The KFUPM “oasis” as seen from the top of the mathematics building.
Karl Barth was born 123 years ago today. I am sure that he and Jesus are celebrating right now by listening to some Mozart together.
Things I would do if I weren’t so busy attempting to create a Ph.D. thesis ex nihilo by doing nothing other than concentrating really hard while furrowing my brow #45:January 19th, 2009 by Bob Heffernan
Post interesting things on my blog.
Theology of Hope by Juergen Moltmann
More comments on this after I’ve read more and digested more of what I’ve read (and I only got through a few pages today) but I do have this thought: if the eschatological horizon is a moving horizon does Moltmann expect that history will ever catch up with this horizon? I have yet to see where a total and final fulfillment of promise fits into Moltmann’s system. However, I imagine this will become clear as I go on (I’m only about a chapter into the book, after all).
More some other time. I’m enjoying the book so far. ‘Tis a classic, after all.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
I didn’t read much yesterday but I did read a chapter or two from Peter Pan. There is nothing quite as enjoyable as a good children’s book. See also The Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, The Last Unicorn, &c.
I hate it when people use `grow’ as a transitive verb. I aware of the fact that there’s technically nothing grammatically wrong about it but I still don’t like it. No sir, I don’t like it one bit.
That is all.
I just noticed that, as of yesterday, I’ve been blogging for 6 years! On November 2nd 2003 I wrote my first post.
I ended the post with the hope that “perhaps some of it [the content of my blog] will rise above the whitenoise of humdrum.”
Let’s make that the aim for the next 6 years also!
The Early Church by Henry Chadwick
Chadwick moves on to consider some of the most important of the Church fathers: Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria and Origen. What is most striking, of course, is the way in which each of them appropriates Greek philosophy — each in their own way — to combat what they saw as heresies and to describe and defend Christian belief. Also interesting, of course, is the growing insistence on a canon of New Testament writings to form a basis from which to argue against such heresies. Another interesting development, with Irenaeus in particular, is the introduction of something like the idea of `apostolic succession’.
It strikes me as I read the accounts of the various doctrinal disputes of this era that much of what I think to be self-evident upon reading Scripture is clearly not so. At the very least much of what appears self-evident to me was clearly not self-evident to many Christians in the second and third centuries. It is another stark reminder that all of our readings of Scripture (and everything else besides) are prejudiced by our preconceptions and cultural setting.
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.
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.