Friday, 15 June 2007

A dogmatics for every occasion

An imaginative dogmatics: Origen, De principiis
A majestic dogmatics: Calvin, Institutes
An informative dogmatics: Donald Bloesch, “Christian Foundations”
An encyclopaedic dogmatics: Pannenberg, Systematic Theology
An intricate dogmatics: Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith
A patient dogmatics: Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae
A deep dogmatics: Tillich, Systematic Theology
A legalistic dogmatics: W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology
A dogmatics for worshippers: Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology
A dogmatics for the oppressed: Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation
A dogmatics for theorists: D. B. Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite
A cultural dogmatics: Langdon Gilkey, Message and Existence
A boring dogmatics: Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology
An energetic dogmatics: Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology
A sleep-inducing dogmatics: Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology
A nightmare-inducing dogmatics: Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics
A traditional dogmatics: Thomas Oden, Systematic Theology
An untraditional dogmatics: Gordon Kaufman, Systematic Theology
A cheerful dogmatics: Barth, Church Dogmatics
A mystical dogmatics: Matthias Scheeben, Mysteries of Christianity

25 Comments:

kim fabricius said...

Thanks, Ben! Imaginative idea and great, and sometimes funny, list. I guess we all make our own suggestions, now is it?

How about Thielicke's as an "under-read" dogmatics; Brunner's as an "under-rated" dogmatics; Moltmann's as an "as-good-as-it-is-I-finally-stopped-buying-the-next-volume" dogmatics; and Webster's as an "I-can't-wait-for-the-bloody-thing-finally-to-begin-after-some-brilliant-essays!" dogmatics?

D.W. Congdon said...

Kim, I couldn't agree more with your suggestions!

Ben, this is a very creative post! I know this is going to strike you as odd, but I actually think Hart deserves more than "a dogmatics for theorists." This makes it sound rather dry, which it certainly is not. I wonder if "a dogmatics for artists" might be more appropriate. The title "a beautiful dogmatics" didn't show up on your list. I suppose one might argue that Hart's book fits this description, but I would rather apply it to Balthasar's trilogy, or at least his Theo-Drama, which belongs on the list somewhere I think.

I think I would apply "a majestic dogmatics" to Barth, and change Calvin to "a worshipful dogmatics." Tillich's I would call "a modern dogmatics"; I'm not entirely sure what "deep" means.

::aaron g:: said...

A blogger’s dogmatics Ben Myers,Theology for Beginners

Rudy said...

Wait a minute here. Are guys saying that you've actually read all of these?! I've just barely started with Brunner's first volume. I guess I am extremely late to the party, but that isn't anything new for me. Seriously though, you've read all of these?

Anonymous said...

A dogmatics for people who don't want to get 'left behind': Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology.

Exiled Preacher said...

Apart from the Institutes, (which is of course the first and best), traditional Reformed dogmatics don't fare too well in your list. Why label Shedd legalistic?

What about Vanhoozer's Dramatic Dogamatics?

Anonymous said...

I think William McClendon's dogmatics should be included - don't know what type of heading I would give it though.. any suggestions?

Terry said...

An unwritten dogmatics: Colin Gunton's proposed volumes.

And how would you categorise Grudem's Systematic Theology ?

dan said...

Grudem: an embarrassing "dogmatics"

Ben Myers said...

Or maybe Grudem's could be "a glossolalic dogmatics".

Guy: yes, I suppose I picked some bad examples from Reformed tradition. But don't forget that Barth, Schleiermacher and Bloesch are also Reformed. (And of course, I didn't mention Bavinck, which I think is one of the best dogmatic works ever.)

As for Shedd, though: I think this work is "legalistic" in the strictest sense -- the whole system is structured by legalistic categories and by a legalistic conception of the divine nature. I suspect it's probably the most legalistic dogmatics ever written! (In case it's of interest, I discussed this in a review of the book in Reformed Theological Review 64:3 [2005], 166-67.)

Anonymous said...

A dogmatics for community: Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God

A dogmatics for people who don't have time to read Church Dogmatics: Karl Barth, Gottingen Dogmatics

Ben Myers said...

David: I certainly meant it as no insult when I called D. B. Hart's book a "dogmatics for theorists" -- this was really just shorthand for "a dogmatics for people who read and understand Continental philosophy"! But you're right, it could definitely be called "a beautiful dogmatics" instead -- or even (of course) "an infinitely beautiful dogmatics".

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Anonymous, JAMES Wm. McClendon's should perhaps be called "An Anabaptist dogmatics for those currently seduced by mainstream theology." :-)

Thomas Finger's would be "A Contemporary Anabaptist dogmatics."

Ben, I love Gutierrez' work, but it isn't a dogmatics. It is a monograph. Sadly, so far there have been no liberation dogmatics--just monographic essays in liberation theologies.

kim fabricius said...

Ben and David,

I think that, ironically, you could also call The Beauty of the Infinite an "ugly dogmatics", or at least a "diss dogmatics", because it takes a lot of ill-tempered potshots at some quite significant thinkers and theologians. It's also one of the most "turgid dogmatics" I know. Having said that, I agree that it's one of the most important works of theology to appear in a decade.

The Institutes could also be called a "how-to-read-the-Bible" or an "instruction-in-holiness" dogmatics.

Alex said...

The only one I've read on your list is Institutues which I didn't get much out of. This gives me some hints as to who I should try next. I echo Rudy... How do you people find time to read this many books???

kim fabricius said...

Hands up, Rudy and Alex - in complimenting Ben on his list, I certainly didn't mean to imply that I have read all the books. I have, however, read most of them - or at least substantial parts of most of them! People who have read all of them should be spending more time with their families - or watching baseball! :)

a. chapin said...

Where's Karl Rahner in the list?

andy goodliff said...

Inspired by this great post, and because I spend too much time blogging, I was thinking if you had to choose one book for every major doctrine - what books would make it on the list? I'm having a go over my blog. Feel free to come and correct me.

Alex said...

I absolutely agree with the baseball comment Kim and I loved your post about it! :)

j. k. said...

"a nightmare-inducing dogmatics" - yeah, I know what you mean about Hoeksema. I read his chapter on predestination once, and it was alarming.

Ben Myers said...

Hi JK. I wasn't just joking about the "nightmares", either. Some years back, I read right through Hoeksema's Dogmatics as well has his huge 3-volume work on The Triple Knowledge -- and on one occasion, it literally gave me nightmares. I don't recall any details from the dream: I just remember waking up with a paralysing sense of fear and horror. And I take this to be a theologically appropriate response to Hoeksema, since his entire system is aimed at nothing less than the transformation of God into an omnipotent demon.

peter said...

Ben, have you read all these works? If so, my hat is off!

Ben Myers said...

Hi Peter: no, some of these I've only partially read (Wainwright, Oden, Berkhof); some of them took months or years to get through (Thomas, Barth); and some I never quite managed to finish (Hodge: I fell asleep). And I only read the Gilkey book earlier this week -- I found it lying dusty and neglected among some old books in the garage, so I picked it up: it's pretty good, too.

Dan Morehead said...

Love it! Ha, great list.

Anonymous said...

A dogmatic dogmatics: Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics.

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