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Showing posts from June, 2015

What I Learned at Barth Camp 2015

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Last week I attended the annual Karl Barth Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary -- which some of us on social media affectionately call "Barth Camp." (Actually, I should clarify I attended Barth Camp part one, as this conference was followed immediately by a conference geared for pastors.) The theme of the conference was Barth's interpretation of Gospel texts and the rota of speakers included experts in systematic theology, ethics and biblical studies. It was was a wonderful event with superb and serious papers and much food for rumination in the weeks and months to come.

Happily, if you weren't able to go, the plenary papers can now be viewed online through the seminary's online streaming channel. I won't try to summarize these talks here, though I have pages of hurriedly scribbled notes. What I offer you instead, gentle readers, is just a few personal impressions from the experience:

On this trip I rode buses from Western Massachusetts to New York …

Karl Barth Conference 2015: A Sneak Peak

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The annual Karl Barth Conference in Princeton begins this Sunday, and I'm excited to say I will be attending for the first time and also presenting a paper at one of the concurrent sessions. (It's not too late for you to go too. Registration is still open.) The conference theme is "Karl Barth and the Gospels: Interpreting Gospel Texts."

The Barth Center and other organizers clearly have gone all out this year. The participation of Jürgen Moltmann, in particular, marks this event as a special one.

About 20 years ago, early in my theological studies, I heard Professor Moltmann speak at Emory University. What he said then was prescient for what the churches and organized religious communities more broadly face today. In the mid-1990s, the mainline churches were first beginning to grapple with the decline of denominationalism in the United States. The contours of this downward spiral are even sharper today, as the media analyze the precipitous growth of the "Nones&qu…

Barth and MacIntyre on Tradition – More from Kimlyn Bender

Kimlyn J. Bender, Confessing Christ for Church and World: Studies in Modern Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014).*

Barth’s Gifford Lectures from 1937 and 1938, published as The Knowledge of God and the Service of God According to the Teaching of the Reformation, receive – in my humble opinion! – far too little attention these days. So I was very pleased to see that Bender’s eleventh chapter takes them as its theme. It is a good and useful chapter, which I appreciated especially for the way it contextualizes the Gifford Lectures historically, as well as Barth’s contribution to them. This leads Bender into a number of interesting sub-conversations about natural theology in general, what it means for theology to be not only “a science” but “a peculiar science” (emphasis mine, p. 318), and the place of theology in the modern university.

The piece of the chapter that I want to highlight for you below has to do with the place of tradition in theology. Bender here brings Barth a…

Academy of Parish Clergy Books of the Year for 2014 (Part 2)

A week or so ago we posted part one of the Academy of Parish Clergy's Books of 2014, and seeing as we are well on our way into June it is best that we post part two!

Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison. Published by Intervaristy Press. Amazon Link

Many church leaders define the successful church as one that has grown rapidly to high levels of attendance and membership. Smith and Pattison ask us to question our adoption of this secular standard. They consider whether speedy growth is healthy for individual Christians, our relationships, and our communities. Pastors who have not experienced fast congregational growth will be encouraged by this call to a more organic focus on long-term commitment, compassion, community, and Sabbath rest, in through which we reconnect with the journey of Jesus and the early Christians.

The Good Shepherd: a Thousand-Year Journey from Psalm 23 to the New Testament, by Kenneth E. Bailey…

Once upon a time John Calvin wrote an academic rejection letter…

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So there I was, gentle reader. In the midst of finals week grading, I decided to snatch a few moments to bolster my sanity by reading from Calvin’s correspondence. It has been my wont for the past few years to read a volume of Calvin’s correspondence over the summer. This year I reach the fourth and final volume in the Tracts and Letters collection, alas. In any case, I’m happy to be in a stable academic position. Many of my fellow holders of PhDs in theology are not so fortunate. But applying for positions is still very much a pressing aspect of life in my social circles. And part of the application process these days is the rejection letter: sorry, good try, maybe next time (and those are the good ones!). So imagine my delightful surprise to find a personal rejection letter written by Calvin back in 1559!

Reading this letter, I was struck by two thoughts: first, how nice it would be to receive such personal and solicitous rejection; second, no matter how many things change with the…

Wild Ideas about Pannenberg's 'Supposed' Hegelianism

This could be unique to me, but at some point between informal conversations, research, and classes I've gotten the impression that when it comes to Pannenberg, there is a ton of interest in how his work relates to Hegel. For example, it seems that people want an answer to the question “to what degree is Pannenberg’s system ‘Hegelian’?” In one of my courses a couple years ago my professor spent some time on Pannenberg, discussing sections of his Systematic Theology and the reasons for / the rationale behind Theology and the Philosophy of Science. He also took special care to note that while Pannenberg resisted being seen as a disciple of Hegel, the footnotes may have told a different story.

In the light of this interest, below is a lengthy quote from an interview with Pannenberg that I have not seen referenced elsewhere. Maybe later I can make an argument, but for now, here is part of his answer to the question put to Pannenberg: “What aspects of your thought do theologians cont…

What Am I Reading? Kimlyn Bender on “Confessing Christ for Church and World”

Some of you, gentle readers, may recall that I mentioned Bender briefly here at DET not too long ago. Back in February I noted that the Center for Barth Studies website had published a review of Bender’s book on Karl Barth’s Christological Ecclesiology. Well, it turns out that I’ve been on something of a Bender-binge.

Kimlyn J. Bender, Confessing Christ for Church and World: Studies in Modern Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014).*

Bender is associate professor of theology at Truett Seminary, which is part of Baylor University. This volume is a collection of essays, some new and some old, dealing with issues in – you guessed it! – modern theology. But the subtitle could easily have read “Studies in Barth’s Theology.” Even if Barth’s name isn’t in the title of a chapter, he is never far away. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’ll be posting about this volume another time or two in the coming weeks, but I want to take a moment and introduce you to the book’s content…