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Showing posts from October, 2008

Types of Theology

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I have been thinking lately about how to classify different types of theology. This is what I have come up with thus far. Don’t be shy in terms of leaving feedback as I would love to hear whether or not this sort of typology rings true.

What I am interested in here is only secondarily connected to the sorts of theological positions taken by those doing theology in any of the modes that I will explicate. The modes themselves are what interest me. It seems to me that one can fall anywhere on the continuum between orthodoxy and heterodoxy while working within any of these modes. Of course, some modes may make it easier than others to lean toward one or the other pole on this continuum, but that is beside the point.

Also, I don’t think that any theologian is working exclusively within any single one of these modes. Every theologian operates in combinations of these modes, with certain of them being primary and others secondary. Furthermore, the various modes within which a cert…

My Most Recent Publication

W. Travis McMaken, "Review of Simon Chan's Liturgical Theology: The Church as Worshiping Community," Evangelical Review of Theology (32.4): 375-7.

Augustine in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology - Take 3

In an encyclopedia entry entitled “The Trinity in Modern Theology,”[1] Colin Gunton lays what he considers to be the problems of Western trinitarian theology at Augustine’s feet.As per Gunton’s estimation, Augustine “weakened the impact” (940) of the Cappadocians, who ingeniously developed a new way of thinking of God’s being – being-as-communion (939).The first charge which Gunton levels against Augustine is that he reintroduces a neo-Platonic dualism that undermines this Cappadocian breakthrough (940), but the criticisms that most interests us is that Augustine blunted the social ramifications of conceiving of being-as-communion (based on the Cappadocian understanding of God’s being as being-as-communion) by “seeking…analogies for the being of God in the individual human mind – what is sometimes known as the ‘psychological analogy.’”In Gunton’s mind, this makes the doctrine of the trinity “chiefly devotional” as opposed to ecclesial and social (941).            Gunton does not seem …

Augustine in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology - Take 2

In a paper[1] delivered to the Southeastern regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Brad Green undertook to defend Augustine from his modern day detractors.He focuses specifically on the work of Colin Gunton, first describing the trends of Gunton’s own interpretation of Augustine and then turning to Augustine’s own De Trinitate in an attempt to mitigate against Gunton’s arguments (1).Green points out that Gunton interprets Western thought against the background of the philosophical problem of the One and the Many, moving from there to consider the continuity between creation and redemption as well as the question of a Christian ontology (2).Gunton’s understanding is that in the West the One has triumphed over the Many and he attributes this victory primarily to Augustine’s work on the Trinity (3).Further, Gunton thinks that this ancient emphasis on the One lead moderns to privilege the Many (individualism being one example of this – 4).With reference to the relationsh…

Augustine in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology

In an article entitled “Augustine in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology,”[1] Michel Rene Barnes explores what he considers the bankruptcy of contemporary systematic treatments of Augustine with specific reference to the doctrine of the Trinity.Barnes’ specific interest is revealing the “methodological presuppositions” at work in these treatments of Augustine (237).He notes the standard division of “patristic Trinitarian doctrine” into the Greek and Latin camps (ibid), noting that this division derives from the work of Theodore de Regnon in the late 19th century and that this division must be demonstrated (238).After sketching some ways in which de Regnon’s paradigm is employed in contemporary treatments of Augustine, Barnes points out that these treatments depend on broad generalizations of Augustine’s thought (239).Barnes detects a certain confidence in employing these broad generalizations and attributes this confidence to two points.First, the confidence reflects a positive sense of…

2008 Stone Lectures: Lecture 5 - “President Edwards and Esther Edwards Burr Return to Princeton University: Is There a Problem?”

George Marsden
Thursday, October 9, 12.45 PM.
Esther Edwards Burr was Jonathan and Sarah Edwards’ daughter, who died a few weeks after her father died at 26 years old, leaving two children behind. Esther is Marsden’s favorite of the Edwards on a personal level. We know a lot about her personally because she and a good friend exchanged daily diaries reflecting on their daily lives and thoughts – discussing novels, for instance. Also, Esther could hold her own in social situations, and she recalls one instance where a man disparaged women’s intellectual abilities. She “talked him into silence,” as she put it. She was not initially happy to move to Princeton, but became less recalcitrant after a revival hit the College of New Jersey campus.

Neither Jonathan nor Esther would find much to cheer them if returning to Princeton University today. What occurs in social sciences and humanities classes would dishearten them, and they would have a hard time conceiving of what the point of a con…

2008 Stone Lectures: Lecture 4 - "Jonathan and Sarah Attend a Megachurch: the Religious Affections and Evangelicalism Today"

David has provided a report, and assessment, of Marsden's fourth lecture, entitled "Jonathan and Sarah Attend a Megachurch: the Religious Affections and Evangelicalism Today".

2008 Stone Lectures - Lecture 3: "Edwards’ Vision and the Religion that Whitefield and Franklin Shaped"

Chris has posted an account of Marsden's third lecture, "Edwards’ Vision and the Religion that Whitefield and Franklin Shaped".

2008 Stone Lectures - Lecture 2: “Edwards's Vision in the Land that Franklin Built"

Darren has provided us with an account of Marsden's second lecture, "Edward's Vision in the Land that Franklin Built".

2008 Stone Lectures - Lecture 1: "Rip Van Edwards"

Announcing the 2008 Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary

That is right! Your intrepid band of PTS theo-bloggers are at it again, organizing and combining their efforts to bring you coverage of the 2008 Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary. This year’s Stone Lecturer is George Marsden, noted historian and Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. His lectures are entitled “Rip Van Edwards: President Jonathan Edwards Returns to Princeton After 250 Years,” and promise to be interesting – to say the least. I encourage you to take a look at the official poster for the lectures.

Links to coverage of each lecture will be provided at each participating blog. The following is a schedule of the lectureship’s coverage:

Monday, Oct 6, 7PM – David Congdon
Tuesday, Oct 7, 1.15PM – Darren Sumner
Tuesday, Oct 7, 7PM – Chris TerryNelson
Wednesday, Oct 8, 7PM - David Congdon
Thursday, Oct 9, 12.45PM – Travis McMaken

So, stay tuned! The fun begins tomorrow!

Gregory of Nyssa’s "Great Catechism": Synopsis, Chapters 1-32

I worked this out in conjunction with my duties as preceptor (assistant instructor, discussion leader) for one of the introductory theology courses here at PTS.  It summarizes the argument and high-points of the various chapters of Nyssen's Great Catechism so that one can more easily grasp the whole.  Any beginning theology students who come across this synopsis are encouraged to treat it as a reading guide to help them better grasp what Nyssen is up to, but they should under no circumstances employ it as a substitute for actually reading Nyssen's text.   - WTM


Trinity:

Chapters 1 & 2: An unfolding of God’s trinitarian existence through analogy to human existence.

Chapter 3: Summary of the preceding, Christianity a mean between Hellenist polytheism and Jewish monotheism.

Chapter 4: All this grounded in Scripture, aimed at convincing a Jewish interlocutor.

Incarnation and Redemption:

Chapter 5: Setting up human participation in God / goodness, and free will is a necessary pie…

John Paul II’s / JP2’s “Top 13” of Vatican II / V2

The following list was compiled by Dennis Doyle and is based on JP2’s “As the Third Millennium Draws Near” / Tertio Millennio Adveniente (1994). It ranks what JP2 thought were the important developments of Vatican 2. Some context is required, however, and Doyle provides it: “For John Paul II, the greatest principle of the Council was its affirmation that salvation comes through Christ, and the second is like it: that the salvation of Christ is mediated to us through the mystery of the Church, his body. All other developments of the Council need to be read in this light” (80). So, without further ado, here is the list.

Dennis M. Doyle, Communion Ecclesiology: Vision and Versions (Orbis, 2000): 80-1.

A renewed discovery on the part of the Church of the depth of its identity as a mystery and as the body and bride of Christ.
The reaffirmation of the universal call to holiness.
The reform of the liturgy.
The renewal of church life on both the universal and local levels.
The promotion of vari…