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Showing posts from March, 2012

Help Me Spend $$$

Here's the deal. I have $35 in gifts cards from Amazon, but my book wish list is well beyond that. Try as I might, I cannot decide what books to get. In my despair I thought that I would turn to you, gentle readers, for guidance. So leave a comment with your suggestion of how I should spend these gift cards. You can check my library to see if I already have a book you're thinking of suggesting. As added motivation, feel free to use your Amazon Associates links to suggest titles and if I go with your suggestion, I'll follow your link when I make the purchase.

Any suggestions?

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Oswald Bayer and the Personal Shaping of Mystery

A guest post by Timothy Butler

Last week, as part of its festivities leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis hosted a lecture by Oswald Bayer on “a Public Mystery,” concerning the mystery surrounding the Gospel. In the lecture, Bayer, who is Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology within the Evangelical Faculty of the University of Tübingen, spoke of three mysteries: the mystery of faith, the mystery of God’s love and the mystery of evil.

Of these three, the mystery of faith is the central matter to what Bayer terms a “Public Mystery.” Christian faith is public, since the Gospel is intertwined with proclamation, but it is a mystery, Bayer suggests, because that proclamation is often misunderstood and left unheeded by many who hear.

Building a framework that echoes Barth, Bayer argues that the mysterious nature of faith relates to the referent of that faith. Pilate’s encounter with Jesus fails to lead to understanding on Pilate’s part bec…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Well, not exactly “fortnight” – my last link roundup post was three weeks ago. But close enough. Here’s some highlights of what’s been going on.

New Karl Barth Website

As you may have heard, there is a new Barth website in town: http://kbarth.org/ This site was developed by one of Karl’s descendants and offers a number of interesting picture galleries and video introductions to Barth and his work. One of DET’s contributors, Kait Dugan, features on a number of the site’s videos.

Princeton Theological Seminary

Two interesting tidbits out of Princeton recently:

First, the library has launched Theological Commons, a digital text service. There’s some really interesting stuff accessible through this service, which contains over 50,000 titles. Darren Sumner posted about this earlier, highlighting some interesting pieces.

Second, registration for May’s Barth conference at PTS is now open, and …

Pannenberg 101: God & Ontology

In addition to blogging through his Systematic Theology, I think it would be fun to provide "mini-descriptions" of Wolfhart Pannenberg's thought, little overview snippets that give one a flavor for his major presuppositions and key formulations, and which help me digest him in manageable bits myself. Without further ado, here is the first installment of "Pannenberg 101," a quick outline of his ontology and its relationship to his doctrine of God, drawn from his key work Theology and the Kingdom of God, (54-61).

A helpful place to begin in this early discussion by Pannenberg is his comments on “unity.” He writes
Unity is a subject of eternal interest to the philosopher. Unity is the most comprehensive characteristic of being … the quest for the ultimate unity which integrates and thus unifies everything is the question reaching for God … For us, too, the way in which we must test any concept of God is by asking whether it can account for the unity of all reality.…

Barth on the Pharisaism of Self-Righteousness and the Pharisaism of Humility

Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (Eswyn C. Hoskyns, trans.; OUP, 1968), 109-10 (bold is mine).What can we know of the actions and the works of God? In all this questioning we are threatened by a great misunderstanding. We may think of knowledge of the Last Things as the supreme achievement of human intelligence; or we may think of silence before God as the final leap of human piety – as, for example, when we read the mystical sayings of Angelus Silesius as so many psychological recipes; or we may suppose that a supreme human experience will be ours, if we take up our position at the eschatological ‘Moment’ – which is, however, no moment; or we may perhaps imagine the ‘wisdom of death’ (Overbeck) to be the most up-to-date wisdom of life. But this is the triumph of Pharisaism appearing in a new and far more terrible form; for it is the Pharisaism of humility taking the place of the Pharisaism of self-righteousness. There is no limit to the possibilities of the righteousness of men:…

The Theologian's Almanac: March 17, 2012

St. Patrick

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Each year on the 17th of March we celebrate the "Apostle to the Irish." The traditional dates for Patrick are c. 387-17 March 493, though some place his death c. 460. Born in Britain, Patrick was abducted and taken to Ireland at the age of 16 and made a herdsman. Patrick believed the voice of God had told him to escape, and that one day he would return a missionary. After six years of slavery, he escaped back to Britain. He studied for Christian ministry, and eventually returned to Ireland to be its first bishop. There, he evangelized the Irish, educated youth, and ordained clergy. According to legend, Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Irish the doctrine of the Trinity. Today, we commemorate Patrick by eating corned beef and cabbage, dressing in green, and enjoying a pint of ale, preferably a Guinness.

Alexander Alesius (also Alexander Alan; Alane)

On this date in 1565, the Scottish-German theologian Alexander Alesius passed away.…

Christopher Hitchens on Science and Reason

Christopher Hitchens (ed.), The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever (Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press, 2007), xxi.
There is…no special reason to credit “science” as the father or godfather of reason. As in the case of the doctors mentioned earlier [ed. note: e.g., Nazi physicians, etc.], a commitment to experiment and find evidence is no guarantee of immunity to superstition and worse. Sir Isaac Newton was prey to the most idiotic opinions about alchemy. Joseph Priestly, the courageous Unitarian and skeptic who discovered oxygen, was a believer in the phlogiston theory. Alfred Russel Wallace, one of Darwin’s greatest collaborators and progenitors, was a dedicated attender of spiritualist sessions where “ectoplasm” was produced by frauds to the applause of morons. Even today, there are important men of science—admittedly a minority—who maintain that their findings are compatible with belief in a creator. They may not be able to derive the one from the other, or even …

Franz Leenhardt on Protestant Ecclesiology

Franz Leenhardt [*], Two Biblical Faiths, 90.
The protestant is inclined to apply to ecclesiological matters the text in which the apostle Paul compares the old covenant to the earthly Jerusalem and the new to the heavenly Jerusalem. The protestant’s predilection is for the heavenly Jerusalem. The church is a reality so inward and so secret that it cannot but be invisible; God alone knows who properly belongs to it. The people of God, as a people, is certainly a visible and earthly reality; but the life that it now lives in the flesh, the protestant again would say with St. Paul, it lives by faith in the Son of God; as people of God, it exists only by virtue of faith. God does not establish its foundation sin this world; nothing can guarantee its quality; it is the church only as it turns on the axis of faith. That is why for the protestant the church cannot be an institution, an objective concrete reality which abides in itself. It appears rather, hic et nunc, in the very act which ma…

Church Architecture and Mission

I've got a friend who I'm sure will get a certain feeling of satisfaction in my posting this, but oh well...
A friend of mine is pastor of a congregation in northern Germany. The church building is two hundred years old, but there is really nothing unique or extraordinary about it. Yet one thing makes the church special in my eyes. There is a wide square in front of the church that was a marketplace in former times. The square is laid out with cobblestones, some darker and others lighter, which of itself is nothing extraordinary. But when you stand in the middle of the square, you notice something unexpected. The light brown cobblestones form a pattern on the background of the darker cobblestones. Starting at the church door, the lighter stones spread out into the square like sunrays. Walking from the middle of the square toward the entrance into the church, you feel as if you are being guided by the sunrays made from stone. Inside the church, the pattern continues, leading to …

KBBC Book Update

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It is my distinct pleasure to offer you, gentle reader, an update on the publication project for the 4th Karl Barth Blog Conference. If you want to donate to help cover the costs associated with this project, click the button below to do so directly (every $ helps!) or purchase a book from the KBBC reading list to do so indirectly.


Anyway, the editors now possess all but the preface, forward, and afterward - in other words, they possess all but a few window dressings. Editing has commenced with the goal of turning the MSS in to the publisher in the very near future. A preliminary table of contents now exists, and I offer it to you below to whet your appetite. Remember that this volume contains the revised, expanded, and supplemented proceedings of the 2010 Karl Barth Blog Conference, the raw proceedings of which (and the hundreds of comments documenting the conversation that those proceedings spawned) are indexed here at DET on the KBBC page (cf. the tab at the top of the page).

Karl B…

Machismo Church: The History and Future of Masculine Christianity - PTR Call for Papers

The folks currently running the Princeton Theological Review have asked me to spread the word about their current call for papers. Apparently submissions are lagging despite the rather sensational topic. Although the deadline was originally March 3rd, it has been extended until the 30th. So if you have something interesting to say on this already very interesting topic, consider writing it up and sending it to the PTR. Consult their submissions page for all the nuts and bolts. Here is the poster for the call, and the detailed prompt is included below. Truth in advertising, I was on the PTR's executive staff back in the day (book review editor), and I can't say enough good things about it - where else will you find a theological journal by and for MDiv students of such high quality? Even if you aren't able to submit material, at least surf over and check out the past issues archive.

The call:Spring 2012 Call for Papers: Machismo Church: The History and Future of Masculine C…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, What's Been Going On in the Theoblogosphere.

I've meant to write one of these posts for a while, but I've been interminably busy. That hasn't changed, but my notes for this post have piled up to the point where I either need to write the thing or give up on it. So I'm writing it.

What's New at DET?

As regular readers know, DET has gone through something of a format change this calendar year. Starting in January, DET officially became a multi-author blog. There was an official announcement post outlining the change, which included a visual redesign, and then each of the contributors wrote a post introducing themselves. Those introductory posts have now been linked in to the Contributing Authors page, which also provides more streamlined biographical information. I've said it a number of times, but I'll say it again - I'm very excited about this change, and I believe that DET's new contributors…

PTS Report: 2012 Alexander Thompson Lecture

A guest post, by Collin Cornell.*

PTS awarded the annual endowed 2012 Alexander Thompson lecture to one of its own, Dr. J.J.M. Roberts, the William Henry Green Professor of Old Testament Literature Emeritus (see the PTS press release for more information). Dr. Sakenfeld introduced the lecturer, firstly and officially rehearsing his ample resume as an OT scholar and Assyriologist, and then more personally as a friend and former colleague, known for his hospitality, abiding Christian faith, and unconventional 3-point shot.

Dr. Roberts began by saying that a superficial reading of the 1, 2 Samuel narratives about David’s ascendancy yields a picture of a king who, despite some faults, was a man after God’s own heart. The Chronicler sweetens this already positive picture and omits even the few dark spots of his source, leaving, in Wellhausen’s opinion, a “feeble holy picture, seen through a cloud of incense.” Dr. Roberts suggested that consultation with ANE materials revealed a much more …