Sunday 8 April 2007

International Journal of Systematic Theology

The new issue of the International Journal of Systematic Theology is out now, with a range of excellent articles on Catholic and Protestant theology. Suzanne McDonald writes about Barth’s early doctrine of election; Paul Dafydd Jones discusses Barth on Gethsemane; Stephen Fields and Edward Oakes explore Balthasar’s theology of crucifixion and Holy Saturday; and Francis Caponi discusses Rahner’s view of religious language.

This issue also includes my review of Paul DeHart’s brilliant work, The Trial of the Witnesses (adapted from the online review). If you haven’t read DeHart’s book, I really recommend it – it was my pick for the best theology book of 2006.


Anonymous said...

In my essay on "Postliberal Theology," in The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology, ed. Kevin Vanhoozer, I propose that Frei is significantly different than Lindbeck, that there is no such thing as a "Yale school," and the real "postliberal" theologians are Barth and von Balthasar.

I haven't read DeHart's book yet. However, one point makes me a bit dubious, based on discussions I've read so far. Regardless of their differences, Frei and Lindbeck are both strongly committed to Nicene Christianity. They both affirm the full deity of Jesus Christ and his bodily resurrection over against modern liberal historicism and naturalism. The same cannot be said of Schleiermacher. They both also affirm some version of substitutionary atonement. This cannot be said of either Rahner or Tracy. When these observations are taken into account, it would seem that, while Frei did try to learn from Schleiermacher, he recognized his theological limitations more than DeHart seems prepared to allow. I suspect that DeHart focuses too much on method and too little on content.

Whatever their differences Frei and Lindbeck undoubtedly have more in common with each other theologically, and with Barth and von Balthasar, than they do with the likes of Schleiermacher, Rahner and Tracy.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks, George -- this is a good point, and you could be right about DeHart's emphasis on method rather than content. Even regarding content, though, DeHart would probably see Schleiermacher as closer to Barth and Nicene orthodoxy. He's currently writing a book about Schleiermacher's trinitarian theology, and he's aiming to show that Schleiermacher's theology can't be dismissed as a simple "liberalism". It will be interesting to see where all this leads!

Anonymous said...

On Barth

The Confessing Church opposed the restriction against Christianized Jews because it went against scriptural doctrine, and it objected to the state's interference with the churches' self-regulation. Courageous as they were for what they did, the three leaders of the Confessing Church--Pastor Martin Niemöller and theologians Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth--still merit no more than one cheer because of the narrowness of their concern and particularly, as will be seen, because of their irrepressible anti-Semitism. In founding the Confessing Church, pains were taken to emphasize that it was as politically loyal to the state as were the German Christians and that it was not criticizing the measures taken by the Nazi state which it acknowledged must "bear the sword."

The Barmen Declaration of Faith, which is a statement of principles of the Confessing Church, composed mainly by Karl Barth, says nothing about the Jewish Question. It was Jews who had become Christians that the Church was concerned about. In the words of Professor John S. Conway: "The Confessing Church did not seek to espouse the cause of the Jews as a whole, nor to criticize the secular legislation directed against the German Jews and the Nazi racial philosophy." Further confirmation is provided by the latest, most comprehensive research on the matter, Victoria Barnett's For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler, published in 1992: "For the mainstream Protestant church and even within most of the Confessing Church, the question of church advocacy on behalf of non-Christians Jews did not even arise."

Anonymous said...

"Schleiermacher as much closer to Nicene orthodoxy" -- Very unlikely, I should think.

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