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Showing posts from January, 2008

Dogma, Dogmas and Dogmatics: As Explained by T.F. Torrance

Thomas F. Torrance, “Karl Barth and the Latin Heresy,” Scottish Journal of Theology 39 (1986): 467-8.“…Karl Barth sought to develop a distinctive kind of dogmatics in which constant account is taken of the fact that it is none other than the Lord God himself who meets us in Revelation. By his very nature revealed to us in Jesus Christ God encounters us as he who is infinitely greater than we can ever conceive, who transcends all our theological formulations, but who nevertheless actually gives himself as the object of our knowledge in Christ. This is not to say that our knowledge of God is false because it is inadequate to his nature, but rather that inadequacy of this kind belongs to its essential truth in pointing away from itself to the ultimate Truth of God. Hence in order to be really faithful to God as he has revealed himself, dogmatics must build recognition of its own inadequacy into its basic structure. It must never lose sight of the fact that even when God makes himself…

Announcing the Second Annual Karl Barth Blog Conference

It is my distinct pleasure to announce that a second Karl Barth Blog Conference is in the works here at DET, to be held in the early weeks of June, 2008.

The first conference was, at least by my standards, a resounding success. A number of people from within and without the blogging community came together to write two weeks worth of posts on chapters from Barth’s Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century, site stats indicated that there were many people dropping by to spend considerable amounts of time reading the material, and – best of all – some of those readers left comments. My hope is that the 2008 conference will generate even more discussion.

The topic for the conference will be Eberhard Jüngel’s God’s Being is in Becoming: The Trinitarian Being of God in the Theology of Karl Barth. The projected schedule is as follows:

Day 1 – “Introduction,” by WTM; with an introductory discussion entitled "And Never the Twain Shall Meet...: Theology Meets Philosophy in Jüngel…

Some Uncharacteristic Triviality

Well my dear readers of DET, I am finally almost free of the Fall 2007 semester here at PTS – my first as a PhD student. This morning will be given over to putting the finishing touches on the last of my papers, and then I will turn my attention to some grading that I am responsible for. I don’t care what anyone else tells you, I’d take grading a giant mound of uninspired essays any day of the week (and twice on Sundays) over being forced to write a paper in far too little time. On that score, lets just say I’m not looking forward to the end of the Spring 2008 semester…

In view of things wrapping up, I thought that I would honor a meme tag coming from my friend Erik.

One book that changed my life: Karl Barth’s Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. This was the first Barth I read and it was an important catalyst in establishing me in my current theological interests.
One book that you have read more than once: There are so many to choose from. Let’s shake it up a bit and say The Lor…

Webster on Bonhoeffer and Reading Scripture

John Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 81-2.

[Bonhoeffer possesses in his middle period] a distinctive conception of the nature of Holy Scripture, one which has already been moved beyond that presupposed in the exegetical work of Creation and Fall, above all because Bonhoeffer now assumes the perspicuity of Scripture. Scripture’s perspicuity renders redundant the somewhat cumbersome technicalities of the philosophy of existence which burden the exposition of the early chapters of Genesis. What Bonhoeffer contests is the assumption that Holy Scripture is inert until realised by interpretive acts of ‘making present’. ‘True making present’ requires no ‘act of making present’; rather, it is a matter of ‘the question of the Sache’, of the text itself. Issues of interpretation are subservient to issues of the matter of the text, namely Jesus Christ who here announces his presence. ‘When Christ comes to speech in the word of the New Testament,…

Bethge on Bonhoeffer’s First Trip to the United States

Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Man of Vision, Man of Courage (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), 104-5.

The reader should remember that Bonhoeffer completed his habilitation thesis (Act and Being) in the early months of 1930, having completed his doctoral thesis (Sanctorum Communio) in 1927. The trip to the United States here discussed followed upon his habilitation.The idea of spending a year in America as an exchange student arose in the second half of 1929…Nevertheless he hesitated before putting in his application. He mistrusted what awaited him in America. The New World in itself did not fascinate him sufficiently. Was he to become a student again and devote a whole year to whatever place might be allotted him? He was told something about American ‘textbook methods’; and he regarded American theology as non-existent.

So he sought information from a previous recipient of an American grant, and what he was told was not exactly encouraging. One indeed had to go as an ordi…

Reading Scripture with John Calvin: 1 Peter 3.8-9

1 Peter 3.8-9

[8] Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. [9] Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

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COMMENTARY:

This section is another fine exhibition of Calvin’s love of brevity: these two verses are given less than two pages of comment. Calvin understands these verses, coming as they do after a long list of advice and admonishments to various types of people, to be “general precepts which indiscriminately belong to all.” Furthermore, these things are “especially necessary to foster friendship and love,” something that was always at the forefront of Calvin’s mind even though many people have a rather different stereotype of him.

What Calvin has to say about being like-minded is interesting in that he affirms that “friends are at liberty to think different” but also says…

Philippians 4.1-9: A Sermon

I preached this sermon over two years ago, but I was reminded of it recently and thought that I would post it.

Translation

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long for, my cause for joy and my reason for boasting, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. (2) I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree with one another in the Lord. (3) Indeed, I ask you also loyal fellow-worker , help these women who have shared my struggle in the gospel, together also with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (4) Rejoice in the Lord always – I will say it again: Rejoice! (5) Let all people know your kindness. The Lord is near. (6) Worry in no way, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, disclose your requests to God. (7) And God’s peace, which is more valuable than all reason, will hold your desires and your thoughts prisoner in Christ Jesus. (8) As for the rest, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worth…

The Whimsical Barth: Some Excerpts

A Late Friendship: The Letters of Karl Barth and Carl Zuckmayer (Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982).

Barth’s self-description in his first letter to Zuckmayer:“I am an Evangelical theologian, a pastor in Geneva and the Aargau for twelve years, then a professor for fifteen years in Göttingen, Münster, and Bonn, where I became unacceptable because I would not take the oath of loyalty to Hitler in 1935, and from then until 1962 a professor here in Basel. I have written many stout and slim volumes of practical, historical, and above all—do not be alarmed!—dogmatic theology. I now live in quiet but busy retirement. I value the presence of loving women, good wine, and a constantly burning pipe.” (4)Barth on Schleiermacher during his final seminar on the figure:“Schleiermacher:…I am dealing with him in a seminar with many boy and girl students and for the moment I am enjoying it (with the old love/hate and the even older hat…