|A similar ditch in Austria|
Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Thursday, 26 February 2015
Types of Christian theology
With three main audiences: theology addressed to the believer (B), theology addressed to the church (C), and theology addressed to the world (W).
EXPOSITION: HOW IT IS
- (B) Catechetical exposition of the faith (e.g. Origen, First Principles; Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics)
- (C) Polemical exposition of the faith (e.g. Irenaeus, Against Heresies; Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is)
- (W) Apologetic exposition of the faith (e.g. Origen, Contra Celsum; John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory)
- (B) Template of a converted life (e.g. Clement of Alexandria, The Educator; Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality and the Self)
- (C) Template of a converted community (e.g. Calvin, Institutes; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together)
- (W) Template of a converted society (e.g. Augustine, City of God; Reinhold Niebuhr, Nature and Destiny of Man)
- (W) Protest against society (e.g. Tertullian, On Spectacles; Gustavo Gutiérrez, Theology of Liberation)
- (C) Protest against the church (e.g. Luther, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church; Kierkegaard, Attack upon Christendom)
- (B) Protest against the self (e.g. Pascal, Pensées; Simone Weil, Waiting for God)
Posted by Ben Myers at 9:09 am
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Starting next week, I'll be teaching an undergraduate course on the doctrine of the Trinity. I've pasted below the outline/syllabus for the course. If anyone in the Sydney area would like to sit in on the class, auditors are always welcome!
Welcome! In this subject, you are invited to explore the central teaching of the Christian faith: the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine is the belief – shared by all the main historic Christian traditions – that within God there is a living threefold movement from the Father to the Son in the Holy Spirit. This movement of divine life supplies the grammar for the way Christians speak about the world’s creation, redemption, and final restoration.
It was the experience of salvation in Christ that led early Christian thinkers towards a doctrine of the Trinity. From the earliest days, Christians were convinced that in Christ they had experienced God’s saving self-revelation. And if Christ reveals God – if, looking at Jesus, you find yourself looking at God – then Christ must somehow be said to share in God’s divinity. Otherwise, you wouldn’t really have met God in Christ, and God would remain hidden and unknown. The doctrine of the Trinity was formulated as a way of safeguarding these basic convictions about salvation and revelation.
In its briefest form, the doctrine of the Trinity can be summarised with the statement that God is “one being, three persons.” In the more elaborate language of the Nicene Creed, the doctrine of the Trinity affirms that “Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, [is] eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made.”
How exactly does this language about the Trinity relate to the ordinary Christian experience of salvation? How does it relate to the spiritual life? How does it relate to the way Christians read the Bible? Is language really an adequate means of expressing truth about God? How can we be sure that we really know anything about God at all?
These are some of the key questions that we’ll be exploring throughout the semester. You'll get to sample some of the richest spiritual and theological writing in the Christian tradition. And you'll see that those two aspects – the theological and the spiritual; knowing and loving; dogma and mysticism – are very closely connected in our tradition.
In the weekly tutorials we will be reading and studying three major Christian thinkers: two Greek-speaking theologians from fourth-century Cappadocia, Basil the Great (330-379 CE) and Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 CE); as well as the modern Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968). Basil and Gregory were key figures in the formation of Christian orthodoxy. Gregory presided over the Council of Constantinople (381 CE), which produced the version of the Nicene Creed that is still used in churches today. In the twentieth century, Karl Barth provoked a "trinitarian revival," leading to widespread interest in the doctrine of the Trinity. Under Barth's influence, the doctrine of the Trinity remains one of the major themes of contemporary theology.
By the time we have worked through our lectures and tutorials, you will have an understanding of the major issues in contemporary trinitarian theology, and you will have the tools to make your own informed contribution to the contemporary discussion. Your final essay will give you the opportunity to put those tools to work.
But the real fruit of studying the doctrine of the Trinity isn't just the ability to write a good essay. The fruit is seen in the way Christians love, pray, preach, sing, contemplate, read scripture, form community, make moral decisions, create art – and so on. The doctrine of the Trinity is the grammar of the Christian life.
Each week's lecture focuses on one or two main historical figures, and works towards clarifying some aspect of contemporary theology. So for example, the week 10 lecture will focus on Julian of Norwich, but will eventually arrive at the contemporary discussion surrounding Moltmann.
- Naming God in the Hebrew Bible
- tutorial: Basil, On the Holy Spirit, pp. 27-52
- tutorial: Basil, On the Holy Spirit, pp. 52-75
- tutorial: Basil, On the Holy Spirit, pp. 76-95
- tutorial: Basil, On the Holy Spirit, pp. 96-122
- tutorial: Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 27
- tutorial: Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 28
- tutorial: Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 29
- tutorial: Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 31
- tutorial: Barth, CD IV/1 [study edition], pp. 150-69
- tutorial: Barth, CD IV/1, pp. 169-86
- tutorial: Barth, CD IV/1, pp. 186-98
- tutorial: Barth, CD IV/1, pp. 198-204
- Short Cappadocian research paper (on Basil, Macrina, or Gregory of Nazianzus)
- Theological essay
Posted by Ben Myers at 9:52 am
Thursday, 19 February 2015
Perhaps the most hilarious of self-deceptions is thinking that you know what you’re doing. Human beings really do run on stupid, and we never run out of gas.
Some people say “Jesus saved me!” like they won the lottery. And you know what happens to a lot of lottery-winners…
On the preacher: “He shall from time to time give to the
Sermons are like basketball games: everything is won or lost in the last five minutes.
All you need to know about an Aaron Sorkin script:
[Allegro and staccato] Character A says: “Hi.” Character B says: “Hi.” Character A says: “Blah.” Character B says: “Sure.” Character A says: “Yeah?” Character B says: “Yeah.” Character A says: “Okay.” Character B says: “Okay.” Characters A says: “I gotta go.” Character B says: “Sure.” Character A says: “Right.” Character B says: “Okay.” Character A says: “Okay.” [Cut]
Anti-Clinton media moguls are already planning to produce a TV series on Hilary if she becomes the 44th President. The working title is The West Witch; the central set will be called the Ova Office.
You might say that in Jesus God learned to speak the language of humans. Fluency, however, failed him: he never did get the grammar of violence.
Consider American Sniper:
a point that’s been lost in the hyper –
tackled neither by Clint
nor by those of his bent –
is “Who, friend or foe, is the viper?”
If movie marketers had imagination …
American Sniper – Now showing in a coliseum near you!
Fifty Shades of Grey – Now showing in a dungeon near you!
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Then Jesus paused, consulted his Father, and added, “With one exceptionalism.”
—Matthew 28:18-19 (Original Autograph)
Mario Cuomo famously said, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” I think he meant “doggerel” and “drivel”.
In the Church of the Good Coffee, Starbucks is the equivalent of Arianism.
Did you hear about the Seattle Seahawk fan who declared that the Boston blizzard was God’s judgment on the Deflategate scandal, and then at the Super Bowl stood behind the Patriots’ bench holding a placard reading “Ephesians 2:2 (KJ)”?
Pilate went back into the palace and called Jesus (aka Lamb Mode). “Are you the King of the Jews?” he asked him. Jesus answered, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” Pilate asked him, “Do you think I am a Jew?” Jesus answered, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” Pilate asked him, “Are you a king, then?” Jesus answered, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” Then Pilate went back outside to the people and said to them, “I cannot find any reason to fine him.” Then he handed Jesus over to them. Jesus said to them “What are y’all here for?” They shouted, “Lynch him!”
—John 18:33ff. (Original Autograph)
In the wake of Wolf Hall (the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies), critically acclaimed as “close to perfect television”, the BBC website has run a little iWonder called How could you survive in Tudor England? In section 2, “Stay out of trouble”, it describes the draconian treatment of law-breakers during the reign of Henry VIII, when “estimates of the number of executions range from 54,000 to 72,000.” “A good start,” declares a spokesman for D-PE (Death-Penalty Evangelicals), “but this is America; surely we can get that number up to six figures. Meanwhile, in consultation with the steel and pharmaceutical industries, we will be considering the advantages of the axe over lethal injection.”
Satan in the wilderness – what a mug. Stones into bread, a death-defying leap from the Temple, all the kingdoms of the world – big deal. If he were really serious, the devil would have taken Jesus to the Bronx and offered the lad a Major League baseball contract. How could the Messiah resist playing in The Show, even wearing pinstripes?
What Jesus learned in the wilderness is that nothing fails like success.
According to creationists, there are three kinds of falsehoods: lies, damned lies, and cladistics.
How would I define “contemporary worship”? As a form of liturgical hazing.
Creatio ex nihilo or ordo ab chao? The former. The latter is too tough an ask. I think of my 2 ½-year-old granddaughter moving from room to room leaving a trail of ground zeros, and then multiply it by a universe – yep, too tough an ask, even for God.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury has come to the defence of Stephen Fry who infuriated Christians by denouncing God as ‘utterly evil’, ‘capricious, mean-minded, stupid’ and ‘monstrous’” (Telegraph 5 February). Absolutely (apart, maybe, from the “stupid”: it seems to me that there’s a genius to this deity’s creative malevolence). I look forward to the MPA of the C of E distributing Je suis Ivan badges to every parish.
So the pope told a gathering at the Vatican, “One time I heard a father say, ‘At times I have to hit my children a bit, but never in the face
At the 1973 National Prayer Breakfast, which occurred two weeks after President Nixon had ordered a ceasefire in Vietnam, Senator Mark Hatfield said, “Today our prayers must begin with repentance…. We must turn in repentance from the sin that scarred our national soul.” That was truth speaking to power. This year, judging from conservative reaction to Obama’s speech, power spoke truth to stupid.
Conversation at the Last Supper: Peter said, jokingly, “Hey Jesus, I got one for you: what do you call a leader with no followers?” Jesus replied, sombrely, “A guy taking a walk.”