Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
A Summary by Michael Edwards
Working Copy: Friends Home Service Committee, first published London, 1973, 14 pp.
The contents of this booklet were first delivered to the Edinburgh Theological Club, who had invited a lecture under the above title, in 1972.
Widely-read students of Macmurray will find hardly anything new here. However, it is useful and agreeable to have Macmurray’s views on Jesus all in one place and in a compact and accessible form.
The title gave him some trouble because he was aware of the obvious retort that Jesus was not a philosopher. He agrees that, on the contrary, Jesus was a Hebrew prophet. However, as Macmurray is a philosopher he tries to explain how he will attempt to extract a philosophy from Jesus’ teaching. Macmurray tells how for some time he has been trying to read the gospels as if he had discovered them for the first time with vision uncoloured by traditional religious teaching. The method which seemed to work for him was to approach them as he would a foreign philosophy he was trying to understand. He would search for the key points in the teaching and seek to interpret them by themselves before putting them together. (I can guess at some philosophical objections to this methodology and can second-guess Macmurray’s response to them but there isn’t space to go into that here!) He thought this worked, possibly because it avoided any traditional religious formulation. He speaks of the necessity he is under to think for himself and the successive heresies into which this had tended to lead him. (I would love to know what they were!) Although he accepted Jesus as saviour and master, for himself and the world, he also accepts him as very man of very man. This has the consequence that Jesus’ understanding grew and changed. His full humanity guaranteed the integrity of his thinking, not its necessary correctness.
Jesus’ public mission started with his baptism by John, followed by a period of meditation in the wilderness from which he returned proclaiming the same message as John: ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’ He offered himself as leader to his people in a time of crisis, seeing his mission as being to Jews alone because it was through Abraham’s seed that all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. Macmurray surmises that Jesus, during his period of withdrawal, reflected upon the Roman Empire and the place of the Jews within it, and the methods he was to use in his mission. The Roman Empire was to be accepted as God’s will for the time being. The Kingdom of Heaven was not to be established by military means. A community cannot be established by force. Only by consent. So the Roman Empire was to be lived in, but according to the rules of community, and transformed from within. Jesus’ mission was primarily an earthly one. He most certainly didn’t give a blueprint (a la Marx) for the Kingdom of Heaven but gave in his parables and teaching pictures of its characteristics and of the sort of people who would come into it. There was something wrong with men which necessitated a change of heart. And this ‘something wrong’ was not primarily sin (which could be dealt with by forgiveness) but fear.
Before dealing with Jesus’ problem of how fear in man is to be overcome Macmurray reminds us of the character of the Hebrew tradition which Jesus inherited and cherished. In Macmurray’s view the Jews were the religious people of history in that they had passed from primitive tribalism to a complex society without breaking the religious form of their thinking and society. The cultures of other developing societies tend to split into a number of autonomous parts with religion being merely one of them. The society has a religion but isn’t religious as a whole. For the Jews to have achieved social development without losing the religious form of their society implies that their religion must have developed. And this development occurred through the prophets. The Jewish religion is transformed from one of narrow tribalism to one of full universality. From initially experiencing God as one of (sometimes brutal) power they begin, through the prophets, to experience him as a God of Love. And love as the common man understands it. Not some rarefied, theological ‘It’s-love-because-God-does-it’ sort of love but the sort of love that invites the poor and hungry man into one’s home and gives him food and shelter. Hebrew thinking is characteristically empirical and rooted in history. It would yield a practical philosophy. Its central problem would be the problem of evil, not of knowledge, and it would be a personal philosophy.
So how is man’s fear to be cured? By love. ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.’ Faith or trust will replace fear. But how do you get men to love one another? (Surely it can’t be commanded?) By exploiting love’s natural tendency to call forth love. ‘Love one another,’ says Jesus, ‘as I have loved you.’ And, linking his command to the personal infinite, ‘As the father hath loved me, so I have loved you. Continue ye in my love.’ When Jesus realized that he would be rejected and killed this does not seem to have altered his view of his mission. It just meant that his small band of faithful disciples had to be trained to be entrusted with the future of the kingdom. Macmurray considers that it is a mistake to try to extract from the gospels a Christian ethic of universal application. That is the Greek and Roman way. Not the Jewish. The Jewish way is to take people and train them to live in a way which would exhibit the differences required for a transformed society.
A Summary by Michael Edwards
Working Copy: 1986 edition, published by The John Macmurray Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. First published 1961 Liverpool University Press as The Forwood Lectures 1960, 78 pp,
1. Science out of Bounds
2. Contemplation and Communion
3. The Religious Reference
4. Christianity for the Future
Macmurray thought that the lectures, of which this book is the published form, could be said to be a contribution to the ‘philosophy of religion’ if that term were not, strictly, improper — philosophy being one. The book is concerned with that corner of philosophy primarily concerned to understand religion. There are three major modes of reflective activity: science, art and religion. The book aims to provide a kind of geography of the whole field of reflection as a prerequisite for a fruitful examination of the internal structure of religion itself — of its own inner geography.
Until recently, when I acquired a Canadian edition, I was unable to obtain my own copy of this book. So the last and first time I read it was in a university college library about a quarter of a century ago, about ten years after I’d first discovered Macmurray. When people asked me about the book I was wont to reply that I couldn’t recall that there was anything in it that was not to be found in Interpreting the Universe, The Form of the Personal (2 vols.) and The Boundaries of Science. Having reread it recently (twice) I would largely stand by that opinion. Possibly, Macmurray goes into more detail about artistic reflection than he does elsewhere. However, I think a person newly interested in Macmurray would find the time reading it well spent. For one thing it is a lot shorter than the other three works taken together so the non-philosopher would find it easier not to ‘lose the thread’. And the person not good at making his own links or who hasn’t a sharp eye for the implicit might be grateful for a more structured spelling out of the Macmurrian view of the whole gamut of human reflection.
I suppose a major difference between this little book and Macmurray’s three major philosophical works listed above is that in this book he is more openly and unashamedly missionary. The book is subtitled ‘A Study of the Reflective Activities in Man’. And it is. Any professional philosopher who bought the book hoping for a significant discussion about this particular corner of philosophical interest would not be cheated. But Macmurray makes no bones about the fact that the reason he wants to make people clear about what precisely science and art are is that he wants to demonstrate what, distinctively, religion is. He wants to rid people of confusions such as thinking that art or science could be substituted for religion — could do its job; or that religion is merely a crude, primitive, childish form of science or art which we have outgrown. And he wants to demonstrate what religion essentially is so that he can establish whether the contemporary Christian church is genuinely religious. And if it isn’t, to indicate what reforms it must undergo if it is to be the vehicle for the transformation of the world necessary to usher in the worldwide communion of mankind, or the Kingdom of Heaven.
Macmurray maintains that all three modes of reflection — science, art and religion — have their reference in our everyday life in the world, where we function primarily as agents rather than as thinkers. All three are human activities rather than, primarily, bodies of knowledge. Science refers to that activity where we are concerned with the world as stuff to be manipulated, as means to our ends. Science generalises, sees things as instances of a kind and as matters of fact. It has nothing to say about value. Art refers to that activity where we take the world as matter of fact for granted but go on to contemplate it from the standpoint of its intrinsic value. Art is concerned with the exhibition of values and, in relation to action, with the choice of ends. The practical function of art is the refinement of sensibility. It is an education of emotion and a training in judgement. It cannot provide rules for the choice of ends because this is a matter of intuition and feeling, not of discursive thought. Art, in contrast to science, particularises, both the object contemplated and the contemplator.
Religion refers to those activities where we are concerned with personal relationships. A difference between religious reflection and the other two modes is that it is not itself a ‘mental’ activity in the first instance, either of thought or emotion, but a symbolic action which is communal. At the heart of religion there lies an activity of communion or fellowship. All members of the community are united in the same symbolic action, which is an expression and realisation of personal relationship. The Other to whom they are all related in a complete self-transcendence can only be an infinite person Who is at once the Father of mankind and the Creator of the world. He must be personal since he is one term in a personal relationship. He must be infinite and eternal because he must be the same for all persons at all times — the same yesterday, today and forever. And since the ordinary experience of personal relations is necessarily a unity in co-operation directed towards nature and upon nature, he must unify the natural with the personal. To ask whether God exists is to ask an unnecessary and possibly meaningless question. It is only through the confusion with science or art that the validity of religion can be doubted. Religious reflection is the most inclusive form of reflection. It contains its artistic and intellectual moments — the former giving rise to ritual, ceremonial and mysticism; and the latter to theology and philosophy. But these aren’t primary for religion. The primary experience is communion.
The Christian church, after appropriate reform, should not be merely a tribal or national church but a universal church which exists primarily not for the benefit of its members but for the benefit of the world, and which intends the creation of a total human fellowship.
A minor carp: There seemed often to be occasions in the text where “there was not time or space to elaborate”. I found myself wishing that Macmurray could have found himself an occasion when there was!
A Summary by Michael Edwards
Working Copy: 1962 reprint of 1961 first edition published by Faber. 235 pp, 10 Chapters + Index.
(An edition with a new introduction by Frank G. Kirkpatrick was published by Humanities Press, U.S.A., 1991, and by Faber, 1995, œ8.99.)
1. The Field of the Personal
2. Mother and Child
3. The Discrimination of the Other
4. The Rhythm of Withdrawal and Return
5. Morality and its Modes
6. Community and Society
7. The Celebration of Communion
8. Reflection and the Future
9. The Devices of Politics
10. The Personal Universe
Macmurray had a double criticism of traditional Western philosophy: that it viewed things from the theoretical standpoint, and that it was egocentric. The first volume of ‘The Form of the Personal’ was devoted mainly to dealing with the first criticism. In it he made a convincing case for a ‘Copernican shift’ in ‘the centre of gravity of Western philosophy’ from commencing philosophical analysis from the standpoint of the ‘self as thinker’ to the standpoint of the ‘self as agent’. But, as Macmurray himself conceded, he hadn’t fully dealt with the first criticism, hadn’t removed all the bugs by the end of the first volume because this newly elevated ‘Self as Agent’ was still, in conception, rather isolated. And an isolated agent is a self-contradiction. An agent requires relationship with the Other as resistance and support to his actions in order to be able to do anything i.e. in order to be an agent. (Without the resistance and support of the ground I cannot walk.) So this second volume does deal with the second criticism of traditional Western philosophy (i.e. that it is egocentric) but in doing so gathers up the loose ends left hanging from the first volume. It seeks to demonstrate the Self as an agent constituted by his relationship to the Other; and as a person constituted by his mutual relationships with other persons.
There is a view that Macmurray presented his criticism of traditional Western philosophy in the sequence that he did because he was a professional philosopher trying to convince other professional philosophers. And that he felt he wouldn’t get a hearing if he didn’t present something which would hang on pre-existing philosophical hooks. But, continues this view, this gives the long argument maintained through the two volumes a somewhat awkward structure, especially to the intelligent layman who often has more activist interests and who does not carry the baggage of professional philosophical preconceptions. It is suggested that Macmurray would have made himself more accessible to these people by straightaway jumping into the deep end of philosophically addressing the experience of members of a community of embodied personal agents and taking it from there. There may be something in this. I, personally, don’t have too much difficulty with the argument as presented. But for those that do, it may be worth their while considering that the package could perhaps be differently assembled. The argument may not have to follow the sequence here given to it.
Macmurray is concerned to scotch the idea that a person starts life merely as an organic mass, a bawling little animal, which has to be converted into a person by stern and rigorous discipline and education. He maintains that, on the contrary, an infant’s life is a personal one from birth.
The first chapter is a general discussion of the field of the personal which, incidentally, contains a very good characterisation of the difference between treating people personally and treating them scientifically; and an elucidation of the bearing of this upon the free will/determinism antimony. But after this, in accordance with his view that the human life is a personal one from birth, he pauses for a consideration of the Mother and Child. He seeks to demonstrate that the baby is not merely an animal organism but a person, a rational being. His life and bodily survival depend on intentional activity and therefore knowledge. His own intentional activity is necessarily limited in the early days and has to be supplemented by that of the mother with whom he is in communication. He lives by communication. A reader may reasonably wonder how Macmurray knows some of the empirical things he asserts in this chapter, was it by his own observation, intuition and common sense together with the results of conversations with and reading of colleagues in the relevant fields? For the most part he doesn’t tell us. We can only surmise. (One recent researcher, Colwyn Trevarthen of Edinburgh University, thinks that Macmurray underestimated the range of communication skills that the baby has at its disposal early in life.)
Throughout the rest of the book Macmurray elaborates the development of a person’s relationship with the personal Other and shows how ever more complex discriminations are made. He shows how the possibility comes about for the occurrence of such things as direct and indirect relations, personal and impersonal relations, community and society. He deals with both the positive and negative aspects of these phenomena. A glance at the Contents page will give some indication of the field covered. He ends with a vindication of the rationality of belief in God and the conclusion that philosophy is theology which has abandoned dogmatism and become in a new and wider sense a Natural Theology.
A Summary by Michael Edwards
Working Copy: 1966 reprint of 1957 first edition published by Faber. 232 pp, 10 Chapters + Index.
(An edition with a new introduction by Stanley M. Harrison was published by Humanities Press, U.S.A., 1991, and by Faber, 1995, œ8.99.)
Table of Contents
1. The Crisis of the Personal
2. Kant and the Romantics
3. The Rejection of Dualism
4. Agent and Subject
5. The Perception of the Other
6. Implications of Action
7. Causality and the Continuant
8. Reflective Activity
9. Modes of Reflection
10. The World as One Action
‘The Form of the Personal’ is Macmurray’s most mature and complete philosophical work. He was 62 years old when he first started delivering the lectures from which the published version derived. He was 70 when the second and final volume of the work was published. For a philosophical magnum opus it is quite refreshingly light in bulk; and its language is as accessible to the educated, intelligent layman as any such work could reasonably be expected to be. (Contrast, say, Kant on both scores — to say nothing of contemporary English-speaking philosophers.) That is not to say that it is dead easy throughout. It requires an unhurried, careful reading. It is probably a good idea to read his little book Interpreting the Universe (1933) as an introduction. The lectures from which the published work derived were the Gifford Lectures delivered at the University of Glasgow in the Spring of 1953 and of 1954. Macmurray was at that time Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh (from which post he retired in 1958).
Macmurray had a double criticism of traditional Western philosophy: that it viewed things from the theoretical standpoint, and that it was egocentric. In this first volume he is dealing mainly with the first criticism. To understand this criticism it is instructive to look back to the work of Descartes (1596-1650). I suspect that some critics of Descartes forget that he started out with what many of us would consider a laudable aim, namely, to deliver men from the bondage of having always to argue from authority (e.g. Is this compatible with what St. Augustine, St. Thomas taught?) to being able to trust in the authority of their own reason. In order to do this he felt that he had to find a starting point which was indubitable and then build on that. So he sat down and thought about things and subjected them to what might be thought to be a dubious procedure of doubting until he came to the conclusion that the thing he couldn’t doubt was that he was thinking. He was a thinking thing. He was a substance that thinks. ‘Cogito ergo sum’.
Now Macmurray himself spoke ‘of the necessity I am under to think thoroughly for myself’ and said that ‘it is surely part of the dedication to philosophy that one cannot accept any dogmatic doctrine’. So he did not have any quarrel with Descartes on that score. And Macmurray realised that one had ‘to stop and think’ in order to do philosophy. But while a person was in that position he had to a large extent to withdraw from contact with the world, life and action. Where Macmurray differed from Descartes was in not thinking that it was an unavoidable presupposition that one had to commence one’s philosophical analysis from the point of view of a person in this situation. If one did, one inevitably produced a series of dualisms which could not be bridged, e.g. mind and body. A lot has already been done by a person before he finds himself in the position of the thinker. One ought to start one’s intellectual, philosophical analysis from the standpoint of the self as agent, as one who acts in the world.
This first volume is mainly concerned with making and establishing this point. Macmurray first considers the Critical Philosophy of Kant and his relationship to his contemporary thinkers. He considered that Kant’s was the most coherent and adequate attempt to date to resolve the problems which were pressing upon the philosophy of his day. Nonetheless, Kant had produced a philosophy whose conclusion contradicted its major premiss. This premiss is the presupposition that reason is primarily theoretical. Kant, like Descartes, started with the ‘Cogito’, the ‘I think’. The conclusion is that reason is primarily practical. Macmurray, however, does not feel obliged to accept the presupposition of the Cogito and proceeds to hold up his insight against a number of traditional concerns of philosophy including the nature of Science. (A glance at the Contents page will give the reader some inkling of the ground covered.) He makes a convincing case for this ‘Copernican shift’ in the ‘centre of gravity of Western philosophy’. If his point is accepted then many traditional philosophical problems are not so much solved as dissolved; and a major industry would be threatened!
A Summary by Michael Edwards
Working Copy: First edition, November 1938, published by Student Christian Movement Press, London, 243 pp.
I The Ambiguity of Christianity
II The Hebrew Consciousness
IIIThe Work of Jesus
1 The Mission to the Jews
2 The Discovery of the Personal
3 The Prophetic Understanding
4 The Interpretation of History
IVThe Progress of Europe
1 The Roman Empire
2 Medieval Christendom
3 The Modern World
The only reference I encountered to this particular work in the respectable academic press was in Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies: Vol. II (1945). And this reference was hostile. (Which has its gentle ironies as I understand Macmurray was instrumental in getting Popper a job when he arrived in England as a refugee!) Popper, after giving Macmurray a pat on the head on p.243 as ‘One of the few who has appreciated [a certain] aspect of science’ goes on to give him a rap over the knuckles on p.273 for being guilty of historicism (like Marx). But I do wonder whether there is any more at stake here than the fact that Macmurray really does believe in God and Popper doesn’t really. But further comment later.
This book attempts at least three things: to explain the essence of Christianity; to demonstrate its truth; and to show how it has affected the development of European history up to the time of publication (1938), and what we can expect in the future. A striking feature is how freshly it reads after more than 60 years.
But to come to the argument of the book itself. There have been three groups of people who have had a major effect upon European culture and civilization: the Greeks (Hellenes), the Romans, and the Jews (Hebrews). These people each had different habits of thought. The Greeks were primarily contemplative, the Romans pragmatic, and the Jews religious. The first two forms of thought are dualistic. Only the third, the religious, is integrative, in that it does not, in its reflective processes, separate thought and action but thinks them together. Man’s fullest reality is understood as being found in action (which necessarily includes thought), not in thought alone.
Macmurray maintains that the traditional habits of life, upon which our civilization is based (i.e. mainly Graeco-Roman ones), give rise to habits of thought and reflection which prevent us from understanding Christianity. Yet Christianity is the motive force behind the development of our civilization. So long as we do not understand Christianity we cannot understand ourselves or what is happening to us.
Chapter I deals with ‘The Ambiguity of Christianity’; the fact that the term ‘Christianity’ can mean different things to different people. Is a man a Christian because he holds the same beliefs that Jesus held? Or perhaps because he belongs to the same institution as the one Jesus founded? Macmurray rejects both of these as adequate criteria and concludes that to define Christianity is to define the historic continuity of an intention. So a man is a Christian if he intends the continuity of the action of Jesus. Macmurray gives an example which illuminates the relationships involved. A man may start out with the intention to cure human disease. During the course of his life as a doctor he may be tempted to break the continuity of this intention in order, for example, to maintain a cherished but ineffective medical theory, or to preserve his professional prestige. So he will have sacrificed the continuity of his intention to preserve either the continuity of his theory or the continuity of his practice. What the action of Jesus was and how we can intend and realise its continuation become clearer as the book unfolds.
It would seem that all primitive societies are religious. Religious societies do not ‘have a religion’. Life is all of one piece. Historically, all other forms of consciousness are derived from the religious. In most societies, as they develop, parts of the religious consciousness split off and become autonomous. So they have a separate art, a separate science, a separate philosophy, a separate economics, and so on. And a separate religion, often remaining quite primitive or conservative in its form. The, apparently unique, achievement of the Hebrews was to develop an elaborate civilization and culture without breaking the religious form of consciousness. This was only possible by a development of religion. The Old Testament is the history of that development. Jesus of Nazareth was firmly in the Hebrew prophetic tradition and his teachings were not alien to it. In him a centuries-long process of development came to full consciousness. His discovery was that human life was personal. Not physical. Not organic. But personal. So the Kingdom of Heaven will have been ushered in upon earth when the whole of mankind forms one community held together by love. Not one empire held together by force and fear. This could be achieved by the Jewish nation completing its development as a community not based on blood and soil but on personal relationship and embracing the whole of mankind. In this way would all the families of the earth be blessed in Abraham.
But at the time of Jesus’ flourishing Palestine was a subject colony of the Roman Empire. Was Rome to be overthrown by armed revolt before the Kingdom of Heaven could be established? Jesus reflected upon this (see his Temptations, especially the third) and concluded that armed revolt was not the way. He had discovered the Law of Self-Frustration. Which is to say that if you form an intention incompatible with God’s will and thus with essential human nature, and then attempt to act upon it, you will achieve the opposite of your intention. ‘They that live by the sword perish by the sword.’ Jesus decided that the Roman occupation should be accepted as the will of God for His people for the time being. The fact of the Roman Empire was to be accepted but not its intention. The Jews were to live in the Roman Empire but with the intention of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let the Kingdom of Heaven grow by God’s ways, like the leaven in the lump, while the Roman Empire destroyed itself by its ways. Hence all those instructions which seem so repulsive to men of spirit if they are regarded as a New Universal Law, to replace the Old Law, to be obeyed by all men at all times under all conditions, i.e. to love your enemies, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give your cloak also. They were not the institution of ‘Christian as Eternal Doormat’ but very practical instructions for the present particular task.
But the Jewish nation did not accept Jesus’ mission; his prophesied destruction of the temple occurred (in 70 AD) and his action was continued by the band of disciples left behind after his death. Christianity spread throughout Europe, by Christian intention, and the Jewish people were spread throughout Europe, against theirs. Eventually Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire (330 AD) and thus ruptured itself! This might have been the best thing which could have been achieved by imperfect men in an imperfect world but it did have drawbacks for the Kingdom of Heaven. Dualism was reinforced — between Church and State, between body and soul, between ruling classes and working classes. (The common man now had two sets of rulers, temporal and spiritual!) The Church forced its doctrine through the mincer of dualist, Greek contemplative forms of thought which ‘believers’ eventually had to adhere to on pain of death; and its morality through the mincer of dualist, Graeco-Roman Stoicism, so that to this day what most people think of as Christian morality is really Stoic.
But for all that, the ‘personal’ values of the Kingdom of Heaven, including freedom, equality and fraternity, probably had more scope in Medieval Christendom than they had had under the original Roman Empire. Some progress had been made. And the Church still carried a certain amount of Hebrew Christian infection within itself in spite of itself. And it kept breaking out in Europe. Often under an atheistic, anti-clerical, progressive banner. Macmurray gives a detailed account of how all this was possible. And his account is interesting because it concentrates upon the inner springs of human action. He brings his story up to the time of publication, with Communism being attempted in previously Eastern Orthodox Christian Russia, and Fascism in previously Western Christian (Roman Catholic) Italy and previously Western Christian (Protestant) Germany. And he makes an arresting statement on p.227 (Chap. IV.3):
I need ask for no greater testimony to the truth of the whole thesis of this book than Hitler’s. His inspiration corroborates my own pedestrian reflection. The only difference between us is that … the thought of the triumph of the Jewish consciousness fills me with joyous exhilaration, while it casts Hitler into the depths of despair. For Hitler the Jewish consciousness is a poison … [for me] the Water of Life.
Finally what of Popper’s criticism that Macmurray is merely inviting us to jump on the bandwagon of success? That he is inviting us to believe that through psychological insight we can discover an automatic mechanism which will guarantee the right results (e.g. the destruction of Fascism) no matter what we do? Well, it’s certainly the case that Macmurray thinks Jesus discovered facts about the nature of human beings such that he could say ‘Live this way and you will flourish. Live that way and you will destroy yourselves.’ To hold that such discoveries are impossible to make in principle one would have to hold that there is no such thing as human nature or that it is infinitely malleable (which amounts to much the same thing). There are no doubt people who hold such views but such evidence as we have from science, art and life does not compel us to join them. The views of Macmurray and Jesus are quite rationally respectable. There is a reasonable probability of their truth. We can never, of course, have absolute theoretical certainty about anything but putting one’s trust in such views would not be irresponsible. And they make neither Macmurray nor Jesus ‘blueprint’ men (contrast Marx).
But what of the complaint that our efforts don’t matter if the Kingdom of Heaven will be established automatically, as it were (Popper’s complaint that ‘The law cannot be broken’)? Well, no doubt both Macmurray and Jesus held to the doctrine that God is not mocked. But the Jewish worker God is represented as making an invitation (or even offering a deal) to men: ‘Become co-workers with me and arrive at the Kingdom of Heaven the short way round. Refuse my invitation and be forced to arrive at the Kingdom of Heaven the long way round (with the results of your wrong choices adversely affecting large numbers of your descendants on the way).’ Now it seems that if our human efforts can make the difference between the short and long ways round then that is not to be sniffed at. If men had responded to Jesus’ mission in a fully appropriate manner in 30 AD then we might have been the destruction of the Jewish temple, with its attendant sorrows, in AD70, and the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1939-45, ad much in between. Wouldn’t have been a negligible human achievement, that!