Most obviously, the mythical approach popularized by Strauss and others denied the basic historicity of the Gospels, thereby challenging the orthodox position. Not as evident, however, is how this method even undermined the earlier rationalistic strategies of those such as Paulus, inasmuch as they, too, relied on a certain amount of factual reliability in the Gospel accounts of Jesus.

These two methodologies serve not only to typify the major Liberal treatments of miracles, but provide models for the entire subject of the life of Jesus. As such, they present two distinct methods of approaching the Gospel data.

Still, Classical Liberalism as a whole fell on hard times earlier this century. It espoused an overly optimistic outlook, holding an evolutionary anthropology that involved humans reaching higher levels of consciousness. But such a view was overwhelmed by the realities of World War I and the recognition of intrinsic weaknesses within human nature. Those scholars who could not abandon their idealistic beliefs in the goodness of man, who still clung tenaciously to their convictions, struggled past the greatest slaughter of human lives in history, only to be confronted by the carnage of World War II. Liberalism was unable to maintain its leadership in the theological realm.

Liberalism suffered setbacks for other reasons, as well. For our purposes, the major issue is not only whether there is warrant for the belief that Jesus lived and acted in history. On this subject, there was little dispute. But we are also interested if there is any basisfor supernatural events in his life. This remains to be seen. De-Emphasizing the Historical Jesus

The publication of Barth’s Epistle to the Romans^11 in 1918 seemed to entail a message that was not only more fitted to the troublesome political climate, but matched an emerging theological conviction, as well. Barth insisted on a revitalized belief in God’s sovereignty, along with the reality of sin. The book hit the kind of nerve accomplished by very few volumes, serving as a monumental call away from a groundless trust in the goodness of human abilities, along with a restored focus on God.