William N. Garrison

Christianity is and has always been paradoxical. In the epilogue of his one volume History of Christianity, English Historian Paul Johnson highlights this paradox, the tension which has always existed among the people who have sincerely sought to be or proclaimed themselves to be the followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. While he acknowledges in his book that he has stressed Christianity's "failures and shortcomings, and its institutional distortions", he perceptively recognizes that the purpose of Christianity is not to create "dynamic societies . . . but to enable individuals to achieve liberation and maturity in a specific and moral sense." The essence of Christianity is often seen in history as only institutional and in confrontation with government and other institutions, invariably vying with them for power and control. Dr. Johnson suggests that any true understanding and appreciation of Christianity must have as its basis the Pauline wisdom to the Corinthian Church. " . . . Divine folly is wiser than the wisdom of men, and divine weakness stronger than man's strength . . . to shame the wise, God has chosen what the world counts weakness. He has chosen things low and contemptible, mere nothings, to overthrow the existing order."

We suggest that the very essence of that tension can be seen in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. He towers in history above every institutional effort to be his spokesman, whether that claim be one of exclusivity or one of superiority among several options. He transcends every effort of man and institutions to use Him to gain control over the souls and lives of other men. Rather He stands unblemished by whatever errors, and even atrocities, have been committed down through these ages by those who profess to be His disciples and followers.

His claims are at first blush audacious in the extreme. He headed no government, commanded no army, and wrote no books, but humanity at large has never been able to completely reject Him or turn its back on Him. Even an acid pen journalist such as H. L. Mencken, was forced to admit, "either Jesus arose from the dead or he didn't. If he did then Christianity becomes plausible." Mencken, like all thinkers, is unable to dismiss Jesus completely. When Respondent Anthony Flew on page xv welcomes interaction with "the historic Christian Faith" we interpret it as a desire to interact with that enigmatic person in history, Jesus of Nazareth, the one who claimed to be the very essence of Truth. We believe that same Jesus is quite comfortable and secure in the very center of honest pursuits of Truth, no matter how frightening or threatening they may seem to His disciples at any given moment. He does not so much ask to be defended as He invites close examination, that is simple, clear illumination of the Man, His life, His actions, His claims, and the reality that His followers and disciples have for nineteen millennia agreed with the apostles that He is living today.

This audacity is captured by C. S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters when he describes God as "cynically indifferent to the dignity of his position" and in that spirit we acknowledge a bit of audacity in entitling this publication "Truth". It is done with a sense of excitement in anticipation of what might follow. In all of Church history intellectual interaction and pursuit of Truth has been conducted under the critical eye of institutions which have perceived themselves as guardians of the Faith itself. This has too often been in terms of institutional domains or creedal statements as the first line of defense. If, however, Jesus is indeed resurrected, is indeed the Anointed One of God, is indeed alive today, the possibility must be faced that it is He who must be in charge not only of the world but in charge of History. If that be the case His view of History would be dynamic, moving on His course and on His schedule toward a consummation which He plans for it. It is with this sense of expectancy that this journal is launched, not to rediscover Eternal Truth or discover a heretofore unknown element of Eternal Truth, but to unashamedly encourage legitimate intellectual pursuit, spiritually disciplined by the presence in history of that man about whom the Apostle Paul said "the whole universe has been created through him and for him. And he exists before everything, and all things are held together in him."