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Showing posts from April, 2014

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

Collin R. Cornell – blogger, fairly regular guest-writer for DET, and doctoral student in Old Testament at Emory – has written a review of David F. Ford’s Barth and God’s Story: Biblical Narrative and the Theological Method of Karl Barth in the Church Dogmatics (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2008 [reprint]). Collin’s review is well worth the read, so surf on over and see what it’s all about.

Also, Princeton Theological Seminary’s library now has a Facebook page. In addition to being one of the premier theological libraries in the world, the PTS library also houses the Center for Barth Studies and its collection. So be sure to head over and “like” their new page so you can stay plugged in with what they’re up to.

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Problems with Barth’s Exegesis on Baptism? - Mondays with McMaken

Today’s post comes from the beginning of my exegetical excursus at the end of chapter 2, “Election, Soteriology, and Barth’s ‘No’ to Sacramental Infant Baptism.” The burden of this excursus is to examine a few New Testament passages that are usually taken to support a sacramental view of baptism, leading to the suggestion that this is not necessarily the case. But the excursus begins with some comments on the reception of Barth’s own exegetical work in support of his argument in Church Dogmatics 4.4.

W. Travis McMaken, The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Karl Barth, Emerging Scholars (Fortress, 2013), 88–89.

I noted in the first chapter that many interpreters of Barth, even those generally predisposed to supporting his theology as a whole, take issue with Barth’s doctrine of baptism over his rejection of sacramental and infant baptism. Not a few register questions concerning his supporting exegesis in doing so. Many of these theologians appea…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

2014 Annual Kuyper Prize Lecture: Nicholas Wolterstorff on Art, Justice, and Liturgy

Nicholas Wolterstorff, the Noah Porter Emeritus Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale University, is this year’s recipient of Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life. As part of the prize, the recipient delivers the Kuyper Prize Lecture in the seminary’s Miller Chapel, the lecture serving as the inaugural event in a three-day conference to honor the memory of Abraham Kuyper. The conference theme this year was “Philosophy, Worship and Art.” I had the pleasure of attending Wolterstorff’s lecture Thursday evening and here offer you a brief summary of its content.

Introduction

Wolterstorff’s lecture was a philosophical investigation of the affinity between art, justice, and liturgy. He opened his lecture with a brief discussion of Kuyper’s thought on these three subjects. He then drew special attention to Kuyper’s famous Stone Lectures on Calvinism, which treated “Calvinism and Art” in the fifth lecture of that series, …

My Most Recent Publication – Review of Matthew Levering’s “Theology of Augustine”

Just quick note here in case anyone is interested in tracking what my keyboard has been up to elsewhere, and in addition to the two lovely volumes that you can see in the left sidebar. Here’s the info on one of my recent book reviews. Well, not that recent. But I haven’t had a chance to put together a post on it until now.

Anyway, here is the citation:
W. Travis McMaken, review of Matthew Levering, The Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works (Baker Academic, 2013), Theology Today 70.3 (2013), 363–64.You can access the review here if you have the right permissions.

For those who lack the right permissions, here is the review’s opening paragraph:
Matthew Levering, professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton and author of numerous theological books, ambitiously attempts in this compact volume to provide the reader with a novel entry point into the thought of one of the most significant figures in the history of Christianity—Augustine of …

No, Bonhoeffer Was Not a Martyr

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I'm a member of the Episcopal Church and our church calendar commends remembrances for "Holy Men and Holy Women" throughout the church year. I can't speak to how other denominations do this, but our list those commemorated, which is modified from time to time through our General Convention, is broader than the Roman Catholic definition of sainthood.

On April 9 we commemorate the life, ministry, writings and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "theologian and martyr", who was executed on this day in 1945 at Flossenburg prison. (See this blurb from the Episcopal Church website.) Like many of you, I find Bonhoeffer's life and writings deeply inspiring and provocative. But I think it's a label him a "martyr", and I wish we would drop that designation from our commemorations.

Of course, everything hinges upon how one defines a term. The Greek word martus literally means "witness," but in the early church the term came to be applied to those…

Clergy and the Church’s Theological Responsibility - Paul M. van Buren’s “Austin Dogmatics”

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Continuing on with what van Buren has to tell us about the theological task, today I would like to present you – gentle reader – with three selections from PMvB’s text. These selections get at the role of theology (dogmatics) in the church, as well as tackling some rubber-meets-the-road sort of issues. In particular, how in practice are we supposed to sort out that standard “Barthian” claim that all Christians are theologians? That is precisely where these selections begin.

Paul M. van Buren, The Austin Dogmatics: 1957–1958, (Cascade, 2012), 10 (1st sel.), 17 (2nd sel.), and . Bold is mine.
In the church of God, there are no non-theologians. There are good theologians and poor theologians, but all, in one way or another, are engaged in the biblical, practical, and dogmatic task of the church—some for better and some for worse. But where ever there is language about God in the church—and we would be happier if sometimes there were less than there is!—where ever such language is, there t…

In Which I Come Out as an Ethical Foundationalist (Sort of)

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When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness (Romans 1:14-15a, NRSV).Imagine this scene, reminiscent of the Mad Max movies: It's a post-apocalyptic time in North America, a few years after some sort of military or ecological catastrophe. A caravan with hundreds of rag-tag vehicles -- beat-up school buses, box trucks with various gang symbols, taxicabs and souped-up motorbikes -- are inching along in convoy through a forlorn southwestern desert on an old U.S. highway. They are headed on a perilous 1000-mile trek toward Denver, which is reported to be the last real city in the former United States that's still standing -- where there is reported to be food and water, shelter and possibly even jobs. It has been years, and most of the travelers scarcely believe the stories …

Karl Barth in Conversation – Teasers from David W. Congdon

Ever since this publication project got underway, I have described it as the “revised and expanded” proceedings from the 2010 KBBC. So I figured that I would put together a post or two that highlights the “expanded” part of that description. If what you see here sounds interesting to you and you would like to read more, buy the book

Here is a glimpse at what my good friend, colleague, and theologically-conjoined twin – David W. Congdon – got up to in his “Afterword: The Future of Conversing with Barth.”

W. Travis McMaken and David W. Congdon (eds.), Karl Barth in Conversation (Pickwick, 2014), 255–56.

The conversation with Barth is still in its infancy. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that we are closing in on a century since the publication of Der Römerbrief, we are only just now seeing the creative possibilities in Barth scholarship. There are various reasons for this. Besides the sheer volume of his writings, there is the challenge posed by the diverse and complicated histo…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

I’m happy to say that this installment of links is right on schedule! Goo reads just keep flowing in. Here’s a selection to keep you busy this weekend. And if this isn’t enough, go back and work through the last link post.

Don’t forget that there are now two DET books available for purchase in the left sidebar. One is my monograph on Karl Barth and infant baptism, and the other is the revised and expanded proceedings from the 2010 Karl Barth Blog Conference (under the title, Karl Barth in Conversation). They’re both good reads, if I do say so myself . . . If you look carefully through all the links below you’ll find that there are other people who agree with me!

As usual, I’ll start you out with recent postings here at DET so you can catch up on anything you missed. New contributor Scott Jackson has been working at a great clip lately, and he has a number of posts in this list.

Another r…

A story about Karl Barth and the Confessing Church, or . . .

. . . When Karl Barth pulled an “Aragorn.”

*ahem

This is a story told by Gertrud Staewen, as recounted in Victoria Barnett, For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest against Hitler (Oxford, 1992), 22. The text below begins as a quote from Barnett, and then the extra indented part indicates that Barnett is quoting an interview with Staewen. This encounter occurred in the 1920s:
One New Year’s Eve, Staewen attended a gathering of religious socialists. By temperament a devil’s advocate, she had trouble remaining quiet at such meetings. One part of her longed for the intellectual community they offered; another part of her poked fun at the pretensions so often displayed. So it was on this evening. People stood up and expounded their theories or read poems or selections of novels they had written, as Staewen recalled ironically,
to promote socialism and improve human beings. A great deal of totally idealistic rubbish that wasn’t true was read aloud to make us all more Christian and mor…