Frequently Asked Questions, or, in place of an introduction…
My name is W. Travis McMaken and I am entering my third and final year as an MDiv student at Princeton Theological Seminary. Incidentally, I took my BA in 2004 from Wheaton College (Ill) in Biblical and Theological Studies (with a concentration in Theology). I am married and my wife, Jess, recently accepted a job teaching kindergarten in the Upper Freehold Regional school district. If you need to know more about me because you want to award me an honorary degree, offer me a job, or for any other good reason, feel free to e-mail.
(2) What will I find here?
Only God knows. There will be no ranting. There will be no posts (at least I hope there will be no posts) laced with a prophetic posturing or displaying a savior complex. There will likely be little discussion of politics (my grandmother always taught me not to discuss religion and politics in polite company, and since I’m discarding the bit about not discussing religion, I’m going to try to stick to not discussing politics). Also, with any luck, this will be the last mention of ‘postmodernity’ (which I like to call ‘hypermodernity,’ but there won’t be a post on that either).
You can expect to find comments on passages of Scripture, information about books that I am reading or projects that I am working on, links to other helpful resources, etc. Also, links will be provided to an assortment of papers that I have written both in my time as an undergraduate and as an MDiv student. It is my hope that some of you might be bored or interested enough to read them and either give me any helpful feedback that you may have or pursue certain questions with me that have arisen out of your reading of my papers. I also hope that the papers will get progressively better from this moment on, but only time will tell.
(3) Why is your blog’s name in German?
First, one acquires a certain amount of intellectual cachet when one uses another language in conspicuous ways and far be it from me to surrender credibility that might be obtained through academic posturing. Second, I am currently studying German and one likes to show off knowledge that one has recently gained.
Third, and most importantly, the phrase ‘Der Evangelische Theologe’ does not directly translate into English, despite what your cognate-hungry mind may have otherwise suggested. It is true that directly translated into English this phrase reads, “The Evangelical Theologian.” What one must bear in mind, however, that the term ‘evangelical’ means something very different in Germany (and in Europe in general) than it does here in the USA. In the USA ‘evangelical’ has come to be synonymous with the religious right, conservative politics, a brand of spirituality and doctrine akin to fundamentalism, and sundry other (generally negative) characterizations. Yet, in Germany, ‘Evangelische’ means something similar to the word ‘Protestant.’ It refers to those churches, theologians, theologies, insights, etc that come to us out of the Magisterial Reformation. Thus, by naming this blog ‘Der Evangelische Theologe’ I do not proclaim my self-identification with an increasingly mainstream American religious subculture but with the understanding of the Gospel refined and proclaimed in the Reformation.
(4) Which theologians do you most like to read?
The three theologians occupying the bulk of my study are Karl Barth, John Calvin, and Thomas F. Torrance (not necessarily in that order of importance). Other authors abound but are most often read in service of these three.
(5) What theological loci are you most interested in?
My primary systematic focus thus far has been in Ecclesiology, and in Sacramentology in particular. I spent a great deal of time and energy thinking about the Lord’s Supper during my time at Wheaton College, and much of my time here at Princeton Theological Seminary has bee occupied with an investigation of Baptism. Research in these areas readily and frequently spills over into questions of Christology with which I have had cause to spend a great deal of time as well. One late coming interest has been the doctrine of the Trinity and, as one who endeavors to think systematically about Christian theology, most other loci have their place in my thinking as well. One point at which I have done little systematic thinking but much exegetical work is that of Eschatology.
Welcome, and please enjoy.
P.S. You may e-mail me at email@example.com