Archive for the ‘John Hick’ Category

It appears to me that we shall never know with any certainty whether the resurrection of Jesus was a bodily event; or consisted in visions

October 3, 2009

It appears to me that we shall never know with any certainty whether the resurrection of Jesus was a bodily event; or consisted in visions (technically hallucinations, perhaps auditory as well as visual) of Jesus; or in an intense sense of his unseen personal presence. But we do know the effects of the event and we know that whatver happened was such as to produce these effects.

John Hick, Christianity at the Centre, SCM, 1969, p.48

But (see last post) an halluination is not ‘to die for’. Also, are we to believe that the appearances (for there were reported to be many, at different times, to different people in different places) were all, joint, communal hallucinations? Was the Great Commission, given post-resurrection, merely an hallucination or vision? What is the meaning of the Ascension if it does not presuppose the bodily resurrections? Hick proposal creates far more anomalies and problems than it pretends to solve or explain.

If the god of pluralism is unknowable why should we live morally?

September 24, 2009

…if the Real (John Hick’s unknown pluralistic god)  has no positive properties of which we have a conception, then we have no reason at all to think that it is in religion that human beings get in experiential contact with this being, rather than in any other human activity: war or oppression, for example. This being has none of the properties ascribed by the practitioners of most of the great religions to the beings they worship: it is not good, or loving, or concerned with human beings, or wise, or powerful; it has not created the universe, does not uphold it, and does not pay attention to the universe or the creatures it contains. It is an unknown and unknowable X. But then why associate this unknowable X with religion, as opposed to warfare, violence, bigotry, and the horrifying things human beings often do to each other?

Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, pp.57-58

Why thinking people may abandon the faith

September 23, 2009

When John Hick was eighteen and a law student at University College, Hull, he says:

(I) underwent a spiritual conversion in which the whole world of Christian belief and experience came vividly to life, and I became a Christian of a strongly evangelical and indeed fundamentalist kind….I accepted as a whole and without question the entire evangelical package of theology — the verbal inspiration of the Bible; Creation and fall; Jesus as God the Son incarnate, born of a virgin etc..

But after the war at Edinburgh University he became uncomfortable in the Evangelical Union. He had questions about the faith, but felt that the questions themselves were unwelcome. Thus, he says, ‘I drifted away from the evangelical student movement’.

in Harold Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism, Apollos, 2001, pp.159-160

Unfortunately, all too many Christians have a, ‘don’t think about it, just believe’ mentality. An approach to faith completely foreign to the New Testament which invites scrutiny and is held up to rational enquiry.

The Trouble with John Hick’s Pluralism

September 19, 2009

John Hick wants us to more from a ‘Ptolemaic’ view of religions (with Christianity at the centre) to a ‘Copernican’ model (‘God’ at the centre) with all the religions revolving around ‘God’. But there are a number of criticisms that can be made of his, and other pluralists’, models.

First, Christian exclusivists don’t want ‘God to revolve around Christianity’ to use Hick’s metaphor. God judges Christians and Christianity. Christianity is not at the centre, and most certainly neither should Christians be – though Christ is. Second, the scientific metaphor is problematic: science is inductive and, therefore, very much open to revision and improvement. Christianity is based on revelation for an understanding of God, Christ and other religions. Since this revelation in the Scripture is from an omniscient source, Hick’s proposal is not as humble as it at first appears. To tell the Creator God that you know better than him can be described with several words, but humble is not one of them.

What drives religious pluralism?

September 17, 2009

Can we accept the conclusion that the God of love who seeks to save all mankind has nevertheless ordained that men must be saved in such a way that only a small minority can receive this salvation? It is the weight of this moral contradiction which has driven Christian thinkers in modern times to explore other ways of understanding the human religious situation.

John Hick, God and the Universe of Faiths, 1977

So it is unacceptable to John Hick – as if that determines truth – that the God of love (this is a hangover from his distinctly Christian upbringing, how does he know God is love?) save only a minority (as if God is obliged to save anyone or is unjust in his wrath against rebel sinners)?

But where is the moral contradiction? There is none, unless God is obliged to save all men (due to his ‘love’).

Hick’s neo-Kantian paradigm

September 17, 2009

for Kant God is postulated, not experienced. In partial agreement but also partial disagreement with him, I want to say that the Real an sich is postulated by us as a presupposition, not of the moral life [as in Kant], but of religious experience and the religious life, whilst the gods, as also the mystically known Brahman, Sunyara and so on, are phenomenal manifestations of the Real occurring within the realm of religious experience.

all that we are entitled to say about the noumenal source of this information is that it is the reality whose influence produces, in collaboration with the human mind, the phenomenal world of our [religious] experience.

John Hick, (1989) An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent. New Haven: Yale University Press., 243

Vinoth Ramachandra comments:

But in Kantian thought the phenomenal realm is the same for each of us in as much as our minds use the ame categories to interpret the noumenal input…and how does he know, ‘all we are entitled to say’ and no moer? How does he know there is a connection between the phenomenal religious experience and the noumenal realm?

See, Ramachandra, Recovery of Mission, p.121

My comment: perhaps the guru isn’t in touch with God but had bad fish, or marijuana.

The Liberal Jesus

September 2, 2009


I see the Nazarene as intensely and overwhelmingly conscious of the reality of God. His spirit was open to God and his life a continuous response to divine love, both gracious and utterly demanding…Thus in Jesus’ presence, we should have felt that we are in the presence of God. – not in the sense that the man Jesus literally is God, but in the sense that he was so totally conscious of God that we could catch something of that consciousness by spiritual contagion.

John Hick, Myth of God Incarnate, 1977, p.172

A view that refuses to take Jesus’ own words seriously (or at least presupposes that he ‘couldn’t’ have made claims to deity for himself)


Religious Pluralism leads to agnosticism

August 24, 2009

Thus it (The ‘Real’ an sich [as it is in itself]) cannot be said to be one or many, person or thing, conscious or unconscious, purposive or non-purposive, substance or process, good or evil, loving or hating. None of the descriptive terms that apply within the realm of human experience can apply literally to the unexperienceable reality that underlies that realm.

John Hick, An Interpretation of Religion, 194.

Religion is different responses to one divine Reality, embodying different perceptions which have been formed in different historical and cultural circumstances.

ibid., 294

If all roads lead to the top of the mountain then no road is correct – nor is any statement about the top of the mountain either. In fact, we cannot even say there is a mountain nor how or even whether to climb it. If religions contradict each other, nothing certain can be said of the god of whom they claim to speak.

The more Hick et. al. try to embrace all traditions they tend towards the impersonal, rather than the personal, the unknown, rather than the known. This is precisely the opposite direction Biblical theism leads.

Note also the implicit claim. Hick claims he knows that the Real an sich is unknowable. How does he know that claims (by others) to know God are using only mythological language? Can his language also be relegated to the realm of the mythological? Can his elativism be relativised? He will, of course, want an exception for his own claims. Such is the inconsistency of the pluralist who can only strenuously (and in irritated tones, once it is pointed out to them) deny the force of this criticism. Their protestations are hollow.

The Unique Christ among the religions

August 24, 2009

Christianity’s implicit or explicit claim to a unique superiority, as the central focus of God’s saving activity on earth, has come to seem increasingly implausible within the new global consciousness of our time.

John Hick, in Harold Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism: the challenge to Christian faith, 2001, p.158

The Cross according to John Hick

August 5, 2009

Jesus’ death was the climactic encounter between God’s self-giving love and man’s self-enclosed lovelessness and inability to accept love…Christ’s death was undergone for mankind, not just as a meaningless gesture but as something tragically probable and then inevitable as he steadfastly adhered to his vocation…God’s love in Christ was crucified.

John Hick, Christianity at the Centre, SCM, 1969, pp.41-2

Tragically, Hick’s explanation is no explanation at all. Why would Jesus ‘steadfastly adhere to his vocation’? The necessity of the Cross is denied here (though Jesus made it plain he must go to the cross to fulfil the Scriptures and satisfy the demands of the law on behalf of those who believe in Him). Hick’s cross remained an empty gesture, despite his weak protestations, as he tried to retain some meaning in it as he moved from Orthodoxy.