What was the faith behind the proclamations of Jesus, the message of Paul, and the Johannine witness--and how can it be recovered today?
This penetrating and provocative book seeks to probe the various formulations of religious faith in the New Testament with a view to recovering the real essence and genius of Christianity today.
Dr. Wilder sees three principal strains--often harmonious but sometimes disparate--in New Testament faith: the proclamations of Jesus, the message of Paul, and the witness of John the Evangelist. First, he studies what has happened to our faith since its original message emerged from the concrete historical act and the resultant community of experience. In the time since, flesh and spirit, as well as humanity and divinity, have come to be regarded as mutually exclusive, making it necessary for scientific humanism to develop a language of its own--for religion has lost communication with it.
Jesus' message, however, was a total claim and a total hope, a prophetic forecast of human destiny. Paul, though he spoke a different language and used different symbols, laid the groundwork for an epochal revolution of the race. John, for his part, emphasized eternal life here and now and previsioned a Christian freedom. Dr. Wilder ends with a stirring plea for a postliberal viewpoint that will recover the insights of the past without its mythology and terminology.