Showing posts from September, 2013

First review of my “The Sign of the Gospel”

Long-time and well-known biblio- and theo-blogger, Jim West, who currently writes over at Zwinglius Redivivus, recently posted a link to a review of my book that he has written. As far as I know, this is my book’s first review ever!

(In case any of you, gentle readers, have a terrible memory or some kind of amnesia, my book is entitled The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Karl Barth, Fortress: 2013.)

As I read it, Jim’s review is very positive. And that means quite a bit to me because he represents part of the demographic to which I addressed the volume. I am particularly gratified by his following comment:
M., unlike other Barth commentators, actually correctly perceives Barth’s purpose and he understands Barth well enough to ‘get him right’. M., in brief, doesn’t do Barth the disservice of putting words into his mouth. Barth speaks with his own voice and M. interacts with the Basel theologian at every turn: not in an attempt to correct Barth…

The Legacy of Hans W. Frei – Conference Announcement

Folks, I’ve recently been notified of a conference to be held (shortly) at Princeton Theological Seminary – sponsored by the Center for Barth Studies and the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology – dealing with the legacy of the preferable (imho) of the two post-liberal founders, Hans W. Frei. The official publicity copy on the conference is below, following by a banner image for the event. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend. But maybe you can!

The Center for Barth Studies and the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology are sponsoring a free one-day conference on the legacy of Yale theologian Hans W. Frei on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his death. No pre-registration required.

Saturday, October 12th, 2013
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(with break for lunch)

Princeton Theological Seminary - Princeton, NJ
Cooper Conference Room, Erdman Center

George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
A. Katherine Grieb, Virginia Theological Seminary
James J. Buckley…

Original Sin and Reconciliation in Bonhoeffer’s “Act and Being”

I recently decided to buzz through Bonhoeffer’s Habilitationsschrift. It has been sitting on my shelf for a few years now, staring at me reproachfully. So I took it down and read with what turned out to be rapt attention. It is simply amazing that he wrote this at the age of 24 . . . But, all jealousies aside, it is well worth reading. It is unfortunately neglected because it is (shall we say) a bit more intellectually demanding than (shall we say) some of his other writings. The first half is especially compelling, although the answer that he proposes to the problem he identifies there is less attractive to me than (shall we say) other possible answers.

How’s that for being vague?

Anyway, the bit that I want to share with you deals with the subject of original sin and reconciliation and, more specifically, how the two fit together. Bonhoeffer further develops his thinking on the original sin side especially in his Creation and Fall, which I also highly recommend.

Dietrich Bonhoeffe…

Did the early church baptize infants? - Mondays with McMaken

Time for another appetite-whetting installment of this wonderful new series. Don’t forget to tell your theological librarian to order a copy of the book. Also, Christmas is right around the corner and nothing makes a better stocking stuffer than a theological treatise on baptism! Better yet, it's a healthy and uplifting alternative to candy as an option for handing-out on Halloween...

W. Travis McMaken, The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Karl Barth, Emerging Scholars (Fortress, 2013), 16.
Taken together, one must conclude that the church both did and did not baptize infants in the early Christian centuries. It did baptize infants in situations where death threatened; it did not as a standard practice baptize infants who were not threatened by impending death. This state of affairs meshes well with Tertullian’s comments above, as well as those of Gregory the Theologian who argued that parents should wait until their children achieved three…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

You all know the drill. Here’s the DET stuff:

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… - The last link post.What makes a doctrine properly evangelical? - Mondays with McMakenOn Reading and Not-Reading BarthGod and the gods: The theological fruitfulness of a history-of-religions approach - A guest post by Collin CornellNew Center for Barth Studies Book Review - Matthias Gockel reviews a couple volumes of Erik Peterson’s Ausgewählte Schriften.Troeltsch’s Understanding of the Historical Relation between Dogmatics and Ethics
And now for the rich offerings of the wider theo-blogosphere:

What Explanations Count?The dangers of apologeticsBIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL: AUGUST, 2013The New Avatar - “Persecutors always claim to be persecuted.”SERMON: God builds a kingdom that cannot be shaken - Jason Ingalls (KBBC contributor and friend of the blog) on Hebrews 12Already Overtaken: A Sermon on Luke 11SERV CONFEREN…

Troeltsch’s Understanding of the Historical Relation between Dogmatics and Ethics

Once upon a time there was an assistant professor who saw a book in his colleague’s office, bought it, and read it. He subsequently found some interesting stuff in it and decided to share that interesting stuff with others.

You get the point.

So this is an account of how Troeltsch understood the historical relationship between dogmatics and ethics in Christian theology. I found it interesting; you might too.

Hans-Georg Drescher, Ernst Troeltsch: His Life and Work (Fortress, 1993), 180:
For Troeltsch, the course of the more recent history of theology since the Reformation went like this. Originally an understanding of Christian faith and religion which was not discussed further included a bent towards action; the result was that the methodological question of the relationship between dogmatics and ethics went unanswered. Rather, ethics retreated behind dogmatics and stood in its shadow. That changed with the Enlightenment and its concern to develop a universal theory of morality. Kan…

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

KBBC contributor Matthias Gockel reviews - Erik Peterson, Ausgewählte Schriften, vol. 9 – Theologie und Theologen: Texte (9/1), Theologie und Theologen: Briefwechsel mit Karl Barth u.a., Reflexionen und Erinnerungen (9/2), edited by Barbara Nichtweiß (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 2009). Matthias’s review helps to make this very interesting material more accessible to English-language Barth scholars, and we hope to offer a German version of his review in the future as well. Check out this window into one of Barth’s formative conversations and conversation partners! Be sure to check out Scott’s review!


God and the gods: The theological fruitfulness of a history-of-religions approach - A guest post by Collin Cornell

[Ed. note: Collin Cornell writes the always interesting blog Kaleidobible, as well as semi-regular guest posts here at DET.]

Theological scholars have texts to which they return time and again; passages and pages that bear the telltale thumb-smudging of high traffic. What chapters and articles these are depends on our particular disciplines and the problems that each of us find compelling. Theologian friends of mine have chapters from James Cone or Helmut Gollwitzer on speed-dial; for the range of issues I think through, I suspect Pat Miller’s article “God and the Gods: History of Religions as an Approach and Context for Bible and Theology” may come to have such a “(deutero-)canonical status” for me (orig. pub. in Affirmation, 1973; reprint in Israelite Religion and Biblical Theology, Sheffield, 2000). Why?

In short, Miller’s piece makes an apology for the theological fruitfulness of a history-of-religions approach: that is, a study of Israel’s religion that maps its features comprehe…

On Reading and Not-Reading Barth

I’m sure DET readers have been clued into this developing conversation for a while, but I wanted to formalize DET recognition of it – especially since none of the posts made it into the link post on Saturday (didn’t get that far in my queue). I also wanted to wait until a further post was available and, now that it’s online, I can draw your attention to it. So here are the links in chronological order, including what we can see as the precipitating post for this reflection:

Manly Me (Theology Edition) - from DET contributor Brandy Daniels.On Not Reading Barth: my measly resistance - from Janice Rees.On Reading Barth: Another Form of Feminist Resistance (A Response to Janice Rees) - from DET contributor Kait Dugan.On not reading Karl Barth anymore: a white male's perspective - from KBBC contributor Peter Kline.On still reading Barth: some sympathetic reflections - from long-time friend of the blog, David Congdon
Update: Here are three most related posts that have come to my attentio…

What makes a doctrine properly evangelical? - Mondays with McMaken

What’s the point of having a blog if you don’t occasionally engage in some shameless self-promotion? With that in mind, I’m starting a new shameless self-promoting series entitled “Mondays with McMaken.” In these posts I will highlight small snippets from the book that I recently published on Barth and baptism (see below). If you find this stuff interesting, tell your friends about it. If you find it really interesting, buy a copy. If you find it epically interesting, buy 10 copies!

W. Travis McMaken, The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Karl Barth, Emerging Scholars (Fortress, 2013), 5.
What makes a doctrine properly evangelical? In the most formal sense, such a designation refers to doctrinal positions that are deeply reformational in orientation. Barth himself defined evangelical theology as “that theology which treats of the God of the Gospel.” What does it mean for a theological position to be governed by such an attention to the God that …

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Well, that was refreshing. The short blog hiatus, I mean. But it’s time to rev up the DET engine once again. At least there was plenty of good stuff out there to read in the meantime. Here’s some of the best of it since the last DET link post (hang on, it’s a long one!):

To begin, however, read this from George Hunsinger: Don't Attack Syria: No Justification by Just-War Criteria

Political Theology and Islamic Studies Symposium: Contemporary Islamism and the Sacralization of DemocracyBook Review: Harvey Cox’s The Future of FaithPost-Protestant? (a response)Funded New Testament / Christian Origins Ph.D.Jean Bethke Elshtain, scholar of religion and political philosophy, 1941-2013Karl Barth the Civil War buffWhy We Call God Father: a response to Simon ChanThe art of writing negative book reviewsThe Christ of North American Evangelicalism: A word on my Ecclesiological-Identity CrisisLuther v…