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Showing posts from March, 2010

Pertinent Words from Bonhoeffer on the Strong and the Weak

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 6 (Clifford J. Green, ed.; Reinhard Krauss, Charles C. West, and Douglas W. Stott, trans.; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005): 192-3.“Even where one avoids [a] radical version of the idea, the right to life of those who are socially valuable is evaluated differently from the socially worthless, even though in both cases nothing but innocent life is involved. But this different valuation evidently cannot be carried out in life, because it would have impossible consequences. It would forbid [what one takes for granted,]* namely, the risking of socially valuable lives on behalf of lives that might be socially less valuable, for example, in war or in any situation in which life is at risk. This is enough to indicate that those of social value make no distinctions about rights of life. Precisely they will be ready to risk their own lives for those whom society values less – the strong for the weak, the healthy for the sick. P…

Recommended Reading

Michael Welker on the Cross, God’s Suffering, and the Supper

Michael Welker, What Happens in Holy Communion? (John F. Hoffmeyer, trans.; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000): 107-8. Emphasis is mine; sorry for its abundance, but this is some really good stuff. “The cross confronts God with the death and sin of the world in a way that calls into question not only Jesus’ life, but the divine life.

What kind of God is this, whose will for revelation runs up against limits? What kind of God is this, who while desiring the greatest intimacy with human beings ends up at the greatest distance from them? The cross calls God most profoundly, most abysmally into question. The direct confrontation with sin and death profanes the most holy God…The cross reveals a suffering of God, a powerlessness of God – not only the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, but suffering and powerlessness in the depths of the Godhead.

In this powerlessness of God, as it becomes manifest on the cross, we recognize two things. We recognize the communion of the Creator, the Holy …

Fun with Barth and Baillie

The following is a limerick about Karl Barth, written by Donald Baillie. Many of you, I'm sure, know Baillie from his widely read work on the atonement, God Was In Christ. This limerick is recounted by Donald's brother John in Donald's posthumously published The Theology of the Sacraments and Other Papers (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1957): 31.There was a young thinker called Barth
Who walked by himself quite apart.
His favourite motto
Was Blast Rudolf Otto,
And Ritschl was wrong from the start.

Expiation or Propitiation – Why Choose?

Some people, especially people in the sort of theology and biblical studies circles that I commenced my theological education in, can tend to get exercised about how to translate that pesky Greek term, hilastarion. Supposedly, according to the impression that one is given, one’s answer to this question determines the orthodoxy (or not) of one’s soteriology. Even then I thought such hype was overblown, and when I got to PTS and heard George Hunsinger’s take on the whole thing (and read a bit more Barth), I really stopped worrying about it. Well, now you – my gentle readers – can be privy to this same wisdom. George Hunsinger, The Eucharist and Ecumenism: Let us Keep the Feast (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008): 173-4.

“God’s wrath is the form taken by God’s love when God’s love is contradicted and opposed. God’s love will not tolerate anything contrary to itself. It does not compromise with evil, or ignore evil, or call evil good. It enters into the realm of evil and d…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Technology

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 3 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004): 67.“We do not rule; instead we are ruled. The thing, the world, rules humankind; humankind is a prisoner, a slave, of the world, and its dominion is an illusion. Technology is the power with which the earth seizes hold of humankind and masters it. And because we no longer rule, we lose the ground so that the earth no longer remains our earth, and we become estranged from the earth. The reason why we fail to rule, however, is because we do not know the world as God’s creation and do not accept the dominion we have as God-given but seize hold of it for ourselves...There is no dominion without serving God; in losing the one humankind necessarily loses the other. Without God, without their brothers and sisters, human beings lose the earth.”Wow. It might be worth reflecting on ways in which technology, among other things, takes one's brothers and sisters away, to speak …

TF Torrance on Christ’s natures in Chalcedon

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The following from TFT makes three important points by way of indicating how Chalcedon could and should have gone further than it did in its definition of the person of Christ: (1) that the human nature assumed by Jesus was not “neutral” but fallen – you may be interested in my previously published thoughts on this subject; (2) our understanding of Christ’s human nature ought not be imported from elsewhere; and, finally, (3) our understanding of Christ’s divine nature also ought not be imported from elsewhere. This latter point is, of course, central to questions about God’s impassibility, etc. But, enough summary – here is TFT:Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (Robert T. walker, ed.; Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic and Paternoster, 2008): 201-2.

“The crucial factor here is the meaning of the ‘human nature’ of Christ. There is no doubt at all that by ‘human nature’ the fathers wanted to stress the actuality of Christ’s union with us in our true humanity,…