Showing posts from December, 2006

Work that Network!

Theo-Bloggers are notorious not only for self-righteous rantings (which I have avoided so far, I think…) but also for networking amongst themselves (which I try to do in a modest fashion). An exceptional blog has lately come to my attention, and I have been so impressed by its quality that I feel as though I must pass word along to any of you, gentle readers, who have not yet found its hallowed halls.

The site in question is Per caritatem, run by Cynthia Nielsen, a PhD student in philosophy and adjunct philosophy instructor somewhere in Texas. What has impressed me is her treatment of Calvin, first in relation to St. Thomas (part I; part II), but also a very fine post on Calvin’s hermeneutics (which was posted last August, but which I have only lately discovered). Do take a peek at these wonderful resources, and pay attention to whatever else Cynthia may send our way.

Cynthia, I have now returned the favor and added you to my blog roll. I’m very pleased to have met you.

Choice Quotations: John Calvin on “Sacraments in a Wider Sense”

As anyone who has been to this blog before knows, I love John Calvin. This deep appreciation for Calvin has developed out of my study of sacramental theology and is founded upon my conviction that Calvin is the apex of sacramental theology, an apex which has not been surpassed (although, he may need revising and clarifying with reference to a few non-material points). In any case, I was reading through Institutes 4.14 and coming once again upon the below material it struck me as particularly relevant to thinking about the relation between grace and nature, as well as the relation between theology and science.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559 edition, Battles / McNeill), 4.14.18


The term “sacrament,” as we have previously discussed its nature so far, embraces generally all those signs which God has ever enjoined upon men to render them more certain and confident of the truth of his promises. He sometimes willed to present these in nat…

Get Yourself A Christmas Present

The stream of comments in response to my post on Theology and the Knowledge of God has slowed and, although David has promised a lengthy comment soon, I figured that it would be alright to put up another little post in the holiday spirit (especially since I don’t plan to post until after the new year). So, I thought I would use all the authority and respect that I have collected since this blog launched a few months ago, to recommend to you all that you go and buy yourself a Christmas present.

Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise For Young Theologians.

Amazon lists this book for $8, but you can get used copies for under $4, so you have no excuse for not picking one up. Use that money your grandma Silvia or auntie Cecelia gave you for Christmas. This book will profit you more than the amount of beer, wine or liqueur that these few dollars will bring you.

This book is a spiritual exercise for those who study theology, and specifically for those just starting out in that study. I hav…

Theology and the Knowledge of God

This post is a response to the arguments of my philosopher friend, which can be read – along with my preliminary responses - here and here. What precisely is this post intended to secure?
I will argue that theology is a science
I will argue that, insofar as theology is a science, theology deals with knowledge of God
I will argue that insofar as theology deals with knowledge of God, that knowledge of God is ‘certain.’
Theology is a Science

Theology is a science. This aspect of the theological task is particularly well described by T.F. Torrance. All empirical (experimentally based) sciences have a subject matter. Here, the term “subject matter” is to be sharply distinguished from the more Aristotelian term “object.” Whereas the latter implies a discreet item which is to be directly observed either through the senses of through the faculties of reason, the former implies a more or less unknown identity or cluster of identities. What is the ultimate difference? While Aristotelian scien…


I have been called out. My dear friend and philosophical colleague has thrown down the gauntlet, and I can no longer put off responding at length and with all the theological acumen that I can muster. In a series of two posts (first: “Starting Points”; second: “Religious Epistemology, Or Three Questions God Asks You When You Die”), he has brought to its head a disagreement that has been coalescing, in private and beneath the surface of various blog posts, between the two of us and our other fellow alumnus and colleague.

Well, it is time for an answer. Of course, I use to term “time” rhetorically, for an answer will not come in this post, nor likely in the next few days. But, I am working on an answer, and it will come. Expect the first part, “Theology and the Knowledge of God” to appear before Christmas. The second installment, “Creation, Covenant, and the Knowledge of God” will be along sometime toward the end of January.

Choice Quotations: T.F. Torrance on Divine Impassibility

As a note in passing: I have serious questions about this formulation, but I have not yet forced myself to work carefully through them. In any case, what TFT does do in this section is show how we can speak of Christ's passion as both passion and redemptive within the realm of patristic understanding. It seems to me that this is far more compelling than most of what passes for theopaschitism these days.

T.F. Torrance, Trinitarian Faith (T&T Clark, 1995).
"How are we to understand the passion of the incarnate Son of God, when he offered himself and not just his body in vicarious sacrifice for the sins of mankind? What does the suffering of Christ really mean for what he was and is in his own Person as the one Mediator between God and man? There is (184) certainly a sense in which we must think of God as impassible…for he is not subject to the passions that characterize human and creaturely existence, but that is not to say that he is not afflicted in all the affliction…