Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dan Migliore on the Munus Triplex, Part 2 - Missiology

These days, there are generally two camps for you to pick from if you work in ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). Plenty of people try to pick and choose pieces from each, but I tend to think that never works out too well. When it comes down to it, either you roll with the “practices” crowd, or you’re down with the “mission” folks (here is another angle; cf. also this KBBC piece; there are also plenty of people who use the language of “mission” but are actually doing a variation of “practices,” so be wary; in any case, this is in many ways a variation on the Reformation argument between Protestants and Roman Catholics as to whether word or sacrament priority). Migliore learned well from Barth (and, undoubtedly, others) the importance of the church’s missionary task in bearing witness to Jesus Christ.

Sidebar: I won’t get into the thick dogmatic background to all this, but if you want to get into it for yourself, the best book is John Flett’s The Witness of God. There are a number of posts here at DET on this book. Here is one; follow the “mission” tag for more.

Anyway, what I think is especially interesting on this from Migliore is how he brings the munus triplex (cf. Part 1) to bear with reference to mission and how the church ought to shoulder its missionary task. So, with altogether enough ado…

Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding, 266-7.
The missionary activity of the church should be understood as participation in the mission of Jesus Christ … The doctrine of the threefold office of Christ also brings clarity and direction to the understanding of the church and its mission. Of course, to speak of the church’s mission in terms of the threefold office of Christ cannot possible mean that the church replaces Christ as the primary missionary, or that the church perfects an essentially defective mission of Christ. On the contrary, the living Christ continues his missionary work in the world, and the church is called to participate in his work and to be guided by it. Hence the church’s mission will always include the priestly activity of proclaiming forgiveness and reconciliation in the name of Christ; it will always include the prophetic activity of teaching God’s will made known in Christ and denouncing injustice and oppression as opposing God’s will; and it will always include the royal activity of being a protector and advocate of the weak and lowly and using what resources and influence it has not for its own sake but for the sake of God’s coming reign of justice and peace that has downed in power in the royal life, death, and resurrection of Christ. If it is Christ-centered, the missionary activity of the church will follow the way of the cross and will show a partiality to outsiders, strangers, and all those considered alien, unworthy, or disturbingly different.


Friday, July 27, 2012

DET – 6th anniversary reflection

It is my custom here at DET to take a moment to commemorate the passage of another theo-blogging year. Today marks six years of DET. Drifting back over those six years in my mind feels like a very, very long time. So many things have happened. On the personal side: 2 apartments, one rental house, first-time homeownership, three cars, a cross-country move, and to top it all off in every sense, two little boys. On the professional side: two graduate degrees – going from being a bachelor to a doctor with incredible amounts of reading and writing in between. On the blog side: four Barth Blog Conferences, lots of serials, a bunch of other miscellaneous reading guides and such, and – all told – closing in on 700 posts.

But all this is now in the past. What of the future? I can honestly say that I have come close to shutting DET down in periods of low blog activity (i.e., high offline activity). But I have never done it because I always saw some kind of a future here. That hasn’t changed. I have been very excited this past year to move DET into a more collaborative format where a number of different angles and perspectives can find their voices in the theo-blogosphere (check out the about page for more). So I heartily recommend the contributors page to any of you who have not yet read it (and even if you have, go read it again), and check out some of the new contributor’s posts (each contributor has a category tag in the list on the left sidebar). What’s more, be sure to leave them comments of encouragement, appreciation, and / or – even better – critical engagement!

So on this 6th anniversary of DET’s founding, I want to issue a hearty thanks to all those who have read and commented over the past six years, and who continue to read and comment. I look forward to the conversations that we will have in year seven!

And if you raise a glass tonight, raise it once for good ol' DET!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pictures on a Tuesday

We are in the thick of this summer’s dog days here in St. Charles, MO. The heat just keeps on coming, and the rain keeps on staying away. I busy myself inside my office with a number of projects, working frantically to clear my desk of the major work prior to the start of Fall classes. And somewhere in there I need to prepare material for some of those classes… Oh well. I thought that I might tide you over, gentle reader, with some pictures. You may recall my previous post in this vein, which showcased my then office. I am happy to say that I am now installed in a better appointed office next door to that one, and I’m sure a picture post for that will be forthcoming. This is not it, however. Instead, allow me to show you around my corner of Lindenwood University’s campus. These pictures are from back in February, I believe, hence the trace (only a trace, mind you…) of snow.

I begin with a picture of Roemer Hall, which does double duty as the location of the primary administrative offices (executive suite, registrar, payroll, etc.) and as the primary classroom location for humanities courses.

If you do an about-face from where that picture of Roemer was taken, you get this one. The road follows the border of the old campus’s quad and you can just barely make out down at the end where one of the two main campus dining halls is located.

Walk across the street and out into the quad a bit, and you get the above view of Roemer.

Turn at an angle to your right and you can see the library. Our library building is a bit cramped on shelf space, but it has a very nice reading area (old leather furniture that you have to be careful with – you can sink down into the sofas and I’ve heard stories of some undergrads emerging months later telling fantastic tales of strange lands). Not too bad on the eyes, to boot – I’ve seen many uglier libraries, to be sure!

Turn back around and face where the first two pictures were taken, and you will see Butler Hall, seat of the Lindenwood humanities. As you can see, some festive decorations are still in place. Maybe these pictures were taken in January…

They have been re-mortaring Butler for the past year or so, and they are finally close to being down. It should significantly lower the dust level around here. And the brick work would look much cleaner if I were to take this picture again.

Finally, the Butler stairs as seen from the first floor landing.

So, there you have it. I can't even begin to tell you have lovely that winter sky in these pictures looks to me right now...

Anyway, if you want to attend a private liberal arts college in the greater St. Louis region, you could do much worse than Lindenwood University - for instance, you could go somewhere that you couldn’t study religion with me! And why would anyone ever want to do that?!?! Also, did I mention that we're relatively affordable? Tell your friends!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Time for another one of these things. To begin, we’ve had some good stuff here lately from the DET contributor corps. Perhaps the most substantial in terms of “weight” (whatever that means, but you get the idea) was Brandy Daniels’s contribution to the reader’s guide series: So, You Want to Read . . . Dietrich Bonhoeffer? This post brought in lots of traffic so if you haven’t seen it yet, go find out what you’re missing. Next is Matt Warren’s Theologians Almanac post for July 14. Finally, we noted that Scott Rice had a book review published. So, well done you three!

Moving on.

Happy clicking!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bernard Cottret on Calvin and Luther

I have been re-reading Cottret in preparation for teaching a course on the Reformation that will focus on Calvin. Indeed, Cottret’s volume is the July 2012 DET Book ‘O the Month. Anyway, it is high time that I shared some more of this excellent volume with you, gentle readers.

It seems that every Calvin scholar at some point has to get down to business and set up a comparison between Luther and Calvin. This often reveals quite a lot about the scholar’s own interests and orientation. I am very much looking forward to writing an entertaining instance of my own one day… In any case, Cottret’s comparison focuses on matters of personality, style, and national identity.

Bernard Cottret, Calvin: A Biography (M. Wallace McDonald, trans.; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 39.
Calvin belonged to the second generation of the Reformation. When he was born in 1509, Luther was about twenty-five. Jean Cauvin was just emerging from childhood in 1517 when the Augustinian monk posted his Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg. The German finally died in 1546, when the Frenchman still had eighteen years to live. They represented two generations, and also two temperaments. Luther, a man of overflowing charm and of driving fluency, sometimes to the point of harshness; Calvin, all cerebration, untiringly polishing his Institutes with the care of a lawyer. Thus, even in the seventeenth century, the Catholic Florimond de Raemond could not resist the temptation of facile comparison: “Their manners were as diverse as their opinions. Calvin was more regulated and composed than Luther, and showed from the beginning that he would not let himself be intoxicated by the pleasures of the flesh and the belly like Luther.” One might say in observing them that each already consciously adapted himself to a national image: Luther, the defender of German liberties, who addressed himself impetuously to the German nobility; Calvin, the pre-Cartesian philosophe, champion of the French language and of a classical analysis that was identified with clarity of enunciation.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Theologian's Almanac: July 14, 2012


John Calvin
Before moving on to today's cast, we should note that this past Tuesday, July 10th, marked John Calvin's 503rd birthday. Do make your way over to Travis's post on July's Book 'O the Month, which is Bernard Cottret’s Calvin: A Biography (also featured at the top of the left sidebar).

Cardinal Jules Mazarin
Born this day in 1602, Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino would go on to succeed Cardinal Richelieu as the chief minister of France, and aid Anne of Austria during her regency until Louis XIV came of age to rule France. Throughout his term in office, Mazarin was unwilling to restore the protections the Huguenots had received under the Edict of Nantes. Mazarin died March 9, 1661.

Pasquier Quesnel
It's the birthday of Pasquier Quesnel, who was born in 1634 in Paris. After graduating from the Sorbonne, he joined the French Oratory, where he cultivated Jansenist sympathies. For this he was banished from Paris in 1681. As a Jansenist theologian, he wrote a devotional text commenting on the New Testament, which the Jesuits attacked with vigor.

Edward Benson
Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward Benson, was born this day in 1829. After an early career in education and serving as the first bishop of Truro, he was enthroned on March 29, 1883 and reigned until his death on October 11, 1896. Benson also created the order for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, celebrated primarily by Anglicans, but also by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians on Christmas Eve.

Franklin Graham
Today is the birthday of Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham, who was born in 1952. He has followed in his father's footsteps as an American evangelist and missionary. He heads both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse. In recent years he has received criticism owing to several statements related to Islam, Barack Obama, and same-sex marriage legislation.


Deusdedit of Canterbury
There is much debate over the details of Deusdedit and his life, including his name. Among the contenders are Frithona, Frithuwine, and Frithonas; it is most likely that he took the name Deusdedit, which means "God has given," at his consecration as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 655. He was the sixth Archbishop of Canterbury, but the first native Briton to hold that office. Another debatable item is the date of his death, the most likely date being July 14, 664.

Richard Taverner
Born c. 1505, Richard Taverner's work aimed to stimulate the Reformation in England. Under Thomas Cromwell, and with Henry VIII's blessing, Taverner produced an English translation of the Bible and commentary. He would spend time in the Tower of London once Cromwell lost favor with the king. He worked as a preacher under the Protestant monarchs, Edward VI and Elizabeth I, but avoided public life during the reign of Queen Mary. Taverner died July 14, 1575.

August Neander
Born January 17, 1789 at Göttingen as David Mendel, he took the name Johann August Wilhelm Neander at his baptism on February 25, 1806. At 17, Neander began studying divinity at Halle, where he studied under Friedrich Schleiermacher, whose conception of Christian feeling significantly shaped Neander's own theology; his motto would become, "Pectus est quod theologum facit" ("The heart is what makes the theologian"). Neander excelled at his theological studies and developed an enduring interest in church history. He served as professor of theology at both Heidelberg and Berlin. After writing several substantial monographs, Neander began work on his five-volume church history, including a sixth posthumous volume, which took the series up to the 15th century. He died at Berlin on July 14, 1850.

Thomas Hazelhurst
"The Chapel Builder," as he was called, Thomas Hazelhurst was an English Wesleyan who put his wealth to building 12 Methodist chapels and three schools between 1848 and 1875 in Runcorn, Widnes, and Cheshire. He was a very active member of his church community, and even served as the organist for the Brunswick chapel. He died July 14, 1876.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So You Want to Read….Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

"I fear that Christians who stand with only one leg upon earth also stand with only one leg in heaven."

"The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from everyday Christian life in community…may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; for in the poor sister or brother, Christ is knocking at the door."

"Since ethical thinking in terms of realms is overcome by faith in the revelation of the ultimate reality in Jesus Christ . . . there is no real Christian existence outside the reality of the world."

"People who reject their bodies reject their existence before God the Creator."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Andreas Steinhoff [Attribution],
via Wikimedia Commons
I envisioned having a lot of time for blogging this summer, but that simply has not been the case - the last month has been a crazy one, to say the least. For two weeks, I was working at a theology summer camp of sorts, the Duke Youth Academy, and said job was bookended by a bicycle trip from Nashville to Durham and back (totaling over 1,000 miles). So I haven’t had much time to write, certainly not at the caliber of which are worthy of this blog (I did, by the way, start a personal blog to reflect on travel and theology and the such - check it out here).

While I’ll be sure to reflect more on some of the things I learned the last month here, that is not what I want to write about at the moment. Instead, inspired after (a) hanging out with an old and dear friend who is a Lutheran minister, who also happened to be working at DYA this summer, and (b) hearing news that an essay I wrote on Bonhoeffer and Foucault (“Ethics Beyond Biopower: Bonhoeffer and Foucault on the Problem of Race”) will be finally getting published in a collected volume, Ontology and Ethics: Bonhoeffer and Contemporary Scholarship later this year with Pickwick, I felt inspired to write about one of the greatest Lutheran theologians of all time - and one of the greatest theologians of all time, period, in my humble opinion - Dietrich Bonhoeffer!

So, time to get on my Bonhoeffer soapbox for a little bit, and contribute a Bonhoeffer entry to the DET “So You Want To Read . . .” series (indexed at the top of the recommended reading page).

Why Should I Read Bonhoeffer?

While this should, in theory, be the lengthiest and most detailed section of this blog post, I think that, in many ways, Bonhoeffer’s work speaks for itself - not to mention, I drop hints on why I think you should read Bonhoeffer throughout this lengthy post. Nevertheless, here is a short list of a few of the many, many reasons I think Bonhoeffer is well worth reading:
  • He was a theologian who lived his theology - actively working against the Third Reich, risking his life (and eventually loosing it) through embodying what he believed.
  • His theology itself reflects an engagement with ‘the social.’ While it is systematically rigorous, Bonhoeffer doesn’t separate systematics from sociality, which (a) makes for theology that is relevant and practical, not just abstract, (b) makes for more interesting reading material, and (c) is, I think enormously important when thinking about the theological enterprise itself - what the task and purpose of theology is/should be.
  • Many people on this blog, myself included, really like Barth, for many reasons that I’m not going to go into here. I see their projects as very, very similar, and, while saying this is going to likely get me in trouble with all you Barthians, I find Bonhoeffer to basically be a more bad-ass - albeit less prolific - version of Barth in that he more directly engages with social issues in both his life and his work. Bonhoeffer’s work, I think, actively resists a disembodied, abstract account of theology that is often present in academic theology today.
  • Bonhoeffer’s work, highly impacted by his time in New York - particularly in Harlem and at Abyssinian Baptist Church, has a lot to say to the highly racialized time and place many of us find ourselves in the contemporary U.S.
  • Bonhoeffer’s work, especially the later stuff, calls us to resist simple dichotomization and categorization - an important reminder in our polarized society, especially for those of us who easily turn to black-and-white thinking. Moreover, Bonhoeffer does so in such a way that doesn’t conversely encourage or endorse complicity as the antidote to such polarization. Bonhoeffer calls instead for an ethic of risk, grounded in the person and work of Christ.

What Should I Read First?

I thought it might be good to start by suggesting what not to read first:

  • First, I would recommend not starting with either Sanctorum Communio or Act and Being. While I think that these are both excellent texts, they are his dissertations (yeah, he wrote two - gotta love the whole German habilitation thing) so they are a bit more technical then the rest of his oeuvre, and also a bit less developed than his later stuff.
  • For entirely different reasons, I want to suggest not beginning with Discipleship (what many still call Cost of Discipleship). While I disagree with some of my peers who have called it one of the most overrated theology texts of the 20th century, I do think it is a bit overdone, and is best read after one is already swimming in Bonhoeffer.

So, then, what to read first?

  • Ethics! This is by far my favorite Bonhoeffer text. I mean, it’s basically spy theology - he wrote the majority of the essays that comprise this text while traveling as part of his duties as basically a double agent while he was part of the plot to assassinate Hitler. So you get some really, really good reflections on the possibilities, limits, demands of ethics. In particular, the essay that opens up the volume, "Christ, Reality, and Good: Christ, Church, and World" has been, perhaps, the most influential single thing I've read, for both my personal and academic theological development. His account of the relationship between the church and the world has helped me grapple with notions of belonging and theological anthropology as they relate to ecclesiology and ethics. More on that later, to be sure . . . Also, the same could be said of the essay "History and Good [2].
  • His Christology lectures! Such rich material, especially when one considers the context in which Bonhoeffer wrote and delivered these lectures - during the rise of the Third Reich. Bonhoeffer presents a Christology that fundamentally rejects and disrupts the theo-logic of mastery, control, and domination that undergirded support for Nazi policies. At the center of Bonhoeffer’s theology is the figure of Christ as the Counter-Logos, rejecting the “ultimate deceit” of the classifying project of the human logos that has at its center the aim of domination, and shifts our question from ‘how’ to ‘who’ (29). You can find the Christology lectures in a newer translation/transcription, in Berlin: 1932-1933, which I would recommend if you’re doing anything scholarly with the text, but they’re also available in a nifty little paperback that is handy for traveling and such: Christ the Center.
  • Life Together. In many ways, I feel like this text is a sort of sequel of his christology lectures, exploring the communal implications of this Christology. The first chapter in particular lays out a theological argument for how we should live in community that is both poetic and theologically profound.

What about Secondary Literature?

Here I want to start again by suggesting what not to read. It seems as though there has been a bit of a resurgence of interest in Bonhoeffer lately, both in the academy as well as in popular culture [read: the real world]. This resurgence has ostensibly been stimulated / heightened by the recent biography of Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxes, which - I think - spent a good deal of time on the New York Times bestseller list. In my oh so humble opinion, I think Metaxes gets Bonhoeffer really wrong in a lot of ways, and that this book is an attempt to abdicate Bonhoeffer for a conservative political ideology. Metaxes actually says something along these lines in an interview with the Catholic News Agency, calling Bonhoeffer a man of staggering relevance for our time, too often hijacked by liberal theologians. For Metaxes, Bonhoeffer is helpful in that he offers us a "primer on the burning issue of what the limits of the state are" (source). Yeah, not exactly how I would read Bonhoeffer, and luckily, I’m not alone in that. Clifford Green, a renowned Bonhoeffer scholar who is actually the executive director and English editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works collection, writes a brilliant—and quite critical—review of it in The Christian Century. If you had thought about reading Metaxes’ book, or, even if you hadn’t, you should definitely read Green’s review. It is delightful.

Likewise, I would also recommend picking up Green’s book on Bonhoeffer’s social thought, Bonhoeffer: A Theology of Sociality. Also, along the same vein, I’d recommend checking out Charles Marsh’s Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology. Both of these books do an excellent job at locating Bonhoeffer within his social and philosophical context. And Green’s book in particular is especially helpful in thinking through and making sense of Sanctorum Communio and Act and Being, if / when you do delve into those texts…

One of the things I find most fascinating and promising about Bonhoeffer is how he was impacted by his time in New York - at Union Theological Seminary and, in particular, at Abissynian Baptist Church. How did Bonhoeffer’s engagement with the black church, and with the Harlem Renaissance, impact his thinking? What might Bonhoeffer’s thought have to say to contemporary questions about race? There has, unfortunately, not been a lot of scholarship thus far that has engaged this aspect of Bonhoeffer studies. Two books worth looking at, however, are No Difference in the Fare: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Problem of Racism by Josiah Ulysses Young, and Bonhoeffer and King: Their Legacies and Import for Christian Social Thought edited by Willis Jenkins and Jennifer Mcbride. Also, I am not sure if he has (yet) published anything in this regard, but I know Reggie Williams has done some really important and interesting work on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Harlem Renaissance, and I would definitely recommend keeping an eye on what he has to say in this regard.

In terms of learning about Bonhoeffer’s life, there are biographies other than Metaxes’ that you can turn to. There are two in particular that I would recommend:

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography, by Eberhard Bethge. This is the place to turn for a pretty solid and thorough introduction to Bonhoeffer’s life. Bethge was actually a good friend of Bonhoeffer, and spent many years assisting him at the preacher’s seminary in Finkenwalde, and this comes through in the text itself. One indication of that is its sheer length, over 1000 pages. Definitely a great place to turn if you want to get serious with Bonhoeffer’s work. Mind you, this is one of my soapboxes - that it is indelibly important to know the life and context of a scholar to grasp their work. I think this is especially the case when it comes to theological texts, and even more so when it comes to Bonhoeffer.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, by Ferdinand Schlingensiepen. This, perhaps, is a good biography to start with, for those who want a bit of a briefer introduction to Bonhoeffer’s life. It is also a a more recent one. Green actually gives a shout out to this bio in his Christian Century piece for its addressing new insights that have been discovered about Bonhoeffer’s life.

Bonhoeffer on the Interwebs

The internet also has some great things about Bonhoeffer floating around it. Here are some that I would recommend:

Some good Bonhoeffer posts from some of my other favorite theology bloggers:
Whew, ok. While this is by no means exhaustive, I think its a good start on places to look should you want to read Bonhoeffer (which, you should)! Enjoy!


Saturday, July 07, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

July begins to slip past more quickly than I should like and I keep hoping that I’ll wake up with the extraordinary power to freeze the world around me while I go about my work for a few months – then, perhaps, I would actually get some things done! But, alas, such powers have not (yet) been granted to me. In the meantime, here are some links to good reading so that you can stay as busy as I am…

  • To begin, here is a nice official press release from PTS about the recent Barth conference. It comes complete with a picture of many of the speakers.
  • The folks over at the blog run by a number of Wheaton PhD students provides a list of links to where you can currently purchase a number of texts by and about Barth at deep discount. Hurry over and fill out your library a bit before the deals end!
  • Many folks who take a, let us say, less hermeneutical approach to the biblical text also venerate John Calvin (for those of you slow on the uptake, I’m talking about all those crazy Reformed folk who are always making noise…). Well, here are some links that make that connection problematic, i.e., here are some links showing that Calvin was a more subtle reader of scripture ~500 years ago than many of these folks are today: on the Sermon on the Mount as a rhetorical construct, on the creation narrative, on the authenticity of 2nd Peter.
  • Friend of the blog and former KBBC contributor Andy Rowell enlists Douglass Campbell to get at the soteriological heart of the debate between Barth and Brunner in this recent post.
  • More from the folks over at that Wheaton blog. This time, Jordan Barrett provides a review of the new edition of Barth’s The Word of God and Theology.
  • Collin Cornell, one of my favorite newer theo-bloggers, is reading some Marx! It warms the heart . . .
  • Religion Dispatches has a post up dealing with David Barton, one of the guys responsible for the conservative rhetoric about America’s “Christian” foundation. Reading this will (unfortunately) help you to better understand the current political landscape.
  • Well, it was only a matter of time before I warmed once again to the topic of current events within Roman Catholicism. I’ve been on about this for a while, especially in this post but also in these fortnightly link roundups since then. In a Religion Dispatches piece entitled Notify This!, we get a delightful collection of brilliant one-liners (discussing how long it took for the CDF to issue this censure, we get the deadpan line: “A first-year graduate student could have handled the analysis in a week.”) sprinkled over analysis of the CDF’s censure of Margaret A. Farley’s work. But here is the hard core:
    “The Roman men are hell-bent on reining in American nuns, if only to prove that they can rein in somebody in a world that pays them increasingly little heed. They fear that such intellectually powerful and theologically persuasive women, who identify with the institutional Roman Catholic Church through their membership in canonical communities, will trump them in the public arena”
  • Not to be left out, the WIT blog reflects on just how much like the apostle Peter the Catholic hierarchy is currently behaving:
    “perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when Peter’s successor–I’m thinking of both the Pope and the Vatican–acts in a very “Petrine” way: (1) Recognizes that Jesus is the Christ. (2) Refuses to identify with those who suffer, even though that’s where Christ is found. (3) Gets offended when accused of not loving Christ.”
  • The WIT blog continues on the topic with a piece entitled A Church That Changes. This is an incredibly helpful post. The argument here is twofold: (1) the RC church does change, no matter what they tell you; (2) that change has not historically come from the top.
  • Finally, to conclude on this subject for the present, I offer you Stephen Colbert interviewing one of the censured nuns.
  • Kim Fabricius is brings us another set of doodlings. Do I sense another book in the works for Kim? Here’s a taste: “Rowan Williams is a theological multiplier, not simplifier. That’s why he has a beard: he eschews Occam’s razor.”
  • Bobby Grow’s book is out!
  • Finally, I leave you with a sermon from good friend of the blog Jason Ingalls. The sermon is entitled Jesus Starts a New Family, and takes Mark 3.19-35 as its text.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

New DET Feature – Book ‘O the Month

Frequent and attentive readers may have noticed that DET has offered a new feature for the last couple of weeks – namely, a “Book ‘O the Month” recommendation found at the top of the left sidebar. This feature compliments the DET Recommended Reading page accessible from the top bar. The idea is to feature one text each month that DET’s contributors find particularly helpful, interesting, etc., including a short statement from the recommender as to why that text is so. For the past few weeks I’ve had Keith Johnson’s book, Karl Barth and the Analogia Entis (now in a more affordable paperback edition!) featured there, a text that I have posted about before (here is one example).

July’s DET Book ‘O the Month is Bernard Cottret’s Calvin: A Biography. This text has long been my go-to source for Calvin biography, and I have been re-reading it recently in preparation for teaching Calvin in the Fall semester. While doing so I have been continually struck by the mastery of Cottret’s writing, by the scope of his vision, and by the depth of his insight. He is also quite good at handling some of the trickier biographical details concerning Calvin in a helpfully historical-critical way. I recommended this book as a resource in my guide, So, You Want to Read John Calvin?, and my estimation of it has only gone up. If you have any interest in Calvin at all, you must read Cottret.  

By way of sample, I leave you with this paragraph from Cottret on the importance of Calvin’s Strasbourg period for his career:
It was in Strasbourg that Calvin became “Calvin.” Or more exactly, at the beginning of his thirtieth year Calvin invented a Reformation that was distinct from that of his predecessors. At first it was a matter of style and temperament; Calvinism carried to its highest point the balance of thought and form. It proceeded from a literary passion. A new, thoroughly revised edition of the Institutes, which appeared in 1539-41, showed clearly the emergence of a current of thought different from Lutheranism. But the best indication of this change is to be found in the Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1539), in which Calvin proclaimed clearly to the world that he was neither Melanchthon, nor Bucer, nor Bullinger, but simply Calvin. Finally, Calvin’s endorsement by Bucer, the Reformer of Strasbourg, confirmed his sense of an exceptional vocation, already recognized by Farel. Yes, Calvin undoubtedly spent the happiest years of his life in Strasbourg. (132)


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Top 10 Posts So Far This Year

Well, half of 2012 is over. I don’t know about you, but I’ve done a ton so far this year but nowhere near as much as I need to. Here’s hoping for a very productive second half of the summer…

In the meantime, I thought it might be worthwhile to highlight the top ten posts so far this year in terms of traffic. In other words, what are you – gentle readers – reading?

To begin, I’m not going to include the structural aspects of the site in this. For instance, in terms of raw visits, the blog’s front page blows everything else out of the water. The contributors page ranks right behind that, and the about page is in the top five. Also ranking rather high are things like the recommended reading page, the Karl Barth Blog Conference index page, and that post from way back in January announcing the new collaborative format and the change in blog name from Der Evangelische Theologe to Die Evangelischen Theologen. So, setting those aside, what are the top 10 content / material posts so far this year here at DET?

(Note: I feel compelled to point out that the stats on which this ranking is based do not factor the amount of traffic a post received as part of the front page, e.g., on the day it was posted and those following. It can account only for traffic dealing directly with that post.)
  1. At the top of the list we have an oldie but a goodie, my years old piece on “Why I Think…Ben Myers Isn’t Quite Right About TF Torrance.” This is also the post that has my brief comments on neo-orthodoxy.
  2. Next comes an even oldier but goodier post, my guide to reading Barth entitled “So, You Want To Read Karl Barth?” Darren recently did his best to supplant this guide with his own while also performing the necessary genuflections in the direction of mine. But I’m not fooled. His disparagement of Barth’s Evangelical Theology will not be permitted to stand. Do you hear me, Darren? I’m coming for you…eventually…
  3. Ranked third is another oldie but, honestly, I am a little stumped as to why this post gets so much traffic: “Types of Theology.” It must just have to do with random SEO stuff or something. I just banged this post together one day for fun… I much prefer my post, “Types of Philosophy: A Serioues Jest?”
  4. My dissertation’s abstract made the list, a very gratifying thing. Go check it out. One of the things I need to get more work done on this summer is getting this thing ready for publication.
  5. David Congdon and I have had a lot of fun on the theo-blogs over the years, and the list’s fifth-ranked post is another instance of that. Of course, in this case “fun” means something a bit different than the usual definition. What am I talking about? This: “Evangelical Progressivism: An Open Letter to the Editors of Christianity Today”
  6. Coming in with a very solid showing is DET contributor Brandy Daniels’s introductory post: “An Introduction of Sorts...”
  7. The seventh-ranked post is a hard worker but not flashy – it is a post providing links to write ups at another blog of the recent Barth Conference at Princeton Seminary: “PTS Barth Conference - Some links”
  8. DET contributor Derek Maris makes the list in the eight position with his post: “Pannenberg & Barth: ST, I.1.1”
  9. Another hard-working but not flashy post – a post highlighting the Spring 2012 call for papers for the Princeton Theological Review: “Machismo Church: The History and Future of Masculine Christianity - PTR Call for Papers.” You have to figure that the catchy title is driving a good chunk of the traffic on this one. It does make me wonder when this issue is coming out, however…
  10. Finally, tenth position is occupied by DET contributor Derek Maris, with his second “charting” post on Pannenberg: “Pannenberg 101: God & Ontology”
So, there you have it. Not a bad top 10 list for the first half of the year. We’ll have to see what awaits in the next six months…