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Showing posts from April, 2011

Gollwitzer Intermission and Background Reading: Guardian Series on Karl Marx

Those of you who have been following my series on Helmut Gollwitzer's engagement with Marxist criticism of religion, may be happy to learn that I won't be posting over the weekend. That gives you some time to catch up on the four parts (one, two, three, four) of the eight-part series already posted.

You might also be interested in learning about a series that Peter Thompson at "The Guardian" is doing on Karl Marx. I haven't worked through it all yet, and there may be more installments coming (in which case, I'll try to update this post), but it's certainly all very interesting. Here are links to the different parts, with titles so you have an idea of what you're getting into:
Religion, the wrong answer to the right questionHow Marxism came to dominate socialist thinkingMen make their own history'Workers of the world, unite!'The problem of power
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Helmut Gollwitzer Miniseries: Lessons for Theology from Encounter with the Marxist Criticism of Religion, Part 4

This is the fourth of an eight-part (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight) miniseries on the concluding chapter of Helmut Gollwitzer’s The Christian Faith and the Marxist Criticism of Religion (Scribner, 1970).


For Gollwitzer, the Marxist criticism of religion sets six tasks for theology. The third of these tasks is an elaboration on the second, which was a discussion of apologetics. Gollwitzer returns now to what he considers to be a very dubious – perhaps the most dubious – form of apologetics, namely, that build on a “God of the gaps” or on a dues ex machine. The problem with this approach isn’t, strictly speaking, that the modern age witnessed the end of the regnant metaphysics that made such argument possible, although Gollwitzer recognizes that this is the case. Instead, this approach is problematic because To argue against our opponents with this sort of necessity of God was from the beginning a self-misunderstanding of Christian faith (153).Here is how Gollwitzer pa…

Helmut Gollwitzer Miniseries: Lessons for Theology from Encounter with the Marxist Criticism of Religion, Part 3

This is the third of an eight-part (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight) miniseries on the concluding chapter of Helmut Gollwitzer’s The Christian Faith and the Marxist Criticism of Religion (Scribner, 1970).


For Gollwitzer, the Marxist criticism of religion sets six tasks for theology. The second of these tasks is to reassess the practice of apologetics. Gollwitzer makes a distinction between two types of apologetics. On the one hand is what we might call “better” apologetics. This form of apologetics is necessary for theology, and it is concerned with going beyond the positive exposition of the meaning of the statements of Christian faith, to a polemical rejection of the appeal of Marxism to so-called contradictions between Christian faith and modern science, to challenge the validity of the opponent’s arguments, and so on (152).It is clear that Gollwitzer has in mind here something like defensive apologetics, aimed at showing the plausibility, or the non-contradiction o…

Helmut Gollwitzer Miniseries: Lessons for Theology from Encounter with the Marxist Criticism of Religion, Part 2

This is the second of an eight-part (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight) miniseries on the concluding chapter of Helmut Gollwitzer’s The Christian Faith and the Marxist Criticism of Religion (Scribner, 1970).


For Gollwitzer, the Marxist criticism of religion sets six tasks for theology. The first of these tasks is to discern whether and to what extent the Marxist criticism of Christianity is on to something. So Gollwitzer:[T]his criticism of religion makes us aware of a transition which is repeatedly to be observed in the various epochs of Church history – a transition from a critical challenging of the existing order by the Christian message to an ideological support of the existing order (151).In other words, the Marxist criticism of Christianity, falling as it does under a broader criticism of religion in general, serves to reveal the way in which the church has lost its prophetic voice. Rather than confronting the powers and injustices of this world, the church all to…

Helmut Gollwitzer Miniseries: Lessons for Theology from Encounter with the Marxist Criticism of Religion, Part 1

I’ve been slowly working my way through Helmut Gollwitzer’s The Christian Faith and the Marxist Criticism of Religion (Scribner, 1970), over the past while. I did one post on it previously. I’ve enjoyed the read as a whole, but the last chapter stopped me in my tracks. For in this chapter, entitled “Christian Encounter with Atheism,” Gollwitzer teases out the lessons that theology ought to learn from an engagement with the Marxist criticism of religion. So, I’ve decided to put together an eight-part miniseries (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight) on this chapter, highlighting the six points Gollwitzer makes, along with a treatment of his introductory remarks and his conclusion – which provide a context for the six points.

Kait Dugan recently teased me, saying - in a clearly derogatory manner - that my blog is "largely occupied with announcements and book excerpts." Perhaps this mini-series will go some way in answering her imprecations.


Gollwitzer argues that Ma…

Head's Up

Greetings dear and gentle readers,

This is just a quick note to let you know that I'll be embarking upon a 2-week long series tomorrow. So, stay tuned.

Until then,

WTM

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

I would like to begin by drawing attention to two recent posts here at DET on theological pedagogy. If you missed these the first time around, be sure to check them out now - and, if you are a theological student or educator, I'd love to get more feedback from you about these posts:
What? Why? How? Thoughts On Analyzing Theological TextsWhy Writing Matters in Theological Study.
Now, on to the round-up. As always, the order of presentation is simply the order in which I found these various posts.

"The Surprise of Reconciliation", and "Coming Home From Exile" - Good friend and blog collaborator, Chris TerryNelson, posts two of his recent sermons. The first deals with Acts 10, and the second with Ezekiel 37."Jesus Delays" - Another good friend and friend of the blog, Jason Ingalls, adds a sermon on John 11."Spiritual Malpractice" - More from Jason …

Karl Barth: “the Christian life is a spiritual one”

Karl Barth, The Christian Life: Church Dogmatics IV,4 Lecture Fragments (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, trans.; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981):In modern usage the term “spiritual” has wrongly been put in embarrassing proximity to the word “religious.” It should be related to this word only indirectly and not very firmly. What has been forgotten is that, among Christians at least, the word “spiritual” can denote only a new definition of the human spirit, of the whole of this spirit, by the Holy Spirit, so that it cannot refer to a variation or modification of human spiritual activity as such… Christians can be, but do not have to be, particularly religious people. Similarly, particularly religious people can become and be Christians, but if they do they are not Christians in their quality as specially religious people. They are fortunate if their being such does not prevent them from becoming and being Christians! Invocation of God the Father by his children, th…

Upcoming Lecture: Woodward Theological Society

It's turning into a week for announcements, it seems.

I've been thinking about Detroit much more lately due to the NHL playoffs - as the badge at the bottom of my blog indicates, I'm a big Red Wings fan. But I have lately been given another reason to think about Detroit. Some of you may remember my previous post about a new theological society starting up in the metro-Detroit area. As a native of SE Michigan (hence, Red Wings fan), I am excited about this initiative and want to see is succeed.

If you are theologically inclined and are in the area, please consider giving WTS your support. One concrete way that you can support WTS is by attending an upcoming lecture. At 5pm on May 7th, at 616 W. Hancock in Detroit, WTS is sponsoring a lecture by Mary Healy S.T.D, Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. WTS describes the lecture's content as follows: Her talk, The Hermeneutic of Jesus, argues for a Christological reading of the Old Testam…

Analytic Theology Course Award Program

Looking for funding for a theological project? Interested in the intersection of philosophy and theology? Want to put that interest to work in your teaching? Bring all these things together, and check out the Analytic Theology Course Award Program. There is some serious money involved here, so take a close look. Application deadlines is June 1, 2011.

Here is some more info from the official website:The course award program is intended to stimulate the development and implementation of courses, or course segments, in analytic theology at divinity schools and departments of theology and religious studies. The program will provide five annual awards to faculty members who would like to develop and teach a course of one of the following two types:
Revised Required Courses – A required graduate survey course that does not currently contain a segment on analytic theology, and which the applicant would like to revise so that it does.New Courses in Analytic Theology – A course dedicated to an…

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

Friend of the blog and past Barth Blog Conference contributor (2008, 2010), Scott Jackson, has a new review up at the Center for Barth Studies website dealing with David Haddorff's Christian Ethics as Witness: Barth's Ethics for a World at Risk.

Be sure to check it out!

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Why Writing Matters in Theological Study

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First, an admission: I am almost entirely self-taught as a writer. I feel comfortable and competent in only four genres of writing: correspondence, blog posts, sermons, and academic essays. Outside of these, I am a babe in the woods, and my abilities are unevenly developed even among these four. All of this is to suggest that when I admonish theological students to work on their writing, (1) I have and continue to do so myself, and (2) I know that progress is possible.

Why is writing ability important in theological study? As in any humane discipline, theology is text-heavy. We are concerned with analyzing and producing texts. I reflected on the analyzing bit on Tuesday. As a theological student, good writing is important because writing essays or exams is how you demonstrate competency, and demonstrating competency is important because achieving that competency is ultimately in service of the proclamation of the gospel. In other words, you need to be able to preach.

I personally thi…

Who? What? Why? How? Thoughts On Analyzing Theological Texts

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I’ve been privileged to assist in the teaching of an unusual number of classes as a doctoral student here at Princeton Theological Seminary. All students here at PTS are bright, but they tend to have uneven backgrounds in the sort of academic work that theology courses require – namely, analyzing and evaluating texts and arguments. We get former English or philosophy majors who can slice through a complicated text with relative ease, but we also get chemistry and business majors to whom reading difficult texts is nowhere near second nature. Of course, there are many sorts of folks who fall somewhere in between.

Recently my teaching duties have pushed me to reflect more formally on the process of analyzing and evaluating theological texts. These thoughts are in no way profound, but I do think that they might help people who are in the early stages of developing these skills. So, I present them here for whomever wants to glance at them, and also so that I will be able to simply send f…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

As always, the order of presentation is simply the order in which I found these various posts. Also, stay tuned to DET next week for a couple posts on pedagogy and theological education!

“Collared Evangelism” - Jason Ingalls reflects on the perhaps counter-intuitive benefit of wearing a clerical collar. He has even set up a Facebook page to promote the practice and share stories.“Doodlings Done” - Kim Fabricius brings us another (final?) set of doodling. Here is a highlight: “In the archetypal conversion story, the cry is “Once I was blind, but now I see!” Funny, Saul’s experience was just the opposite.”“Dogmatics in Dialogue” - Kait Dugan writes on the importance of the doctrine of revelation, and of Karl Barth’s insights on the topic.“How to Avoid a Gendered Conference” - The writers of the “Feminist Philosophers” blog give some very good practical / concrete advice on how to bring more …

David Kelsey’s 2011 Warfield Lectures: Lecture 6, "God's Power in Two Registers"

Nathan Maddox has posted on Dr Kelsey’s 6th and final Warfield Lecture, delivered on Wednesday, March 31th, at 7pm in the Main Lounge of Mackey Hall, Princeton Theological Seminary. The lecture's title is: "God's Power in Two Registers." Head on over and check it out

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David Kelsey’s 2011 Warfield Lectures: Lecture 5, "Where God's Power is Definitively Expressed"

Nathan Maddox has posted on Dr Kelsey’s 5th Warfield Lecture, delivered on Thursday, March 31th, at 3pm in the Main Lounge of Mackey Hall, Princeton Theological Seminary. The lecture's title is: "Where God's Power is Definitively Expressed." Head on over and check it out

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David Kelsey’s 2011 Warfield Lectures: Lecture 4, "God’s Sovereignty in Two Registers"

Melissa Florer-Bixler has posted on Dr Kelsey’s 4th Warfield Lecture, delivered on Wednesday, March 30th, at 7pm in the Main Lounge of Mackey Hall, Princeton Theological Seminary. The lecture's title is: "God’s Sovereignty in Two Registers." Head on over and check it out

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David Kelsey’s 2011 Warfield Lectures: Lecture 3, "Where God’s Sovereignty Is Definitively Expressed"

David Congdon has posted on Dr Kelsey’s 3rd Warfield Lecture, delivered on Tuesday, March 29th, at 7pm in the Main Lounge of Mackey Hall, Princeton Theological Seminary. The lecture's title is: "Where God’s Sovereignty Is Definitively Expressed." Head on over and check it out

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David Kelsey’s 2011 Warfield Lectures: Lecture 2, "In Praise of the Uselessness of God"

Nathan Maddox has posted on Dr Kelsey’s 2nd Warfield Lecture, delivered on Tuesday, March 29th, at 3pm in the Main Lounge of Mackey Hall, Princeton Theological Seminary. The lecture's title is: "In Praise of the Uselessness of God." Head on over and check it out

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David Kelsey’s 2011 Warfield Lectures: Lecture 1, “The God of Abraham Praise”

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Dr Kelsey delivered this lecture in the Main Lounge of Mackey Hall at Princeton Theological seminary on Monday, March 28 2011, at 7:00 PM, from beneath the portrait of B. B. Warfield (cf. picture at right).
Iain Torrance provided an introduction, situating Kelsey’s work and discussing some responses to his recent anthropology, Eccentric Existence, such as those by J. Kameron Carter and David Fergusson. Torrance’s own judgment is that Kelsey’s is a “truly magisterial work.”

“The God of Abraham Praise”

Kelsey began by reflecting on the relationship between his Warfield lectures and his anthropology. For Kelsey, these lectures represent the opportunity to work out what sort of doctrine of God his anthropology presupposes. He asked two opening questiosn: (1) Why praise God at all? (2) Why praise the God of Abraham in particular? Kelsey wants to begin theology with the concrete practice of Christian praise of God, and try to explore what the consequences of such practice is for a truly Chri…

David Kelsey’s 2011 Warfield Lectures: Stay Tuned!

That’s right, DET readers – the intrepid PTS theo-bloggers have done it again. Some of us blogged Kathryn Tanner’s 2007 Warfield lectures (since published as Christ the Key), and it seemed like time to do it again. The team has changed a bit, but things worked out nicely.

So, a little information. This year’s Warfield lecturer is David Kelsey. His two-volume theological anthropology, Eccentric Existence has been a significant topic of conversation in the theological world since it appeared in 2009. The Warfield lectures will cover fresh ground, however, taking as their theme “Glory, Kingdom, and Power: Stammering about God.” More information about Kelsey and the Warfield lectures can be found at the PTS website.

Both David Congdon and myself are involved (surprise, surprise), and we are joined by two PTS MDiv student theo-bloggers, Melissa and Nathan. Posts will go live approximately one week after the lecture in question began, so watch for the first installment here at DET this eve…

Gollwitzer on the German Bourgeoisie, Feuerbach and Religion

Helmut Gollwitzer, The Christian Faith and the Marxist Criticism of Religion (Scribner, 1970): 45-6.At that time, in the middle of the nineteenth century, the German bourgeoisie was divided in itself; it participated in the fruits of the revolutionary movement (socialism, Marxism, etc.), and was at the same time anxious about its consequences; it needed for its evolution the dissolution of the aristocratic world, and feared at the same time the mutterings of the new proletarian classes, who wanted to take advantage of this revolution and carry it further. The bourgeoisie found religion as the guarantee of the inherited order, and needed it as the guarantee of its own order. So bourgeois conservatism and bourgeois revolt are found side by side, and, mediating between them bourgeois liberalism, which could appear both as radicalism and as the confederate of Churchly convention.

While the rebellious criticism of the Young Hegalians was merely an affair of small intellectual circles, Ludw…