Showing posts from July, 2009

Church as Creature of Word (and Sacrament?)

Before being so rudely interrupted by the need to comment on DET’s third birthday, Dave K, Bobby Grow, and myself were having a discussion about the way in which the church is ordered under preaching and sacraments. Is the church exclusively the creature of the word? Is the church primarily the creature of the word? Of the sacraments (specifically, the Supper / eucharist)? Here are a few sentences to further that conversation: George Hunsinger, The Eucharist and Ecumenism: Let us Keep the Feast (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008): 184-5: “Called into being by proclamation, and ruled by the authority of scripture, the church is a creature of God’s Word ( creatura verbum Dei ). Founded in baptism and nourished by the eucharist, the church is also a creature of the sacraments ( creatura sacramenti ). While the Word is the normative vehicle of Christ’s self-witness, it is also the vehicle of his self-impartation to faith. In turn, while the sacraments are more nearly veh

DET is Three Years Old!

Ok, perhaps the exclamation point is a bit over the top. It is a decided possibility that I am the only person in any way pleased by this blog’s existence. But, I’m happy, so I’m leaving the exclamation point. In any case, if you want to hear more about what DET is here for, there are two posts that you should check out: my first post ever , and the manifesto published on DET’s first birthday . The 3rd Annual Barth Blog Conference is coming soon!

T.F. Torrance on the Church as the Creature of the Word

Thomas F. Torrance, When Christ Comes and Comes Again (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957): 27. None of the Gospels ever give us the slightest hint about what Jesus looked like. They tell us nothing at all about His appearance, but they do speak about His voice , and they tell us of the amazement of the multitudes who wondered at the gracious words that fell from His lips…When Jesus rose again from the dead, even Mary Magdalene did not recognise Him until Jesus spoke to her by name, and then immediately she recognised Jesus by His voice. We recall also how the two disciples walking to Emmaus on Easter evening did not recognize Jesus when He joined their company, although the words He spoke to them made their hearts burn within them. That is just how it is today. We cannot see Jesus, for He has withdrawn Himself from our sight; and we will not see Him face to face until He comes again—but we can hear His voice speaking to us in the midst of the Church o

Good, Old Fashioned Potpourri

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but here goes! Roger Cohen, who has quickly become one of my favorite NYTimes op/ed writers, has recently produced some reflections on life, happiness, and monkey diets . Darren continues a conversation with Oliver Crisp on whether the Eternal Son assumed a fallen human nature in the incarnation . I posted my own reflections on this topic once-upon-a-time. Kevin has concluded and indexed his series on the canon in Protestant dogmatics. Ben provides some reflections on another’s reflections on writing .

Back from Vacation

That's right, gentle readers, the entire DET team (is it still technically a "team" if there is only one person?) has recently returned from a few days of vacation up on Cape Cod. To commemorate this trip, I want to share with you a photograph that I took at the Massacheusetts welcome center just over the state line from Rhode Island on Interstate-195. This sign was posted on a Nestle vending machine at the welcome center. For those of you who can't read the picture, for whatever reasons, it reads: "All money is periodically removed from this machine on a daily basis." As far as I can tell, there are two possible meanings of this sentence taken as it stands. Either there are sporadic periods of time when the machine is emptied of money daily, or the machine is emptied of money at a number of semi-scheduled times every day. Neither of these scenarios seems likely to me, and so I am left to conclude that this sign is simply one more example of the failing

My Most Recent Publication: Barth, Election, and Atonement

An essay of my production is included in the summer issue of the Journal of Reformed Theology . The relevant issue is already available online for those of you with the proper permissions, and is soon to be released – or very recently released – in hard copy. Here is the article’s bibliographic information, followed by the abstract. The subtext of this essay is an attempt to bring both McCormack and Hunsinger's ways of reading Barth into fruitful conversation. You, gentle readers, will have to be the judges of whether or not I succeeded. W. Travis McMaken, “Election and the Pattern of Exchange in Karl Barth’s Doctrine of the Atonement” in Journal of Reformed Theology 3.2 (2009): 202-18. ABSTRACT: Bruce McCormack has described Barth’s doctrine of the atonement as even more forensic than the traditional Protestant account due to the role played therein by his doctrine of election. The content of this election is fleshed out by the covenant of grace. This essay gives attention to

Remembering Calvin’s Birthday

Lots of things have happened on July 10th. For instance: Dublin, Ireland was founded on July 10th, 988 CE; Death Valley, CA (USA) recorded the hottest temperature ever recorded in the United States on July 10th, 1913; John D. Rockefeller III died on July 10th, 1978; and Jessica Simpson (yes, that Jessica Simpson) was born on July 10th, 1980. Still, of all the things that have occurred on July 10th, the one for which I’m most thankful is the birth of John Calvin in 1509. As those of you who have been readers of DET for any significant length of time know, I’m a big Calvin fan. This doesn’t mean that I consider myself a “Calvinist” in the usual sense of the term (I suspect that most “Calvinists” wouldn’t want to include me in their club, anyway), my theological thinking has been deeply impacted by Calvin. I have only become more interested in him as I have studied him over the past 8 years or so, and every new facet of him that I become acquainted with – whether it is his commentar

Reinhold Niebuhr on Religion

I'm not a huge Reinhold Niebuhr fan. I think the reason for this is that, by and large, he strikes me as similar to the early Barth - primarily interested in critical and negative endeavors rather than positive. Maybe with RN it is more that he is just best (as far as I'm concerned) at the negative stuff, not that he doesn't try to be more positive. But, such reflections are based on my very limited engagement with his corpus. In any case, every now and then I come across a bit of his text that has some good traction. This is one such bit on religion, and the way in which can become the occasion and fruit of sin. Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation , vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1942): 200-3 “[R]eligion is not simply as is generally supposed an inherently virtuous human quest for God. It is merely a final battleground between God and man’s self-esteem. In that battle even the most pious practices may be instruments