, In Part Two I consider three important present-day theological movements which, while not dealing exclusively with the concept of miracle, are nevertheless of considerable importance for this concept. Karl Barth attempts to give a purely scriptural view of miracle without consideration for modern views of science and philosophy. Form criticism be may/roughly defined as the attempt to apply the results reached by students of folklore literature to the early Christian tradition as it is preserved in the synoptic gospels. The demythologist believes that the message of redemption which is contained in the New Testament is embedded in mythological language which can neither be fitted into the world view of modern man- nor do justice to the message of redemption itself. The various movements in Part Two are unsatisfactory for strictly different reasons. Barth' s. theology, because it is so strongly oriented to the truth of the eternal message, is oblivious of the claims of the temporal situation. Form criticism errs on the other side in attempting to speak to one particular area of the temporal situation, it seems to almost completely lose the truth of the eternal message. Critics of the demythological movement are wont to say that demythologists miss the truth of the eternal message in attempting to present the gospel in terms understandable to modern man. In essence, I do not think that this is true, though the demythologist's attack on many forms of expression of traditional theology does lay him open to the charge of being merely negative. In Part Three I present and evaluate three views of the concept of miracle which take cognizance of the fact that the growth of the scientific attitude has forced alterations in the realms of philosophy and theology. The rationalist is anxious to construct a comprehensive world - picture to replace the outworn supranaturalism of traditional theology. The linguist is convinced that the contemporary philosophical interest in language can be so developed as to provide a novel inroad into the problems and controversies of theology, illuminating its claims and reforming its apologetic, The existentialist is likewise interested in making the gospel intelligible to contemporary man, and the synthesis between eternal message and temporal situation is effected by employing many forms of expression drawn from the philosophy of existence, These three contemporary views in Part Three are truly theological and truly apologetic: that is, all three earnestly attempt to do justice both to the truth of the eternal message and the claims and questions of the temporal situation, I am personally convinced that the view of the existentialist is more success-fain this attempt than the other two, In the conclusion I state my personal and positive views of the concept of miracle, using as a framework Hume's famous final paragraph in his essay on miracles. Were I to sum up my own view of the concept of miracle in one sentence I should say this: a miracle is any event in which the faithful participant becomes aware of God's activity in Christ.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Ronald Gregor-Smith
Keywords: Theology
Date of Award: 1960
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1960-72916
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72916

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