Thursday, 29 June 2006
The latest issue of the International Journal of Systematic Theology has just been posted. Thanks to Ben Myers for drawing my attention to this:
Articles are as follows
Karl Barth's Christology as a Resource for a Reformed Version of Kenoticism
McCORMACK, BRUCE L.
Violence in Bloomsbury: A Theological Challenge
Accommodation to What? Univocity of Being, Pure Nature, and the Anthropology of St Irenaeus
The Trinity, Election and God's Ontological Freedom: A Response to Kevin W. Hector
MOLNAR, PAUL D.
Actualism and Incarnation: The High Christology of Friedrich Schleiermacher
HECTOR, KEVIN W.
An interesting collection. I note especially Oliver Davies' article which reminds me of my last visit to Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church (where friends Ruth Gouldbourne and Simon Perry will be inducted as ministers on Sunday walking down from Euston through Tavistock Square and seeing the pristine brickwork of the BMA headquarters. Professor Davies, as well as being Professor at Kings, is a research fellow of the Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent's Park College in Oxford.
Wednesday, 28 June 2006
I have a paperback copy of Bonhoeffer's Discipleship that I am prepared to give away to anyone who can (a) pay postage and packing or pick it up at some stage (e.g. when visiting Manchester or at the British NT Conference in September) (b) give me a good reason why they want it for their own Library, via the comments to this post.
It isn't an old, beaten up version of the SCM edition, but a pristine copy of the new, definitive Fortress DBW edition, Volume 4 with all of the scholarly apparatus and additional information that characterises that edition.
You have a week to bid.
I am pleased to say that the book will go to my good friend Catriona who will be reading it while drinking her Skinny Fairtrade Latte.
This was the title of a session I led for the "Going Deeper" programme at Heywood Baptist Church on Sunday evening. About 20 people there and a really good, open atmosphere with loads of interesting stuff to talk about. As I was preparing for it a number of things struck me. One was that my tite was probably unhelpful because (a) Paul doesn't strike me as someone who particularly needed to be loved (although the discussion at the session drew out some of the traces of potential deep insecurity that we find in the letters) and because (b) I am not sure that responsible engagement with Paul's writing's require that he be a nice person, or that we agree with everything he says. The overall argument was that Paul's letters are examples of the ways in which we are called to do theology: creatively, contextually and ever conscious of the capacity of the gospel to deconstruct and challenge our attempts to adequately narrate, describe or proclaim it.
I am teaching a Summer School on Romans next week, so this was good preparation.
I ended the session with part of a poem by R. S. Thomas - the best description I know of what it means to do business with the apostle to the Gentiles.
Wrong question, Paul. Who am I,
Lord? is what yoou should have asked.
And the answer, surely, somebody
who is it easy for us to kick against.
There were some matters you were dead right
about. For instance I like you
on love. But marriage - I would have thought
too many had been burned in that fire
for your contrast to hold.
Still, you are the mountain
the teaching of the carpenter from Nazareth
congealed into. The theologians
have walked around you for centuries
and none of them scaled you. Your letters remain
unanswered, but survive the recipients
of them. And we, pottering among the foot-hills
of their logic, find ourselves staring
across deep crevices at conclusions at which
the living Jesus would not willingly have arrived.
R. S. Thomas, "Covenanters", Collected Poems 1945-1990 (London: J. M. Dent), 406
Tuesday, 13 June 2006
"The space of the church is not there in order to fight with the world for a piece of its territory, but precisely to testify to the world that it is still the world, namely, the world that is loved and reconciled by God. It is not true that the church intends to or must spread its space out over the space of the world. It desires no more space than it needs to serve the world with its witness to Jesus Christ and to the world's reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ."
BONHOEFFER, DIETRICH, Ethics, ed. Clifford Green, trans. Reinhard Krauss, Charles C. West, and Douglas W Stott (DBW, 6; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 63-64
Mike Bird helpfully draws attention to Don Carson's online review of three recent books on the Authority of Scripture: those by John Webster, N. T. Wright and Peter Enns. The strength of the piece is its clear and incredibly detailed exposition of the argument of the volumes under consideration -this is a 25,000 word book review, but Carson's critique is also worth careful reflection even if, at times, you find yourself strongly disagreeing (as I did, often). If you want to do some strenuous engagement with recent scholarship on scriptural authority, then this is a good place to start,
Monday, 12 June 2006
Ben Myers has been running this series over at Faith and Theology for some time now and the latest contribution (on Why I Love Stanley Hauerwas: because he "may be a son-of-a-bitch—but he is our son-of-a-bitch") prompted a gathering of links to the series thus far for those who haven't seen them. The series consists on personal reflections on contemporary and not so contemporary theologians and are listed below in alphabetical order:
Why I Love...
No, I haven't heard of all of them either but there are some great tributes and encouragement to read and learn. Ben's introduction to the series can be found here.
Later this summer I will be attending the conference "Baptists Doing Theology in Context: A Continuing Consultation" here at Luther King House from 29th August - 1st September. I have just heard that my paper proposal has been accepted. Here it is:
“Ambiguous Genitives, Pauline Baptism and Roman Insulae: Exegetical Resources in Romans to Support Pushing the Boundaries of Unity”
The recent report of the Baptist-Church of England Conversations, Pushing the Boundaries of Unity was recently criticised by some members of the Baptist Union Council for pushing a Baptist understanding of the place and function of baptism beyond acceptable scriptural boundaries.
In this paper I argue that such criticisms fail not only at the level of theology and history, but also at the level of exegesis. I offer a reading of aspects of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which draws attention to the following features:
• the ambiguity inherent in the key phrases δικαιοσυνη θεου and πιστις Χριστου suggesting that the focus of Paul’s theological presentation in the letter is on God’s objective work of salvation through Christ’s own faithfulness prior to and not dependent upon the nature of the human response to that work.• the understanding of Baptism found in Romans 6, which is best interpreted by those who broadly affirm a “Baptist Sacramentalism”.• the exhortation to reciprocity and mutual welcome among the divided house churches in Rome, found in Romans 14-15.
Thus the concern to push the boundaries of unity on the issue of baptism should be seen not only as a response to the present ecumenical paradigm, or a recovery of aspects of our own Baptist history and tradition, but also as an attempt to do justice to neglected elements within the biblical texts that have traditionally formed the basis for central Baptist convictions.
Tuesday, 06 June 2006
Not only did I watch God's Next Army last night and get depressed by the fact that the student gatherings of Patrick Henry College were scarily similar to what I encounter in many Baptist churches week by week (same songs, same facial expressions, same theological ... how shall I put it ... shallowness?, no, idiocy I think). But now I have read the Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism (hat tip to Maggie Dawn) and have fallen deeply into the slough of despond. Why? Because the theology you will find there is all so eerily familiar (apart from the KJV idiom which has now rightly disappeared from most of our churches). It is pretty funny though, so go and have a look for yourself.
Asks Chris Tilling, along with the usual pretty picture. The problem I have with Chris' own take on the topic is the suggestion that because you can demonstrate that Luke has a concern for historical detail and accuracy at some points (the reference to Riesner and Scnabel to which I would also add Colin Hemer, whose work was formative for me as an undergraduate thinking through these issues) you can conclude that the burden of proof lies in favour of historical accuracy at other points. In my view this is simply bad historiography in so far as it flattens out the different kinds of material in a text like Acts into a single category (that of relatively accurate ist century Greco-Roman historiography), rather than accounting for the extent to which an author like Luke can move between myth and history and merge them in different ways and degrees at different points in the narrative. In other words, I simply don't believe that, for example, because Acts 16 is packed full of local colour and thus historical authenticity (as even Lüdemann recognises), the burden of proof lies in favour of those who want to believe that the Ascension or Pentecost narratives happened pretty much as described.
I am reminded of the cautions given by Ed Sanders in Jesus and Judaism I think to the effect that (a) decisions about historicity should be made on a case by case basis, rather than on the basis of wider conclusions about how good a "historian" a biblical writer might e and that (b) the notion of the burden of proof is rarely straighforwardly stacked in one direction or another.
It goes without saying, however, that decisions about the likely historicity of the events in Acts 2 do not exhaust what an exegete might want to say about that text.
Update: Chris responds sensibly in the comments to this post, and typically (i.e much more funnily) here. I like the picture but object to being called a baby-eating Baptist. I only eat those who profess their faith in Jesus Christ as personal Saviour and Lord (Oh no, even I am turning into a narrow semi-pelagian now)