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Part 1 - Scots Confession, History & Theology

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This is Part 1 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 1 tries to answer the question of what a confession actually is in different Christian traditions, talks about the context and character of the Scots Confession, and explores chapters 1 - 5 in the confession itself.





This is Part 1 in a 5-part series. You can find the series index here.

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Barth's "Göttingen Dogmatics" - §3: Deus Dixit (“God has spoken”)

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We return to Barth’s first dogmatics lectures, and to the elaboration of one of his key theological concepts – both in this earlier period as well as throughout his later Church Dogmatics, although there it recedes into the background a bit despite continuing to be of foundational importance: Deus dixit, God has spoken.

This is part 4 of a multi-part series, and you can find the series index here.





I begin the audio recordings by reading Barth’s Diktatsatz, so I will begin reproducing that here as well. The bold is mine and indicates where I find emphasis:

Christian preachers dare to speak about God. The permission and requirement to do so can rest only on their adoption of the witness of the prophets and apostles that underlies the church, the witness which is to the effect that God himself has spoken and that for this reason, and with this reference, they too must speak about God. This assumption can arise only because they take it that God’s address is directed to them as well. It …

Into the Thicket: Nelson's Guide to Jüngel

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The work of esteemed systematic theologian Eberhard Jüngel does not make for light reading; indeed, as R. David Nelson notes in his fine primer, much of the German Lutheran thinker's works have yet to be translated into English, and even those that have require patience and perseverance of their readers. Anglophone students should be grateful for what we do have, though, as Nelson notes, the translated works typically miss the nuances of the author's puns and witticisms.

Jüngel: A Guide for the Perplexed, By R. David Nelson (London: T&T Clark, 2020).

Another factor that makes Jüngel's corpus daunting is its broad, interdisciplinary character, in works ranging from sermons and address, to biblical theology and hermeneutics, to systematics. Nelson's approach is straightforwardly textual rather than thematic: After a brief overview of Jüngel's life and career, Nelson offers brief synopses of four major monographs and eleven paradigmatic essays that illustrate the …

Karl Barth on Divine Freedom – comprising a presentation to a recent Lindenwood University faculty colloquium

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It was my privilege back in December 2019 to travel to Hannover, Germany and give a public lecture on Karl Barth. I haven’t shared a lot about that in any one place online, although I have shared some pictures in various places and I mentioned it briefly here and shared some relevant links. Subsequently, I was invited to present my research to the Spring 2020 meeting of the Lindenwood Faculty Colloquium. It was originally scheduled for March, but then COVID-19 happened and we ended up having the event virtually last week (May 14, 2020). I recorded my presentation and share it below.


I excerpted and streamlined the core of the Barth exposition that I provided in Hannover (yes, I persist in using the German spelling), and the presentation also includes some pictures from the trip. My full lecture will be published in German in due course. Never fear, I have some plans for bringing it out in English as well. In the meantime, you can at least enjoy this snippet.



Here are a few sentences …

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Maybe I should take that “fortnight” line off these posts. Ah, the good ol’ days.

Well, we haven’t had an update / link post since the very end of last year and we’re getting dangerously close to being halfway through this one. Might as well throw something up. Oh yeah, there’s also the pandemic. Maybe y’all need something to read? In any case, I hope this post finds you and yours safe and healthy.

Before we get to the link lists, here are some featured happenings.

First off, I got to go to Germany and talk about Karl Barth at the end of last year. Lindenwood put up a nice press-release about it.

Next, I was happy to participate in something of an Easter podcast roundup that Liam Miller put together as a special event for his podcast’s 50th episode: Seven Last Words with Seven Great Guests. You can also see the lovely chip in my front tooth that I’ve been living with during the curre…

Life After Christianity: An Eschatological Reflection in the Spirit of Terry Eagleton

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That Marxism is finished would be music to the ears of Marxists everywhere. They could pack in their marching and picketing, return to the bosom of their grieving families and enjoy an evening at home instead of yet another tedious committee meeting. Marxists want nothing more than to stop being Marxists. In this respect, being a Marxist is nothing like being a Buddhist or a billionaire. It is more like being a medic. Medics are perverse, self-thwarting creatures who do themselves out of a job by curing patients who then no longer need them. The task of political radicals, similarly, is to get to the point where they would no longer be necessary because their goals would have been accomplished. They would then be free to bow out, burn their Guevara posters, take up that long-neglected cello again and talk about something more intriguing than the Asiatic mode of production. If there are still Marxists or feminists around in twenty years’ time, it will be a sorry prospect. Marxism is me…

When Becket Beckons: Our Canterbury Pilgrimage

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(I co-wrote this piece with my wife, Leah Gregg.)

It was the Feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates Jesus Christ, light to the nations. We were on a pilgrimage, with our son, seeking glimmers of that light in Canterbury, England, the mother diocese of the Anglican Communion, of which the U.S. Episcopal Church is a part. Unlike the pilgrims in Chaucer’s famous book, we pulled up to the ancient Roman wall of the city in a commuter bus, a vehicle that, running late, had stranded us shivering for 45 minutes in a London terminal earlier that morning while the driver took his union-mandated break. Unlike Canterbury pilgrims of centuries past, what we encountered first at the gate of the city was ... a strip mall.

As we moved into the city, we encountered a lone bell-tower; from the inside, the open arches are like an ancient portal opening into a busy, modern street. Upon closer inspection, we learned that this tower was all that remains of St. George the Martyr’s Church, which perhaps hai…