Showing posts from February, 2007

What Am I Reading? Eberhard Jüngel

What Am I Reading? Eberhard Jüngel Eberhard Jüngel, Karl Barth: A Theological Legacy (Garrett E. Paul, trans; Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986). This volume is a translation of some of the material that appeared in German in 1982 under the title Barth-Studien (München). It is not a full translation and, in my humble opinion, some of the best stuff is left out. That ‘left-out’ material primarily concerns Jüngel’s treatment of Barth’s doctrine of baptism. For those of you who like conspiracy theories, see Kurt A. Richardson’s book, Reading Karl Barth , to get his take on why this material remains untranslated. In any case, what we do have in translation reveals Jüngel to be a first-rate interpreter of Barth who is, among other things, intimately acquainted with Barth’s biography and work. The first 100 pages of this book gives two accounts – one shorter and one longer – of Barth’s life and work (the shorter includes some remarks about his impact and the longer focuse

A Response to Boethius

Shane , I have greatly enjoyed your series on Boethius. It is all very good and interesting stuff! However, I must say that I disagree with some of the general contours of Boethius’ thinking on those matters addressed in your last installment , and I thought it might be fun for me to offer them here for some further discussion, etc. There are really two main points of disagreement: Whereas Boethius affirms that Christ assumed a sinless / unfallen human nature, I affirm that Christ assumed a fallen human nature. “What is not assumed is not redeemed,” so that if fallen human nature is not assumed, fallen human nature is not redeemed. One derivative point that I would want to press here is whether or not Jesus could have sinned. I think that we have to say that Jesus could have sinned, although he did not sin. If we are to say that Jesus’ temptations were actual temptations in which he underwent all the torment that we undergo in temptation, it must have at least been possible for hi

Letters from Leavers

I recently came across a new website, and I have become convinced of its value for those in church leadership, and for those who would theologically advise them. This site is full of the testimony of those who have left the church, and I’m not talking about leaving any one particular church (although there are some stories about that) – I’m talking about those who have left THE church, Christianity as a whole. Reading some of these stories, I was struck by the penetrating thought – “If theology cannot address these problems, its not doing its job.” Now, lest you worry that I have turned my back on my disavowal of apologetics, I haven’t. But, reading these stories I was struck by the utter inability of many theological systems (both those I have studies and those which I have at one point or another held) to provide resources for pastoral care in relation to these questions. Dealing with these kinds of issues from within the church and Christian theology (remember, these

Two Trend-Lines in Barth

Below is a paragraph from an early draft of one of the chapte rs of my MDiv thesis, currently underway. I hope you enjoy! ==================== It should be noted here that through out Barth's theology, and coterminous with his emphasis on the objectiv ity of Christ's work, there is an emphasis on the subjective impact of this objectivity a nd the human response to which it gives rise. That is, Barth consistently turns his atte ntion to the consequences in nobis of what God accomplishes in Christ extra nos . W e need not spend much time elucidating this point, but we can provide a quick high-al titude sketch. First, it is the objective readiness of God to be known that esta blishes the possibility of human knowledge of G od. [1] Second, God's election of Jesus Christ means that the "elect man is chosen in or der to respond to the gracious God," and it is upon this response that hinges the fulfillme nt of God's purposes in the space-time existence

Reading Scripture with John Calvin: 1 Peter 2.9-10

1 Peter 2.9-10 [9] But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. [10] Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. ========================== COMMENTARY: Calvin’s commentary on these two verses is quite short – only about 3 full pages. But, there are some very good bits. Despite these good bits, I’m not feeling as though I have much to say about them. So, I’ll just give you some of the good quotes with minimal comment from myself. One thing I will say, however, is that Calvin makes good use of his tactic of paraphrasing in his own words what the author meant in writing a given verse or sentence or phrase. This is one of my favorite of Calvin’s exegetical tools because it makes perfectly clear what Calvin is up to and how he is reading the passage in question,

Choice Quotations: Barth and Thurneysen

Choice Quotations: Barth and Thurneysen Revolutionary Theology in the Making: Barth-Thurneysen Correspondence, 1914-1925 (James D Smart, trans.; Richmond: John Knox Press, 1964). “Both then and now this has been the source from which his [Barth’s] whole theology has come. It has grown out of the work of preaching, and it serves the proclamation of the church. And so it has remained. That the springs of the Bible should flow afresh in our time is the great concern that here is central, and indeed the sole concern. Barth is no abstract thinker, as will be very clear from these beginnings, and abstract here would mean liberated from the Scriptures. He does not project theological speculations out of his own mind; he is not concerned about a system; he is an he remains student and teacher of the Holy Scriptures. Whoever tries to understand him as other than this will not understand him at all.” (13; Thurneysen’s introduction) “This way of his own that he was to go became quite cle

Francis Turretin’s Ecclesiology: 18.2

Francis Turretin’s Ecclesiology: 18.2 [NB: Turretin treats general ecclesiology as his eighteenth topic (sacraments are treated as the nineteenth topic), which is divided into 34 questions. Thus our designator, “18.2” for topic 18 question 2.] Second Question: The word “church” – its homonyms and definition. This second question considered in Turretin’s ecclesiology is divided into thirteen further sub-points. It begins with a discussion of the meaning of the word ‘church’ in light of the Greek terms used in the New Testament. Special attention is given to the difference between ekklesias and synagogues / episynagoges . Turretin concludes his linguistic study by observing that the word ‘church’ means different things in the text. Of utmost import to him, however, is that we recognize that the church is not a gathering place, but the gathering itself. That this is directed against Rome is clear (Turretin is generally good about telling the reader these things). From this, Turret

Loscher's 13 Objections to Pietism

Karl Barth, Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century: Its Background and History (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 126-127. Barth tells the story of Valentin Ernst Loscher (1673-1749), the founder of the first theological journal, and an opponent of both pietism and the enlightenment. Below is a list, provided by Barth, of Loscher's objections to pietism. Indifference ot the truth of the Gospel, boasting that Christianity is a Christianity of power Devaluation of the means of grace by their association with human piety Weakening of the ministry of the Church by the denial of the objective grace of the ministry (to be affirmed not for the benefit of godless pastors but by virtue of the matter itself) The confusion of the righteousness of faith with works, the understanding of justification as a process which in the last resort takes place within man A tendency towards chiliasm The limitation of repentance to a particular time of life Preciousness, that is, the suppression o

T. H. L. Parker on the Bolsec / Calvin Dispute

Jerome Bolsec was originally a monk and doctor of theology in Paris. But, being converted to the evangelical (Reformational) faith, he fled France and settled upon the practice of medicine as a livelihood. This eventually brought him to Geneva where, in October of 1551, he attended a meeting of the Congrégation , a regular meeting of the Genevan clergy held primarily for preaching practice. One of the ministers preached on John 8.47, and tied it into the doctrine of predestination (quite a stretch, actually). In the time given over for discussion after the sermon, Bolsec raised questions about this doctrine. Now, Calvin was detained on other business, and was not present for the sermon. However, he did slip in the back without being noticed in time to hear Bolsec criticizing this doctrine and the Genevan ministers. Calvin mounted an hour-long ex tempore defense of this doctrine (I wish I could have seen Bolsec’s face when he realized that Calvin was there!). At the close of th


I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, but there are a few recent theo-blogosphere attractions that I want to draw attention to, not because I necessarily agree with sentiments connected to these attractions, but because they are of sufficient quality to be worthy of attention and engagement. Internetmonk’s Ten Questions on the Bible (plus one rant) Internetmonk’s Five Reasons + Two Resources on why he doesn’t use the term “inerrancy” Cynthia over at Per caritatem has a great series going on Peter Martyr Vermigli and Francis Turretin on the question of free will, written by special guest Michael Vendsel My friend and colleague David over at The Fire and the Rose is embroiled in an interested argument as to the significance of theology for the Christian laity Aaron G. provides us with Ten Propositions on Certainty and Theology And, of course, my philosopher friend Shane has a new web-presence that you don’t want to miss – check him out over at Scholasticus

Robert Jenson on Barth on Time

Robert W. Jenson, Cur Deus Homo? The Election of Jesus Christ in the Theology of Karl Barth. Dissertation submitted to the theological faculty of the University of Heidelberg in pursuit of the degree of doctor of theology, 1959. According to Barth, God in himself is not atemporal, but temporal. The time which He, in his eternal life, has is the possibility and model of created time. There exists however this fundamental difference between God’s time and created time as such: In God past, present and future are not separated; in merely creaturely time they fall apart into a succession of separate “times”. In God the past is that which is present as the eternally past, as, so to speak, the qualitatively past. For man, it is that which is “no more”. With God therefore, that which in his eternal self-discrimination is rejected is, so to speak, always past, qualitatively past. But when this is carried out in time for the creature, this past achieves a time of its own. That which w

Francis Turretin’s Ecclesiology: Introduction

Francis Turretin’s Ecclesiology: Introduction Have I ever told you how much I like ecclesiology? Well, I do like it a great deal. This past semester I wrote a research paper on Calvin’s understanding of church discipline in relation to his ecclesiology in general and his notae ecclesiae and notae fidelium in particular. Also, I have dedicated and continue to dedicate much of my time to thinking about sacramentology, a sub-set of ecclesiology. My honors thesis at Wheaton College was on a “properly evangelical” understanding of the Lord’s Supper, and my thesis here at Princeton Theological Seminary (currently underway) deals with Barth’s doctrine of baptism. Finally, in this my final semester of MDiv study, I have the pleasure of taking a class on the Lord’s Supper from Professor George Hunsinger (who should have a book on the subject coming out sometime soon, so keep an eye out for it). But enough about me. I’m sure you all are wondering why, even if I like ecclesiology, I woul

My most recent publication

Far be it from me to short-circuit any discussion that might develop concerning my discussion of Mountain Dew, Doritos, and the Lord’s Supper - although perhaps that post is too long to generate much discussion. But I wanted to call your attention to my most recent publication, a review of John Yocum’s book Ecclesial Mediation in Karl Barth , which was electronically published yesterday by the Center for Barth Studies here at Princeton Theological Seminary . Do give it a look and let me know if you have any thoughts about it.

Mountain Dew, Doritos and the Lord’s Supper

Recently, I was faced with the challenge of writing a short paper in which I was to “apply” insight that I have learned from the historical study of Calvin’s life and work to some contemporary situation. After lengthy deliberation, I concluded that it might be interesting to think about why Calvin would or would not be in favor of replacing the bread and wine used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper with Mountain Dew and Doritos. In the interest of fun and collegiality, I thought that I would share it. Enjoy! Are we to consider the Lord’s Supper as rightly administered if it does not include bread and wine? This question is of vital importance within American evangelicalism, where grape juice is the regularly substituted for wine. Furthermore, if we are free to make substitutions in this way, why not celebrate the Lord’s Supper using elements that resonate more clearly with the experiences of contemporary popular culture? Why not celebrate the Lord’s Supper with Mountain D