About eleven years ago a slipped disc immobilized an Anglican bishop, and the result was Honest to God. This was a potpourri of old German radical theology garnished for local consumption and dished up with an odd combination of flashy sensationalism and engaging diffidence. It questioned the biblical view of God, declared that the only intrinsic evil was lack of love, scoffed at the Atonement as “frankly incredible to ‘man come of age’ ” and requiring “for most men today more demythologizing even than the Resurrection,” and referred to the Incarnation in terms of “God dressed up—like Father Christmas.”
A poll taken among English booksellers in 1963 showed that Bishop Robinson’s volume sold more copies than Tropic of Cancer, and even edged the New English Bible into second place. Just when scandal and sales were receding, publisher and author fanned the flames with The Honest to God Debate, more than 100,000 copies of which were ordered before publication. It incorporated, inter alia, fifty letters, of which only five were hostile, and twenty-three reviews, not one of them from an evangelical source.
John Robinson, currently dean of chapel at Trinity College, Cambridge, has now produced a book on Christology entitled The Human Face of God (SCM, £2.50)—269 pages of the mixture as before. I make merely some general comments on a first reading of the book. It has seven chapters under the headings “Our Man,” “A Man,” “The Man,” “Man of God,” “God’s Man,” “God for Us,” and “Man for All.” “Who is Christ for us today?” it asks. What language can be used about ...1
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