Monday, April 13, 2015

Demythologizing Debate---Part 3: Lohmeyer

This post continues our series on demythologizing by looking to parts of Ernst Lohmeyer's rejoinder to Bultmann, whose essay was the first part, for deeper insights.


Lohmeyer haggles with Bultmann over the way myth needs to be conceptualized and what its function os.
It is just here that the enigma of myth lies: it dares to speak of an absolute Deity in human words and with analogies from human relationships, and moreover is successful in doing so. (p.128)
Lohmeyer also wants to emphasize the aspect of the world, cosmology, which he sees sadly neglected in  Bultmann's treatment.
Myth revolves around the inexhaustible wealth of these relations between God and the world and man: it lives and springs like a ceaseless fountain from these three sources of theology, cosmology and anthropology. (p.128)
Lohmeyer next investigates the relationship between theology as science and preaching.
[Christianity, RCK] ... is an historical religion, and at the same time the final, eschatological, only true religion---Jesus Christ, not only yesterday, but to-day and for ever. (p.130) 
For Lohmeyer, the myth functions like a symbol, and can form "the mode in which God reveals himself" (p.130).
... myth never recognized any limit to its applicability, any more than modern science does. Both are potentially capable of drawing all truth into their own sphere, and even where something happens, which does not fit into its conceptions, it is brought into relation with those conceptions, and even the most ordinary occurrence may become the vessel of a mythical revelation. (p.132)
Indeed, Lohmeyer thinks that existentialism is a form of secularized Christianity (p.134).

Lohmeyer analogizes myth to the other modes of expressions, such as "a dialogue, a doctrine, or a prayer" (p.135).
Interpretation must always establish the permanent content of truth behind the mode of expression, and ascertain why historically it was uttered in that particular mode. (p.135)
In this Lohmeyer is given to a much dated hermeneutics.
When the truth is established as valid apart from the investigator himself, scientific theology has achieved its aim. (p.136) 

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.

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