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Tweeting Christine Tietz's "Karl Barth: A Life in Conflict"

It took me longer than I would have liked to take it up and read, but I have now worked my way through Christine Tietz's Karl Barth: A Life in Conflict . It is very good. In fact, reading it prompted me to update my guide to reading Barth (which I origianlly wrote in 2007 and haven't updated since ~2013) in order to include it: So, You Want To Read Karl Barth? . Very early in the process of reading Tietz's book I realized that I would want to share about the volume. So I decided to tweet my way through it. And below I have pulled together all those tweets for folks who may have seen one or two and wondered about the rest, folks who might be interested but aren't on Twitter, etc. Enjoy reading, and then go but the book! Chapter 2 tweet for Tietz's #KarlBarth biography: I love and am not surprised by this insight into Barth as a student: "In general Barth was a neat student. He had his lecture notes and excerpts of biblical texts and theological works

Part 5 - Scots Confession, History & Theology (final installment)

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This is the 5th and final part in a series of adult education (Sunday School) classes that I taught at St. Charles Presbyterian Church (USA) in the early months of 2020. It provides a fairly thorough discussion of the Scots Confession's history and theology targeted (hopefully, effectively so) at the generally educated churchgoer.  Part 5 continues exploring the background of the Scots Confession. It deals with life and times of John Knox, the principal author of the Scots Confession, cover his departure from England in 1554 to avoid the reign of "Bloody Mary" Tudor, his time in Geneva and Frankfurt, his return to Scotland in 1559, and his legacy. It also explores chapters 21 - 25 in the confession itself, addressing topics like the purpose of the sacraments, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, the Holy Spirit's work in the sacraments, government and civil authority, and the two gifts given to the church. This is Part 5 in a 5-part series. You

John Calvin as Old Testament Interpreter: A Bundle of Contradictions

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The following excerpt hails from T. H. L Parker, Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries (Westminster/John Knox, 1993), 6–7. By the time Calvin began publishing his Old Testament commentaries, the pioneering work had been done and there was a fairly solid body of material at his disposal – quite good texts of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin Bibles, some grammars and lexicons and concordances, and several “modern” commentaries, besides those of the Church fathers which had been edited and printed. Even when there were no modern works and scholars had to rely on classical or early Christian authors, these were now available in print. … But we must approach any of these older Biblical writers in a spirit of sympathy and humility, not judging them ignorant and backward because they seem strange to us. To approach them in such a spirit of sympathy will mean, I think, that we shall be surprised, not only at their intellectual energy, their insights, their incredible knowledge of the Bible, but

No Serenity Now? Hunsinger on Philippians 1:2

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Bernardino Mei, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Thanks to the beneficence of this blog’s editor, I’m now perusing George Hunsinger’s fine commentary on the Epistle to the Phillipians, a volume in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series. (No remuneration, monetary or otherwise, was offered in exchange for blogging about this book.) The distinguished Karl Barth scholar and Princeton Theological Seminary professor offers his text as an “exercise in ecclesial hermeneutics” (p. xvii) and, more specifically, it is also an essay in creedal hermeneutics. That is, he is attempting to honor the integrity and coherence of the scriptural canon within the heuristic framework of the ecumenical Christian symbols of faith. This book also is an homage to Hunsinger’s teachers at Yale Divinity School – Hans Frei, George Lindbeck, and Brevard Childs. Such a confessional orientation for biblical exposition remains contested -- as do all readings of scripture -- but it is salutary fo

Karl Barth: Spiritual Writings - A conversation with the editors

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Join me for a conversation with Dr. Ash Cocksworth ( Twitter , University of Roehampton ) as we talk about our recently released co-edited volume, Karl Barth: Spiritual Writings , in the Paulist Press Classics of Western Spirituality series. During this conversation we talk about how Ash and I got to know each other and came to work together on this volume, what our favorite things about the book are, who should read the book, how politics relates to spirituality, and much more. Marmite even comes up at one point and a brilliant bit of wordplay by yours truly falls totally flat. It was a fun conversation. Ash and I were joined by my friend Dr. Kate Hanch ( Twitter , First St. Charles United Methodist Church ), who functioned as our special guest host and moderator for the conversation. Once you’ve ordered your copy of Karl Barth: Spiritual Writings , head over to Fortress Press to pre-order Kate’s forthcoming book, Storied Witness: The Theology of Black Women Preachers in 19th-Cen

Karl Marx's Mixed Legacy for Democratic Socialism - according to Gary Dorrien

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I'm starting to tackly Gary Dorrien's 500+ page tome, Social Democracy in the Making: Political and Religious Roots of European Socialism (Yale, 2019) and I must say that he's doing a good job front-loading some interesting stuff to motivate his easily distracable readers (like myself) to stick with it. What follows is an excerpt wherein Dorrien reflects on Karl Marx's mixed legacy for democratic socialism. It reonates with me because Helmut Gollwitzer made a distinction between Marxism as an analytical tool and 'dogmatic Marxism' as an ideology, and I think that distinction in how Marx has been applied tracks with Dorrien's comments here. If you want more on Gollwitzer and Marxism, you could do worse than by starting here . But enough of that. On to the excerpt! No definition of socialism as economic collectivism or state control of the economy or any particular ownership scheme is common to the many traditions of socialist thought. Various schools

Conservative Radical? William Stringfellow on Law and Justice

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Pekka Järveläinen, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons In a recent post , I explored William Stringfellow’s ambivalence about the legal profession and, more specifically, toward ideological frameworks (e.g., natural law theory) that obscure the ways law is actually practiced. To reiterate briefly: The legal guild (like all institutions) is a fallen principality subsisting within a complex web of systems; like all the powers that be, the legal profession is enthralled to the power of death and fails in its vocation of promoting human flourishing. Moreover, rather than clarifying this situation, abstract theories (such as natural law theory) tend to mythologize the workings of law in concrete circumstances. All that said, though, there remains another side of Stringfellow’s perspective on the legal profession – a viewpoint more positive and potentially constructive, even if the compliment is delivered rather backhandedly. Some background might be helpful: Stringfellow does not under