Monday, February 28, 2011

Johnson on Söhngen and Barth on Intrinsic and Extrinsic Analogy

When we arrive at the below quote, Johnson has just finished sketching Söhngen’s proposal for establishing an analogy of being that is integrated with and in many ways subsumed under an analogy of faith. As Johnson establishes, Söhngen’s work convinced Barth that Przywara’s analogy of being did not necessarily represent Roman Catholic theology (read: Thomas Aquinas), and that therefore the analogy of being is not necessarily the invention of the Anti-christ. But, it is also not the case that Barth can simply jump on board with Söhngen’s position. Thus, Johnson gives us the below.

Keith L. Johnson, Karl Barth and the Analogia entis, T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology (London; T&T Clark, 2010).
[W]hile Söhngen may be correct that Barth does have to talk about a participation entis - and, by implication, an analogia entis - if he talks about an analogia fidei, he is incorrect to think that Barth’s definition of either term stands in line with his own. The key difference is that the analogia entis implied within Barth’s analogia fidei is one that cannot be understood as part of the larger ‘nexus of being’ in which all other things exist, while Söhngen’s version can. The reason this is the case is found in Söhngen’s explicit rejection of the analogia attributionis extrenseca. Söhngen rejects this type of analogy because he believes that it sets ‘faith against being, or the reality of faith against the being of the world and human reality’. The analogy must be an intrinsic one, he argues, because otherwise the human’s being in Christ stands in opposition to human being as such. Söhngen, in short, wants to retain an account in which the grace available through Jesus Christ does not stand in contradiction to, but in line with, the grace found in nature by virtue of God’s act of creation. As we have seen, however, Barth simply cannot accept such an account. (181)
Johnson goes on to examine Barth’s support for extrinsic analogy and rejection of intrinsic analogy in CD 2.1. Here is the payoff:
Barth is not saying that concepts or characteristics that apply to God do not apply in any way to human creatures, such that there is no continuity between them...Barth does, in fact, hold that, in an analogy between God and the human, the concepts and characteristics used in that analogy apply to both parties so that there is continuity between their application to God and their application to the human. The key distinction, however, is that this continuity is the results of God's grace in Jesus Christ alone. In other words, Barth denies that an analogy can be drawn between God and the human as a function of those characteristics that are understood to belong to the human by virtue of his or her creation by God, because the human in analogy with God is the human in Christ, and the being of this human is objectively distinct from the being of the human as such. (187)
Johnson concludes by allowing Barth to once again give voice to his suspicion that the Roman Catholics were only able to see / rediscover that the analogy of being is inextricably linked with the analogy of faith because of his stark rejection of Przywara’s position. As always, italics were original to the text.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Well, not really “fortnight” this time. I intend to do these things every 2 weeks, but there has been a lot of good stuff circulating over the last week so I figured that I’d go ahead and post them.

  • DET, Call for Guest Writers - That’s right, I’m plugging myself first. If you want to write for me, I want to hear from you.
  • “The truth will make you free” - My close friend, colleague, and co-editor (David Congdon) provides an in-depth (make that a very, very in depth) analysis and response to Charles Colson’s recent Christianity Today column. If you or someone you love is an evangelical, you should read this.
  • ”God Loves His Enemies - Another friend of mine and former KBBC participant posts a sermon that references a Far Side cartoon.
  • How to Offer Gluten Free Communion - Another friend (is this starting to sound nepotistic?) and now ordained minister offers advice on the title subject. As someone with a gluten allergy, she knows of what she speaks.
  • Dinner with Travis - Bobby wants to have dinner with me!
  • Grace over Karma - Bono puts on his theologian hat…er…sunglasses.
  • Christian Divorce Myth? - How credible is the claim that being a “real” Christian lowers your chance of divorce? Could it possibly have more to do with having “a happy, bourgeois family lifestyle” than with being Christian?
  • Firefly & Theology - Take me out, to the black, tell them I ain’t comin’ back / Burn the land and boil the sea, or we could talk theology.
  • Evangelicals and Budget Cuts - Yes, I’m sneaking in a little politics…

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Calvin on Scholarship and Ministry

"None will ever be a good minister of the word of God, unless he is first of all a scholar." -- John Calvin

From a sermon on Deuteronomy 5.23-7, as quoted in Ronald Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament, 120.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Call for Guest Writers

Greetings all,

I really like posting stuff from guest writers. That is one of the great joys of the Karl Barth Blog Conference, and I always jump at the opportunity to publish quality stuff from other writers. For instance, in January I was privileged to post a sermon for Epiphany from Nathan Hitchcock, and series on Calvin’s humanity from Adam Neder.
  • Are you a junior faculty member somewhere and you want to get involved in the theo-blogosphere, but – for whatever reason – you don’t want to manage your own blog? Get in touch with me and let’s see if we can’t publish something from you here are DET.
  • Are you a doctoral student who thinks that some obscure theological figure or topic is really neat, and should be more readily accessible? Get in touch with me and let’s see if we can’t raise their / its profile with a post here at DET.
  • Are you a masters student who wrote a clever paper for a class and wish that others could read it and see how clever it was? Get in touch with me and let’s see if we can’t spread your fame far and wide with a post here at DET.
  • Are you an undergraduate student with questions about some theological topic or figure that you would like to get feedback on from the collective wisdom of the theo-blogosphere? Get in touch with me and we’ll see if we can’t leverage that wisdom through a post here at DET.
  • Are you a pastor or other ecclesial worker who has given some thought to how theology impacts your church or particular form of ministry, and you want to spread the word about what you have discovered? Get in touch with me and we’ll see if we can’t get the word out to some of your colleagues through a post here at DET.
Of course, I do retain the right of selection and the prerogative of editorial freedom. That is, I may not publish what you send me, and I may well edit it (although I’ll try to do so in conversation with you if we’re talking about more than copy editing). But, I would really love to increase the number of guest posts here, so don’t be shy. derevth [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Here are some posts that I have enjoyed over the past couple of weeks, presented in no particular order:

  • Analogia Entis: Multiple, Moving Targets - My friend and sometime blog interlocutor is once again talking about the analogy of being. This time, however, his musings are much more satisfactory even if he does not sufficiently highlight the remaining uniqueness of Barth’s position.
  • Why Calvinist, Evangelical Calvinist? - I’m sure most DET readers have stumbled acrossed Bobby Grow. But if you haven’t, this post is a great opportunity to get acquainted. Bobby has spent the last few years thinking through Calvinism and its variants on the way to further developing and highlighting an overlooked and underappreciated strand.
  • Immanuel Kant’s Guide to a Good Dinner Party - Not joke, he actually produced such a guide. Fun reading.
  • beauty tips for ministers - A student at PTS critically reflects on a blog whose name has been pilfered for the post’s title. Here’s a highlight:
    “I think the most telling cultural moment in this regard is the Mark Driscoll-type lifting up of the virile masculine pastor who thunders from the pulpit, giving tips on oral sex and encouraging men to put their masculinity (read: their sexuality) on display. But can you imagine if a woman got up in the pulpit in a form fitting dress and cleavage, preaching on the female orgasm? Of course you can’t, because power is at work in these displays.”
  • To Tech or Not to Tech - A message to all you churches out there: “If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist.”
  • Intentions and Intentional Limits in Calvin's Doctrine of Providence OR Why John Piper Can't "Have" John Calvin (Pt. 4) - A further installment in this series on Calvin’s doctrine of providence by a PTS student. Paul Helm gets compared to Castellio!
  • Happy Epilepsy Day - The hits just keep on coming from Millinerd, who explains in this post that we have Geoffrey Chaucer to blame for the modern form of Valentine’s Day.
  • "The Lord of Glory Was Crucified" - The 6th and final segment of Darren Sumner's discussion of Bruce McCormack's recent Croall lectures in Edinburgh. An index is included.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

Sarah Stewart-Kroeker reviews David Guretzki's Karl Barth on the Filioque (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009).

Sarah is a doctoral student here at PTS, and David teaches and administrates at Briercrest in Saskatchewan. He will also be contributing to the published version of the 2010 Karl Barth Blog Conference.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Don Dayton on Barth and Various Evangelicalisms

In this excerpt, Dayton speaks of a sabbatical he spent in Tübingen, interacting with the German equivalent of those called “evangelicals” in the USA. During this trip he discovered Busch’s book on Barth and Pietism, which helped him find clarity on various aspects of evangelical heritage and Barth’s value as a conversation partner.

Donald W. Dayton, “Foreward,” Karl Barth & the Pietists: The Young Karl Barth’s critique of Pietism & Its Response, Eberhard Busch (Daniel W. Bloesch, trans.; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004): x.
I was used to the typical American distinction between “conservative” and “liberal” theology. [German evangelicals] spoke of the contrast between “academic” (Universitätstheologie) theology and “church” theology (Gemeindetheologie). They took their clues not so much from the fundamentalist-modernist controversy as from the earlier Pietist currents of the seventeenth and eighteenth century as they were reshaped in the nineteenth century into the various Gemeinschaften (“fellowship” groups in the Lutheran national churches) by the ministry of Robert Pearsall Smith…I soon discovered I was in quite a different theological culture, one that actually assumed Kierkegaard was a Christian and took seriously Schleiermacher’s claim to be a “Herrenhutter {the center of the Pietism of Count Zinzendorf} of a higher order.” Such an orientation was unthinkable in American “evangelicalism,” especially in the age of the ascendancy of Francis Schaeffer.

Reflecting on such themes led me to distinguish meanings of the word evangelical that are kept separate in German but collapsed in popular English usage. I began to distinguish the Reformation use of the word (evangelisch) from the eighteenth century use in the awakening tradition of the “evangelical revival” (pietistisch, or rooted in the Theologie der Erweckungsbewegung or Gemeinschaftsbewegung) and even from the modern neo-evangelical use derived from the twentieth century fundamentalist-modernist controversy (evangelikal). Each of these meanings of the word has a separate and different dialogue with Barth.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thinking about Barth on Schleiermacher and Theological Language

Barth is here discussing Schleiermacher’s Encyclopedia. Emphasis is mine.

Karl Barth, The Theology of Schleiermacher: Lectures at Göttingen, Winter Semester of 1923-24 (Dietrich Ritschl, ed.; Geoffrey W. Bromiley, trans.; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982): 162.
…Schleiermacher discusses the question of the scientific character of dogmatics. Here he honors…the proof from speculation alongside the proof from the canon. “The strictly didactic expression,” says §213, which the “scientific attitude gives” to dogmatics “is dependent on the prevailing state of the philosophical disciplines,” formally on logic, materially on psychology and ethics. Any philosophy but one that is materialistic, sensualistic, or atheistic can be linked to dogmatics, teaches §214. Hence, according to the philosophy that a dogmatician accepts, there can be different versions of the same doctrine without altering its religious content….[T]here results “a differing expression of the individual doctrines without forgeiture of the original religious affections of the mind which are meant to be represented by the doctrine” (II, 3, §26). Differences of terminology – and this is all that can be meant – can thus give rise to dogmatic controversy only through misunderstanding. On the other hand the formulas of two dogmaticians that academically sound much the same may conceal a very different religious content about which there then has to be dogmatic controversy (Schleiermacher has in mind some statements of Protestant and Roman Catholic dogmatics which sound much alike but whose agreement is only verbal and not material).
A few thoughts:
  1. Dress this up a bit with some more anthropological pizzazz, and apply it to the Protestant / Catholic divide more doggedly than did Schleiermacher, and you’ve got Lindbeck.
  2. While I doubt that I think it for the same reason as Schleiermacher, that bit about no particular philosophy being exclusively suited to communicating Christian theology sounds pretty good to me. I would want to make a bit more clear, however, that Christian theology has the responsibility to critically shape the philosophical terminology it borrows, as well as to develop its own terms and concepts as necessary.
  3. Finally, note that not only can different terminologies convey relatively similar material content, but relatively similar terminologies can convey vastly different material content. It occurs to me that much unreflective reading of Barth gets hung up on these two points – either one likes what Barth says without realizing he means something very different than you do with those words, or one dislikes what Barth says without realizing that he’s saying something very similar to what you want to say, albeit in a very different way.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Blog Series from N. Maddox on Calvin's Doctrine of Providence

I've highlighted Maddox's blog before, but he is currently engaged in taking a very careful look at Calvin's doctrine of providence and I wanted to call this to your attention. He has already done three posts, but watch the main page or add him to your reader to stay on top of coming installments.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Barth on How to Approach the Theological Tradition

Daniel Migliore, “Karl Barth’s First Lectures in Dogmatics: Instruction in the Christian Religion” in Karl Barth, The Göttingen Dogmatics: Instruction in the Christian Religion, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991): xxxiv-xxxv.
In the Göttingen lectures Barth refers repeatedly to his mentors in the Reformed tradition as “the older writers”, “our older Protestant predecessors”, “the older Orthodox” theologians, “our forefathers”, “our older Protestant fathers”, “the older dogmaticians”. Indeed, he cites them far more often than either Calvin or Luther. Barth not only takes the Reformed scholastics seriously, but finds their theologoumena impressive despite their “baroque garb”.

But while he often employs the categories and distinctions of the scholastics, he does not slavishly follow them. Wishing that theology today could regain something of the “remarkable objectivity and perspicacity” of the “masters of the old theological school”, he nevertheless tries to say better what they intended to say, and not infrequently diverges explicitly and sharply from their positions. While Barth considers continuity with the Reformed school a mark of his theological method, this does not mean for him a “repristination of the older Christian or Reformed dogmatics”. What he is after is something quite different from mere repetition of the Reformed traditions. His aim is to explore to what extent the lines drawn by the elders are necessary and right. The material must be thought through again from the very foundations. While respect is owed to the teachers of the church, their work cannot be simply repeated. True dogma is not something given but something sought. Received dogmas are only preliminary stopping points in what is a continuing task of theological reflection within the church. According to Barth, it is necessary initially to suspend the validity of any given dogma in order to test it and see to what extent it can be established anew. Even the decisions of Nicea and Chalcedon are in principle open to correction.
Of course, we in our own day must approach Barth in much the same manner.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Some Helpful Definitions from Ol’ KB

I offer these definitions from the lion of Basel in commemoration of the commencement of George Hunsinger's first ever survey course on Karl Barth. It is my joy to serve as one of the preceptors, and I'm looking forward to an engaging semester.

Karl Barth, “Evangelical Theology in the 19th Century,” in The Humanity of God, 11.
“Theology,” in the literal sense, means the science and doctrine of God. A very precise definition of the Christian endeavor in this respect would really require the more complex term “The-anthropology.” For an abstract doctrine of God has no place in the Christian realm, only a “doctrine of God and of man,” a doctrine of the commerce and communion between God and man.

“Evangelical” means informed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, as heard afresh in the 16th-century Reformation by direct return to Holy Scripture.

“Evangelical theology” must thus be understood as the science and doctrine of the commerce and communion between God and man, informed by the gospel of Jesus Christ as heard in Holy Scripture.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Did Philip Schaff Predict Barth’s Accomplishment 6 Years After Barth’s Birth?

A friend and sometimes blog interlocutor recently included this quote in a post. I've had it sitting in my blog post draft pile for a while now, but figured I'd post it now and add my voice to his to get it a little recognition.

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Volume 8, The Swiss Reformation, The Protestant Reformation in German, Italian, and French Switzerland up to the Close of the Sixteenth Century, 1529-1605 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2002 [orig pub. 1892]): 544.
Calvinism has the advantage of logical compactness, consistency, and completeness. Admitting its premises, it is difficult to escape its conclusions. A system can only be overthrown by a system. It requires a theological genius of the order of Augustin and Calvin, who shall rise above the antagonism of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and shall lead us to a system built upon the rock of the historic Christ, and inspired from beginning to end with the love of God to all mankind.
I don’t know about you, but I got chills when I first read this. It is a bit unsettling how Schaff’s description of the “system” that would someday arise and overthrow Calvinism sounds very much like Barth’s theology. Solving the divine sovereignty / human freedom problem? Christological through and through? God’s love for all humanity?