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Showing posts from January, 2016

Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations ~ The Praxis Question

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The authors of this volume engage contemporary postcolonial theory primarily to articulate a critique of Western Christianity, as it has been practiced for centuries, and to suggest lines for reconstructing evangelical identity and constructive theology in a more inclusive and liberating key. Still, postcolonial theory is not taken for granted without critical pushback. In one particularly intriguing piece, "The Problem and Promise of Praxis in Postcolonial Criticism" (which earns high marks not only for its content but also for the alliteration in the title), Gilberto Lozano and Federico A. Roth interrogate academic postcolonial thought, especially in its impact upon biblical criticism: Is this mode of theoretical inquiry practical for human flourishing? Does it liberate? The authors sharpen such questions by bringing postcolonial theory into dialogue with Paulo Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology an…

Amos, Micah, and Isaiah – A word much needed again today

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My undergraduate degree is in both Bible and Theology, which suits me just fine as a Reformed theologian. Consequently, I like to dip my toes into biblical studies from time to time and—again, as a Reformed theologian—I find myself fascinated by the Tanakh / Hebrew Scriptures / Old(er) Testament. (Regular DET readers will recognize some of these impulses coming to expression in my work with Calvin’s commentary on Malachi.) Lately I’ve been reading about the history of Israelite religion, and I have been not only learning a lot but also finding a great deal of theological stimulation.

The passage that I want to share with you below, gentle reader, has to do with the criticisms leveled by the prophets Amos, Micah, and Isaiah against the cultic institutions of Yahweh worship. This passage jumped out at me because it resonates so clearly with the shape of “Christianity” in contemporary North American society. And it is a word that cuts through North American “Christianity” in all its face…

"The definitive work on Barth's doctrine of baptism" - David Congdon reviews my "The Sign of the Gospel"

It has been far too long, gentle readers, since I proclaimed to you the majestic scholarly achievement that is my monograph on Barth's doctrine of baptism. But since I tire of talking about myself very quickly, I thought that I would let my good friend and theological partner in crime carry the torch for a bit. David posted the below on Amazon as a review of my book back in early October of 2014, and I thought that I would share it with those of you who may not have stumbled upon it yet. Everything below the link (points down) is from David (you can compare it to the original if you like).

W. Travis McMaken, The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Karl Barth (Fortress, 2013).
There is no shortage of new books on Barth, but this is one of the very best. Travis McMaken's monograph is very well-researched, comprehensive in its grasp of Barth's corpus, illuminating in its explication of Barth's theology, and highly practical in its im…

What Am I Reading? “Sanctified By Grace”

Kent Eilers and Kyle C. Strobel (eds.), Sanctified By Grace: A Theology of the Christian Life (London: Bloomsbury, 2014).
I am pleased to take part in a “blog tour” in support of this volume. Those interested in reading reviews from other bloggers are encouraged to check the index that will be provided at the T & T Clark blog.

It seems as though a not insignificant portion of the Protestant theological community in English speaking countries has become increasingly concerned with recent decades in “sanctification” broadly conceived. Consider, for instance, the immense popularity of Stanley Hauerwas’s ethical work, or – to speak of trends in my own primary subfield – all the interest in Barth’s ethics / moral ontology. In addition to works on Barth’s ethics, one regularly sees monographs on related topics, such as “virtue” in Barth or “prayer” in Barth. There is also the ecclesiological and “theo-political” aspect of all this, to which my own work contributes – both what I have don…

DET’s Top 10 Posts of 2015

That’s right, gentle reader, it’s that time again—time to count down the top 10 posts of 2015! I know you’re as excited as that exclamation point proves I am. Our senior contributing author, Scott Jackson, did the honors with last year’s top 10 post. Doing these kinds of posts is fun for me not only to see what posts resonated most with folks, but to give folks a chance to catch things that they may have missed along the way.

Before we begin, I need to point out that these are the top 10 posts to the best of my knowledge. It’s hard to discern how many of all the hits that come to the main page should be credited to a particular post then currently on the main page, so I only count hits directly to post pages.

So, let’s get to it!

Post #10What Am I Reading? Kevin Diller on “Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma”

I’m a little surprised by this one since it is only a few months old. That means it didn’t have as much time to “soak,” so to speak. But it seems to have resonated with folks.

P…

What Am I Reading? John Drury on “The Resurrected God”

John Drury is a friend of mine from Princeton Seminary who now teaches in the Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. You can surf over to check out his biography, CV, and even a clip of him lecturing. If my memory serves me, his was the last dissertation defense that I attended while at Princeton (besides my own, that is). John is also a friend of the blog. He participated in the 2009 KBBC, and he has an essay on Barth and Wesley in Karl Barth in Conversation

In any case, his dissertation has now transformed itself into a book and been published in Fortress Press’s Emerging Scholars series. Here is the full citation:

John L. Drury, The Resurrected God: Karl Barth’s Trinitarian Theology of Easter (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2014).

I’ve been slowly working my way through Drury’s book in my spare time for the past few months, and when I finished it recently I wanted to make sure that I took a moment to share some of it with you all, gentle readers. This book is a careful cl…

What Am I Not Reading? Or...My Annual Post-Yuletide Litany of Self Pity

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Aside from the cat dying, we had a very fulsome and joyful Advent and Christmastide.
And in even in that major exception, he was old and suffering and it was something of a relief when he finally passed. It was, as pietists of all stripes like to say, "his time."

Still, the season brought another frustration: What with celebrating virtually all the major and minor festivals embedded in the season, from St. Nicholas Day to the Epiphany; and the horse-and-wagon ride; and all the parties; and the obligatory visits to four or five Santa Clauses (I'm not sure the kid even cares that much about Santa, to be honest; perhaps he's just going along with it to give a witness to our heathen culture); the pageant on Christmas Eve followed by Thai food (What? Doesn't everybody eat Thai food on Christmas Eve?); the Christmas Revels at Harvard University; the Christmas trains at the park; the tour through one of the largest light shows in North America; the two services of Lesso…

Freedom, Promise, and a Truly Free Society – Some reflections on Jürgen Moltmann

Leave it to a German who survived World War 2 to have helpful things to say in the present political climate in the United States.

Jürgen Moltmann, The Living God and the Fullness of Life (WJK, 2015).
Moltmann discusses freedom from a theological perspective, and rejects the notion that freedom is domination. Rather, “freedom exists in relationships” (112), and not in relationships of domination. “I am free and feel free when I am respected and recognized by other people, and when I, for my part, respect and accept others. Then the other person is not a restriction of my freedom,” as something like a classically liberal political theory might put it, “but an extension of it. In mutual participation in the life of other people, individuals become free beyond the boundaries of their individuality.” Of course, in Western culture today we find it very difficult to understand individuality as something to be transcended rather than reinforced, reified, and idolized. Still this transcendence…

What Am I Reading? "Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations"

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Reading this volume was an awkward experience. No, I'll go further: Reading this book -- as a white, male, North American Protestant theologian -- was sometimes almost devastating.

Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis, Edited by Kay Higuera Smith, Jayachitra Lalitha and L. Daniel Hawk (IVP Academic, 2014)

For example, it was disturbing to learn from L. Daniel Hawk and Richard L. Twiss the extent to which Protestant leaders and institutions in the 19th century had been co-opted by, indeed worked actively to legitimate efforts to strip indigenous peoples of their distinctive cultural practices in order to "civilize" and "save" them (chapter 1). Moreover, whereas I have often thought of apocalyptic theology as a kind of protest against the hegemonic ideology of an existing socio-political order, it was unsettling to follow Christian T. Collins Winn and Amos Yong as they sketched a dark trajectory from the medieval visionar…

Catch-up on What We’ve Been Reading in 2015

One of the things that has pleased me about how 2015 went here at DET is the revival of our Book Reviews section, and especially the “What Am I Reading?” feature. This is made even more gratifying to me since both Scott Jackson (senior contributing author) and Henry Coates (contributing author) got in on the act as well. So I thought that I would index what we’ve done with this feature over the past year so that you, gentle reader, would have the chance to catch up on anything you might have missed along to way.

David Congdon, The Mission of Demythologizing - McMaken (12.15.2015)Brian Gerrish, The Christian Faith - McMaken (11.10.2015)Ernst Troeltsch, Social Teaching of the Christian Churches - Jackson (10.01.2015)Thomas Oden, A Change of Heart - McMaken (09.15.2015)Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Coates (08.27.2015)Kimlyn Bender, Confessing Christ for Church and World - McMaken (06.02.2015)Ronald Osborn, Death Before the Fall - McMaken (03.24.2015)Sun-…

Reading Scripture with John Calvin: Malachi 3:15–17

Malachi 3.15–17

[15] “Now we count the arrogant happy; evil-doers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape.” [16] Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the LORD and thought on his name. [17] They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them.

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COMMENTARY: To begin this section of his exposition, Calvin takes a backwards look to the hypocrisy that he has been expounding – by way of Malachi – for some time. I mention it again, however, because he has a great line in his description here. While hypocrites may appear to be upstanding, moral, good, etc., it is all an act: “they have only the guise or mask of religion” (italics mine; 598)! And this is not the last memorable line that Calvin provides in this section of…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

We haven’t had one of these posts since the middle of November and, by my reckoning, that’s more like three fortnights… So it’s time to share some links! We took a little bit of a break for the holidays, but we’ll be back going strong on Monday. This is your chance to make sure you’re all caught up before diving in to a new year at DET!

Here’s what we’ve posted since the last link collection:

Another Chance to Hear me Speak: My upcoming AAR / TFT TF lecture on Torrance's criticism of Barth's doctrine of BaptismMartin Luther’s chapter-by-chapter summary of St. Paul’s Epistle to the RomansRead More Kant, for Barth's Sake!Diller on Barth, Pannenberg, and FideismKarl Barth among the (Lesser) SaintsWhat Am I Reading? David Congdon’s “The Mission of Demythologizing”Was the First Christmas Night Really So "Silent"? Revisiting a Scholastic Debate
Here’s some thought-provoki…