Showing posts from February, 2013

My Most Recent Publications

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do one of these posts. They are always fun to write. *ahem Anyway, for the one or two of you that might actually care, I’ve brought two more book reviews into the world. They appear in the most recent (January 2013) issue of Reviews in Religion and Theology . It looks like, at least for the time being, this issue is free for folks to access so surf on over and check it out. I’ve been writing for RIRT for a number of years and think it provides an excellent resource. Here is some more information on my two reviews in this issue. W. Travis McMaken, review of Matthew Levering, Predestination: Biblical and Theological Paths (Oxford, 2011) . Click here for the review. W. Travis McMaken, review of Ronnie L. Littlejohn, Confucianism: An Introduction (I. B. Tauris, 2011) . Click here for the review. Enjoy! ================================== Follow @WTravisMcMaken

Karl Barth on the Trinity, Dogma, Scripture, and Revelation

I have read Barth’s CD material on the Trinity before, and I even wrote a paper about it once (a revised version of which is online here ). But I have not read it since I owned a copy of CD 1.1, and so I’ve wanted to re-read it and get my copy marked up for easier use. There are some interesting things in there; for instance, the stuff from my previous post on  theology as rational and rationalistic .  Take, as another instance, the following excerpt. Barth is here speaking about the relationship of the doctrine of the Trinity to dogma, scripture, and revelation. He expands on what he says here with a small print section that immediately follows, but I won’t go through the trouble of typing that all. You can look it up if you’re interested. It is really good stuff, though. The basic point is that doctrine must be done on the basis of scripture, but that doctrine is always a fundamentally imperfect attempt to say what the biblical text has said in a way that makes sense in our own tim

What if Marx and Engels had been Englishmen? Helmut Gollwitzer’s answer...

In his autobiographical reflection on life lived as a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union after World War 2 , Helmut Gollwitzer recounts – or, perhaps better, reconstructs – a conversation he had shared in during that time. In it he imagines how things might have been different had Marx and Engels been born in England. The resultant reflection, which I reproduce below, is both amusing and profound. Helmut Gollwitzer, Unwilling Journey (SCM, 1956), 128. The fateful thing about Marxism was that it had been founded by two Germans. If Marx and Engels had been Englishmen they would have planned a practical political programme for the liberation of the working classes and for the reorganization of society. As Germans, however, and above all as disciples of Hegel, they could not be pragmatists. Instead of contenting themselves with the discovery that in a capitalist society all political strife meant class-warfare, they immediately had to magnify this in the Communist Manifesto into a p

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. Just under a Fortnight this time, I believe, so getting back to something like normal. I have found, however, that my recent practice of just providing post titles and links has made the process of putting these list together much easier. So my plan is to make that the status quo for the future. Of course, I will provide brief notes when necessary to highlight the unique significance of a particular link. Collin Cornell and Kaleidobible Now, to begin, I want to highlight the work being done by a (relatively) new blogger named Collin Cornell at hid blog, Kaleidobible . Collin has been featured in a number of these link posts before. He has kept up a fairly steady offering of rather thoughtful post, most of which have to do with the intersection of biblical studies (especially, Old Testament studies) and something like Barthian theology. This blog deserves more traffic, and you will

Beza’s Last Testament to Calvin

As I mentioned previously , I’ve been working through Beza’s vita Calvini for the first time recently. I have now completed it, and I wanted to share with you all, gentle readers, the picture that Beza paints of Calvin after recounting the latter’s death. This is interesting because it tells us a bit of what Calvin looked like, what he personal habits were, etc. It is a sort of hagiography, true, but it is not an uncritical or dishonest one. So, without further ado, I give you Beza’s literary snapshot of the man he called (shortly after the bit I reproduce ends) “a kind of Christian Hercules”:  Theodore Beza’s “Life of Calvin” in John Calvin, John Calvin: Tracts and Letters , 1.xcvii-xcix. As always, emphasis is mine. He [Calvin] lived 54 years, 10 months, 17 days, the half of which he spent in the ministry. He was of moderate stature, of a pale and dark complexion, with eyes that sparkled to the moment of his death, and bespoke his great intellect. In dress he was neither over car

Reflections on Teaching Karl Barth to Undergraduates

Over the past January, I undertook to teach my first class on Karl Barth at Lindenwood University . Furthermore, this was the first time a class on Barth has ever been offered at LU. Put those two things together, and it was a rather rewarding undertaking. So I thought that I would offer up a few reflections on the experience for you, gentle readers. But first, allow me to set the scene. Lindenwood is a liberal arts school with historic ties to the Presbyterian church but now without a confessional status. I teach in the religion department, which means that all of our instruction is undertaken from a non-confessional standpoint. This means, as I tell my students at the beginning of every new class, that we study religious material without assuming that any one particular viewpoint is correct. Consequently, what the students go away thinking is not my concern; what concerns me is only whether they learn and can handle the material. That said, demographics dictate that the majority of

Books I Read in 2012

Just for fun last year I decided to keep track of books that I read cover to cover. Reading in this way has been a bit of an anomaly for me the last couple years laboring under the burden of teaching lots of things for the first time, so that is my excuse in advance for why this list is rather short. But I did get to work through some good and rewarding books, and I thought that I would share them with you, gentle readers. Enjoy! Barth, Fragment Grave and Gay Bayassee, Reading Augustine van Buren, Austin Dogmatics Calvin (McKim, ed.), Institutes of the Christian Religion (abridged) Calvin, Tracts and Letters , vol 4 Cottret, John Calvin Gollwitzer, The Demands of Freedom Gollwitzer, An Introduction to Protestant Theology Gollwitzer, The Rich Christians and Poor Lazarus Gollwitzer, Unwilling Journey Gordon, Calvin Green, Doxological Theology Hammann, Rudolf Bultmann Levering, Predestination Littlejohn, Confucianism Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding Moorhead, Prince

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. As I said in the last installment , I’m trying to catch up after months of not posting links to all these wonderful tidbits around the interwebs. So, once again I will only be posting titles with their links. Enjoy!  A Note on the Theological (Mis-)Use of the Word “Ontological” Towards a Modest and Messy Manifesto for Pastors: a draft Bilbo–I Mean, Adam–Was a Historical Person (and Ken Ham has a poster to prove it) OK, brief note on this one. It is from DET contributor Kait Dugan on her other blog: Discipleship and pistis Christou Doo-doodlings General and Special Ethics in Barth's Church Dogmatics Another brief note – this is a very significant post from David Congdon, who needs no introduction to faithful DET readers: Two apocalyptic families: a modest proposal 3 Ways I Would Like to See Evangelical Leaders Stop Defending The Bible The Deeper Scandal of the Evangelical

February Book 'O the Month

Mohr, Georg, and Brian O'Connor, eds. German Idealism: An Anthology and Guide . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006. 481 pgs. If you have read, let's say, more than one book by a modern theologian or about modern theology, you probably know that the period from around 1780-1830 in northern central Europe was more than a little influential. This period — known as German Idealism —  can be captured as an encounter between some of history's greatest minds and worst grammarians. The former makes them worth reading and the latter makes reading them like spending the day in wet socks. But for anyone who is truly invested in much of the theology discussed on blog sites like ours, there is simply no way around such a task. Don't get me wrong, I have read plenty about Kant and would have been stuck in the swamp that is the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals for a long while if it was not for someone like Christine Korsgaard. Her introduction to the text highli