From the Revd J. G. Craddock
Sir, — I don’t understand why Mrs Odam (Letters, 9 April) objects to the Revd Corrine Brixton’s having a personal belief in Luke’s account of Jesus’s answer to the penitent thief; nor did I think Ms Brixton’s statement was an apology. All beliefs are personal.
Nor will it do simply to say that an idea is scriptural. Biblical writers do not always agree. Thus, the Old Testament has no conception of life after death, in any form, until the time of the Maccabees. Job 14 illustrates the point. In the second century BC, two ideas arose: resurrection (in Daniel) and the survival of the soul (in Wisdom). As both ideas are biblical, we need to spend time on both.
We cannot suppose that resurrected bodies will be just like the ones we have now; for constituents of mine have been parts of the bodies of others. The biblical writers did not know that — although St Paul recognised that resurrection bodies would not be the same as our present ones.
We can’t suppose that resurrected bodies of any kind will live for ever on the earth, because, in about five billion years, the sun will go out. In its death throes, it will expand and swallow up the earth. The biblical writers did not know that either.
Biblical writers may change their minds — as St Paul seems to have done between writing 1 Thessalonians (when he looked forward to the “rapture”) and Philippians (when he wished to die and to be with Christ). Rethinking is not woolliness. It is what theology is about, and clearly the Church needs to engage in it. If it does not, then it will be untrue to the scriptures.
What is woolly is slavishly to follow some selected biblical view.
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From Mr Febrin LePadden
Sir, — Having recently read The Quest for the True Cross by Matthew d’Ancona and Carsten Peter Thiede, I found the Revd Dr William Whyte’s article on the same subject (Features, 9 April) of particular interest.
As the article might persuade others to join with Dr Whyte in regarding the whole matter as mere myth, I would suggest that judgement be deferred until the above book has been read. It is easy to dismiss patently absurd stories; it is not so easy to dismiss the conclusions — reached after painstaking investigative work — presented by the two authors.
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