Showing posts from 2014

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. Ok, honestly…it’s been over a month since the last link post . What can I say? It’s been busy! AAR, Thanksgiving, giving finals, grading finals , and now we’re staring down the barrel of Christmas and New Year. I’m hard at work preparing syllabi for coming semesters and fulfilling other bureaucratic responsibilities, and I know that the other DET contributors are in similar situations. For that reason, I’d like to announce that DET will be on hiatus until after Epiphany . We’re going to have some good stuff for you once we resume, so mark your calendars and stay tuned! In the meantime, why not revisit some of the more recent DET posts listed below, or catch up on your reading from the wider theo-blogosphere. If all else fails, dig into the DET serials collection , or the Karl Barth Blog Conference archives . There’s more than enough kicking around to keep you busy. We’ll see you

Jesus and the Kingdom: Three Paradigms (Part 4)

Paradigm 3. Jesus himself incarnates the kingdom in person. "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20b-21, NASB). "[S]trait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life," (Matt. 7:14, AV). “I am the way," (John 14:6, NRSV). If we take the passages above -- and others from the New Testament -- and read them together, in a canonical conversation, something interesting emerges: Despite the diversity among the individual canonical writings, when the texts are read together a certain blurring or interpenetration seems to occur between the goal of salvation (e.g., the kingdom of God or eternal life) and the pathway to that goal. In both the passages from Luke and from Matthew above, the Greek work translated as "way" is ὁδός, which can also be translated as "road", "path" or "trac

My Book on Barth and Baptism is now available with Logos Bible Software

I was very happy to learn yesterday that the folks over at Logos Bible Software are selling my book on Barth and baptism - The Sign of the Gospel - as part of a package deal whereby you can get 15 volumes from Fortress Press’s Emerging Scholars series . So if you use Logos you can now read some fresh, top-notch scholarship. Here is a link to the Logos site . My volume is at the bottom. That’s what I get for starting the title with an ‘S’… ================================== Follow @WTravisMcMaken

Reading Scripture with John Calvin: Malachi 2:13–16

Malachi 2.13–16 [13] Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. [14] You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. [15] Has not the LORD made the two of you one? You belong to him in body and spirit. And why has he made you one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. [16] “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate it when people clothe themselves with injustice,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. ========================== COMMENTARY: Calvin continues his hammering on the priests. Although vs. 13 seems to have the whole people in view, Calvin nonetheless blames the priests bec

David Fergusson on Science and Religion

Reading through David Fergusson’s new book on the doctrine of creation, I was pleased with how he handled the doctrine of providence especially as it relates to evolutionary science. It seems to me that he strikes a good balance in stressing the importance for Christian theology in allowing science to be science, while also registering gentle warnings against what increasingly gets labelled as “scientism” – that is, a reductionist scientific materialism. So, without further ado, here’s Fergusson. David Fergusson, Creation , Guides to Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 88–89. Even after science has done all its work, there will be ways of understanding and describing phenomena that draw upon different conceptual resources. There are questions, commitments, and insights that by their nature require description in terms not reducible to the methods of the natural sciences. No single discipline has an exhaustive or totalizing role to play. If the engagement with Darwinism h

Announcing the 2015 Karl Barth Pastor’s Conference

Dear Gentle Readers, I have been asked to inform you of an exciting new development in the world of North American Barth Studies, namely, the inaugural convening of a “Pastors Conference” in conjunction with the usual Princeton Seminary Barth conference. The conference theme is “Karl Barth and the Mission of the Church.” The conference will be held at Princeton Theological Seminary on June 24-26. The conference website is here . Make your plans! Sincerely, Mgmt. P.S. Today is the anniversary of Barth's death in 1968. ================================== Follow @WTravisMcMaken

DET Contributor Scott Jackson to Chat with "Barth for Dummies"

You're no dummy. You track the theological and ecclesiastical scenes. As a faithful DET reader, you've probably read some Karl Barth and some modern theologians -- at least a little, probably a whole lot more. You go to church from time to time, maybe a lot, or at least have seen churches depicted on TV. Nonetheless, you might want to head on over to the "Karl Barth for Dummies" page on Facebook this Thursday, December 11th (9 p.m. CST) , where I will be holding forth on the topic of ... well, whatever page admin wants to ask me. And I believe you also will have the opportunity to lob thoughtful and courteous questions or adulatory comments at me. Be sure to "like" the FB page -- it's a nice one, replete with humorous memes and pithy quotation (or paraphrases) from Barth's sprawling oeuvre. Our intrepid DET founder, W. Travis McMaken, has led the way with a fine interview on this page ( read the transcript at here ), and he assures me the subsequ

Peter Martyr Vermigli on the Holy Spirit

I’ve enjoyed occasional dips into Peter Martyr Vermigli’s writings over the years (if you don’t know anything about Vermigli, I recommend this recent blog post that tells the story of the Reformation through Vermigli’s biography), and I have been doing so again lately. This was occasioned by my leafing through the first volume of the Peter Martyr Library and discovering that he had written an exposition of the Apostles’ Creed within a year after leaving Italy (he wrote it in Italian) and establishing himself as an important intellectual contributor to the Protestant cause. While reading tonight, I came upon this paragraph where Vermigli disambiguates the term “spirit” and explains how it is used with reference to the third divine mode of being, and I thought that it deserved to be shared. Bold is mine. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Early Witings: Creed, Scripture, Church , The Peter Martyr Library, vol. 1 (Di Gangi and McLelland, trans.; McLelland, ed.; Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century

Why the Niebuhrs Still Matter (Part 3)

"Christendom has often achieved apparent success by ignoring the precepts of its founder." ~ H. Richard Niebuhr ( Social Sources , p. 3). "I hate, I despise your religious festivals; I cannot stand your assemblies." ~ Amos 5:21 (NIV). "All theology really begins with Amos." ~ Reinhold Niebuhr (quoted in Paeth, p. 4). In the eighth century BCE, the prophet Amos, herdsman and pruner of sycamores, left the comfort of his day jobs in the southern kingdom to deliver urgent oracles of judgment to the northern Kingdom of Israel. We might well think of him as the first "crisis" theologian. Israel was enjoying unprecedented prosperity while the Assyrian threat was held at bay by infighting within the empire. Amos' message was stark: The nation had squandered the spoils of its covenant with God, despoiled its cultic purity through religious syncretism and, amid great abundance, had exploited the poorest and the weakest members of society. &quo

Two New(ish) Books Worth Looking at While in the AAR Book Exhibition Hall

One of my publishers has asked that I help to publicize a couple of new – well, one brand new, and one new-ish – titles that they have put out on or in the neighborhood of Karl Barth. I also know the authors / editors of these volumes, so I’m happy to oblige. Those of you attending the AAR meeting at the end of the week should be sure to look them over in the book exhibition area and, dare I say, even consider purchasing them. Those of you know attending the AAR meeting should follow the links to the publisher’s website. I will be cut-and-pasting the book descriptions from their respective webpages. Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, The Gospel of God’s Reign: Living for the Kingdom of God , Blumhardt Series (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2013). “No doubt, it is common to hear Christians today declaring their allegiance to God's kingdom. But what does this actually entail, and what difference does it make? In his characteristically provocative and daring way, Christoph Blumhardt articulates

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. Maybe we’re getting to the point where I need to change the template for these post from talking about “The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere” to “The Past Month in the Theoblogosphere” . . . . In any case, it has been just shy of a month since the last link posts here at DET . As usual, we’ve got lots of interesting posts to link to, both from DET and elsewhere. We’re also staring down the barrel of this year’s national American Academy of Religion meeting, and I wanted to make sure that all of you – my gentle readers – had a chance to catch up on your reading in the meantime. So here’s what’s been happening at DET: Upcoming Interview with DET Founder & Editor, W. Travis McMaken - Well, not “upcoming” anymore, but the post contains links to the interview in case you missed it. Why the Niebuhrs Still Matter (Part 2) The “Social Creed” of the Methodist Episcopal Church,

Reading Scripture with John Calvin: Malachi 2:9–12

Malachi 2.9–12 [9] “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.” [10] Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another? [11] Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. [12] If anyone does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD remove him from the tents of Jacob – event though he brings an offering to the LORD Almighty. ========================== COMMENTARY: Calvin picks up in this, his 175th lecture on the minor prophets, right where he left off in the previous lecture—i.e., with (at least) one eye firmly fixed on the Roman church and its failings. Here he anticipates ways that the Roman clergy might try to wriggle out of the censure

Jesus and the Kingdom: Three Paradigms (Part 3)

Paradigm 2. Jesus is the bringer of the kingdom. Such dominant 20th century Protestant thinkers as Bultmann, Tillich and the early Barth (perhaps) embraced the ambiguities and tensions inherent in the firm distinction between Jesus and his message, on the one hand, and the faith of the church, on the other. This distinction -- or perhaps better put, aporia -- is often framed as a dilemma: The Christ of faith vs. the Jesus of history, or vice versa. These profound thinkers coped creatively with this tension -- in different ways, to be sure -- by shifting the locus of christology from the inner identity of Jesus' personal being, which preoccupied early christologians especially in the second through fifth centuries CE, to the moment of revelation or the birth of faith as noetic event. (I realize I'm oversimplifying here, but bear with me). After Weiss and Schweitzer dismantled a century of quests for a liberal Jesus, these theologians concluded that any bridges that sought to t

“Some Important Features of the Doctrine of Creation”

David Fergusson published a new book earlier this year dealing with the doctrine of creation. It is somewhere between an introductory overview and a precis of several important foundational moves for a constructive doctrine of creation in the contemporary Western context. All of this makes it a nice little read, and I recommend it. I also wanted to share a piece here or there with you, gentle readers, to whet your appetites for more. The rather lengthy quote below comes after Fergusson provides a quick reading of the most important biblical discussions – both OT and NT – of the doctrine of creation. These four “important features,” then, represent the payoff of this reading. They also serve as the rough contours of the doctrine of creation as a whole. David Fergusson, Creation , Guides to Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 9. (I’ve thrown in some bold to help with navigating the paragraph, and to emphasize a couple of good lines.) Some important features of the doctrin

Leaves from the Notebook of a Lapsed Barthian

I have a confession to make: I never finished reading CD I/2. (Do I hear a collective gasp of shock emanating from somewhere deep within New Jersey?). It's not like I didn't have ample chances. I made my first pass at it in 1997 in a seminar on the Dogmatics at the University of Chicago. But Chicago is on the quarter system, and it's physically impossible to read the CD in ten weeks -- unless, that is, one doesn't engage in such other activities as eating, sleeping, laundry, etc. As it was, it was bloody hard enough to keep up with the reading. Portrait of the author as a young man, attempting to read CD I/2 for the first time. Eight years later, while I was dissertating, I made another serious go at it; honestly, I truly did. It was the summer of Hurricane Katrina and everyone was on edge. My mother-in-law had lived in New Orleans back in the day, as had my parents and I, when I was a wee lad, back when my dad was in seminary. I recall riding from Amherst, Ma

The “Social Creed” of the Methodist Episcopal Church, adopted in 1908

Here’s an interesting historical tidbit for you that I came across recently. It is a “creed” adopted by Methodists in 1908 that addresses socio-economic conditions. As such it is part of the Social Gospel movement, which was recently the subject of a series from contributor Scott Jackson entitled “Rauschenbusch and the "Kingdom of Evil”. When reading this I noticed with gratitude that a number of points in this creed have been achieved, with chagrin that a number of the points are clearly relics of their own historical context, and with shame that so many of these points remain even today the stuff of dreams for social progressives. As quoted in Rosemary Radford Ruether, The Radical Kingdom (Harper & Row, 1970), 90. The Methodist Episcopal Church stands: For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life. For the principle of conciliation and arbitration in industrial dissensions. For the protection of the worker from dangerous machinery, occup

Why the Niebuhrs Still Matter (Part 2)

Modern Christian ethics, like modern Christian life, is riddled with ambiguities. The Christian moral thinker, much like Kierkegaard's knight of faith, is torn between two competing visions of what is really real. On the one hand, her faith teaches her to trust the God of creation and redemption, whose secret providence governs the ultimate course of human history, directing it to its appointed consummation in the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, both her mission of reconciliation and her solidarity with the rest of humanity in joy and suffering plunge her into the conflicted, broken and often violent affairs of the world -- the real world of spirit and matter that God supposedly has created and still loves, though truth be told, it's often hard to find clear evidence of that. Theology and ethics fall into error when they sidestep the tension in that dialectic by choosing one term over the other. Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr understood that dialectic. They wrote about it

Upcoming Interview with DET Founder & Editor, W. Travis McMaken

Good morning, gentle readers, or good whatever-the-time-of-day-is-that-you-read-this. I thought that I would post briefly to let you know that on Thursday October 23rd, at 10pm CST , I will be participating in an online interview with the mind behind “Karl Barth for Dummies” ( twitter / facebook ). KBfD has done a handful of these interviews before, most recently with Kait Dugan who curates the Center for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary ( click here to read that interview ). Long-time readers may recall that David Congdon and I participated in a similar sort of thing (a reddit AMA) a couple of years ago ( click here if you’re interested ). It should be a good interview. KBfD will have a set of questions for he and I to work through, and there may also be time for questions submitted “by the audience” (as it were), and I’ll certainly be dropping back around in the following days as much as I’m able to field such questions. So mark your calendars if you’re inter

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. Ok, it has been more like a month since the last link post . It’s a very busy time of year. But then again, what time of year isn’t very busy these days? Anyway, we’ve had some good posts here at DET, including the beginnings of a pair of new series by contributor Scott Jackson . So be sure to check those out. In any case, here is the full list: Why the Niebuhrs Still Matter (Part 1) Rosemary Radford Ruether on Counterrevolutionary Latitudinarianism Jesus and the Kingdom: Three Paradigms (Part 1) Reading Scripture with John Calvin: Malachi 2.6–9 Jesus and the Kingdom: Three Paradigms (Part 2) Here’s some interesting stuff for you from elsewhere: Translating Mark Driscoll Elite Attackers of Public Schools Don't Admit the Impact of Economic Inequality, Racism on Education New book series: Religion and Radicalism Faith Without Apologetics Outsourcing and privatisation: