Showing posts from February, 2015

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. Ok, so it’s been more like a month and a half since the last link post , and things have been fairly busy here at DET. For starters, we finished the guest series by Nathan Hitchcock on “Eschatological Business.” The series is now indexed with the rest of the DET serials , and two of the posts appear in the links below. But we’ve also had a lot of good material from our regularly scheduled programing. For instance, Scott has been working his way through Timothy Gorringe’s book on Barth, subtitled Against Hegemony (see the links below), and I’m looking forward to see what further reflection it will spark. But before moving on to the links, I want to highlight a book that has recently been published on Barth’s theology. It is entitled The Only Sacrament Left to Us: The Threefold Word of God in the Theology and Ecclesiology of Karl Barth , written by Thomas Christian Currie who currentl

Gorringe on Barth: The Freedom of Theology vs. the Bondage of Worldviews

Karl Barth has bedeviled myriad interpreters, from existentialist theologians to orthodox Calvinists, with his tenacious and often strident efforts to keep theology free from the miserable conflict of "worldviews". Timothy Gorringe, in his study Karl Barth: Against Hegemony (Oxford, 1999) helps us understand why the Swiss dogmatician was so resolute on this score. Essentially, as Gorringe reads him, Barth equates worldview with ideology, and theology must be bound only to the Word of God and not to any distorting human intellectual constructs. This does not mean, though, that that the issue is preserving theology per se from the fray of human conflicts and controversies; rather, the question is: Does theological ratiocination bind or loose believers for the concrete struggles of social and political life. Gorringe writes: Barth has rightly been described [by Clifford Green] as a "theologian of freedom". From one point of view the Church Dogmatics is a gigan

On “Aufhebung” in Barth’s Account of Religion

I’ve been working in Sven Ensminger’s book, Karl Barth’s Theology as a Resource for a Christian Theology of Religions (Bloomsbury, 2014) , and the below stuck out as something that I wanted to share. I appreciated Ensminger’s careful attention at numerous points to the subtleties of Barth’s language, some of which is easily lost in English translation. Here Ensminger discusses the various connotations attached to the term Aufhebung in Barth’s treatment of religion in CD/KD §17. This is from page 52 in Ensminger’s book: Revelation will single out religion insofar as it bears witness to the name of Jesus Christ (this will be Barth’s argument particularly in the third section of §17 on the true religion). Revelation will restrain or suspend religion in order to ensure that it is aware that it cannot stand on its own (this will be Barth’s argument particularly in the second section of §17 on religion being unbelief). Revelation will uphold and preserve religion insofar as it is true t

Stringfellow's Critique of Marxist Theologies

William Stringfellow, the feisty and often trenchant Episcopal lawyer-theologian, was no ordinary biblicist. He reproached evangelical conservatives for their literalist hermeneutics (perhaps sometimes to the point of caricature) and eschewed efforts to harmonize apparently conflicting biblical testimonies within a univocal and overarching doctrinal framework. In this regard, he was heir to the dialectical theology movement. Still, also like other dialectical theologians, Stringfellow stressed the importance of immersion in Scripture for individuals and communities and he sought to confront socio-political realities with the light of the biblical gospel. Raised in a working-class New England family, Stringfellow began his early political involvements in church and society through leadership in the Student Christian Movement, in a vein we might nowadays call left-liberal; various engagements -- especially post-war meetings with European Nazi resisters, urban ministry in Harlem and an

On Luther’s Return to Augustine’s Doctrine of Divine Righteousness

Sun-young Kim, Luther on Faith and Love: Christ and the Law in the 1535 Galatians Commentary , Emerging Scholars (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014). Martin Luther [Public domain / {{PD-US}}], via Wikimedia Commons In her book on Luther’s understanding of faith and love, Sun-young Kim refers to Augustine on a number of occasions. She does so in the introduction, for instance, in order to undermine a widespread but unfounded mischaracterization of the two figures: “Augustine, the theologian of love, and Luther, the theologian of faith.” The reality is a bit more complicated than that: “First, Augustine was a theologian of faith no less than of love, and Luther was a theologian of love no less than faith. Second, whereas Augustine employs love as the preeminent—but not exclusive—theological concept for the Christian’s relation to God, Lither uses faith” (3). I love Augustine. I disagree with him a fair bit, but I love him. And so it made me happy to see such mischaracterizations ta

Love Trumps Fear

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love (John 4:18, KJV). Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he [Christ] himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15, NRSV). Two films I've seen recently connect the themes of peace and violence, love and justice in a powerful way, and they have prompted me to ponder the nature of power in movements for social change. The first film is the current hit   Selma , director Ava DuVernay's stunning interpretation of the dramatic and bloody civil rights marches in Alabama that helped drive passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. (I'm not an historian and I won't enter into the controversies that have beset the film, unfairly in my view. All I wi

Quiet Tuesday Morning

Hi Folks, It goings to be a quiet Tuesday morning here at DET. I know, I know. I hear you, gentle readers. You have grown accustomed to a bracing dose of theological reflection, served up hot and tasty here at DET each Tuesday (and Thursday!) morning. Alas, today I must disappoint you. But I would not leave you entirely bereft... You remember, of course, that we have recently concluded a deeply engaging guest series on the topic of "Eschatological Business" from friend-of-DET Nathan Hitchcock. If you haven't worked through that yet, I highly recommend it to you. There was some good discussion in the comments threads as well, so don't miss those. The series is now indexed on the DET "Serials" page . Also, on Monday the Center for Barth Studies published a book review from yours truly, highlighting the recently reissued (in an affordable paperback!) volume from Kimlyn Bender entitled Karl Barth's Christological Ecclesiology . My review isn't any

Retrieving a Radical Barth: Gorringe's Reading

Recently I've been reading, marking and inwardly digesting Timothy Gorringe's excellent contextual study, Karl Barth Against Hegemony (New York, Oxford Press, 1999). Copies of this book tend to be pricey, but my wife tracked down a copy -- from somewhere across the pond, I think -- for about $30. The book, part of the Oxford series Christian Theology in Context that Gorringe edited with Graham Ward, offers a genetic-historical overview of Barth's theological development from his student days to his final dogmatic writings in Das christliche Leben ( The Christian Life ). Rather than focusing on paradigm shifts in Barth's thought (as Bruce McCormack does, for example), this text book presents Barth's theological work as, on the whole, exhibiting a more or less unified trajectory. In this vein, Gorringe draws heavily, though not uncritically, from the provocative interpretation of Barth proffered in the early 1970s by the German socialist theologian Friedrich-Wilh

Eschatological Business: Recreating the Earth

[Ed. note: This post is part of a guest-series by Nathan Hitchcock . Nathan is Associate Professor of Church History and Theology at Sioux Falls Seminary, and is the author of Karl Barth and the Resurrection of the Flesh . Click here for this series’ description , and it is indexed on the DET Serials page .] When Christians go to work, they do so to recreate the earth . They shape businesses to be more efficient and equitable, as in the manager who optimizes workers’ productivity with a wise employee manual. They develop the land with new technologies, as with the farmer who increases soybean productivity while curbing erosion. They contemplate the future of humanity with social critique and compelling embodiment, as with the dance artist’s inspiring performances. In anticipation of eternal life Christians exercise their “eschatological imagination,” hoping for “the world transformed in future time” (Garrett Green, “Imagining the Future,” in Future as God’s Gift , 82). In all