Theology and History


	Can you bear one more message on the subject of the relationship 
between theology and history?  Here goes:  In his article "Modern Theology 
and Biblical Criticism" (printed in _The Seeing Eye_, Ballatine Books, 
1992), C. S. Lewis addresses a group of theology and biblical studies 
students about this very issue.  He states, "A theology which denies the 
historicity of nearly everything in the Gospels to which Christian life and 
affections and thought have been fastened for nearly two millenia--which 
either denies the miraculous altogether or, more strangely, after 
swallowing the camel of the Resurrection strains at the gnats as the 
feeding of the multitudes--if offered to the uneducated man . . . he will 
not recognize [it] as Christianiy."  Lewis then proceeds to give what he 
terms "an educated man's" response to the attempt to reconstruct the 
"historical development" of the Gospels.  Using his own personal experience
with reviewers and critics of his writings, Lewis makes the point that not 
one of the critics has ever succeeded in correctly reconstructing the 
"history" of his writings.  The point Lewis makes is this:  If we cannot 
even correctly reconstruct the history of the writings of someone 
contemporary to us, then how can we be so arrogant as to claim that we can 
do so with writings that are about 2000 years old and written in a cultural 
and linguistic mindset quite different from our own?  Why not give the 
Gospel writers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their books?  
It seems apparent that they assumed a historical context for the events 
which they report (unless we assume that the author of Luke-Acts is a 
blantant liar and charlatan), so why should we not assume the same thing?  How 
can we, 2000 years after the fact, determine what is "historical" (read, 
"the actual event") and what is not?  The bottom line--we have a body of 
literature that purports to be in some way "historical" and "true."  We 
have no way beyond a reasonable doubt to _prove_ it wrong.  

Leo Percer
Baylor University