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Showing posts from January, 2012

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

Darren Sumner reviewsHans Vium Mikkelsen, Reconciled Humanity: Karl Barth in Dialogue (Eerdmans, 2010). Darren is a good friend of DET, and is one of the primary forces behind the collaborative Aberdeen theo-blog, Theology Out of Bounds. His review constitutes a rather lengthy critical engagement with Mikkelsen's text, so it will be well worth your time. Be sure to check it out!

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An Introduction of Sorts...

“…we ought to ask, what political possibilities are the consequence of a radical critique of the categories of identity.”  - Judith Butler, Gender Trouble

“As participators in this possibility, we are a riddle to ourselves.” – Barth, CD I/2, §16.2.
While my little description on the contributing authors page offers a small taste of who I am and my interests and such, I thought I would take a moment, as my first post on this site, to say just a little bit more about myself.

I am not quite sure where to start, however, because I am not quite sure how to explain myself. Actually, it is more that I don’t like explaining myself. Explaining myself means categorizing myself: Do I do theology or ethics? Political theology or theological anthropology? Feminist theology or queer theology? Am I a Marxist or a poststructuralist? A Thomist or a Barthian? A Freudian or a Foucauldian? (Ok, those last few are pretty easy to figure out if you know me at all, but you get the idea). Much of the work th…

Hello, I'm Derek

To introduce myself here at DET I’m following in our founder’s footsteps and adapting his initial introductory post:

(1) Who are you?

As you already know, I’m Derek Maris and I’m in my first year of PhD work in Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary, St. Paul MN. While this is my first year as a PhD student, my family has lived here for approximately 18 months now, since I started as an MTh student for a year before transitioning into the doctoral program in the fall. Before moving to St. Paul I had already studied in several institutions, receiving a BS in Family Ministry at a small bible college in Manhattan KS, and an MA in Christian Ministries at Friends University in Wichita KS. I also briefly pursued a Master’s for a year at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City for good measure.

My aforementioned family consists of my wife Beth and our dog Max, and we have also been fortunate to have my wife’s retired father in the twin cities as well, so we are not completely sepa…

“A doctrine for fighting men” – Augustine’s doctrine of Predestination

I’m teaching an intensive course on Augustine’s Confessions this month, so I’ve been reading a bunch about Augustine. As part of that, I read through Peter Brown’s Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, which is still (and deservedly so) a standard text in the field. It has been an experience, described at times by all of the following adjectives: refreshing, frustrating, enlightening, inspiring, baffling, sobering, and the list could go on.

Understandably, I wanted to share some of that with you, gentle readers. So, here is a bit on Augustine’s doctrine of predestination. Brown situations Augustine’s work on that doctrine in his biography, and in current events. Put briefly, North Africa was in serious trouble. A barbarian host was sweeping down the cost in late 429 and 430 CE, raping and pillaging all that stood in its path. One city that stood in its path was Hippo, and Augustine had the misfortune to watch the enemy host slowly progress through his diocese destroying all he had worked …

Evangelical Progressivism: An Open Letter to the Editors of Christianity Today

We applaud CT’s recent editorial [“No Taxpayer Is an Island,” December] for giving necessary attention to Elizabeth Warren, whose candidacy offers a breath of fresh air to voters disillusioned with the Babylonian captivity of American politics. Political discourse in our great nation has for too long been dominated by an economic vision that further privileges the already privileged and further disenfranchizes the already disenfranchized. Warren’s social vision challenges these politics as usual, and it is encouraging to see the editors of Christianity Today introducing her to evangelicals.

However, the editors leave us dissatisfied with the attention they gave to Warren. To begin, the editors seem to be of two minds about the relation of church and state as it pertains to Warren. For instance, they affirm that government’s role in society ought to be “limited” (although “not negligible”), and yet chide Warren – a public figure campaigning for government office – for failing to discus…

Die Evangelischen Theologen

Attentive readers may have noticed that there's something different about DET. Indeed, there is something very different. For DET has transformed from "Der Evangelische Theologe" to "Die Evangelischen Theologen."

You may ask, Why the change?

While I was in Princeton to defend my dissertation, circumstances and conversations lead me to reminisce about the "good ol' days" of theo-blogging and the current decline in the practice. Put simply, all the old theo-blogs that were my fellow travelers have ground to a halt and - indeed - my own work here at DET has slowed considerably under the strain of assuming the rigorous responsibilities of full time academic teaching.

This saddens me.

My experience as a theology blogger has been profoundly positive. For instance, I have "met" (both online and in the flesh) interesting people that I would not have otherwise connected with, and I have ceased to be surprised when an e-mail lands in my inbox f…

“The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Barth”

As promised previously, here is the abstract for my dissertation. I present it here in the version that went to defense. Be warned – it is not up to my usual editorial standards (I threw it together rather quickly from various bits and pieces), and will be revised before the dissertation goes into the library / indexing services. Perhaps the significance of this blog’s visual theme now becomes clearer…

Abstract of
“The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical
Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Barth”

By: W. Travis McMaken
Committee: George Hunsinger (chair), Bruce McCormack, Bryan Spinks.
The question of infant baptism poses both practical and ecumenical problems within the Christian church. This dissertation‘s burden is to argue that these problems are helpfully addressed through the construction of a relatively new doctrine of baptism, within which infant baptism is considered an appropriate form of administration, on the basis of Barth‘s mature theological commitments. Such a claim i…