Every year I get to lead a Th.M. seminar focusing on key figures in historical theology. This year, it’s Jonathan Edwards. (So far I’ve done seminars on Augustine, Luther, and the Greek Fathers. I love my job.)
So, as I get ready for the seminar this summer, it’s time for me to brush off old favorites and explore new resources. I’m just about to dig into Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word by Douglas A. Sweeney and The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics by Kelly Kapic and Randall Gleason, which I’m thinking about using as a resource for orienting students to the broader Puritan context of Edwards’ theology. In the next few days, I’ll also be reading through Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life again, since that will be the key biography for the course.
I have several other books on my reading list and I’m looking forward to digging more deeply into Edwards than I have in the past. But, I’m also open to suggestions. So, I have two questions. What are your favorite books about Edwards? And, what are your favorite works written by Edwards?
For extra credit, if there are any journal articles or book chapters that you think do a particularly fine job of addressing some aspect of Edwards’ life and/or theology, please feel free to pass those along as well.
- Andy Naselli discusses how to organize your theological library using Zotero. Nick Norelli explains why he thinks it’s easier just to organize your library with a simple MS Word document. Personally, I like a good bibliographic manager, and have been using Endnote for quite a while now.
- Brian LePort points out a new blog project called “Intercultural Theology: Theological Education and Cultural Inclusion.” This should be worth keeping an eye on.
- Brian also has a nice post on the importance of letting Luke’s pneumatology stand on its own.
- Jim West reports that the Dead Sea Scrolls will soon be available through Google Books.
- Yesterday I linked to Michael Patton’s summary of an Eastern Orthodox view of predestination. Today, Joel Watts provides the text of the Confession of Dositheus, in which Eastern Orthodox theologians respond to the rise of Calvinist theology. It’s very interesting reading.
- Grateful to the Dead provides a very nice summary of Luke Timothy Johnson’s defense of the “innovations” in the Nicene Creed and the importance of creeds in general.
- Here’s Skye Jethani’s report on the first day of the Lausanne conference
- And, the word on the street is that Homer Simpson is officially Catholic.
As I mentioned after last month’s book giveaway, a generous individual has decided that he would also like to share the wealth (i.e. give away a book that he accidentally bought two copies of). So, this month we’re giving away a new copy of Paul Althaus’ The Theology of Martin Luther. Although this book was published in English in 1966, I think this is still one of the best books around for understanding Luther’s theology. So, if you’re interested in engaging Luther’s thought more closely, this would be a great place to start.
As with our previous giveaway, the rules are simple. If you’d like a chance to win the book, you need to do at least one of the following. Each different way that you enter the contest will increase your chances of winning. (Assuming that I don’t just decide to give the book to the person whose name has the same numerical value of the guinea pig I had when I was a kid.)
- Blog about the giveaway and link to this post
- Link to the post from Twitter and let me know in the comments
- Link to the post from Facebook and let me know in the comments
- Comment on this post and indicate that you want the book
- Come up with a list of 95 Theses that you’d really like to debate with someone. Write your theses on an old-looking piece of paper and making a video of you nailing your theses to the front door of some church (not your own). Bonus points if you can get the pastor to come out and yell at you.
- iMonk brings together an interesting group of Christian leaders to discuss pastoral care and visitation.
- Grateful to the Dead comments on a few universities that are doing historical theology well.
- P.ost engages an article from Pyromaniacs on engaging culture. The comments are culture and the Gospel are worth reading, but I particularly liked an opening comment on the difficulty of entering a blogging world very different from your own: “I don’t go there very often – it’s the other side of town, it’s unfamiliar territory, I sense that I don’t belong there, I don’t understand the language, and frankly I’m afraid of being mugged.”
- Roger Olson wants every just to admit that all theologies are flawed. I think we can push harder. I think everyone already admits this. The harder part is getting people to act like it.
- Kevin DeYoung points out an interesting panel discussion on the Bible involving Brian McLaren, Tim Keller, and Alistair McGrath.
- Ben Witherington discusses what sola scriptura really means.
- And, Mashable has a list of 11 astounding sci-fi predictions that came true.
I’m off to a faculty retreat this morning, so just some quick links today.
- iMonk continues its discussion of the new evangelical coalition, with a post on Robert Webber, the ‘father’ of the ancient-future stream. There’s also a good discussion of John Armstrong’s appreciation of Tradition.
- Justin Taylor offers a really nice summary of comments and resources on Martin Luther that Carl Trueman has recently made available.
- Jason Goroncy reflects on the cost and grace of parish ministry.
- Brian LePort wrestles with the question of whether the reference to Quirinius in Luke 2:2 is an error. He’s gotten some good suggestions for resources and I hope he’ll post his conclusions when he’s done.
- The Catholic Mass will be undergoing its most significant revisions in 40 years.
- If you need to waste some time this morning (dont’ we all?), here’s a quiz to see how well you know your Crayola colors.
- And, apparently the world is running out of helium. Is that bad?
Guest post by Demetrius Rogers
One thing I am reminded of when I present information about historical people is that I am vested with a trust to represent them well. And it dawned on me that their reputation is largely (if not wholly) dependent on us. And I get this sense from the Lord to be as kind and fair to each one. They cannot defend themselves. And the shear fact of respecting the dead should add a dimension of sacredness to the matter (at least for me). How would I like some punk kid smearing me all over the place come 250 years from now? First, they better get it right. Second, try to understand and be kind. Hardly on one does what they do out of bad motives. People typically mean well. They think they are doing the right thing, however, misguided it appears to us. It is easy to judge, it is more difficult (yet more noble) to understand. The Bible says to respect your elders and these fathers and mothers of the faith (if you will) can very well fit into this class. So at times when I would like to trash this or that person I always feel checked to back to back the truck up and be more level headed about it.
Do unto others as I would have them do unto me is a principle that still is applicable to dead people. I do not believe they fall off of God’s radar once they die. Obviously God still cares about them and cares about what we say about them and how we do it. Really, they are still alive – just in another location. Respect is not reserved to earth. And we cannot forget that they are still people; dead, but still very much alive!
If your family was made up of famous people from church history, what would your family reunion look like? For a recent church history project, one of my students used the metaphor of a family to explain what he thought about various figures in church history. He gave me permission to pass it along, so here’s what he came up with:
- The family members he gets along with the best: Jerome, Wycliffe, Susanna Wesley, Finney, Spurgeon, Chesterton, William Seymour, Dostoyevsky, Jim Elliot, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Family members that just rub him the wrong way: John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards
- Family members that he just flat doesn’t like: The Crusaders
- The embarrassing uncle of the family: the snake-handling preacher
I liked the idea, so I thought I’d put together my own family:
- Parents (formative early, even if we may not get along now): C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Frank Peretti, Charles Sheldon
- Wise uncles (mentored me as I got older): Augustine, Maximus, Luther, Calvin, Dostoyevsky, Barth
- Weird uncles (part of the family, but embarrassing): televangelists (e.g. Jim and Tammy Faye Baker), many Christian “artists” (e.g., Kinkade), TBN
- Siblings (closely related, but we fight a lot): Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, John MacArthur
- Cousins (related to me, but I don’t know them very well): Isaac Backus, Walter Rauschenbusch, A.H. Strong,
- Bob (that one family member you wish would stop coming to the reunions): Joel Osteen
And, if that’s my family, I can only imagine what the family reunion would look like:
C.S. Lewis and Tolkien are outside smoking their pipes and drinking a couple of beers. Peretti is standing a few yards away, desperately wanting to join in but afraid that they’ll make fun of his books again. Augustine is out back sneaking peaches from the peach tree. Meanwhile, Luther is busy spiking the bunch bowl to see if he can get the folks from TBN drunk, and Thomas Kinkade is waiting for him to finish because he’s thirsty again. Barth’s off in the corner discussing socialism with Sheldon and Rauschenbusch, while trying to explain the inadequacies of the social Gospel. Osteen’s there too, nodding his head regularly, though he has no idea what they’re talking about. Warren, Driscoll, and MacArthur tried to ignore each other for a while, but accidentally ended up going for food at the same time. Now they’re standing around the food table having a loud argument about whether it’s okay to put mustard on hot dogs. In a little while, they’ll probably end up wrestling on the floor and knocking several lamps over. Isaac Backus and A.H. Strong are sitting on the couch listened in horrified fascination as Jim and Tammy Faye Baker tearfully explain why God really wanted them to have all that money for their ministry. And, Maximus and Dostoyevsky are watching the whole thing from the kitchen while having the most fascinating discussion about what all of this means for understanding human nature.
One of the things that I appreciated about this whole exercise was the reminder that we are all part of the same family (though I’m pretty sure Osteen is actually an alien impostor switched at birth with a real family member). Although we might be distantly related in places, we certainly don’t get along all the time, and I may not have gotten to know all of them very well yet, we’re still part of the same, big, messy, obnoxious, often embarrassing family – united to the same Christ, empowered by the same Spirit, glorifying the same Father.
I won’t try to turn this into a meme, but I would be curious to know about your family. Feel free to comment on what your family looks like. Or, if you choose to blog about it, drop us a link so we can follow along.
We’ve started posting a number of papers and abstracts that some of the Th.M. students wrote during last semester’s class on the Greek Fathers. The class started with Irenaeus and Origen as two fathers who exercised a profound influence on the later Greek Fathers. We then worked our way from Athanasius to John of Damascus. So far we’ve posted the papers that were written on Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and John of Damascus. We’ll be posting a few others over the next couple of weeks.
We also compiled a working Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography. This is far from an exhaustive bibliography, but it does provide good resources on each of the individuals studied as well as a number of resources on theosis.
Here is an abstract of my [Adam Bottiglia] paper Gregory of Nyssa’s Infinite Progress: A challenge for an integrated theology.
One of the greatest challenges to a theologian is to take all of the education in philosophy and exegesis and the finer details of theology and convert them into a digestible and useful form for the church. In Gregory of Nyssa we find a great example to emulate. He is the paradigm of an integrated theology, a theology that has as much to say to the heretic as it does to the devoted believer. In this paper I will be looking at his doctrine of God’s infinite nature in order to show that Gregory had a knack for taking even the most weighty theological and philosophical concepts and applying them significantly to the spiritual life of the believer.