Blog Archives

Flotsam and jetsam (1/28)

People ask me all the time, “Who do you read?” In most cases they’re looking for book recommendations. (Some people, particularly Calvinistas, are trying to determine if I’m safe–are my ideas and my theology grounded in what they see as credible sources.) But my answer usually surprises them: “I read dead people.”

One of the problem in the origins of christology is the question, “When did Jesus become the Messiah?” Scholarship has often assumed that Jesus’ life was non-messianic, not only that, but Jesus in fact repudiated the messianic role.

I refuse. I absolutely refuse to go back to a god who is only interested in what I do, not who I am. I have no interest in a god who keeps score, who I have to appease by doing good things and avoiding bad things. A god who is more interested in institutes and forms and structures than he is in relationships.

To sum, I appreciate his provocative introduction of the subject but find his primary notion that “suffering has no inherent value in biblical faith” seriously wanting

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 (10/26)

Is Buddha really any worse than Aristotle? Why shouldn’t a theologian from Korea or Taiwan seek to use Buddha or Confucius where the language is suitable and doesn’t contradict the gospel?  In this case Moore’s criticism may be spot on. I don’t know. But I do know that we need to realize our own hybridity is as much a concern as someone else’s.

And, much if not most of the New Testament, develops its theology of Jesus within a framework of low Christology. Low versus high Christology is one of the points of genuine theological diversity in the New Testament, with the Synoptic Gospels in particular (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) telling stories of Jesus as a specially empowered man whom they do not simultaneously depict as God incarnate.

The monsters of the undead embody our fears of death. In agrarian eras we confronted death more directly. Nowadays we have to wait for the dead to come to our door once a year at Halloween. Or we can go to zombie movies. Either way, we feel a need to use monsters to confront our bodies, their gooshy vulnerabilities, and their ultimate demise. Monsters are existential.

  • On a similar note, John Byron points out an important new scholarly work for understanding the Matthean tradition – a webcomic called Zombie Jesus. How is it that no one has written on this vital subject before?

The comic will tell the story of the 48 hours following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in which a horde of zombies attack Jerusalem in search of the messiah’s body.

Predestination, as normally taught by all the venerable reformed divines, both past and present, is unstable and unhelpful. In the past, I and everybody else that I have read got around this by employing the very useful term ‘mystery’ to cover the internal contradictions that rip the doctrine apart.

The church, or I should say, church people, must quit adding the word “but” to the end of our sentences about grace. Grace plus is no longer grace. Grace minus is no longer grace. We are afraid people will abuse grace if presented in its purest form. We need not fear that, we should assume that. Religious people crucified grace personified. Of course grace will be abused. But grace is a powerful dynamic. Grace wins out in the end. It is not our responsibility to qualify it. It is our responsibility to proclaim it and model it.

Kevin Vanhoozer on “Redramatizing Theology”

Kevin Vanhoozer gave three talks at Covenant Seminary last spring, and they’ve just posted the audio files on their website. (HT)

This is a nice addition to the two lectures that Vanhoozer gave at Southeastern Seminary last fall on “Doing Faith: Seeking (and Showing) Understanding in Company with Christ.” (HT Justin Taylor)

PART ONE – The Theater of the gospel: the stage, the script, and the director

Prologue: The pastor-theologian as minister of understanding

I. The stage

II. The Christian control story: theodrama

  1. The Christian theodrama is eucatastrophic
  2. The Christian theodrama involves divine entrances and exoduses
  3. The Christian theodrama is Trinitarian

III. The script

  1. The nature of Scripture: Spirited discourse
  2. The function of Scripture: cultivating canon sense
  3. The authority of Scripture: cultivating catholic sensibility

IV. Doctrine as direction

  1. Knowing God is itself dramatic.
  2. Understanding the theodrama: fitting participation

V. The director and the dramaturg

  1. The dramaturg
  2. The director
  3. Church as company of players

PART TWO – Gospel Theater: Rehearsing, Improvising, Performing

I. Role-playing: from Stanisklavski to sanctification

  1. Doctrine and identity
  2. The ‘System’
  3. The disciple’s vocation: being real

II. Discipleship as improvisation

  1. Spontaneity
  2. Accepting and blocking ‘offers’
  3. Narrative skills
  4. Reincorporation

III. “Doing” church: the theater of the gospel

  1. Performing the Scriptures: the costumed interpreter
  2. Performing the doctrine of atonement
  3. A plea for amateur theology: acting in parables

Flotsam and jetsam (8/12)

Gregory of Nyssa’s Infinite Progress: A challenge for an integrated theology

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.