Showing posts from 2011

2011 Top 10 DET Pages Viewed

I felt inspired today, noting the inexorable march of the calendar toward a new year, to check and see what you all have been reading here at DET over the past year. Then, having checked, I thought: “Hey, this would make a good post!” So, there we are… The posts are listed in descending order of traffic (i.e., #1 has the most traffic). Types of Theology - This one is a pleasant surprise. It has always received respectable traffic, but it was far and away the most traversed page at DET this past year. I should probably go back and update it… So, You Want to Read Karl Barth? - A perennial top-performer, this post is approximately 4.5 years old! I could think of a couple newer secondary resources to add, but I still stand by the advice given there. DET: 1 Year Blog Birthday - No surprise here. I wrote this post to mark the first year of this blog’s existence, and it functions as a sort of manifesto for the whole enterprise. Although it is also approximately 4.5 years old, it still

DET Update: Doctoral Edition

The big news from DET is that its proprietor now holds a PhD in systematic theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. That’s right, gentle reader, yours truly defended his dissertation on December 16th, thus giving himself what is perhaps the best Christmas present ever. Here is a picture of my setup in the PTS Center for Barth Studies as I prepared on the 15th for the defense. For related images, click here , here , and – of course – here . Anyway, what does all this mean for you, the faithful DET reader? Allow me to enumerate… You can expect a post about my dissertation early in the new year. I’ve kept it pretty well under wraps as far as the theo-blogosphere goes, but there is no longer any reason for that. So I plan to throw up the abstract to let you all catch a glimpse of what I’ve been preoccupied with for a very long time… My dissertation isn’t the only thing that I recently finished. I also finished my first semester of teaching. That semester was incredibly busy

Misconceptions about Christianity and Politics / Economics: or, Why Perkins is Wrong about Jesus

The conservative religio-political propaganda has been flying today. Various initiatives are underway to combat it. But I could not resist throwing up something brief on one of them... Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council. The "Belief" blog on published a piece from him today entitled, My Take: Jesus was a free marketer, not an Occupier . I could spend ages taking this article apart, but I think the best thing to do would be to juxtapose a few pieces of text. First, Perkins highlights the parable of the servants in Luke 19 who are given resources by their lord and left for a time to oversee them. From this parable he draws the following conclusion: "Jesus rejected collectivism and the mentality that has occupied America for the last few decades: that everyone gets a trophy – equal outcomes for inequitable performance. There are winners and yes, there are losers. And wins and losses are determined by the diligence and determination of the i

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

Chad Marshall reviews Mark S. Gignilliat, "Karl Barth and the Fifth Gospel: Barth’s Theological Exegesis of Isaiah" (Ashgate, 2009) . This book is an interesting case study in Barth's theological exegesis, and Marshall's review is very illuminating. Be sure to check it out ! ================================== Follow @WTravisMcMaken

Nein! Or, against Robert Grow and in defense of the Occupy Movement

Attentive readers will have noticed that things have been rather quiet around here. There are many reasons for this: for instance, I’ve been trying to get things together to defend my dissertation in December, teaching responsibilities have ballooned as the semester’s end approaches, etc. However, a not insignificant factor has been the Occupy Movement (hereafter referred to as #OWS), which is now in its third month. Considerable percentages of my woefully insufficient discretionary processing power (those slivers of mental capacity not taken up with aforementioned tasks and familial responsibilities) have been committed to staying abreast of the news and analysis concerning #OWS, and racking my brain in discerning how to lend it appropriate support from the theological field. Notice that I have been concerned with thinking about “how” to support #OWS, not “whether” I should support it. Indeed, I had occasion to mention #OWS in a favorable light in a public lecture on October 15th.

Karl Barth on Faith

Karl Barth, The Knowledge of God and the Service of God According to the Teaching of the Reformation: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in 1937 and 1938 (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005): 105-6. If faith is the life of the man who faces Christ as the one from Whom alone he receives his salvation, then it is easy to understand that the man who loves in faith, when he is confronted by the faithfulness of God, sees himself convicted of his own unfaithfulness…Such a man will see that he is in no position to have faith in himself, or to ascribe to himself a capacity or power by means of which he himself could somehow bring about his salvation, or co-operate in bringing it about. What proceeds from himself the man who believes can only consider as the sin which is forgiven him . If he were to any extent to rely on himself too, as well as on Jesus Christ, he would to that extent fall back into sin, and deny the completeness of the salvation received through Jesus Christ and thus t


I've spent way too much time this evening trying to get my various social media presences (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and this blog) synced up - hopefully they now are. This post is an experiment aimed at verifying that very hypothesis... If the hypothesis is confirmed, vastly more interesting posts on sundry theological topics will follow. If the hypothesis is disproved, then another test post will likely follow (unless I throw up my hands in despair and give up). ==================================

Barth, Anselm, and Analogy

(Ed. note: given that Keith's book was recently reissued in paperback , making it far more affordable, it seemed like a good time to post this...) This is a particularly good footnote from Keith Johnson on a proper understanding of the place Barth’s Anselm book plays in Barth’s theology, in continuity with McCormack and contra von Balthasar. Although undermining HUvB’s pictures of Barth’s development does not put the final nail in the coffin of the popular picture on Barth and the analogy of being (that he didn’t understand it, that he changed his mind about it, etc.), it does (or ought to) at least shift the burden of proof off of opponents of the popular picture, and onto its proponents. As usual, bold is mine and italics are original to the text. Keith L. Johnson, Karl Barth and the Analogia entis, T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology (London; T&T Clark, 2010). This book [Barth’s Anselm book] plays an important role in von Balthasar’s reading of Barth, as he l

Come Have Some Coffee With Me @ Lindenwood University Tomorrow

If you are in the St. Louis area, consider dropping by Lindenwood University tomorrow afternoon to get a cup of coffee with me, along with some of my colleagues and students. As an added bonus, you will receive the rare and inestimably valuable opportunity to listen to me pontificate on all manner of things. My goal is to squeeze ten pages into a twenty-minute presentation…so, that will be interesting in itself. On top of that, I only have one footnote in that whole presentation, so you know that it will be the most amazing thing ever. In all seriousness, it should be a good time so stop by if you can. ==================================

Well, hello there...

Well, hello there, gentle reader. Long time no see. It is I, your intrepid theo-blogger. Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. The truth is, I have been buried under a pile of work here at Lindenwood , teaching 120+ students about world religions and the history of Christianity. In fact, last week was mid-term week. As if that wasn’t enough, I had the incredible foresight to assign a paper due at about the same time. Suffice it to say, I spent the last week or so grading until my fingers bled and I began bleeding from my ears. On top of that, each and every of the incredibly few spare moments I’m able to carve out has been directed toward getting my dissertation ready to defend (it’s getting close, cross your fingers!). On top of that even further, I’m currently working on a presentation on “sacred space” for a panel discussion and Q&A on that topic next week here on campus (if you are in the St. Louis area and want to attend, contact me and I’ll send you the flier).

Bultmann on What Schleiermacher Got Right and Wrong

It’s turning into something of a “theological descendants of Schleiermacher commenting on his thought” week here at DET. I had a quote on him from Barth on Wednesday , and today it’s Bultmann. And yes, I’m reading Bultmann. Blame David . Rudolf Bultmann, What Is Theology , Fortress Texts in Modern Theology (Roy A. Harrisville, trans.; Eberhard Jüngel and Klaus W. Müller, eds.; Minneapolis, MN; Fortress Press, 1997) : 42. Schleiermacher’s analysis of the feeling of absolute dependence is not simply false. He does, in fact, see that God is not “given” - neither a given of that type of world toward which I know I am so dependent that I oppose it in the feeling of freedom, nor a given within the feeling of freedom, in regard to which I may speak of the “ deus in nobis ”… Schleiermacher sees that we can only speak of God when we speak of our existence , and that this is given us only in the question, that is, is not really given . Of course, he does not see that we come no further th

Barth on Schleiermacher (with brief thoughts on American Evangelicalism)

Karl Barth, The Theology of Schleiermacher: Lecture’s at Göttingen, Winter Semester of 1923/24 (Dietrich Ritschl, ed.; Geoffrey W. Bromiley, trans.; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982) : xv. Theologically the “genius” of the major part of the church is that of Schleiermacher. All the so-to-speak official impulses and movements of the centuries since the Reformation find a center of unity in him: orthodoxy, pietism, the Enlightenment. All the official tendencies of the Christian present emanate from him like rays: church life, experiential piety, historicism, psychologism, and ethicism. We need not ask how far he constituted this center personally and directly or simply as a proponent of the romantic and idealistic movement of his age – how far, then, the threads that link the past and the future also run back beyond him. Suffice it to say that almost all of them run by way of him, so that with a good conscience we can call him a type of what was determi

What Am I Reading? Rosalind Marshall on John Knox

Rosalind K. Marshall, John Knox (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000). My teaching duties in the upcoming Spring semester will involve work on the Scots Confession, and so I’ve been reading up on Knox and the Scottish Reformation in order to get the necessary background information and big-picture perspective. There aren’t a lot of books out there to give one that information, or at least not many academic books (I’ll likely discuss an exception to this judgment in a later ‘What Am I Reading?’ post…), and Marshall’s book certainly does NOT fill this lacunae. Academic it is not. However, Marshall is an engaging writer and the book is well researched, making it very suitable for orienting oneself to the subject matter as well as being accessible to your average educated adult reader. For academics, this means it makes for a quick and enjoyable read. One might even keep it on one’s nightstand for a bit of light reading before bed. One of Marshall’s strengths is her ability to see Knox the man i

My Most Recent Publication

I have a review of Amy Marga's book, Karl Barth’s Dialogue with Catholicism in Göttingen and Münster: Its Significance for His Doctrine of God , that is now up on the Center for Barth Studies website . Surf on over and check it out! ==================================

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. It’s a week early for this post on the normal rotation, but I came across some important and worthwhile stuff that I wanted to spread the word about. First off, it is time to begin announcing that Bruce McCormack will be delivering the 2011 Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in a week or so. Thanks to Jason Goroncy , from whom I shamelessly stole the below: Lecture One: Tuesday, September 27 | 7:00-8:30 pm “The Erosion of Protestant Commitments in the Evangelical Movement: On the Importance of the Doctrine of God in Evangelical Theology Today” Lecture Two: Wednesday, September 28 | 2:00-3:30 pm “From the One God to the Trinity: The Creation of Christian Theism” Lecture Three: Wednesday, September 28 | 4:00-5:30 pm “The Great Reversal: From the Economy of God to Triunity in Modern Theology” Lecture Four: Thursday, September 29 | 4

Ellen Charry’s “God and the Art of Happiness” – Part 2 recap

Well, it happened again. As with Part 1, I was planning to write my own recap of Part 2…until I discovered that Charry has already done it better than I could. So, I’m just going to quote her again. More comments to follow. Ellen Charry, God and the Art of Happiness , 250: Across epochs, locations, languages, circumstances, cultures, and discourses, texts in both Testaments of Scripture agree that the maker of heaven and earth seeks creation’s flourishing. All the texts we have considered argue that reverent devotion to the creator and redeemer of the world is the happy life, for it crafts one into an instrument of divine wisdom, love, and goodness. The various patterns of life that Scripture intends to draw the reader into drive toward one goal: organizing ourselves around life in God that we may enjoy ourselves as we are buoyed by the love, beauty, goodness, and wisdom of God, which hoist us aloft. That the visions they paint frame the issue differently is a great strength rather

Wisdom from Master Kong

As those who follow this blog know, I'm currently in my first semester as an assistant professor of religion at Lindenwood University . Part of my consistent teaching load is a course introducing students to the world's major religions. It has been a lot of fun getting into these religions and their primary texts and, as an aside, my Barthianism makes it especially easy to find this stuff interesting and useful while also non-threatening. In any case, I came across a passage from Master Kong (Confucius) in the Analects this morning and it struck a chord with me. I would go so far to say that it encapsulates the modus operandi of this blog at least, and also my own approach to the theological task - at least as that approach takes shape in the present stage of my career. So, here it is: "I once did not eat all day and did not sleep all night in order to think, but there was no benefit. It would have been better to study" (15.31). ==================================

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. This should have been posted on Saturday, but I’m lucky that I was able to bang it out at all. So, if there is anyone out there who would possibly care about this delay: deal with it. Of course, I’m talking mostly to myself… Anyway, here is a very brief list of links. I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of goings on in the theoblogosphere, but I don’t always have time to put everything interesting in the list. Obviously, everyone needs to check out my post supplying a translation from Eberhard Busch’s recently published journal of his time as Karl Barth’s research assistant . That goes without saying. So, what else should you read? “Impossible Possibilities: On Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible ” - A thought-provoking book review, and review of a review, from one whom I recently described in correspondence (to a third party) as “my theologically conjoined twin.” “Edi

Karl Barth on Eberhard Jüngel’s “God’s Being Is In Becoming” - from a new book by Eberhard Busch

And now for a DET exclusive... As some of you may already be aware, Eberhard Busch has recently published an incredible new resource for Barth studies, namely, a compendium of his notes from his time as Karl Barth’s assistant ( Meine Zeit mit Karl Barth ). Those who know the Barth studies landscape don’t need to be told how significant this is; to those of you who don’t know the landscape so well, suffice it to say that this volume will be of great interest. As a case in point, I present the below. Busch’s publishers have made a tract of his text available as a bit of a sample, and my friend and colleague from Princeton Seminary, Matt Bruce (also, coincidently, a friend of the blog and the Karl Barth Blog Conference ), passed along those pages and a rough-and-ready translation of a couple interesting paragraphs. These paragraphs recount a discussion with Barth concerning Eberhard Jüngel’s then recently published, God’s Being Is In Becoming . Barth provides an appraisal (positive,

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. Well, let’s see here. I want to start by giving a shout-out to Timothy Butler , a theology blogger that I came across and interacted with a number of years ago. Why the shout-out? Tim is from the St. Louis area, and is – talk about the world’s smallness – an alumnus of my institution. On top of that, he’s teaching for my department as an adjunct this year (as well as starting doctoral studies – he’ll be a busy guy). All of which lead to us finally meeting in person over lunch yesterday. It’s always lots of fun to meet face to face with those I’ve met keyboard to keyboard in the theo-blogosphere. Also, I want to highlight a recent guest-post (over at the blog, Two Friars and a Fool) by my good friend and partner in crime, David Congdon , entitled: The Evangelical Hypothesis . It is well worth your time. Here is the heart of his proposal, but you’ll need to go read the whole thing to u

Is Barth's God Too Transcendent? It depends...

...on which Barth you're talking about. There are a number of stock criticisms made of Barth’s theology. Chief among them is the claim that his emphasis upon Jesus Christ and God renders his theology one-sided in that it leaves no room for the rest of us, for creation. In other words, the claim is that Barth’s God is too transcendent, so much God without us that there is precious little room left for God with us. Consequently, so the argument goes, the God we meet in Barth’s theology is fundamentally a God against us rather than for us. Amy Marga describes this worry in her book, Karl Barth’s Dialogue with Catholicism : [A] doctrine of God in which God is wholly separated from creation can bring no hope to a broken humanity. An utterly transcendent God brings no peace. God must be both above all things but also in all things…Guilty of this kind of imbalance were none other than the dialectical theologians [ed. note, with KB in the van]. They…reverted back to a doctrine of God th

Assessment in Higher Education

Today was my first official day on the job, and it was primarily spent in a whole-faculty workshop pertaining to assessment. Following a lengthy presentation about assessment, and a lunch to give us time to reflect, we gathered as departments to chart some program-level learning objectives. This was the first step in what will be at least a year long look at our various programs, and how the various courses fit into the programs, etc. All of this is well and good, and certainly necessary. All of this is aimed at verifying that students have learned something, and determining what they have learned, when they leave our institution. That said, I could not help but thinking as I listened to the presentation that, at the end of the day, what assessment does is shift the focus away from grading students to grading institutions and programs. One could argue that this is necessary given rampant grade inflation: i.e., since grading students doesn't mean anything anymore, we need to pay a

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. I’m now installed at Lindenwood University , and am looking down the barrel of orientation week (the coming week), and the first week of classes (the week after that). My last week was spent banging out a few things that slightly resemble syllabi, as well as unpacking my books and arranging them in my office. Of course, the past two weeks have been a marathon of errands trying to get the family settled into life here. There’s plenty more to be done on that count, however, as well as with preparing for classes. It will be an interesting semester… Hopefully I’ll resume actual blogging sooner rather than later. In the meantime, here’s another set of links to amuse and inspire you. “More Damn Doodlings” - Kim Fabricius just can’t help himself. Here’s a good bit: “Invite Jesus into my life? You’re joking! It was breaking and entering – trashing the place, stealing the valuables, and

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. So, I'm stuck in NJ while the wife and kids have flown to MO. Why, you may ask? Because the company I reserved a moving truck with a month ago was unable to provide the equipment. Suffice it to say that I may well provide a post in the future about which rental company NOT to use - that depends on whether they make it worth my while not to. Cross your fingers. In any case, this leaves me with time to write a link round-up. Here you go, in no particular order: "The real impasse in the debate over Rob Bell" - David Congdon weighs in, highlighting the way these debates are artificially framed in terms of calvinism and arminianism. "Doodlings Redivivus" - Kim Fabricius is back at it: "Is it surprising that so many American Christians are obsessed with hell when mass incarceration and capital punishment are the way the nation does justice?" "No

Happy Birthday to DET!

DET is 5 years old today, and we're hovering right around 600 posts. Wow. I'm not going to reflect on this any further because I suspect that such reflections could quickly turn demoralizing. Working on my dissertation will be a far better use of my time...I hope. ==================================


My apologies for the way in which DET has basically fallen silent. I had a nice 6 post/2 week rotation going there for a while. As an excuse for this lamentable state of affairs, I cite my family's impending move to Missouri (we'll be in transit in less than a week) and my mad dash attempt to complete a draft of my final dissertation chapter before leaving. If I pull it off (and if you follow me on Twitter , you know that I I'm hopeful at the moment based on a couple extraordinary days), I'll have a full draft, sans only silly little things like an introduction, conclusion, abstract, acknowledgments, etc. You know, the sort of stuff you can bang out over coffee the day before the defense...or not... Seriously, though, all my energy has been going into these two things (and the odd book review posting ), leaving no time left over for theo-blog-ish ruminations. To keep yourself busy in the meantime, I suggest looking at my recent post, "What is Theology?" , o

New Center for Barth Studies Book Review

Derek Alan Woodard-Lehman reviews Gerald McKenny, "The Analogy of Grace: Karl Barth’s Moral Theology" (Oxford, 2010) . Derek is a friend of the blog, contributing to the most recent Karl Barth Blog Conference (KBBC on the top menu). Be sure to check it out ! ==================================

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. I’m running a bit behind on getting this post done. Oh well. Somehow the earth will keep revolving and rotating. We hope. In any case, that I’m running behind means that I don’t have time to put these links into convenient categories. Here they are thrown together in no particular order (as far as I know): John Drury gives us an assorted collection of quotations from Barth concerning Hegel. The Women In Theology blog reflects on the dynamics surrounding women in ministry and, particularly, female academics in theology and/or religion departments. Roger Olson provides more reflection on neo-fundamentalism , especially the way in which folks from this camp tend to take up a primarily defensive theological posture, rather than a creative or reconstitutive one. Wow. I knew this project was around the theo-blogosphere, but I never stumbled upon the “hive,” as it were. In any case, th