Blog Archives

The latest issue of ATI looks outstanding – check it out

If you’re not following the American Theology Inquiry journal (ATI), you really should. It’s a free online journal that just seems to be getting better with each issue. The latest issue of the journal just came out and it looks great. I’ll definitely be digging into some of these as soon as I get the chance.

Here are the articles in this issue:

  • “Reassessing the Relation of Reformation and Orthodoxy: A Methodological Rejoinder”, Richard A. Mueller
  • Discovering the Sacred in Secular Art: An Aesthetic Modality that ‘Speaks of God'”,  Christopher Evan Longhurst
  • A Match Made in Munich: The Origin of Grenz’s Trinitarian Theology,” Jason S. Sexton
  • “The Best Man Is Only a Man: Reflections on Some Enchantments and Disenchantments of the Grail,” Charles M. Natoli
  • “There Is No Sex in the Church,” Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov
  • “The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree,” J. Lyle Story

What’s your “go to” systematic theology

Which systematic theologies are beginning to show a little wear around the edges because they’re the ones that you constantly pull off the shelves when you need to wrestle with some theological question?

Earlier today, Michael Patton posted his Top Ten Systematic Theologies. Clearly  not impressed, Nick Norelli quickly labelled this Maybe the Worst Top 10 List Ever. Obviously, the question of what qualifies as a “top” systematic theology is rather contentious.

I’m curious. What are your “go to” systematic theologies? I’m thinking about posting my own list of top systematic theologies, but I’d like to hear  your thoughts first.

So, let us know. What are your favorite systematic theologies?

Flotsam and jetsam (11/15)

One cannot underestimate the importance of 1 Timothy 2:12 in the intra-evangelical debate over gender roles and women in ministry. There is a reason why countless articles and even an entire book have been written on the interpretation of this single verse. In many ways, this verse is the most disputed text in the debate. It is clear that Paul is prohibiting something, but just what he prohibits has been fiercely contested.

The women’s ministry paradigm has been undergoing a subtle but important shift over the last few years. Many evangelical women are now discussing and operating according to an alternative to the emotional, therapeutic, and pretty-in-pink cliché that has dominated for so long, encouraging women to think beyond the contours of the current paradigm and develop a vision for women’s ministry that more actively and intentionally involves the life of the mind. They are identifying and rejecting the experience-driven model as insufficient because without theological substance any impact is merely temporary.

The solution, as I see it, is what I call  “Kevlar theology,” that our theology should be as unbreakable and as elastic as a bulletproof vest.

Sacramentality is the concept that the outward and visible can convey the inward and spiritual. Physical matters and actions can become transparent vehicles of divine activity and presence. In short, sacraments can be God’s love made visible.

  • And, Roger Olson is working at reclaiming Pietism (part 1 and part 2).

Who are the “must reads” in theology (part 3)

In two earlier posts (see here and here), I discussed what it means to say that a theologian is a “must read.” And, I argued that we should primarily reserve such a label for people who are historical must-reads, those whose theology decisively influenced particular streams or eras. But, I also argued that we can legitimately use the label to describe people whose theology we find personally compelling or inherently valuable as well.

In the next two posts, I’m going to start a list of theologians that I think are must-reads. I’m not going to set these up as exhaustive or definitive lists, but more as works in progress. Today’s list will offer the (hopefully) less debated list of historical must-reads, and tomorrow’s will enter the fuzzy world of personal must-reads.

First, here are the principles that I will use to set up my list.

  1. I’m not including the Bible or anyone in the Bible. Those are must-reads for everyone, not just students of theology.
  2. A must-read must have decisively shaped a theological tradition, not just a particular era.
  3. The theological tradition they shaped must be one of the major traditions. (It’s hard to call someone a theological must-read for everyone if the tradition that they decisively shaped has not been terribly influential itself.)
  4. I will focus exclusively on “theological” must reads, rather than those important for other fields of study (Bible, philosophy, etc.).
  5. And, since I live and teach in America, my primary focus will be on what qualifies as a must-read for theology students in America. I’m open to the possibility that, particularly in the modern era, even the historical must-reads might begin to vary depending on one’s context. (Tomorrow’s list of must-reads will be much more obviously contextual.)

Second, even though this list should be less debatable than tomorrow’s list, I know there will still be some disagreement on people I’ve included (e.g. Barth) and probably people I’ve excluded. Again, this is a work in progress, so feel free to comment and let me know where I’ve gone wrong with the criteria or the particular individuals.

    Historical Must-Reads in Theology

    In the Early Church (up to AD 500)

    1. Athanasius
    2. Basil the Great
    3. Gregory Nazianzus
    4. Augustine
    5. Chrysostom

    In the Early Middle Ages (500-1000)

    1. Gregory the Great
    2. John of Damascus

    In the High and Late Middle Ages (up to AD 1000-1500)

    1. Anselm
    2. Aquinas
    3. Gregory Palamas

    In the Early Modern Era (AD 1500-1800)

    1. Luther
    2. Ignatius of Loyola
    3. Calvin
    4. Arminius
    5. Wesley
    6. Edwards

    In the Modern Era (1800-present)

    1. Schleiermacher
    2. Barth

    Okay, let me know what you think.

      Flotsam and jetsam (11/4)

      The theology that is taught in almost all theological institutions around here is an ill-fitting version of Christianity that simply does not work here. The Christianity that results is not transforming lives or churches or communities or cultures or nations. In that sense, rather than reflecting what is happening theologically, these Western theologies may actually be erecting barriers preventing people here from experiencing the transforming power of the risen Christ.

      “I cannot help thinking that the incarnational analogy may be more trouble than it is worth.  Chalcedon was designed to clarify the being of Jesus Christ, not Scripture.  Please do not misunderstand: there is nothing wrong with Chalcedon, just as there was nothing wrong with the paper clip I used so cleverly in my skateboard to replace a screw.  However, that improvisation ended with a broken arm.  I wonder, then, about the wisdom of using language formulated for one truth to express another.”

      Here’s our context: they are bringing the ark to the house of Obed-edom, the future site of the Temple, and they are sacrificing. The context is cultic. The modern correlation to worship (i.e., singing) is false.

      • I forgot to mention earlier, but James McGrath has posted a link to what looks like a really useful set of resources from the Wabash Center for evaluating online resources. If you’re a teacher or student, check these out.

      Flotsam and jetsam (10/14)