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Showing posts from 2017

Bringing Sexy Back for DET’s Birthday!

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Observe the pictures above, gentle readers. On the left you see pictured Justin Timberlake, singer, songwriter, actor, etc, and on the right is pictured David W. Congdon, kickass dialectical theologian. Both men, it could be argued, have brought, are bringing, and will continue to bring the proverbial “sexy” back. Only one of them, however, is also bringing Rudolf Bultmann back. Unless, that is, the gentleman on the left has as yet hidden depths…

I hear you, gentle readers, I can see into your minds: “What, oh what,” you ask yourselves, “does this have to do with our beloved, esteemed, decorous theology blog?” I’m glad you asked. You see, tomorrow is DET’s 11th birthday, and I felt that this momentous occasion warranted breaking our current hiatus to conduct something of a celebration. And since I won’t be at my computer terminal tomorrow on DET’s actual birthday, I thought I’d celebrate it today.

What’s that? You wonder what on earth this has to do with Mr. Timberlake? Well, as so…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

We interrupt this DET summer hiatus to bring you a link post! It has been a month and a half since the last link post because, well, we’re on hiatus. But there are two reasons why I decided to pop out of self-imposed obscurity to offer you these links: first, because my link pile grows at the same rate during hiatus as it does when not on hiatus, and the pile is currently huge and in need of reduction; second, because it’s John Calvin’s 508th birthday!!!

So, in addition to the usual list of links from elsewhere on the interwebs, I thought that I would bring you a selection of DET’s posts on Calvin in honor of his birthday. This is your chance to learn quite a lot about him by creating on the screen of your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or even desktop monitor. So, without further ado, here are some…

DET posts on John Calvin:

Calvin, Christ, and the Sword - This was my first ever post about…

Wear Your Red Proudly: A Pentecost Sermon

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I’m wearing red suspenders and a red tie, and many of you are wearing red as well. And some of you may be wondering, Why? Because today is the day that we as a Church remember and celebrate Pentecost, the day in history when the Holy Spirit descended as if flames of fire on the heads of the disciples in Jerusalem, after Jesus had ascended to heaven. The full story of all what happened on that day can be found in Acts 2:1-13. We wear red to symbolize the fire of the Holy Spirit. Fire burns. Fire purifies. Fire transforms. Fire ignites. No, I’m not a pyromaniac. I’ve just been set on fire by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I want you to imagine that you are one of those disciples of Jesus long, long ago who had walked on this earth alongside our Lord. We are living between Ascension and Pentecost. Imagine all that you had gone through up to this point, all that you had experienced, seen, heard, and lived. Glance at the dusty and sweaty hungry crowds he spoke too on the mountains and the o…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

Well, it’s been a little over a month since the last link post. As you can imagine, I’ve got lots of goodies to share with you, both from DET and from elsewhere. However, the most important things that I have to share is a bit of news:

DET will go on its summer hiatus effective immediately and lasting through Labor Day.
Your friendly, neighborhood DET authors will be busy over the summer generating the gripping posts on theological, biblical, historical, ethical, and political topics that you’ve come to expect from us. So stay tuned for more come September.

In the meantime, I would encourage you to explore the DET archives. We’ve got over 10 years’ worth of posts in there for your enjoyment, so use the archive navigation tabs on the left side bar to poke around. Or make use of the tabs at the top of the home page: About DET; About the Authors; Book Reviews; Serials Index (my personal fav…

"Powers of Folly": An Early Barth Sermon on the Principalities

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Reading some of the sermons Barth delivered in Safenwil, Switzerland, in 1914 yields a few tantalizing surprises. I found some of these in his homily from October 18, an almost uncanny meditation on the principalities and powers.

A Unique Time of God: Karl Barth’s WWI Sermons, Trans. & Ed. B y William Klempa (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2016).

Barth's sermon text was Romans 8:38-39, the culmination of one of the most profound and perhaps one of the most perplexing passages in the New Testament. Having pondered the groans of a creation eagerly awaiting liberation from the bondage of death, Paul writes:

I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In wrestling with this passage, Barth both grasps onto his faith in the coming Kingdom of God, an ethical commonweal…

Francis Turretin’s Ecclesiology, 18.17: The Primacy of Peter

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Seventeenth Question: Was Peter an ecumenical pontiff and the head of the church and the vicar of Christ? We deny against the Romanists.

I mentioned previously that question 16 was indirectly about papal primacy, but with question 17 we embark upon a series of questions that address that issue directly. As you no doubt gleaned from what you’ve learned about Turretin thus far, as well as from his posing of the question above, things are unlikely to go well for il Papa.

To begin, however, Turretin characteristically wants us to be entirely clear about what he is and is not arguing. For starters, you will have noted that the question is posed with reference to Peter. The logic is that if Peter is unable to claim primacy then the Pope, as the apostolic successor of Peter, is similarly unable. To be clear, Turretin is not arguing that Peter has no sort of primary whatsoever. He seems willing enough to grant Peter a certain sort, or certain sorts, of primacy. He clarifies that “the question…

Against "Christian Morality"? Ellul on Paul's Freedom Doctrine

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In 1951 the French sociologist and theologian Jacques Ellul published a seminal theological essay on "The Meaning of Freedom According to St. Paul" -- an exposisition of Romans 8. As commentator Marva Dawn explains, early on Ellul had been drawn to the works of Karl Marx, but he came to find Marxist theory was insufficent to address ultimate questions about the meaning of existence; for that, the transcendent perspective of religious faith is necessary. While reading Romans 8, he had a sudden "watershed" experience in which the words of the Bible came alive as a liberating word addressed personally to him. This essay, she writes, reflects some of the early fruits of that conversion.

Sources and Trajectories: Eight Articles by Jacques Ellul that Set the Stage, Trans. & Ed. by Marva J. Dawn (Grand Rapids, MI: Eeerdmans, 1997).

Like so many interpreters of Paul, from Luther to Barth and beyond, Ellul discerns in this text a liberating word that casts a shadow of j…

Authority and Bible in Schleiermacher’s Theology—more from Daniel Pedersen

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In my last post post, I talked about my preferred approach to relating the introductory sections (§§1-31) of Schleiermacher’s The Christian Faith to his concrete theological claims later in the book. A great advantage of my approach is that it offers a better way to understand how Schleiermacher meant his method and dogmatic particulars to relate. In other words, this approach makes Schleiermacher’s method more understandable.

In this post, I want to stick with the theme of Schleiermacher’s introductory sections. This time, however, I want to say something about the why of Schleiermacher’s introductory sections. I am convinced that we don’t really understand what Schleiermacher is up to unless we understand his motives. In this post, I will say something about one motive in particular: the search for an adequate authority.


One story we could tell about §§1-31 of The Christian Faith is that they were a thought experiment. Or that these sections were the product of whimsy. Or they were…

What Am I Reading? Willem Spijker’s “Calvin: A Brief Guide”

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Long-time DET readers know that I have a soft spot for Calvin. My posting will inexorably circle back to him if given enough time. This is one of those times because I’ve been reading Willem van’t Spijker’s Calvin: A Brief Guide to his Life and Thought (WJK, 2009). This is one of a slew of books that were published about Calvin to mark the 500th anniversary of his birth.

Generally I wouldn’t pick up such an introductory volume at this point in my Calvin-reading career, but I hoped this one would provide a glimpse at the state of Calvin scholarship in Europe in general and the Netherlands in particular. It’s hard to know whether that’s what I received, but I will say that the various European languages are well represented in the bibliography. Furthermore, I discovered that Spijker has an effortless way of bringing in a great deal of historical detail that I had not encountered in such an economical, summary fashion before.


For instance, Spijker's treatment of the background to th…

Word from the Trenches: Klempa on Barth as Wartime Preacher

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William Klempa's introduction highlights several notable features of Karl Barth's preaching (see pp. 40-45); most of these will not be new to the seasoned Barth student, but they are helpfully laid out here.

For one thing, Barth was deeply troubled by the preachers of the World War I era who used the pulpit to legitimate the entanglement of their respective nation states in the burgeoning conflict. As we shall see in looking at these sermons, Barth discerned a positive theological value in Swiss neutrality: Though Switzerland was far from innocent in the conflagration of the European powers and their respective allies worldwide, at least Barth could view his pulpit in the Aargau canton offered a vantage point for criticizing both sides in the war; Swiss neutrality, we might say using a later Barthian trope, provided a parable of the peaceable kingdom, dim though the reflection might be.

A Unique Time of God: Karl Barth’s WWI Sermons, Trans. & Ed. By William Klempa (Loui…