Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Announcing the Third Annual Barth Blog Conference


That’s right! DET is proud to announce that it will once again in 2009 host the internet’s premier blog conference on the work of 20th century Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth. The Barth Blog conferences held over the past two years (2007, 2008) have been engaging, enlightening, and – dare I say it – immensely fun affairs, and I trust that this third iteration will be as well.

Last year’s conference focused on reading Barth’s theology through the lens of Eberhard Jüngel’s God’s Being Is in Becoming: The Trinitarian Being of God in the Theology of Karl Barth. One topic to which discussion repeatedly returned was the question of natural theology. So, as I said in last year’s concluding post, “the theme of the 3rd Annual Karl Barth Blog Conference, coming in 2009, will be Karl Barth’s exegesis of Romans with special attention to Romans 1 and the question of natural theology,” and so it is.

As usual, I will be soliciting a few of the plenary posts from friends and colleagues who I know would have something to say about this topic and have the requisite expertise. But, anyone who is interested in taking part in the conference should feel free to e-mail me about contributing. My e-mail can be found elsewhere on this blog. In your e-mail, please include something about what you would want to write on and why you are qualified to do so. Once a schedule of plenary posts is established, I will make another announcement calling for responses. Who knows, I may even need to issue another independent call for plenary posts.

One final point: in years past the Barth Blog Conference has been held in June in the weeks leading up to the Barth Conference here at Princeton Theological Seminary. But, since June is far too close to the end of Spring semesters for comfort, and since I am usually involved in helping to organize the PTS Barth Conference, and because I am taking two qualifying exams in May, this year’s Barth Blog Conference will be held in late July or August.

To summarize: the 2009 Barth Blog Conference is coming. The topic is Barth’s exegesis of Romans and especially Romans 1 with reference to natural theology. The date is sometime in late July or August. E-mail with plenary post proposals.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Most Recent Publication

Review of Gerrit Scott Dawson (ed.), An Introduction to Torrance Theology: Discovering the Incarnate Savior (T&T Clark, 2007), Reviews in Religion and Theology (16.1): 117-9.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why Did Adam and Eve Hide in the Bushes After Sinning?

C. Baxter Kruger, “The Hermeneutic Nightmare and the Reconciling work of Jesus Christ,” in An Introduction to Torrance Theology: Discovering the Incarnate Savior (Gerrit Scott Dawson, ed.; London: T&T Clark, 2007): 159-60.
Adam and Eve moved from hearing and knowing and receiving the Father’s love to hiding in fear in the bushes. The obvious question is why? Why were they hiding? Clearly they were afraid, but afraid of what? Of course, their hiding comes on the heels of their outright disobedience, and most people would assume that they were afraid of God’s punishment. But then again, how could Adam and Eve stand in the garden, the recipients of such astonishing blessing, and be afraid of the Lord? Had God changed? Had the Lord who created Adam and Eve out of sheer grace and love and poured such astounding blessing upon them, suddenly done an about-turn? Had he ceased to love? Did the Lord transform himself from an eager and lavish philanthropist into a quick-tempered judge? Adam and Eve had no history of disappointment or hurt. There is no record of divine indifference or neglect, and certainly not of rejection and abuse. There is only astonishing and lavish blessing. So why would they suspect that the Lord would hurt them?

Surely Adam’s disobedience did not alter the being of God. Or perhaps it did. Perhaps God did change, abruptly and radically so, not in reality of course, but in Adam’s mind. Could it be that Adam’s pain – the pain of his own unfaithfulness – altered his mind? Could it be that Adam’s infidelity reconfigured his default settings? Could it be that his failure changed his understanding, his inner vision, his perception of himself, his world and others, but most importantly, did it alter the way he say the face of God? Could it be that Adam projected his own brokenness on to God’s face? Could it be that he tarred the Father’s face with the brush of his own angst? Perhaps Adam took a paintbrush, dipped it into the cesspool of his own double-mindedness and guilt, and painted an entirely new picture of god with it. And perhaps it was this god, created by his own darkened imagination – not the Lord – that he feared, and from whom he hid.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Six Contemporary Versions of Catholic Communion Ecclesiology

Dennis M. Doyle, Communion Ecclesiology: Vision and Versions (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000): 19.

  1. ”A CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] version, notable for its emphasis on the priority of the Church universal and the importance of certain visible church structures.

  2. A Rahnerian version, notable for its emphasis on the sacramentality of the world and on the communion with God that exists within all humankind.

  3. A Balthasarian version, notable for its emphasis on the uniqueness of Christian revelation and its aesthetic character.

  4. A liberation version, notable for its emphasis on the option for the poor and on the political implications of communion.

  5. A contextual version, notable for its emphasis on gender, ethnicity, and social location as the context for appreciating relationality.

  6. A reforming version, notable for its emphasis on the need for Roman Catholics to challenge radically their own ecclesiological presuppositions in the interest of ecumenical progress.
Doyle expresses the belief that “Any ecclesiological approach that would systematically exclude one of these versions would be less than ‘Catholic’” (ibid), and that “Every one of the above six schools of thought contributes something important to a Catholic vision” (20).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

John Webster on Systematic Theology

John Webster, “Introduction: Systematic Theology” in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology (John Webster, Kathryn Tanner, and Iain Torrance, eds: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007): 10.
The most illuminating systematic theologies are often characterized by (1) conceptual ingenuity, resourcefulness, and suppleness, which enable a projection of Christian claims suitable to draw attention to their richness and complexity; (2) conceptual transparency, which enables a more penetrating understanding of the primary modes of Christian articulation of the gospel; and (3) broad knowledge and sensitive and creative deployment of concepts inherited from the Christian theological tradition. By contrast, systematic theologies are less successful if they are conceptually monotonous or stiff, if concepts threaten to overwhelm or replace that which they are intended to represent, or if the concepts do not have a discernable relation to well-seated theological usage.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year with Calvin

Hey All,

I've noticed various people around the theo-blogosphere posting New Year's Day reflections, and so I figured that I should put up something. Since today is my 5th wedding anniversary, however, I'm not going to put up much...

But, I do want to call your attention to an initiative that the Continuing Education department here at Princeton Theological Seminary is undertaking for the new year. They are organizing a community to read through Calvin's Institutes a little bit every day over the course of the year, in celebration of his 500th birthday. There will also be reflections on the content posted a little less regularly. I plan to follow along as best I can, and I encourage you to do the same.

Make 2009 a year of Calvin! One could do much worse...