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Showing posts from February, 2009

Karl Barth on the Beginning of Our Lives

I was reading along in Barth’s Church Dogmatics, as I am sometimes want to do, and this passage jumped out at me. In general, I’m not very good at dealing with the specter of death – it makes me quite uneasy. But I have found Barth’s treatment of humanity’s time-bound existence – out of which this passage comes – to be pastorally helpful, and I recommend it to anyone who is trying to sort through these things.

Church Dogmatics 3.2, 574-5.We may have various reasons for refusing to enter into this strange discussion about the date of the inception of human life. In any case, however, none of the various attempted solutions, each of which outdoes the other in abstruseness, leads us even the slightest step forward from where we stand, i.e., face to face with the fact that, if we exclude the pantheistic solution, we are bound to reckon with a beginning of human life, and therefore with a time when we were not, which was not yet ours. Before the being of the individual as of the race the…

My Most Recent Publication(s)

Review of Eberhard Busch, Barth (Abingdon, 2008), Reviews in Religion and Theology 16.2 (2009): 250-1.

Review of John H. Armstrong (ed.), Understanding Four Views on Baptism, Counterpoints: Church Life (Zondervan, 2007), Reviews in Religion and Theology 16.2 (2009): 219-22.

Baptismal Renunciation of Satan: Alexander Schmemann

Alexander Schmemann, Of Water & The Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism (SVS Press, 1974): 28-30.When [the pre-baptismal] rite of renunciation came into existence, its meaning was self-evident to the catechumen as well as to the entire Christian community. They lived within a pagan world whose life was permeated with the pompa diaboli, i.e. the worship of idols, participation in the cult of the Emperor, adoration of matter, etc. He not only know what he was renouncing; he was also fully aware to what a “narrow way,” to what a difficult life—truly “non-conformist” and radically opposed to the “way of life” of the people around him—this renunciation obliged him.

It is when the world became “Christian” and identified itself with Christian faith and Christian cult that the meaning of this renunciation began to be progressively lost so as to be viewed today as an archaic and anachronistic rite, as a curiosity not to be taken seriously. Christians became so accustomed to Christianit…