Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 7. June 25, 1951

"Myths and Legends of Christian History"

page 7

"Myths and Legends of Christian History"

This is a curious book. The re-viewer vividly remembers what in 1961 may have been a prelude to its writing.

In that year about May Dr. Munz gave a lecture on the primitive Church in a series of lectures organised by the Student Christian Movement. Prof. Marsh lectured to a School of Theology. The lecture on the Primitive Church, began with Dr. Munz admitting that the period confused him. Prof. Marsh's lecture, perhaps badly reported, lead newspapers to think that the history of the Church had confused him.

Why did Dr. Munz accept the invitation of the SCM to speak? It may be that there is no one more competent. It is a pity since on his own admission he could not do his subject justice. Basis of his conclusions and theorising was a disbelief in the historicity of the Gospels which he based on Loisy (an excommunicated Catholic), Klausner, Schweitzer and two other very recent books quoted but not quoted from which had hardly had time to be exposed to criticism.

When challenged as to his view against historicity Dr. Manx deserted history and relied on the fact that Catholics have to believe in historicity anyway. Having put this cart before the horse one of his sources was used. Harnack, a Protestant scholar, after investigation came to the conclusion that the Gospels were historical. How did Dr. Munz explains that? It seemed quite simple: Dr. Munz was afraid: "I'm a Protestant at heart."

This answer clearly contradicted his theory and by the time he had finished not only had the basis of Protestantism been dismissed but most of the beliefs of all Christians as well.

The Resurrection was denied. The Sacraments, the Trinity, etc., etc., and attempts to argue historicity were not answered on an historical basis. At the end of the lecture Christianity had nothing left on which to base any belief but that of a kind man.

Professor Marsh's Section

The second part of the book, Professor Marsh on the attitude of Church towards social problems, also does great damage to history and reality. But once Dr. Munz had deprived the Christian Church of its essentials the approach to social problems easily becomes paramount and is tied up with the ignoring of dogma as Professor Marsh insists that it should.

Nevertheless it is to be hoped that any criticism of this section of the book will be moro seriously received than the criticism made of his talk in 1951. Two reasonable letters appeared in the press immediately afterwards—but there was no reply from Professor Marsh.

Put briefly Professor Marsh scolded and scolds the Churches for: emphasising dogma rather than Christian behaviour, not keeping up with the times by taking stands and modifying views, not taking stands on social problems and not being sufficiently or directly enough in contact with these problems. It is not necessary to reply to these inaccurate contentions except to say that they are erroneous. We have no reliable conflicting evidence from Professor Marsh.

The test will come when the criticism of this book is seen by the learned authors. If they argue as Dr. Munz argued on personal rather than on historical grounds or if they refuse to desert the ivory towers of scholarship at all like Professor Marsh in the newspaper, then we seriously doubt that soundness of the University approach to intellectual problema.