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Showing posts from September, 2012

Review of Oliver Crisp's Retrieving Doctrine: Essays in Reformed Theology

I recently had published a book review of Oliver Crisps's book, Retrieving Doctrine. But since it was published in the Koinonia Journal, which does not receive wide circulation, I figured that I would post the pre-production version here for all you - gentle readers - to enjoy. So, without further ado . . .

Retrieving Doctrine: Essays in Reformed Theology. By Oliver D. Crisp. Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic, 2010, 209 pages.
Oliver Crisp delves into the Reformed theological tradition, now explicating, now tinkering, now defending, in an attempt to enrich contemporary theological discussion with insights from the past. Newly installed as professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary after stints at the Universities of Bristol and St. Andrews, and at Regent College, Crisp ranges through the well-traveled work of theologians like Barth, Calvin, and Edwards, as well as the less frequented byways of thinkers like Campbell, Nevin, and Turretin. Such ranging is not devot…

Beza on Calvin’s Workload and Partnership with Farel and Viret

In continuing through my relatively new set of Calvin’s Tracts and Letters, I am now reading Beza’s Vita Calvini in the first volume. Amazingly, I have never read it before. I likely put it off until now because I knew it to contain unreliable biographical information, especially of Calvin’s early life, and didn’t want to fill my head with such things. But I feel as though I have a sound enough grasp of Calvin now to risk it and, besides, it repays in many other ways – not least of which is by providing nice tidbits like the following. 

In this passage, Beza begins by describing what a typical work-week for Calvin looked like. He does so specifically in connection to Calvin’s return to Geneva in the early 1540s, but it may well be that he is describing Calvin’s schedule as Beza personally observed it at some later point since it does not fit exactly with some of the conclusions about such things made by Elsie McKee on the basis of archival research (which I heard about in classes with…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

So . . . it’s been more than a fortnight. Oh well. I suspected as much would happen, what with the start of my semester and other sundry concerns. But here I am now, and I have quite a few links to share. So buckle up!

First, what’s been happening here at DET? I put up a couple of tame posts dealing with Calvin – typical dry academic DET fare. The first was a bit of Calvin’s correspondence with Bullinger about Luther, and the second was some stuff from Bruce Gordon on Calvin’s legal education. Then I got a bee in my bonnet and launched a diatribe against creationism. Rounding things out, we had a reflection on Christianity and Labor Day from friend-of-the-blog Scott Jackson, and DET contributor Derek Maris posted briefly about Moltmann and recent Barth research.

The rest of the links are artificially divided into the two categories this time. Of course, proper theology has political conse…

Moltmann on Barth Research

As I’m sure our regular visitors are aware, there has been some significant debate within American Barth studies the last 20 years, thanks in large part to Bruce McCormack’s Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology. While there are still discussions surrounding the implications of this and related works for understanding Barth, it is interesting to note other major theologian’s responses. I recently found this footnote buried in Jürgen Moltmann's Experiences in Theology:
The first and best account of the cosmos analogy in Barth’s Church Dogmatics was given by H. Urs von Balthasar. . . . However, in view of more recent studies his analysis of a shift from dialectic to analogy in Barth's thinking (70-94) can no longer be maintained.So it appears that one can count Moltmann among those who find the recent research in Barth studies convincing. What, if any, implications this has for Moltmann’s thought I haven’t a clue, but perhaps in the future some interesting connec…

Science, Theology, and None-of-the-Above (i.e., “creationism”): On the recent flap between Bill Nye and Ken Ham

(Diatribe warning – proceed at your own risk.)

Those of you with a more conservative past (like me) may have noticed a couple of weeks ago when some comments made by Bill Nye “the science guy” elicited a small flurry of response from the Answers in Genesis people, headed up by Ken Ham. Let me be clear at the outset: I’m rather upset about all this. “But why?” you may ask. I’ll tell you. Because polls from a few months ago show that 46% of the USA population believes in creationism – not that God is somehow involved in the process (theistic evolution got 32%), but in straight up creationism. Furthermore, the trend-lines are moving in the wrong direction: over the past 30 years, creationism is up 2% while 6% have moved from theistic evolution to exclusively naturalistic evolution. (source)

“Well sure,” you may say, “those are not encouraging numbers. But why do you care so much personally?” Because I have to teach religion and theology to ~250 undergraduate students each academic year a…

Christianity & Labor Day: A Guest Post by Scott Jackson

Guest post by Scott Jackson.
Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another
that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide
us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but
for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for
our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of
other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out
of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen. -- "Collect for Labor Day", Book of Common Prayer
Being a "good Christian" means being a "good worker", right? Aren't believers exhorted in the New Testament to "do their work quietly and to earn their own living" (2 Thes. 3:12; all biblical quotations taken from the NRSV)? At the outset of my remarks, I want to fully affirm the importance of work within God's created order. Nonetheless, I'm posing here, in the …

Bruce Gordon on De l’Estoile, Alciati, and Calvin's Legal Education

In addition to re-reading Cottret, I have now read for the first time Bruce Gordon’s Calvin book. Let me just say briefly and by way of general comment that although by no means antagonistic to Calvin, Gordon is less sympathetic than I would like. He also focuses much more on the interpersonal and social history rather than the theology – this is fine if you, like me, enjoy that stuff but it makes the volume less serviceable than Cottret as a general introduction to Calvin.

Anyway, I came across this passages about Calvin’s two law professors. Pierre de l’Estoile was French and taught at Orleans, an established seat of legal scholarship. Calvin studied with him first. Andrea Alciati was Italian and taught at Bourges, the up-and-coming scholarly contender. Calvin studied with him second. Gordon here lays out their differing ways of going about legal interpretation. Anyone who knows Calvin will see him in Gordon’s description of both his professors. That said, I’m not sure exactly how …