On the surface, Bultmann’s proposal to “demythologize” the New Testament proclamation aims so to express the Word of the Bible that it will be understood and accepted in the present-day situation. The language of the New Testament, its expressions, its forms of thought, and its pictures are to be transformed into our way of thinking and language.
If this “demythologizmg” were restricted only to clarifying the pictures and parables of the New Testament, the Bible-reading church would really be very thankful for any new and a better understanding imparted through such exegesis.
But, to our sorrow, Bultmann understands by “demythologizing” far more than just an unraveling of the Words of the Bible. For his concern is not only with form but also with content. Accordingly, not only the entire form of the New Testament, but its content also is first rejected as mythological and only then interpreted. This includes everything from the Virgin Birth to the Second Coming of Christ. It is a terrible tragedy, an enormous sorrow, that not only atheists or critics standing outside the church of Jesus Christ now ridicule the substance of the New Testament, but that such views are taught by a professor of theology.
Among other things, Bultmann proposes to reject the Cross in its meaning of substitution and sacrifice. He thinks that, according to ethical principles, an atonement for a moral guilt can be made only by the guilty himself, or that guilt can be cancelled in an act of forgiveness by the one against whom the wrong has been committed. Substitutionary atonement by someone else other than the guilty himself is a reparation or atonement in a legal sense of simple payment for damages only, and never a reparation or atonement in an ethical ...1
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