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Showing posts from February, 2014

Comments Brought to Light: David Congdon on Bultmann, Barth, Heidegger, Scripture, Tradition, and Sache

Collin Cornell recently provided a guest post here at DET entitled, “Helmut Gollwitzer and John Webster on Scripture, or, the problem of *ethical* biblical criticism.” It is a very thoughtful post, and it has generated a number of comments. Twenty-seven, to be exact. That conversation is very interesting and I encourage you to go read it thus far. But it was recently the scene of an extensive set of comments by David Congdon in response to Phil Sumpter and addressing a number of interesting questions that depart somewhat from the subject of Helmut Gollwitzer and John Webster on the doctrine of scripture (although they grow organically from the starting point).

In any case, I wanted to highlight these comments because I thought that they were particularly helpful articulations, and I wanted to provide a separate comment thread so that discussion on these topics can continue in their own dedicated location. I have only provided Congdon’s comments here, and I encourage you to go read th…

Breaking News—DET KBBC Book is now in print!

That’s right! After years of waiting, the revised and expanded proceedings from the 2010 Karl Barth Blog Conference have finally been published! Here is the vital information:

W. Travis McMaken and David W. Congdon (eds.), Karl Barth in Conversation (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014).
Head on over the W&S website to order a copy and take advantage of a special price for online orders ($29.60 rather than the retail $37)! You can take a peek at the front matter and table of contents here.

Many thanks to the contributors, but also to the many readers of DET and the KBBCs over the years that made this project happen. Interacting with folks on theological topics is what makes theology blogs fun, and this book is a monument to lots of the fun that has been had here at DET over the years.

But enough being sappy, here are the endorsements for the book:

"This book is an exciting and important contribution to Barth studies. It breaks open the potential cul-de-sac of Barth schol…

DET Book Giveaway Contest – And the winner is…

…Wyatt Houtz!

Congratulations to Wyatt, who received a whopping 66% of the vote. I’ll now be in touch with Wyatt to get his mailing address and send the book on to him. Perhaps I’ll be able to twist his arm into providing a guest-post here at DET to review the book…

Thanks to our other entries for participating, and to all the readers who came by and voted. I wish I had enough copies to give one to each of the finalists. But here are the links to the three finalist entries once again.

Wyatt Houtz's entryBarry Morris's entryMason Thompson's entry
This was fun! Maybe I’ll end up with an extra copy of something again and we can do round two.

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Book Giveaway Poll - Get Voting!

There you have it, folks! You've seen all the entries over the past few days, and now it is time to pick a winner!

Here are the links for the entries in case you want to go back and look over all three before voting:

Wyatt Houtz's entryBarry Morris's entryMason Thompson's entry
Vote away!

UPDATE: Poll closed

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Book Giveaway Entry #3 – Mason Thompson

[Mason Thompson lives in Seattle with his wife. I didn’t know that DET had such a strong readership in the Pacific Northwest, but that’s where all of our entries came from. He describes Seattle as “about as far from the Bible belt as you can get in America (both literally and figuratively),” and as “not a particularly Christian area.” But judging from our entries, there seems to be a remnant hiding out there. – Ed.]


Karl Barth should remain an important theological voice in 21st century theology for multiple reasons. Generally because he was one of if not the most influential theological voice of the 20th century, and theologians should always build on the good work of those who came before. What I will focus on, however, is how Barth relates and differs with both liberal and fundamentalist Protestants - two groups that together dominate American Christianity, making Barth as relevant as ever.

Liberal theology that allows the Bible to be interpreted through the lens of the culture (or…

Book Giveaway Entry #2 – Barry K. Morris

[Barry K. Morris is a part-time student as well as a long-standing urban minister with the United Church of Canada. He currently serves with the Longhouse Council of Native Ministry, but also volunteers as a chaplain at a long-term care facility as well as working with a number of other ministries and community organizations. – Ed.]


Karl Barth helped to usher in the post-wars’ crisis and turning point for early 20th Century theology. He conjoined pastoral trial-by-fire trench warfare experiences with a renewed desire to do Biblical theology. This bears credibility. He further carried into academia democratic socialist impulses and party experiences. This adds credibility as one yearns for those who can bridge the theoretical and practical, a hopeful realism. He tapped into traceable currents of Pauline theology and parleyed this with identifiable Reformation sources to profess a neo-orthodoxy that remains convincing, by whatever label. For the Christian seeking resources for reform, t…

Book Giveaway Entry #1 – Wyatt Houtz

[Wyatt Houtz is originally from Michigan, so that makes him okay in my book. But now he lives on the Eastside of Seattle with his wife and their three young children. He has been associated with various Reformed churches throughout his lifetime, sometimes serving as a pastor, and is currently a part of Trinitas Presbyterian Church. He calls himself a “voracious reader, especially of Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, B.B. Warfield and Augustine.” – Ed.]


Karl Barth’s angelic voice is yet to be heard by those who may love him most. Meeting Karl Barth has been both overcoming estrangement and meeting a stranger as Paul Tillich might put it. For many, Karl Barth has been sadly and wrongly condemned by the guardians of orthodoxy, especially by great theologians in my Reformed church tradition in a way that is comparable to the initial condemnation of Thomas Aquinas. I first encountered Barth through the criticisms of Cornelius Van Til and Francis Schaeffer, and did…

DET Book Giveaway Contest This Week!

That’s right! It’s time to give that book away!

For those of you who may have forgotten, DET is giving away a copy of the new Westminster Handbook to Karl Barth (WJK, 2013) edited by Richard Burnett.

The call went out, submissions came in (fewer than I would have liked, but enough), and now it is time for you – gentle readers – to choose a winner!

So here’s how this is going to work…

We have three contenders. Starting tomorrow (Tuesday), I will post one entry a day through Thursday. The posts will go up in alphabetical order by author. On Friday I will post a poll and folks will have a chance to vote through the weekend.

The author who gets the most votes gets the book! I’ll post one week from today to officially ratify the results.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have (very lightly) edited the submissions for typos, etc.

I’m excited! But then, free books always get me going. Apparently it works even if I’m not the one getting them… Come back tomorrow for the first entry!

Helmut Gollwitzer and John Webster on Scripture, or, the problem of *ethical* biblical criticism – A guest post by Collin Cornell

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


John Webster’s Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Cambridge, 2003) is a carefully argued fugue on one theme: reintegrating the doctrine of Scripture into a properly theological account of God’s saving work. Webster moves Scripture from its station as theological doorman and gives it place with the other main dogmatic foci. Like them, its adequacy depends on God’s act in Christ and not on standards drawn from elsewhere.

This also means that, rather delegating exegesis to general hermeneutics, Webster fleshes it afresh along more specifically Christian lines. As such, Webster extends the deeply Reformed tradition of suspicion towards the idolatrous self. “Reading Scripture is an episode in the history of sin and its overcoming; and overcoming sin is the sole work of Christ and the Spirit. The once-for-all abolition and the constant checking of our perverse des…

My Most Recent Publication: Review of Jason Goroncy’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

Jason Goroncy broke the news about this a little while back, but I thought that I would acknowledge it here as well. I was very happy to review his book, which you can view for purchase here. To find out what I thought about it, read the review (for those without permissions, Jason posted the .pdf so surf over there). As a bit of a spoiler, my review is positive.

Here is the citation:
W. Travis McMaken, review of Jason Goroncy, Hallowed Be Thy Name: The Sanctification of All in the Soteriology of P. T. Forsyth (Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2013), Reviews in Religion and Theology 21.1 (2014), 45–47.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

I think it’s been a little longer than a fortnight… Anyway, here is the usual link to the last set of links that I posted for you.

Some exciting things have happened since then. For instance, the DET book giveaway contest saw its submission deadline pass! I’m currently working my way through the submissions and getting them ready for posting. My plan is to post them here at DET over the course of a week, and then to open a poll so you, gentle readers, will be able to vote and pick the winner!

So, watch for that soon.

Anyway, here are the DET posts that have gone up since the last link collection:

Sarah Coakley defines Systematic TheologyIs God Dead? - Paul M. van Buren’s “Austin Dogmatics” - This post got an “update” later onKarl Barth, the Jews, and Judaism – the 2014 Princeton Barth ConferenceNew Center for Barth Studies Book Review - Mark R. Lindsay reviews Michael T. Dempsey’s Trinit…

The Church as “There”: Helmut Gollwitzer on Luke 24

This is an excerpt from a sermon that Gollwitzer preached in Berlin in either 1939 or 1940, when he filled in after Niemöller’s internment and before his own conscription. During this time Gollwitzer preached through Luke’s narrative of the passion. In this excerpt you will perhaps hear, as I do, echoes of our own ecclesial situation today.

Helmut Gollwitzer, The Dying and Living Lord, 92–93. Bold is mine.

A church was already there, to which the first Resurrection message could come. It was already there, just as it still is here today—and in many places it is certainly ‘there’ in exactly the same way as it was then. The people come together, they pray together, they keep the Sabbath and celebrate the Passover, and the feasts of the Church. But this is a weak and miserable affair; it changes nothing in the world; it causes no upheaval. What is it that holds this group together? Perhaps a little loyalty to their cause? Many people, indeed, have a fine trait in their character: even wh…

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

Mark R. Lindsay, one of the scheduled speakers at the upcoming Princeton Barth Conference , reviews Michael T. Dempsey, Trinity and Election in Contemporary Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011). Lindsay calls the volume “an attractively presented book which engages with one of the most intriguing and hard-fought battles within Barthian theology of recent times,” so surf on over and see what it’s all about.

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