26th October, 2008
Systematic Theology: The Triune God by Robert W. Jenson
I read a few more pages of Jenson’s first volume today. I’m still dealing with his prolegomenal remarks. He opens the chapter entitled `The Identification of God’ by saying:
It will be seen from the foregoing that an initial and determining theme of theology, and one with a systematic emphasis in the system here offered, must be the identification of God by the Resurrection of Jesus.
Jenson then spends much of the rest of the chapter noting how the apostles identified God: as he who raised Jesus from the dead, as he the God of Israel whom Jesus called Father and ultimately by the triune name, `Father, Son and Holy Spirit’, which encapsulates the gospel narrative by `recounting at once the personae and the basic plot of the Scriptural story’.
I don’t feel like saying much about it at the moment but this sort of emphasis is, in my view, an absolutely essential element of Christian theology and the Christian understanding of God. Our God is not simply a Feurbachian projection of our desires onto the screen of eternity; Our God steps into history in order that we might know him. Our God does not become known as we consider the notion of deity, of eternity of perfection but becomes known when we consider he who died the death of a criminal during the reign of Tiberius Caesar and when we consider he who raised him from the dead. Our God is not the absentee landlord of Deism but is he who animates the community of those who follow him with his very own presence.
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24th October, 2008
The DEV300_m34 report, shows another drop from 1008 to 920 unused methods as mba’s workspace comes through to reduce framework and similar modules. Top 4 modules account for more than 50% of remaining low-hanging fruit
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22nd October, 2008
As we discussed last week. I’m not in for lectures on Thursday 23rd of October. That’s why we had two lectures last week and it’s why we’ll have two lectures next week. In the mean time I want you to get started on the assignment.
For the first assignment I want you to load up Suzanne (the blender monkey) from a raw data file into an OpenGL context. You’re to take the raw data and create an onscreen rendering of the model by drawing quads and triangles on an OpenGL canvas. My version of the raw data is here. But you can create your own in Blender if you want.
Quick tip: Have a look at the data in the file using a text editor. Notice the structure of the data on each line? Why is it so regular?
I expect everyone to load the model up and display it onscreen. Of course that means that everyone will get a “B” (under the CMIS marking scheme) in this part of the assignment. Those of you looking for “A”‘s will have to do something I don’t expect – add some value. The second part of the assignment will extend your skills further. However, with the first part, I want to ensure that everyone has basic OpenGL skills.
Posted at 8:54 pm | Comment (0)
19th October, 2008
Systematic Theology: The Triune God by Robert W. Jenson
This is the first volume of Jenson’s 2 volume systematic theology. I started it a few months ago and then put it down and have had to restart today so I’m only a few pages in. Jenson begins by dismissing the notion of lengthy prolegomena that attempt to justify or enable the theological enterprise. He goes so far as to say that:
The most prolegomena to theology can appropriately do is provide readers an advance description of the enterprise. Even this cannot be a pre-theological beginning, for every attempt to say what sort of thing theology is implies material theological propositions, and so is false if the latter are false.
Jenson proceeds to define theology as contributions to the church’s “discourse about her individuating and carrying communal purpose”. The issue is now to define what is meant by “the church” and thus already in our very first prolegomenon we must deal with an issue of theological, and not merely pre-theological, import.
His definition of what he means by “the church” is captured in the following excerpts:
The purpose that constitutes and distinguishes the church and in service of which the church needs to think is maintenance of a particular message called “the gospel”.
“Church” and “gospel” therefore mutually determine each other.
While this seemed sensible to me when I first read it I’m beginning to think now that this equation of the message the church carries and the church itself ties the idea of “doctrine” a little too closely to the conception of the church. The church becomes that body which is the carrier of `correct doctrine’ and so the church is defined in terms interior to itself (the messages it proclaims) rather than in terms of some act of God exterior and antecedent to it (the Christ event which gave birth to the gospel, the sending of the Spirit, etc.) Of course the gospel is in a very real sense antecedent to the church but Jenson does seem to equate church and message a little too strongly. I haven’t made my mind up on this yet: I’ll have to think more on it. As Jenson himself says later, the proof of a system of theology is in its ability to act as a hermeneutic to the reading of scripture so it would be unwise to pronounce judgement before going back to scripture and seeing if it helps to make sense of the whole.
Posted at 10:55 pm | Comment (0)
13th October, 2008
The Early Church by Henry Chadwick
I read the first 60 pages or so this Sunday. I enjoyed Owen Chadwick’s history of the Reformation which is part of the same series (The Penguin History of the Church) so I figured I’d give his brother’s book a try. It’s an interesting read so far but I find that Chadwick (Henry, that is) is a little too ready to dismiss the idea that there was a fundamental change in character between the first and second generations of Christians, viz. a shift to an institutional model based around bishops from something more volatile and vigorous. He doesn’t provide much evidence for this, however. The book is written in the usual style where things are mentioned early in broad contexts and discussed in more detail later so it’s entirely possible that the issue will be dealt with in detail later in the book.
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9th October, 2008
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8th October, 2008
James K.A. Smith at Fors Clavigera links to a very interesting article of his on the First Things website on the theology of Pentecostalism. He touches also on the charismatic movement & refers to the two taken together as “small-p pentecostalism”.
Here’s a nice quote:
At the heart of this Pentecostal theology is an ontological claim: that the same Spirit who animated the apostles at Pentecost continues to be actively, dynamically, and miraculously present both in the ecclesial community and in creation. Pentecostal theology is a theology of the Creed’s third article and is predicated on the belief that the Spirit is a spirit who surprises us by continuing to speak, heal, and manifest God’s presence in ways that counter the shut-down naturalism of modernity. As a result, following in the wake of the Spirit, it is a nimble theology that seeks to explicate and understand the controlled chaos of charismatic worship—a faith seeking understanding of the experience of the Spirit’s surprising ways.
Read the rest here.
Posted at 9:48 am | Comment (0)
6th October, 2008
Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf
I read the guts of this book while on a bus from Maynooth to Galway. After that there were various interruptions and I’ve since been working my way through the remaining 60 pages or so in fits. I’ll talk a little more about the books in toto when I’m done.
Yesterday I read only a few pages but the discussion was an interesting one about the notion of Pentecost as a reversal of Babel. This is a spin on the story in Acts of the sending of the Spirit that I’ve always loved. Volf nuances it a little by insisting that while the events in Acts 2 do in a way reverse those of Genesis 11 the coming of the Spirit does not re-institute the impirialistic “unity” of Babel. A single language is not restored. The Spirit embraces the cultural diversity among those present, including the diversity of languages. Moreover
“The miracle of Pentecost consists in universal intelligibility and unhindered agency in the midst of social and cultural heterogeneity.”
Posted at 7:49 am | Comment (0)