Showing posts from 2020

The Belhar Confession: An Introduction

The Belhar Confession is about speaking the gospel in a time of rampant racial oppression. Those currents continue to run strongly in the USA, and the current COVID-19 crisis has only fanned the flames. The PC(USA)’s newest confession has much for us to hear in this moment lest the temporary social distancing necessary for physical help ultimately result in exacerbating white supremacism’s harmful social distancing from racial and otherwise minority communities.

The PC(USA)adopted the Belhar Confession as part of its Book of Confessions at the 222nd General Assembly in 2016.

Presbyteries and local congregations were asked to engage with the confession as part of the church’s process of discernment. So in the Fall of 2015, I worked with some of the other leaders of my congregation – St. Charles Presbyterian Church – to organize a four-week adult education series on the confession. It was my job to provide the introductory session, covering Belhar’s background and significance.

I didn…

Why am I still a Theologian? - Terry Eagleton on Theology

For a while I taught a class called “Faith & Reason.” It was a good class that tackled the intersection of revelation and reason in the Western tradition (inclusive of some Jewish and Muslim thinkers), and I enjoyed teaching it. But then some administrative reorganization happened and the course was redundant, etc.

But one of the things that I liked most about that course was ending the semester with Terry Eagleton’s book, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate. Those who follow me carefully on social media (blessings be upon you, since you clearly need them if you’re following me carefully on social media), or spend time with me offline talking about theological things, know that I’ve come to really enjoy Eagleton, and this book is where that started. I need to figure out another place to work this book into my teaching, or else find a way to resurrect this class. But, alas, administrative duties mean that I don’t teach all that much anymore.

Changing tack…

How to Remember What’s Where in Barth, with St. Hereticus

Robert McAfee Brown (ed.?), The Collected Writings of St. Hereticus (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1964).

The last time we heard from St. Hereticus - or simply “The Saint,” as I am wont to say – we undertook a detailed study of his “Christmas carol.” Today, however, we turn to a subject that is near and dear to DET and its readership – Karl Barth.

Bet you didn’t see that one coming. What with knowing the blog. Oh, and reading the title of this post. But I digress…

If you look at the DET post labels there on the left-hand menu, toward the bottom, you’ll see that Barth has waaaaay more entries than anything else. More than twice as many as the next contender, in fact. So I think it’s safe to say that DET has a lot to say about Barth, and long-time DET readers have picked up at least the basics of what he was on about.

But do you know exactly what can be found in each part volume of Church Dogmatics? Perhaps you remember when Ben Myers composed a tweet for each part volume. Yo…

Barth's "Göttingen Dogmatics" - §2: Preaching as the Starting Point and Goal of Dogmatics

More on Barth’s first dogmatics lectures! This episode addresses the relationship between dogmatics and preaching. We get a number of Barth “greatest hits” – like an early form of his approach to the three-fold Word of God (revelation, scripture, and preaching), and his distinction between regular and irregular dogmatics. But the central issue is the relationship between God’s word and the human word of preaching. Also, I use the idea of Sachkritik to expand on Barth’s definition of theology.

This is part 3 of a multi-part series, and you can find the series index here.


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Theology and "The Promise of Hope," with Christine Helmer

Long-time readers will know that those of us here at DET have a tendency post on the subject of theology. You know, from time to time.

And sometimes those posts take a step back and reflect on what exactly theology is, how to best explain it, and so on. It’s sort of like that scene in the movie, Office Space: “What would you say…you do here?”

So, for instance, a quick perusal of the blog yielded these relevant results:
What is theology? Who is a theologian? Why should theology persist? (2011)Sarah Coakley defines Systematic Theology (2014)Theology = Worldview? Christine Helmer on the Problem with Contemporary Approaches to Doctrine (2015)Marilynne Robinson on Theology (2017)
Now I’m circling back to one name that’s already on that list – Christine Helmer. In her new book, How Luther Became the Reformer (2019), she pauses to reflect on the discipline of theology in the midst of some rather fascinating historiographical analysis. She pauses for these reflections in order to connect …