Showing posts from September, 2008

TF Torrance: The Difference Between University and School

Thomas F. Torrance, The Christian Frame of Mind: Reason, order, and openness in theology and natural science (Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1989), 129."The fundamental ethos of a university is different from that of a school. In a school, instruction and learning are the prime functions of teacher and pupil, and the objective is some prescribed standard level of knowledge and competence in various subjects. In a university, on the other hand, all this plays only a subsidiary role, for the prime task of students is to engage in inquiry, and to learn as they pursue their inquiry under the ultimate authority not of the university teachers but of the truth itself. Correspondingly, the university lecturer is not an exalted schoolteacher but a thinker and researcher to whom the student is, as it were, apprenticed in academic and scientific inquiry."Given TFT's distinction between university and school, where might we place and MDiv program at a seminary? My r…

Thomas Aquinas and Apologetics

Consider this passage from the Summa Theologica - I.q1.art8:As other sciences do not argue in proof of their principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths in these sciences: so this doctrine [theology] does not argue in proof of its principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15)…Sacred Scripture…can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation…If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections---if he has any---against faith…[S]acred doctrine makes use even of human reason, not, indeed, to prove faith (for thereby the merit of faith would come to an end), but to make clear other things that are put forward in…

Another Academic Year Dawns at PTS, but…

I will be participating today in the beginning of my 5th year here at PTS. When I was thinking about writing this post a few weeks ago, I began reflecting on what I might say about my experience here at PTS and the prospect of going into my last academic year of course work. But, then my son Connor decided that he wanted to be born two weeks early, and got my wife and I out of bed far too early last Wednesday morning. For anyone who might be wondering, we haven’t really gotten back since! All in all, being a dad is fun and exciting. It does, however, significantly diminish one’s willingness to put in the long hours reading, writing, and thinking that the academic year demands…

So, another academic year dawns here at PTS, but it is far from the first thing on my mind in the morning.

Primer on the "Church Dogmatics"

David Guretzki of Briercrest College and Seminary, and who supplied an after-dinner talk at the 2007 Barth Conference here in Princeton, has written (and made available on his blog) something of an introduction to Barth's Church Dogmatics for those who are approaching it for the first time. Having glanced over it, I recommend it to anyone who wants to get started with Barth as it highlights and culls from the secondary sources some important aspects of Barth's thought and what he is up to in the CD.

You can download the .pdf at David's blog. I have also updated my own So, You Want To Read Karl Barth? post with a link to this resource.

Reading Scripture with John Calvin: 1 Peter 5.1-4

1 Peter 5.1-4

[1] To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: [2] Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; [3] not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. [4] And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.


COMMENTARY: As we begin this fifth and final chapter, we are confronted with some instruction regarding the proper execution of ecclesial polity. Before getting to the actual commentary, Calvin opens with a quick schematic to cover what is going on in these verse, and it is worth quoting in full for no other reason than to make it available for those engaged in ministry (and myself, though concerned only with the ministry of …

Reading Scripture with John Calvin: 1 Peter 4.17-9

1 Peter 4.17-19

[17] …and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? [18] And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”* [19] So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

*Proverbs 11.31 (see Septuagint)


COMMENTARY: In the comments to the last installment of this series, the question was raised as to whether Calvin supports temporal happiness for Christians as opposed to exclusively eternal happiness. Calvin is dancing around this issue throughout the two and a half pages that make up his comments on these few verses.

At first it looks like he will land on the eternal side. The faithful see that the wicked prosper and are distraught by this because “present happiness is what all desire” (140). But this ought not ultimately vex the faithful because God is the judge of the w…