Thursday, 24 August 2006
Steven Harmon's book, Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision, begins in Chapter 1 with a taxonomy of the main features of recent work from American and British Baptist theologians, all of whom fall into the broad category of "catholic Baptists". The seven features are:
1. Tradition is seen as a source of theological authority
2. There is a place for the historic creeds in Baptist liturgy and catechesis
3. The liturgy is the appropriate context for formation by tradition
4. The authority of tradition lies in the community and its practices
5. A sacramental theology, broadly understood
6. The contructive retrieval of the tradition
7. A commitment to thick ecumenism.
This opening chapter is only a review of recent scholarship and is helpfully detailed (I was familiar with the British work, but less up to speed on some of the more recent North-American contributions. Harmon's own constructive contribution to the catholic Baptist vision is offered in the chapters that follow.
One point struck me in particular, and that is the suggestion that Baptists might want to consider signing up to the 'Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification', signed in 1999 between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. The Methodists are apparently considering signing the Declaration. See here. The suggestion for Baptist involvement has been made by T. Toom, 'Baptists on Justification: Can We Join the Joint Declaration on Justification?', Pro Ecclesia 13 (2004), 289-306 and is affirmed by Harmon on p.199. It is probably worth noting that Jüngel believes that in the Declaration "decisive insights of the Reformation were either obscured or surrendered" Justification: The Heart of the Christian Faith, trans. Jeffrey F. Cayzer (Edinburgh / New York: T & T Clark, 2001). For an exposition of Jüngel's views see this excellent summary series by D. W. Congdon.
Thursday, 10 August 2006
See the theses and counter-theses adumbrated by Travis at Gaunilo's Island (no God does not suffer) and D. W. Congdon at Fire and the Rose (yes God does). If you have never managed to work your way through the major texts on this topic (Fiddes, Weinandy, Molnar, Hart, Moltmann etc) then you will find a good summary of the arguments for and against in these two posts.