Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not nearly radical enough?

Last year I participated in a conference marking the 50th anniversary of J.A.T. Robinson's Honest to God. A re-worked version of that paper is now available on the ABC Religion and Ethics website. I argue that whatever one makes of the overall argument, neither Robinson's friends nor his critics have fully appreciated the nuances of his intentions. He sought to execute a radical re-casting of the gospel but to do so in a way that preserved what he called 'the fundamentals of the gospel'. I try to tease out what he thought those fundamentals were. I propose two key criticisms of the book: he sought to strip the Christian faith of its eschatological dimension (and thereby rob it of moral force) and that he was somewhat naive about the modern world he was trying to address. I suggest that the key strength of the book - not always noticed by its critics - is the theological exposure he provides of Christian idolatry.

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