Showing posts from August, 2006

Paul Tillich: Systematic Theology

This is the final installment of my Paul Tillich mini-series. I have another series just about ready to go, so stay tuned! ================== Systematic Theology , Vol. 2, Pages 97-150. Following a treatment of “Existence” wherein he elucidated the context into which salvation must come, Tillich turns to Christology proper in his section entitled, “The Reality of the Christ.” The first of three sub-divisions in this section deals with “Jesus as The Christ.” Tillich seems to be concerned with understanding the interplay between faith and history. He seems to argue both that denial of Jesus historical existence is denial of Christianity, (cf. 107) and that the simple fact of Jesus’ historical existence does not make him the Christ. Only the reception of him as such makes him the Christ. Without this reception, “[h]e could then have been a prophetic anticipation of the New Being, but not the final manifestation of the New Being itself” (99). Tillich further cautions us about the dan


-> Link 1 A few days ago I was made aware of an initiative by a group of evangelical theologians entitled, “A Call to and Ancient Evangelical Future.” The document is available over at Christianity Today and CT also offers links to other aspects of this initiative, such as a list of those who have attached their name (although, when I tried to check this list, it wasn’t available), the means to affix one’s own name, etc. It is worth knowing that this kind of thing is floating around. It was organized by the likes of Bob Webber and Kevin Vanhoozer. CT did an interview with the former that may be accessed here . I recently did work on similarities between Vanhoozer’s recently published book entitled The Drama of Doctrine and George Lindbeck’s groundbreaking study in The Nature of Doctrine , and it was interesting to see how some of the themes that I engaged in these two authors are involved in this initiative as well. But, enough said. -> Link 2 My friend and colleague David

Something Like an Apology

To everyone who has left comments here and been mystified as to why they have never made their way into view, I offer my apologies. Suffice it to say that I had some of my settings improperly “set,” as it were. You will find that your comments are now available, and I do hope that you will leave more in the future as I greatly enjoyed reading them. Cheers,

What Am I Reading? John Webster

John B. Webster, Barth’s Moral Theology: Human Action in Barth’s Thought (Eerdmans, 1998). You can buy a newer paperback version from Amazon here . John Webster delivers in this volume another instance of the kind of penetrating theological exposition that is to be expected from one of the foremost systematic theologians of the world today. I am not currently in the mood to provide any thing like an extensive review of this volume, but I will go so far as to heartily recommend it to any who are interested in theological ethics or Karl Barth studies. The reason I do not recommend it to a wider audience is because the material content of the volume, though wonderful diverse in some respects, is ultimately quite narrow. Those who are simply interested in questions of the relation of God’s agency and human agency, or who want to know “what Barth’s understanding” of this question is, would do well to look elsewhere as each chapter here provides answers to these questions. While thes

Spreading the Word: Boyd and Warren

I found out about this thought-provoking segment over at GOTT. It is very interesting indeed, and I recommend it highly. These two men, Rich Warren and Greg Boyd, seem to me to represent two different streams of neo-evangelicalism, and seeing them handle themselves on camera and speak somewhat ad hoc is an enlightening exercise. Check it out. Rich Warren and Greg Boyd on Charlie Rose A Few Comments Warren - It is a shame that, while Warren has developed a humanitarian concern, he has yet to leave behind a "Jesus as my meal ticket to heaven" mentality. I enjoyed when Charlie kept sticking it to Warren and trying to get Warren to say that only Christians will go to heaven. I saw Larry King do something similar to Joel Osteen. In all fairness, I probably shouldn't enjoy watching these evangelical figureheads squirm as much as I do, but it is one of my vices. Also, Warren's discussion of a "New Reformation" and the view of doctrine that he reveals here i

Paul Tillich: Systematic Theology

The mini-series continues... ====================== Systematic Theology , Vol. 1, 106-137 In his discussion of the nature and means of revelation, Tillich focuses on the interrelated ideas of mystery, ecstasy, and sign-event. For Tillich, revelation is “the manifestation of something hidden which cannot be approached through ordinary ways of gaining knowledge” (108). Revelation makes the mystery knowable, though it does explain the mystery. The mystery remains mysterious, as it were. Ecstasy, then, “points to a state of mind which is extraordinary in the sense that the mind transcends its ordinary situation” (111-2). Thus, ecstasy is a supra-natural awareness of the mind enabled by the presence of the mystery. The sign-event is then the means of revelation, thought these are many and varied. It is the correlation of all the necessary components for revelation enabling the mystery to grasp the human awareness (cf. 117). With the nature and means of revelation set forth, Tillich

And now...

...for a moment of non-theological levity: BENJI!!!

You know you are not Reformed if...

I very much enjoy posting wity things related to theology as they float through the theo-blogosphere. The latest to come to my attention is a Foxworthy-esque list entitled You Know That You Are Not Reformed If... . I highly recommend that you surf on over and take a look.

Choice Quotations: George Hunsinger on Karl Barth on the Trinity

From Disruptive Grace , “Mysterium Trinitatis: Karl Barth’s Conception of Eternity.” It is my privilege to endorse these quotations. "Modalism…means that the trinitarian hypostases are merely manifestations of God in history, but not essential distinctions within the eternal Godhead itself. For Barth, however, the trinitarian hypostases , each of which is fully God, coexist in, with, and for one another eternally and essentially. Barth repeatedly states that the living God would have been an eternal communion of love and freedom between the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, whether the world had been created or not. Nothing could be farther form modalism. “Social trinitarians”…who are usually the ones making this charge, might ask themselves whether they can do as much justice as Barth can to the clear biblical witness to God as a single acting subject who is the Lord. In any case, modalism can be charged against Barth only out of ignorance, incompetence,

Paul Tillich: Systematic Theology

I have recently noticed quite a few posts on Paul Tillich floating around the theo-blogsphere, although I don't precisely know why as this year does not mark any particularly important date in Tillich's life so far as I can tell. But, as one given to following the crowd when it serves my own purposes, I thought that I would put up some of my own content on Tillich. So, this is the first post of a 3-part mini-series. Enjoy! And if you can't enjoy, at least read... ===================== Systematic Theology , Vol. 1, Pages vii-viii, 3-34, 59-66 Throughout these sections, Tillich appears to be primarily concerned with prolegomena. Specifically, he is interested in discussing the proper object of theology, and delineating precisely what his method of correlation entails. These two foci will be discussed in turn. First, what is the proper object of theology? This discussion is centered upon an attempt to determine what are the formal criteria for “theological enterprise”

Does God Suffer?

Thomas G. Weinandy is here to answer the question for us. Actually, he isn't "here" per se, but over at First Things, with an article based on his book , Does God Suffer? I have not read the book, but judging from the article it is definately worth my time to do so and this task has been added to my to-do list. As for the article, it is a very fine discussion of the question of whether ornot God is impassible, and precisely what is at stake in answering this question. In addition to my recommendation of this article to all those who are interested in this question, I should like to make two comments. First, it seems to me that Weinandy is too quick to lump T.F. Torrance and Karl Barth in with Jurgen Moltmann on this question. But, we can forgive him since he is only doing a quick overview in this article. Hopefully his book is a little more nuanced here. Second, I have not decided as to how far I can go with Weinandy on the specifically Christological sections of

Jason Ingalls: A Sermon on John 6

Jason Ingalls is a friend and colleague of mine from Princeton Theological Seminary, from which he graduated this past May. He is currently engaged in preparation for ministry with IVF. This sermon was preached on August 6th at Montgomery Evangelical Free Church in Montgomery New Jersey. I was present to hear this sermon. Although it is clearly addressed to a particular context, I believe that it is worth reproducing for the benefit of any who might take the time to read it. Please do. ================= I love movies with surprise endings, movies like Signs or the Sixth Sense. But those of you who share this love know the real problem with surprise-ending movies is that, after a while, they don’t surprise us anymore. Ok, ok, we say to ourselves, we know that he’s dead and that water kills the baddies. It’s right about then that I turn the DVD off and watch television. Our passage today is something like that. I struggled to find a way to express it to you like a movie with a

John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Institutes of the Christian Religion , 69-81, 94-6 In these passages, Calvin succinctly expounds his understanding of what is often called “special revelation.” What are his basic moves? First, Calvin makes it clear that Scripture is necessary to properly identify God (chapter VI). Though creation points to a god, and though the human person innately recognizes a higher power, it is only through the “spectacles” (70) of Scripture that the true God might be known. Second, Calvin argues that the Scriptures are the Christian’s true authority not because the Church identifies them to be so, but because “God in person speaks in it” (78). It is through the agency of the Holy Spirit in the Christian heart and mind that establishes in that heart and mind a trust in the authority of the Scriptures, and the Scriptures are thus self-authenticating and beyond proof (chapter VII). In chapter VIII Calvin enters into a discussion of the proofs for Scripture and introduces an interesting questio

A Link Too Great To Pass Up

David Congdon over at The Fire and the Rose has up another post in his series on The Heresies of American Evangelicalism. In that post he links to an ingenious, entertaining and thoroughly depressing document entitled The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism . In the interest of spreading this document further across the web, and to ensure to that I my own record of its existence, I have undertaken to call it to your attention, gentle readers.

The Brand Underground

Since blogs first came into existence, they have served as a method of disseminating information through links to various other sites and resources. Those who know me well know that I am the kind of person whose curiosity is easily aroused, and today I bring to you a very interesting article from the New York Times Magazine entitled The Brand Underground . It deals with questions of culture and counter-culture with reference to the retail business, the commercial role of ‘branding,’ and how a new generation of ‘rebels’ are attempting to do battle with the commercial ‘establishment.’ Here are a few interesting portions to whet your appetite. ================== Perhaps the first lesson of the brand underground is not that savvy young people will stop buying symbols of rebellion. It is that they have figured out that they can sell those symbols, too. ================== In his 1934 memoir, “Exile’s Return,” Malcolm Cowley asserted that by 1920 the bohemian “doctrine” of Greenwich Villag

The Form and Function of the Lord's Prayer: A Pattern and Prayer for Any Occasion

This is the mss from a presentation I delivered to the combined church board of one of the churches I served as an intern at their yearly board retreat. It was a lot of fun to put together and I know that at least two or three of those present appreciated it. Maybe you will too. ==================== (Matthew 6.9-13) In approaching the Lord’s Prayer, we will divine our study broadly between the categories of Form and Function. However, we will begin by addressing a number of preliminary concerns. By “Form,” we mean to inquire as to questions relating to the significance of the Lord’s Prayer as a thing in and of itself, and by “Function,” we mean to reflect upon the place of the Lord’s Prayer in the Church, how it is to be used, applied, etc. PRELIMINARIES Before we turn to the form of the Lord’s Prayer and to our investigation of its significance as a thing in and of itself, we must first deal with a few preliminary questions. Since we have chosen Matthew’s account of the prayer,


This post is the reproduction of a sermon that I recently preached. If you are looking for political discussion, this is probably as close as you are going to get here on Der Evangelische Theologe. The sermon isn’t political per se, but it was given in something of a political context – the Fourth of July with a congregation that tends to be decidedly more ‘right of center’ than I would place myself. Because I was only the summer intern, I felt caught between two responsibilities: first, my responsibility to preach the Gospel as I understand it; and second, to be sensitive to the context of the congregation and my own position as a guest among them. My attempt to walk the tightrope resulted in the following, which was relatively well received. ====================== Readings: Isaiah 63.1-6; Matthew 10.32-9; Revelation 19.11-16 John Calvin. Some of you know nothing of the history and doctrine that goes with this name. Some of you know quite a bit. And some of you have been attem