Showing posts from June, 2014

Reformational Hermeneutics according to Brian Gerrish

I’ve been reading a lot of Brian Gerrish (not pictured) lately. I’ve been familiar with some of his work for a while now, but I’ve lately begun diving into his essays. It has been a lot of fun. I find him very easy to read, and his keen historical judgment unfailingly results in thought-provoking insights. So it should come as no surprise that I wanted to share some of this with you, gentle readers.

What follows is a passage wherein Gerrish lays out five points as a summary of Luther’s “exegetical principles.”

B. A. Gerrish, “The Word of God and the Words of Scripture: Luther and Calvin on Biblical Authority,” The Old Protestantism and the New: Essays on the Reformation Heritage (London: T & T Clark, 2004), 57. Bold is from; italics are from Gerrish’s.
Luther’s interpretation of scripture . . . . The pertinent exegetical principles can be summed up under five major heads. First, the literal meaning is to be preferred to the allegorical when we are seeking to establish points of …

“Shalom, Shalom, Shalom Israel!” Jews and Judaism in Helmut Gollwitzer’s Life and Theology

I mentioned previously that I would be presenting a paper at this year’s Princeton Barth conference. Well, it is time to move that into the past tense. The conference took place about a week ago, and I presented a week ago today. It was a great conference – lots of good papers, lots of good conversation partners, lots of good conversations. It was also my first trip back to Princeton since my dissertation defense, and it was neat (if a little disorienting) to see the new library.

My paper was on Gollwitzer, with whom regular readers of DET have become increasingly familiar. Hopefully I’ll be able to entice a journal into publishing the whole, but I did not want to leave you – gentle reader – entirely bereft. So here is the introduction so that you might discern the broad strokes.
Helmut Gollwitzer was one of Barth’s most significant students for a number of reasons, and not least among these was his deep-seated commitment to establishing a positive relationship between Christianity a…

What Makes a Good Protestant Pastor? – Kittelson on Luther

I mentioned previously that I had read this book and found some of its material interesting enough to share with you, gentle readers.

The below section deals with Luther’s focus on theological education during the 1530s (after the Augsburg Confession). The first paragraph talks a little about how the University of Wittenberg functioned as a center of theological education, and the second paragraph is mostly a quote from Luther explaining what characteristics he thinks makes a good preacher.

One important piece of background information that you need for the first paragraph is that the University of Wittenberg had suspended the practice of disputation in 1523 as an identifying marker of the sort of scholastic theology that Luther rejected.

James M. Kittelson, Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career (Fortress, 2003), 249–50.
[T]eaching the truth was now Luther’s most important objective. In a series of new reforms of the University between 1533 and 1536, even the dis…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

God’s Freedom and Immutability - Paul M. van Buren’s “Austin Dogmatics”

Continuing on with van Buren, I wanted to share a short paragraph that he provides on divine immutability. As he will suggest below, this term has been viewed as problematic in some theology that was recent for PMvB and it continues to be viewed with suspicion in different theological camps even today (sometimes for diametrically opposed reasons). But I like how PMvB combines the idea with his account of God’s freedom, even bringing hints of election in (esp. toward the end).

Paul M. van Buren, The Austin Dogmatics: 1957–1958, (Cascade, 2012), 118.
God is also free in that he is immutable. A serious question has been raised about this term, and we must note that, while this has been the entering wedge for a sub-Christian understanding of God, yet, it need not be. If we think of immutability or changelessness as a form of the freedom in which God loves, then we will see that this can be a fitting word to use with reference to God’s covenant loyalty. When we say that God does not change…