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Part 2 - Scots Confession, History & Theology

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This is Part 2 in a series of adult education (Sunday School) classes that I taught at St. Charles Presbyterian Church (USA) in the early months of 2020. It provides a fairly thorough discussion of the Scots Confession's history and theology targeted (hopefully, effectively so) at the generally educated churchgoer.  Part 2 gets into the background of the Scots Confession. It surveys the state of the late medieval Christian Church as well as a number of reform movements (Francis of Assisi, Wycliffe, Hus, etc.) and gives a brief overview of Martin Luther's reformation and theology. It also explores chapters 6 - 10 in the confession itself, addressing topics like the incarnation, election, christology, atonement / salvation, and the creedal descent into hell. This is Part 2 in a 5-part series. You can  find the series index here . Here are some quotes from the episode: "And once you have an institution with a lot of wealth and power, what happens next? Corruption a

Videos Now Available! – SDT Digital Colloquium

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Dear Theological Friends, Thanks for your patience! It has been a rough year for all of us, and it took me longer to get these videos ready and posted than I had originally hoped. But very many thanks to our presenters for taking the time out in such a rough year to put together some really top-notch pieces of dialectical theological reflection for us! The current thinking is that these videos will be available for viewing until the end of January, 2021. We hope that they will provide some good theological food for thought over the holidays and into the new year. They are certainly worth your time and attention. In addition to viewing these lectures, I also encourage you to follow these scholars on social media (links below) to stay up to date with their work! Dialectically, - Travis McMaken & David Congdon Eleonora Hof (Pastor of Ieper /Ypres, United Protestant Church in Belgium) and Collin Cornell (Visiting Assistant Professor, University of the South) , “Critical

October 22nd Digital Colloquium – Society for Dialectical Theology

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The Society for Dialectical Theology will host a digital colloquium, free and open to the interested theological public, on October 22nd, 2020 from 2–4 PM CST . Room will be limited to the first 100 participants. The Zoom meeting access information is available at the bottom of this post. The colloquium will comprise three short (~20 minute) presentations followed by an equally short response and time for general Q&A and conversation. Here are the details: Eleonora Hof (Pastor of Ieper /Ypres, United Protestant Church in Belgium) and Collin Cornell (Visiting Assistant Professor, University of the South), “Critical and Constructive Engagements with the Dialectical Theology of KH Miskotte.” Ashley Cocksworth (Senior Lecturer in Theology and Practice at the University of Roehampton), “Karl Barth’s Spirituality.” Rochhuahthanga “RC” Jongte (Doctoral candidate, Princeton Theological Seminary), “Election, Option for the Poor, and Divine Being: A Liberationist Reading of Karl

Part 1 - Scots Confession, History & Theology

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This is Part 1 in a series of adult education (Sunday School) classes that I taught at St. Charles Presbyterian Church (USA) in the early months of 2020. It provides a fairly thorough discussion of the Scots Confession's history and theology targeted (hopefully, effectively so) at the generally educated churchgoer.  Part 1 tries to answer the question of what a confession actually is in different Christian traditions, talks about the context and character of the Scots Confession, and explores chapters 1 - 5 in the confession itself. This is Part 1 in a 5-part series. You can  find the series index here . ================================== Follow @WTravisMcMaken Subscribe to Die Evangelischen Theologen

Barth's "Göttingen Dogmatics" - §3: Deus Dixit (“God has spoken”)

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We return to Barth’s first dogmatics lectures, and to the elaboration of one of his key theological concepts – both in this earlier period as well as throughout his later Church Dogmatics , although there it recedes into the background a bit despite continuing to be of foundational importance: Deus dixit , God has spoken. This is part 4 of a multi-part series, and you can find the series index here . I begin the audio recordings by reading Barth’s Diktatsatz , so I will begin reproducing that here as well. The bold is mine and indicates where I find emphasis: Christian preachers dare to speak about God. The permission and requirement to do so can rest only on their adoption of the witness of the prophets and apostles that underlies the church, the witness which is to the effect that God himself has spoken and that for this reason, and with this reference, they too must speak about God. This assumption can arise only because they take it that God’s address is directed to

Into the Thicket: Nelson's Guide to Jüngel

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The work of esteemed systematic theologian Eberhard Jüngel does not make for light reading; indeed, as R. David Nelson notes in his fine primer, much of the German Lutheran thinker's works have yet to be translated into English, and even those that have require patience and perseverance of their readers. Anglophone students should be grateful for what we do have, though, as Nelson notes, the translated works typically miss the nuances of the author's puns and witticisms. Noir / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) via Wikimedia Commons Jüngel: A Guide for the Perplexed , By R. David Nelson (London: T&T Clark, 2020). Another factor that makes Jüngel's corpus daunting is its broad, interdisciplinary character, in works ranging from sermons and address, to biblical theology and hermeneutics, to systematics. Nelson's approach is straightforwardly textual rather than thematic: After a brief overview of Jüngel's life and career, Nelson offe

Karl Barth on Divine Freedom – comprising a presentation to a recent Lindenwood University faculty colloquium

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It was my privilege back in December 2019 to travel to Hannover, Germany and give a public lecture on Karl Barth. I haven’t shared a lot about that in any one place online, although I have shared some pictures in various places and I mentioned it briefly here and shared some relevant links . Subsequently, I was invited to present my research to the Spring 2020 meeting of the Lindenwood Faculty Colloquium . It was originally scheduled for March, but then COVID-19 happened and we ended up having the event virtually last week (May 14, 2020). I recorded my presentation and share it below. I excerpted and streamlined the core of the Barth exposition that I provided in Hannover (yes, I persist in using the German spelling), and the presentation also includes some pictures from the trip. My full lecture will be published in German in due course. Never fear, I have some plans for bringing it out in English as well. In the meantime, you can at least enjoy this snippet. Here are a few sen

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend… …or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere. Maybe I should take that “fortnight” line off these posts. Ah, the good ol’ days. Well, we haven’t had an update / link post since the very end of last year and we’re getting dangerously close to being halfway through this one. Might as well throw something up. Oh yeah, there’s also the pandemic. Maybe y’all need something to read? In any case, I hope this post finds you and yours safe and healthy. Before we get to the link lists, here are some featured happenings. First off, I got to go to Germany and talk about Karl Barth at the end of last year. Lindenwood put up a nice press-release about it . Next, I was happy to participate in something of an Easter podcast roundup that Liam Miller put together as a special event for his podcast’s 50th episode: Seven Last Words with Seven Great Guests . You can also see the lovely chip in my front tooth that I’ve been living with during

Life After Christianity: An Eschatological Reflection in the Spirit of Terry Eagleton

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That Marxism is finished would be music to the ears of Marxists everywhere. They could pack in their marching and picketing, return to the bosom of their grieving families and enjoy an evening at home instead of yet another tedious committee meeting.  Marxists want nothing more than to stop being Marxists. In this respect, being a Marxist is nothing like being a Buddhist or a billionaire. It is more like being a medic. Medics are perverse, self-thwarting creatures who do themselves out of a job  by curing patients who then no longer need them. The task of political radicals, similarly, is to get to the point where they would no longer be necessary because their goals would have been accomplished. They would then be free to bow out,  burn their Guevara posters, take up that long-neglected cello again and talk about something more intriguing than the Asiatic mode of production. If there are still Marxists or feminists around in twenty years’ time, it will be a sorry prospect.  Marxism i

When Becket Beckons: Our Canterbury Pilgrimage

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(I co-wrote this piece with my wife, Leah Gregg.) Photo by Leah Gregg It was the Feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates Jesus Christ, light to the nations. We were on a pilgrimage, with our son, seeking glimmers of that light in Canterbury, England, the mother diocese of the Anglican Communion, of which the U.S. Episcopal Church is a part. Unlike the pilgrims in Chaucer’s famous book, we pulled up to the ancient Roman wall of the city in a commuter bus, a vehicle that, running late, had stranded us shivering for 45 minutes in a London terminal earlier that morning while the driver took his union-mandated break. Unlike Canterbury pilgrims of centuries past, what we encountered first at the gate of the city was ... a strip mall. As we moved into the city, we encountered a lone bell-tower; from the inside, the open arches are like an ancient portal opening into a busy, modern street. Upon closer inspection, we learned that this tower was all that remains of St. George the Martyr’s

Karl Barth on Hell, the Devil, Demons, and Universalism – A Florilegium

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You know, all the most interesting topics. Although Barth often confessed that he didn’t find these questions particularly interesting. At best they might draw sideways glances, as it were, as one travels the theological road. But I found a number of places in the records of Barth’s later conversations that I thought folks might find interesting, so I’ve collected them here. And if you aren’t familiar with the term “florilegium,” here you go ! All these texts are from the first volume of Barth in Conversation , with pages numbers given in parentheses along the way. As usual, italics are in the text and bold is mine. Hell “Now we come to hell. You shouldn’t laugh! There is nothing to laugh at! What does hell mean? I think hell means to be in the place where you are once fore all damned and lost without ceasing to exist, without losing the image of God, being what you are but being damned and lost, separated from God, whose creature you are, separated also from your neighbor, from

The Belhar Confession: An Introduction

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The Belhar Confession is about speaking the gospel in a time of rampant racial oppression. Those currents continue to run strongly in the USA, and the current COVID-19 crisis has only fanned the flames. The PC(USA)’s newest confession has much for us to hear in this moment lest the temporary social distancing necessary for physical help ultimately result in exacerbating white supremacism’s harmful social distancing from racial and otherwise minority communities. The PC(USA) adopted the Belhar Confession as part of its Book of Confessions at the 222nd General Assembly in 2016. Presbyteries and local congregations were asked to engage with the confession as part of the church’s process of discernment. So in the Fall of 2015, I worked with some of the other leaders of my congregation – St. Charles Presbyterian Church – to organize a four-week adult education series on the confession. It was my job to provide the introductory session, covering Belhar’s background and significance.

Why am I still a Theologian? - Terry Eagleton on Theology

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For a while I taught a class called “Faith & Reason.” It was a good class that tackled the intersection of revelation and reason in the Western tradition (inclusive of some Jewish and Muslim thinkers), and I enjoyed teaching it. But then some administrative reorganization happened and the course was redundant, etc. But one of the things that I liked most about that course was ending the semester with Terry Eagleton’s book, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate . Those who follow me carefully on social media (blessings be upon you, since you clearly need them if you’re following me carefully on social media), or spend time with me offline talking about theological things, know that I’ve come to really enjoy Eagleton, and this book is where that started. I need to figure out another place to work this book into my teaching, or else find a way to resurrect this class. But, alas, administrative duties mean that I don’t teach all that much anymore. Changing ta

How to Remember What’s Where in Barth, with St. Hereticus

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Robert McAfee Brown (ed.?), The Collected Writings of St. Hereticus (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1964). The last time we heard from St. Hereticus - or simply “The Saint,” as I am wont to say – we undertook a detailed study of his “Christmas carol.” Today, however, we turn to a subject that is near and dear to DET and its readership – Karl Barth. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. What with knowing the blog. Oh, and reading the title of this post. But I digress… If you look at the DET post labels there on the left-hand menu, toward the bottom, you’ll see that Barth has waaaaay more entries than anything else. More than twice as many as the next contender, in fact. So I think it’s safe to say that DET has a lot to say about Barth, and long-time DET readers have picked up at least the basics of what he was on about. But do you know exactly what can be found in each part volume of Church Dogmatics ? Perhaps you remember when Ben Myers composed a tweet for each part vol

Barth's "Göttingen Dogmatics" - §2: Preaching as the Starting Point and Goal of Dogmatics

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More on Barth’s first dogmatics lectures! This episode addresses the relationship between dogmatics and preaching. We get a number of Barth “greatest hits” – like an early form of his approach to the three-fold Word of God (revelation, scripture, and preaching), and his distinction between regular and irregular dogmatics. But the central issue is the relationship between God’s word and the human word of preaching. Also, I use the idea of Sachkritik to expand on Barth’s definition of theology. This is part 3 of a multi-part series, and you can find the series index here . ================================== Follow @WTravisMcMaken Subscribe to Die Evangelischen Theologen

Theology and "The Promise of Hope," with Christine Helmer

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Long-time readers will know that those of us here at DET have a tendency post on the subject of theology. You know, from time to time. And sometimes those posts take a step back and reflect on what exactly theology is , how to best explain it, and so on. It’s sort of like that scene in the movie, Office Space : “What would you say…you do here?” So, for instance, a quick perusal of the blog yielded these relevant results: What is theology? Who is a theologian? Why should theology persist? (2011) Sarah Coakley defines Systematic Theology (2014) Theology = Worldview? Christine Helmer on the Problem with Contemporary Approaches to Doctrine (2015) Marilynne Robinson on Theology (2017) Now I’m circling back to one name that’s already on that list – Christine Helmer. In her new book, How Luther Became the Reformer (2019) , she pauses to reflect on the discipline of theology in the midst of some rather fascinating historiographical analysis. She pauses for these reflections in