The Church: A New Basis Of Certainty?
The Church and the Reality of Christ, by John Knox (Harper & Row, 1962, 158 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by L. B. Smedes, Associate Professor of Bible, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
When you accept the conclusions of radical historical criticism, do you lose hold of the reality of Jesus Christ? Dr. John Knox thinks not, and tells us why in his latest book. One can know the objective reality of Christ, he argues, if he is willing to recognize the priority of the Church. His basic thesis is that the mighty act of God for man’s redemption, the salvation Event, is the bringing into being of the Church. This is the basis on which he attempts a reconstruction of the divine reality of Jesus Christ within the apparent vacuum left by a demythologized Gospel. It is a challenging, sometimes brilliant, but frustrated effort at a post-Bultmann revision.
The reality of Jesus is found, first of all, not in some isolated historical facts which are at best meagre, but in the memory that the Church has of Jesus. The reality of Jesus must be defined in terms of what is real for the Church, not in terms of what is real for the historian. What is real for the Church is its memory. Whether this memory coincides with historically verifiable facts is beside the point. The memory of a person, certainly of this Person, is far richer and more meaningful than mere facts about his birth, life, and death could possibly be. Not only is the memory all we have, it is all we need to have. Provided we are part of the agapic fellowship which shares this memory, we have in it the Jesus of the past.
But the memory of Jesus past arises and becomes powerful only as we share in the reality of Christ present. That is to say, ...1
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