Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What I Learned at Barth Camp 2015

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.
New Jersey is bigger than it looks on a map.

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 City and from New York to Princeton. In this process I learned that New Jersey is much, much larger when one is riding a bus than it seems on a map. I learned that the New Jersey Transit system website is written in some language, apparently, that non-locals are unable to decipher.

I learned, moreover, that folks in New Jersey like to eat their hoagies (that's mid Atlantic for "grinders," if you speak New Englandese, or subs if you're from anywhere else) with mozzarella sticks and french fries inside the sandwich! DET contributor Henry Coates, my intrepid pedagogue in all things New-Jerseyan, led another companion and me to Hoagie Haven -- and possibly also to a slightly shortened life-span.

I learned from Beverly Gaventa (Baylor; formerly PTS) and Richard Bauckham (Cambridge) that there are, indeed, biblical scholars who aren't afraid to talk shop at a theology conference. From both of them I got the message that reading Barth better will entail reading the Bible better -- and probably a whole lot more than many of us would care to admit. I learned from Bauckham, further, that Barth pretty had much of his Christological game on already by the time he wrote his commentary on the Prologue to John's Gospel, based on lectures he gave in 1925-26. I also learned from Gaventa that we should take the Evangelist Luke as a serious theologian and that, in the book of Acts, Jesus might just be more present than many scholars have tended to assume since the time of Hans Conzelmann. In what seemed to be a major concession to the Lutherans she proposed the stunning thesis that Jesus can be both in heaven and on earth at the same time. I also learned that she, as we say in Massachusetts, is wicked funny.

From Karlfried Froehlich (PTS) I learned that the Issenheim altarpiece, a print of which hung above Barth's work desk, is way more fascinating and theologically complex than I possibly could have realized. As Froehlich peeled back the foldable leaves of this masterpiece panel by panel (metaphorically speaking; it was actually a slideshow) and attempted a careful exegesis of its rich images and symbols, he illustrated a profound truth: In art, as in theology, we navigate sea after sea of interpretation; the process of questioning the meaning of what we see -- or think we see -- never ends. (That might not have been exactly the point at which he was driving, but it was part of my takeaway from the presentation.)

I learned from Willie Jennings (Duke) that, as a would-be disciple of Jesus I just am that rich young man who backed away from the Savior's radical agenda. Even if I'm not in the one percent, I'm still not off the hook because, even in my unconscious aspirations, I've internalized the idolatrous ideal figure of the successful bourgeois white man that our society worships.

Sociologist Max Weber taught us that
Presbyterians work so hard not to save
themselves but, ironically, because they cannot
From Daniel Migliore (PTS) I learned how the gracious host welcomes traveling theologians to his house and podium. (Unfortunately, I had to skip out of town before I could hear his own lecture.)

I learned from Eric Gregory (Princeton University) that, while Augustine and Barth might not exactly be kissing cousins, they do at least belong at the same family reunion of historic Christian ethicists. He confirmed my suspicion that Christian thought still has a tough row to hoe in the realm of contemporary academic ethics -- in other words, don't expect Peter Singer to give a ringing endorsement of Barth's interpretation of the Good Samaritan parable anytime soon. Gregory also told me that he likes to co-teach courses with Jeffrey Stout. Wouldn't you like to sit in on some of those class sessions?

I learned from Bruce McCormack (PTS) that being a theologian may entail taking personal risks, showing courage and opening up something of one's own vulnerabilities to public scrutiny. Where else in the humanities are you going to learn a lesson like that? In papers that covered similar terrain, McCormack and Paul Dafydd Jones (University of Virginia) explored the depths of Barth's Christology and soteriology and drew out stunning conclusions for our understandings of the problem of evil, human destiny and the nature of God -- the God who, according to Barthian logic, personally endures and suffers the very contradiction posited by God's election of finite and sin-prone human creatures.

From the Rev. Fleming Rutledge I learned to further disabuse myself of the stereotype that Episcopal priests don't know how to preach and don't value the homiletical arts. As she pointed reminded us, white ministers, in particular, cannot flinch in the wake of events like the shooting in Charleston from naming racism as a demonic evil and shining the light of the Gospel into that darkness. To my delight I learned she's also a fan of the work of William Stringfellow.

I learned that Presbyterians work hard, a lesson we might have gotten from Max Weber a century ago. This fact was confirmed for me by observing the diligent efforts of the seminary faculty and staff and the able efforts of Kait Dugan and the rest of the Barth Center staff to keep the conference on track.

I learned that Jürgen Moltmann (Tübingen) is not only a world-class theologian and passionate advocate of social justice cause, but he is also a wonderful human being with a deep pastoral concern for individual human beings. Moltmann's comments about his personal relationship with and prayers and advocacy for Georgia death-row inmate and theologian Kelly Gissendaner brought tears to my eyes and the entire room to its feet. (The Moltmanniac has blogged the video and transcript of these remarks here.)

Last of all, from bivoc pastors, seminary profs, students, inquisitive laypeople and fellow theo-bloggers what it means to pursue the theological life simply because one loves it. Because one just has to do so. One friend flew from Michigan; another from Sioux Falls; another, a highly motivated undergrad, drove from Chicago. All were welcome, and as far as I can tell, a good time was had by all.

Grunewald's Isenheim altarpiece (ca 1516), an image of which hung
above Barth's desk, is a
Church Dogmatics unto itself.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Karl Barth Conference 2015: A Sneak Peak

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" and sociological studies are confirming the rapid secularization of North American society. What Professor Moltmann told us back then was that the churches needed to quit obsessing about institutional declension and seek first the Kingdom of God.


* * *

As I said, this conference should offer feast of insights for theologians and Barth scholars. Take a gander at the roster of plenary speakers:
  • Jürgen Moltmann—“Predestination: Karl Barth’s Doctrine of the Election of Grace”
  • Eric Gregory—“‘The Gospel within the commandment’: Karl Barth on the Parable of the Good Samaritan”
  • Willie Jennings—“A Rich Disciple? Karl Barth on the Rich Young Ruler”
  • Paul Dafydd Jones—“The Riddle of Gethsemane”
  • Karlfried Froehlich—“Karl Barth and the Isenheim Altarpiece”
  • Bruce L. McCormack—“The Passion of God Himself: the Cry of Dereliction in Barth’s Theology”
  • Beverly Gaventa—“Reading Karl Barth’s Reading of the Road to Emmaus”
  • Richard Bauckham—“Karl Barth’s Interpretation of the Prologue to John's Gospel"
  • Daniel L. Migliore —“Barth, Balthasar, and the Parable of the Lost Son”

I also am exited for the chance to hear Fleming Rutledge preach at chapel service. Sadly, though, I have to skip out of town before Professor Migliore's talk.

* * *

In addition to the plenary lectures, there will be two sessions, on Monday and Tuesday afternoon, with seven concurrent speakers each -- a notion which sort of makes my head swim. Now by popular demand (well, actually, only one person demanded it, but it happens to be a significant person in this particular case), here is the abstract for my paper.

The Good Samaritan as Anonymous Christian:
Barth’s Christological Exposition of Luke 10:25-37

How might Christian ethics today remain Christ-centered while honoring the full humanity of the social outcast or the non-Christian other? This constructive essay explores this question through a close reading of Karl Barth’s exposition of the “Good Samaritan” parable, the capstone of his discussion of Christian life as the “Praise of God” (Church Dogmatics I/2, par. 18.3). Though Barth wrote no complete ethics of revelation that matches the lengthier discussions in vols. 2 through 4, Geoffrey Bromiley notes that par. 18 (“The Life of the Children of God”) foreshadows key themes in those treatises. After discussing the first commandment as the foundation of the Christian life (18.2), Barth explores how believers might fulfill the second commandment to love the neighbor without lapsing into works righteousness or getting enmeshed in the notion of an abstract love imperative. In the Samaritan we encounter the neighbor as an event of grace, who embodies the fallen humanity assumed by the Son of God in the incarnation. This parable, which upends the lawyer’s self-justifying question, presents the paradox of discipleship: God commands what we as sinners are unable to accomplish, and thus personally fulfills the commandment in Jesus Christ. Moreover, as the religious other (not as the ecclesial insiders, the priest and Levite), the figure of the Samaritan suggests a way that those outside the visible churches may become “parables” (to anticipate Barth’s later language) of Christ’s humanity, thus drawing believers more deeply into an authentic life of praise to God. The paper suggests some ways this paradigm might apply to contemporary praxis.

I conclude with a quote from Barth that elaborates the main claim in my paper:

As the Bible sees it, service of the compassionate neighbor is certainly not restricted to the life of the Church in itself and as such. It is not restricted to the members of the Church who are already called and recognizable as such. It is not restricted to their specific action in this capacity. Humanity as a whole can take part in this service. The Samaritan in the parable shows us incontestably that even those who do not know that they are doing so, or what they are doing, can assume and exercise the function of a compassionate neighbor (Church Dogmatics I/2, p. 422).


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

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 and Alasdair MacIntyre into conversation. Bender highlights shared ground between these two thinkers, which is important, but I will emphasize the dissimilarity (you are reading a blog, after all – go get Bender’s book if you want the whole story). As always, bold is mine.

Barth and MacIntyre have serious differences in material commitments and what they propose to set over against the modern project, not least the difference between MacIntyre’s Aristotelian and Thomist retrieval and synthesis and Barth’s own staunch Reformed and Protestant vision. Barth would have little sympathy for placing Aristotle once more at the center of the theological project, and perhaps even less for thinking of the task of theology solely in terms of the retrieval and extension of a tradition, which, to Barth, could once again be seen as the domestication and confusion of divine revelation with the historical medium of its appearance and transmission. . . . Barth would also be suspect of a tradition that placed at its heart the inculcation of virtues. . . . In short, . . . Barth’s concerns with MacIntyre’s project would perhaps not differ very much from those he expressed regarding Roman Catholicism.

. . .

Barth differs from MacIntyre in that he ultimately does not locate the compelling power of a tradition within the tradition itself, or even on the winsomeness and compelling nature of the form of its social embodiment. Here he differs not only from MacIntyre, who focuses especially on the first, but also from Hauerwas, whose emphasis is on the second. In other words, Barth refuses to locate the ultimate power of the Christian tradition within the tradition itself, or to locate the compelling power of the gospel solely or primarily in the truthfulness of its communal life as church. For Barth, the ultimate power of the Reformation argument he is making in his lectures rests in the end not in the intrinsic winsomeness of its presentation and in its ability to outnarratve its rivals, nor even in its social embodiment in a community of witness. (p. 347–48)


Thursday, June 11, 2015

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. Published by IVP Academic. Amazon Link

This is not just another book about Psalm 23, but an interesting exegetical exploration of the Good Shepherd theme from the Psalm through the Prophets to the Gospels and beyond. This rich, well researched study considers historical, rhetorical, and theological issues. Bailey is an expert in Middle Eastern culture. This volume is fascinating reading, and it will provide excellent support for a sermon series on the Good Shepherd.

Reading the Parables, by Richard Lischer, Interpretation Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church series. Published by Westminster John Knox Press. Amazon Link

Richard Lischer's volume on the parables of Jesus is destined to be a classic text, sought out by scholars, pastors, and interested laypeople alike.  Lischer offers a grand over view of the various theories propagated by scholars on what exactly is a parable and how to read them, offers his own synthesized interpretation of individual parables, and emphasizes the need to experience the parables from the point of view of the poor. The final chapter of the book is a virtuoso tour through the history of parabolic interpretation as Lischer leads his reader on a conversation with the Saints of the church, from Augustine to Julian of Norwich, John Calvin to Martin Luther King, and the men and women of Solentiname, bringing their various readings of the parables into conversation with each other. Parish Clergy need to read this book to refresh them theologically as well as put new life into their sermons or Bible studies. Seasoned pastors will find this book refreshing. Students will find this book helpful as they learn how to read and understand the parables better through the guidance of a seasoned professor of preaching, theologian, and pastor. Lischer skillfully shows how the parables speak to real lives of people and are not to be seen as something foreign to our day and age. The parables are for the community of believers of all times and places.

Invasion of the Dead: Preaching Resurrection, by Brian K. Blount. Published by Westminster John Knox Press. Amazon Link

This little book is giant in nature. In short yet perceptive order, Blount is able to challenge  basic assumptions of the nature of the Cross and the mystery of the resurrection. Parish clergy will sharpen their focus and understanding of the Cross / death / resurrection of Jesus in a confused and cluttered culture. Here, in the mystery of the resurrection and not in the suffering of the cross alone, will one hopefully find the meaning of life and purpose. Practically, Blount challenges his reader to remember that Easter is not the only time to preach on resurrection. This may seem like obvious advice, but for the working pastor it can be difficult to find ways to connect visions of resurrection with the practical realities of ministry. Blount, thankfully, offers models that pastors can adopt to their own preaching ministry.

Convictions: How I learned what Matters Most, by Marcus J. Borg. Published by HarperOne. Amazon Link

A manifesto for progressive Christians, whom Borg challenges to "follow Jesus in life today." We felt it a fitting touch stone to the life and academic career of Marcus Borg, who died early in 2015. The Christian life is becoming passionate about God and participating in God's passion for a different kind of world, here and now. This is vintage Borg, and a worthy addition to any progressive pastor's study.

Reference Book of the Year

Deuteronomy, by Deanna Thompson, from the series "Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible." Published by Westminster John Knox Press. Amazon Link

Deanna Thompson has published what I think personally is the ideal commentary, the platonic model of what a commentary should and can be. Extremely well written, challenging, not afraid to ask questions of the text and of its reader, enlightening, and perhaps most helpfully to busy pastors, theological, not exegetical, in nature. And here is a huge plus--it is readable!. This book invites us to think through Deuteronomy as Christians, and that's important. Dr. Thompson has provided us with a book that makes preaching through Deuteronomy not only an intriguing possibility, but something I personally want to do. This is a good book. You should buy it and tell your pastoral colleagues to buy it as well.

Book of the Year

The Church According to Paul: Rediscovering the Community Conformed to Christ, by James Thompson. Published by Baker Academic. Amazon Link

This is the best book on the church I've ever read. James gets rid of the buzzwords, of the jargon that contaminates present popular commentary on the church, commentary that we perhaps being constantly mocked on our facebook pages, and goes back to the source, the writer who talks more about the church than any other author in the New Testament. He allows us to think of the church with and through Paul. Academic, yes, but readable. It is written in a way that pastors can and should engage for the purposes of pastoral ministry. We think in order to do, and in how we think and in what we do, we are able to be. Thompson draws attention to the fact that Christians are called to be the Church. This is an important book, and should pastors engage with it and Paul's vision of the community called to be conformed to Christ, our selection committee feels strongly it will be of great benefit to our churches, and more importantly, the people we are called to serve.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

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

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 academic job market, the basic dynamics stay the same. I’ll leave it to you, gentle readers, to tease out that sentiment. I leave you, then, with Calvin’s letter. It is written to Francis Boisnormand, then serving as one of the chaplains to the King of Navarre.

John Calvin, John Calvin: Tracts and Letters, Volume 7: Letters, Part 4, 1559–1564 (Banner of Truth, 2009); 35–36.

I do not wonder, most excellent brother, that the burden which you sustain appears to you heavy and irksome, and that labours full of innumerable vexations and dangers, should so diversely distract your mind as to make you sign for their termination and a deliverance from them. I rather wonder how you have been able hitherto to cope with such severe trials, under which you must have sunk a hundred times unless, miraculously supported from on high, you had not risen superior to what mere human strength can perform. But amid these commencements which promise something beyond vulgar expectation, we dare not tear you away from your post. When seven or eight months ago our senate had decided to appoint professors of three languages, the brethren were desirous to call you hither, provided a suitable successor could be readily found for you. While these things were under discussion among us, a report brought us respecting Emmanuel Tremelli broke off our purpose. For he himself indeed had written twice or thrice that nothing would be more consonant to his wishes than if he obtained permission to come and settle here. The prince of Deux Ponts gave us a courteous reply, that he could not possible part with Tremelli except to the great detriment of his academy. Meanwhile, as we were still in suspense, took place the calamity of the church of Lausanne, the tidings of which it is probably have penetrated as far as you. Thus, then, on the present occasion was elected Anthony Chevallier, Tremelli’s son-in-law; at least, Chevallier’s wife is a step-daughter of Tremelli. This I wished briefly to inform you of, that you might not suppose that you had been slighted by us, who, as you see, adopted a decision from a sudden and unexpected circumstance, for both religion and a sense of decorum urged us to provide for a pious brother who had been so cruelly ejected.* And in that appointment both the authority of our academy and the expressed wishes of Chevallier were satisfied. But for this circumstance the situation had been destined for you. Now that you have been deprived of this opportunity, weigh well whether it would be expedient that you should abandon the post in which God so advantageously employs your labours, unless the brethren who consider you as in some sort bound up with them should council you so to do. Neither is it just moreover, nor do we desire that matters should be exposed to peril to comply with our wishes. Thus it will be better for you on that matter to deliberate with the brethren, and if you listen to me you will do well if above all you comply with the advice of our friend Henry, since he has always faithfully and actively assisted you, shared with you all his vows and connected himself so closely with you, that it were wrong to have any separate counsels from him. Excuse the brevity of this letter, since the quartan ague still has its hold on me, debilitating me excessively, and other symptoms give me no little uneasiness. May the Lord always stand by you, govern and sustain you, and shield you and your wife with his safe protection. Many salutations I pray you to the brethren.

*Ed. note: a number of ministers and faculty from the academy in Lausanne, including Viret, Beza, and this Chevallier, were fire and exiled by Berne because of their support for Calvin’s doctrine.


Thursday, June 04, 2015

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 continue to misunderstand?”
There are the wildest ideas about my supposed Hegelianism! I am not a Hegelian. I just happen to think that [Georg] Hegel was one of the outstanding minds in the history of modern thought, one whose work sets a high standard for us to follow. That is why I believe that theology after Hegel should strive to rise to his level of sophistication and rigor. But very few of my ideas did I actually get from Hegel—very few. I feel much more closely related and indebted to thinkers other than Hegel. His ideas for example, are not as good as those of Wilhelm Dilthey, to whose assumptions in the area of hermeneutics I am indebted. . . . Put differently, I do not follow the lead of any one person. I try to concern myself with the history of a problem and then make my own judgment in a systematic way. (pp. 47-8)


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

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 a little further. To do so, I would direct your attention to chapter four: “The End of the Reformation?” Bender’s jumping-off point is the 2005 book by Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom entitled Is the Reformation Over?. Long-time readers may recall that I offered some thoughts on this volume once upon a time, and it is interesting to see how some of my thoughts converge with Bender’s own. Bender raises three questions about Noll and Nystrom’s analysis: (1) what sort of agreement actually obtains now between Protestants and Roman Catholics – is it theological or pragmatic?; (2) is this agreement only possible because Protestants have stopped caring about doctrine?; and (3), if there is theological agreement, is this agreement substantive or merely linguistic?

Bender concludes by discussing what he sees as the important remaining distinction between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and he does so by appealing to Barth:
So what is it that makes Barth a Protestant? The heart of the matter lies in the fact that Barth refuses to acknowledge that Christ is absent from the world and that the church has taken his place . . . . For Barth, Christ must remain the center of the church’s proclamation; it cannot proclaim itself. It is precisely this proclamation of itself which Barth sees in Catholicism. . . . [T]he relationship of Christ to the church, the Head to the body, is a major, if not the major, divide between evangelicals and Roman Catholics. (p. 136–37)
Just for fun, see my reflection #6. ;-)

Stay tuned for more on Bender.

* My thanks to IVP Academic for providing me with a review copy which, in keeping with academic practice, does not predispose me to providing a positive review.