The Journal is no longer published. Past issues will be archived here [1996-2007, vol. 1-12].
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the Editorial History of our Journal.
Alan G. Padgett, Editor (Luther Seminary)
||Volume 12 (2007)|
Volume 12 Contributors
Guenther "Gene" Haas, Creational Ethics is Public Ethics (.pdf)
This paper presents the framework and key doctrines relevant to public moral engagement as found in the Reformed or neo-Calvinist tradition shaped by Abraham Kuyper and his disciples. My thesis is that Christian ethics is public ethics because it is creational ethics. Christian ethics has a place in the public arena because it is the articulation of the creational moral order that constitutes and guides all human beings. Neo-Calvinism considers the creation order as foundational. The fall of creation and its redemption must be understood in relation to this foundational doctrine. But the creational order also shapes the nature of Christian involvement in the public domain. The final section highlights some implications of this for involvement in public life.
Aaron Perry, On Enduring Political Authority: Comparing Oliver O’Donovan and the Book of Revelation (.pdf)
The political thought of Oliver O’Donovan is discussed alongside a key text for his thought, the book of Revelation. Specifically I examine the question of God’s providential relationship to enduring political authority. I suggest that while O’Donovan’s work presents a positive relationship between God’s providence and an enduring political authority, the book of Revelation presents a negative relationship, meaning God keeps at bay the forces that would otherwise destabilize political authority. We begin with an introduction to O’Dovovan and his notion of political authority, which is followed by an inductive study of Revelation. I conclude with a comparison of the two, offering suggestions of the political and ethical practicality such a comparison may yield
||Volume 11 (2006)|
Volume 11 Contributors
John C. McDowell, Karl Barth Having No-thing to Hope For (.pdf)
Barth's work on eschatology certainly deserves more critical prominence than it has frequently been given. He encourages theologians to think much more carefully about what it is to hope as a Christian, or, better, as one whose determination and responsibility are ecclesially learned and performed in witness to God’s coming in Jesus Christ. The challenge that his material puts to much that passes for Christian talk of hope is pronounced and radical. In particular, he challenges the very kind objectivity of hope that makes what Christians hope for just another object; and in so doing, although I will focus less on this here, Barth casts serious suspicion on the subjectivity of hope that is therein necessitated (stable subjects of hope who can hope for different types of things). For Barth we have been given time to hope, and consequently this hope is only appropriately Christian hope insofar as it is engaged in its task of de-demonising the world and de-centering the subjectivity of much that passes for hope-full living today.
Elisabeth Agnew Cochran, "At the Same Time Blessed and Lame:" Ontology, Christology and Violence in Augustine and John Milbank (.pdf)
In Being Reconciled, John Milbank affirms the necessity of Christ’s atonement for human redemption. Yet his Christological claims are undercut by the ontology that undergirds the narrative he puts forth in Theology and Social Theory. This narrative depends upon the premise that a denial of a positive ontological status for violence lies at the heart of Christianity. A comparison of Theology and Social Theory to Augustine’s The City of God demonstrates that Augustine accepts a form of dialectical ontology that Milbank rejects, and that this dialectical ontology undergirds Augustine’s Christology in crucial ways. Although the differences between Milbank’s and Augustine’s depictions of the ontological status of violence are subtle, these differences have significant implications for the sorts of Christological claims that each of these thinkers is logically able to sustain.
J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth: The Case for a Holistic Reading of the Biblical Story of Redemption (.pdf)
Many Christian voices have proposed that the eternal destiny of the redeemed consists not in a disembodied heaven hereafter, but in the resurrection of the body in the context of a new earth. This paper explores the theological—and especially the exegetical—case for a consistent understanding of redemption as the restoration of God’s creational intent, such that the appropriate hope for the redeemed is life in a renewed earthly creation. The inner theological logic of this position is explored through an integrated reading of the plot structure of the entire biblical metanarrative and by attending to representative New Testament texts that articulate a holistic eschatological vision of God’s redemptive purposes. The paper concludes by considering biblical texts that might seem to provide an alternative vision
||Volume 10 (2005)|
Volume 10 Contributors
Adonis Vidu, Bruce D. Marshall and Realism (.pdf)
Bruce Marshall’s Trinity and Truth proposes, among other things, a move beyond realism and non-realism, with the aid of Donald Davidson’s theory of truth. Marshall suggests that while Davidson’s account is correct, it needs a theological supplement because the truth of theological sentences cannot be ‘automatic’. I raise two main objections to Marshall’s argument. First, I argue that his ‘automaticity argument’ fails, while unwittingly undermining the unity of truth. Second, Marshall’s assurances that we are still in touch with the world (although we have moved beyond correspondence realism) are compromised by certain Davidsonian and holist constraints upon the notion of causality. I further suggest that McDowell’s correction of Davidson can help restore that confidence.
Jason M. Curtis, Trinity, Time and Sacrament: Christ's Eucharistic Presence in the Theology of Robert W. Jenson (.pdf)
A critical analysis of some key elements in Jenson’s theology. Some of his most stimulating theological themes are those surrounding his trinitarian ontology, where he combines a thoroughgoing knowledge of the tradition with biblical exegesis and philosophical reasoning. What emerges is a trinitarian theology dominated by the concern to overcome any vestige of divine timelessness and replace it with a biblical doctrine of the God who is temporal, yet overcomes temporal contingencies. The manner in which he does this is to link the divine identities with the temporal “moments,” and by maintaining the priority of the future over the past. I argue that this move bears directly upon his view of Eucharist and forces it in a direction that is problematic, viz., that Christ’s presence must be temporally—and by consequence, physically—located.
Daniel Gallagher, The Obedience of Faith: Barth, Bultmann and Dei Verbum (.pdf)
The Catholic formulation of "faith" as expressed in Dei Verbum owes much to the influence of Protestant theologians such as Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. Dei Verbum offers the Pauline phrase "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5 and 16:26) as constitutive for understanding the relationship between the believer and the God who reveals himself in Jesus Christ. This essay examines the obediential dynamic of faith as developed in the exegetical, theological, and ethical work of Barth and Bultmann, demonstrating how the biblical and personalist dimensions of faith implicit in paragraph 5 of Dei Verbum, to a large degree, find their inspiration in the ideas of Barth and Bultmann.
||Volume 9 (2004)|
Volume 9 Contributors
Jonathan P. Case, The Death of Jesus and the Truth of the Triune God in Wolfhart Pannenberg and Eberhard Juengel (.pdf)
For Pannenberg and Juengel the death of Christ has an integral role to play in instantiating in the life of God the critical moment necessary to their respective conceptions of truth. For Pannenberg a claim's capacity for truth lies in its ability to be disputed. Confirmation must follow if a claim is to be judged true, but even this confirmation is open to subsequent challenge. Truth is hence a historical process, only the end of which will bring about a definitive conclusion. Given this understanding of truth, the death of Christ on the cross is to be understood as a disputation to the deity of God, since the Father's lordship is dependent upon the Son, and God's lordship is not external to God's deity. In the resurrection of Jesus the Holy Spirit confirms Jesus and his claims about the Father's lordship, but the confirmation of this claim remains open to challenge by history. For Juengel, truth is approached phenomenologically, by attending to the event of interruption in our lives which occurs when we are apprehended by an external reality. Our self-continuity is interrupted, and if this interruption can be assimilated, an enhancement of our lives takes place in which new possibilities for being emerge. Considered in this light, Christ is the 'two-fold' interruption, in whom God draws closer to us than we are able to ourselves, and in whom God has allowed his own life to be interrupted by our sin and death. The Holy Spirit in the resurrection reveals that such an interruption did not end in the termination of God's existence, but that the nothingness of death is taken up into God's differentiated life.
David L. Stubbs, Practices, Core Practices and the Work of the Holy Spirit (.pdf)
The recent interest in "practices" has created a multi-faceted discussion in theological circles that brings together insights from many disciplines such as ethics, philosophy, and cultural anthropology. However, there has been little extended analysis about how the many claims made about practices are related to quite similar claims traditionally made about the work of the Holy Spirit. In this paper, four distinctions are highlighted that can help us better conceptualize how the Holy Spirit might be related to different kinds of practices.
||Volume 8 (2003)|
Volume 8 Contributors
Gabriel Fackre, Claiming Jesus as Savior in a Religiously Plural World (.pdf)
Taking up the bold claim for the universal significance of christological particularity, this essay begins with a brief description of a range of contemporary perspectives on the relation of Jesus Christ to religious pluralism, using a ten-fold taxonomy rather than the popular but inadequate pluralism/inclusivism/exclusivism formula. Current perspectives are identified as: common core, common quest, common community, common pool, common range (all variations on a pluralist approach); anonymous particularity, revelatory particularity, imperial particularity, pluralist particularity and narrative particularity as types giving pride of place to Christian singularity. The heart of the paper is an exposition of the tenth perspective, a narrative account of the meaning of Christ as the Savior in a religiously plural world.
Paul Bischoff, Participation: Ecclesial Praxis with a Crucified God for the World (.pdf)
From a scandalous cross, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
reveals how the church as cruciform community may participate with a loving
crucified God in the world. Tillich's philosophical abstractions and
extraneous correlation methodology remove real participation of a suffering
God who lives for human beings. An illusory Being-itself conceived in
ambiguity within a religious anthropology of glory is inadequate for Wiesel's
God who dies with a young boy on the Auschwitz gallows. Contra Nietzsche's
megalomaniac will to power, only an apparently-failed God in the powerless
Jesus of Nazareth on a Roman tool of torture can help. Bonhoeffer's unashamed
appeal to revelation proposes a God of grace to revive a
culturally-domesticated optimistic church hell-bent on defining itself without
the paradox of a foolish gospel without the cross.
Christian D. Kettler, He Takes Back the Ticket . . . For Us: Providence, Evil, Suffering, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ (.pdf)
The existence of evil and suffering is one of the great challenges to belief in a good and all-powerful God. How can we believe in all honesty? Building upon Karl Barth's argument that providence should proceed from Christology, this article considers the biblical emphasis of what T.F. Torrance has called the vicarious humanity of Christ. This means that Christ in his humanity believes when we find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe, especially when it comes to facing human suffering. Jesus lived a life of perfect faith in, worship of, and service to the Father, even at the cross, yet still believed in the providence of God. His belief is not simply a model of faith, but it is also vicarious faith. He believed (and believes) for us, as our representative, and in our place, as our substitute. The Son believed in the providence of the Father, as difficult as that is to do in a world of evil and suffering, so that we might believe as well.
Paul D. Molnar, The Trinity and the Freedom of God (.pdf)
One of the most serious problems facing contemporary Trinitarian theology concerns the extent to which terms we use in ordinary parlance can be used to describe God and God's relations with us in history. This article argues that a contemporary doctrine of the immanent Trinity should help theologians recognize and respect the freedom of the triune God as the basis of human freedom. By allowing our concept of God to be shaped by who God is in Christ and the Spirit we would exclude any agnosticism with respect to the eternal Trinity and would not define God by our experiences and concepts. Any dualistic or monistic understanding of our relations with the Christian God would similarly be excluded. While many contemporary theologians claim to begin their reflections about God with the economic Trinitarian self-revelation, I contend that Rahner and many who follow his axiom of identity, with its vice versa, actually compromise both divine and human freedom; so that there is a trend today to make God dependent upon and indistinguishable from history; to believe that Jesus is the revealer in his humanity as such; to blur the distinction between the Holy Spirit and our human spirit, and to allow experience rather than the object of faith to determine theological truth.
Hans Boersma, Liturgical Hospitality: Theological Reflections on Sharing in Grace (.pdf)
This essay looks at the Church's liturgy using the metaphor of hospitality. The following assumptions will guide its development: (1) that the Church's practice of hospitality is both a reflection and an extension of God's own hospitality (Reinhard Huetter); (2) that there is a participatory identity between Christ and the Church, with this connection implying that liturgical hospitality forms the primary shape of God's gracious hospitality in our world, specifically as that hospitality is mediated by the Church through the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments; (3) that liturgical hospitality cannot function properly without regard for boundaries, and consequently, some basis for exclusion. Upon the basis of these three assumptions this essay describes four practices of liturgical hospitality: evangelical, baptismal, Eucharistic, and penitential hospitality, noting their benefits and dangers.
Volume 7 (2002)
Randall Otto, The Remnant Church (.pdf)
The invisible church idea is an apologetic device developed by the Reformers to comply with the creeds' statements concerning a "catholic church" and is based on a conception of individual election that itself may need revision. The Reformed doctrine of an invisible church has no basis in the OT or NT, for in both it is those who unite and persevere in faithful obedience with God through his mediator in the covenant community who are saved. The invisible church should thus be replaced with remnant church, for the remnant is the ecclesiola in ecclesia which public demonstrates election in saving union with Christ, through abiding in him and bringing forth fruit for his glory.
Seng-Kong Tan, The Doctrine of the Trinity in John Wesley's Prose and Poetic Works (.pdf)
One may easily judge John Wesley's pietistic and anti-rationalistic Christianity to be an encumbrance toward a well-developed doctrine of the Trinity. That Wesley produced very limited systematic treatment on the subject augments the assumption that his theology, though implicitly trinitarian in general is, nonetheless, superficial in its ontology, and thereby, tends toward a subjective functionalism. This essay argues against such a pre-understanding, and appeals for an "organic" appreciation of John Wesley's broad body of prose and poetical works, in order to recognize the solid doctrine of the immanent Trinity that is foundational to his soteriology. As a judicious editor of Charles' hymns, John Wesley has artfully woven together a restatement of classical trinitarianism that is not only profound and subtle, but also edifying and practical. The depth and simplicity of the doctrine of the Trinity which one encounters in Wesleyan metrical theology, of course, owes much to the experimental genius of John and Charles. What must not be forgotten is that the substance of their trinitarian hymnody depended much upon a faithful reappropriation of the ecumenical Creeds, and no less, the mystical, illuminating piety which is at the heart of these dogmatic formularies.
Volume 6 (2001)
Alan Padgett, "Testing Models of the Incarnation: From Revelation to Historical Science" (.htm)
Is it proper for the results of science to influence Christian theology? If so, on what grounds? I argue that science can and should influence theology, and give the example of historical investigation into Jesus (historical science) and Christology (theology). Proof, coherence and informal support are the three logical ways of relating data to theories. Abandoning proof, and assuming coherence, we look at the notions of abduction and retroduction (informal support á la C. S. Peirce) as models for the history-theology relationship. Among the theologians, I explicitly follow Basil Mitchell and Reinhold Niebuhr on the relationship between faith and history, and am critical of Barth and Pannenberg. The models of incarnation I explore against the background of historical research are Ebionite, Arian and Orthodox. The orthodox and Arian theories seem, prima facie, best supported by historical evidence (which is not developed here in this exploratory article).
Philip H. Wiebe, "Evidence for a Resurrection" (.htm)
Most discussions of the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus do not pay sufficient attention to the question of what evidence would be needed for an "ordinary" resurrection (a resuscitation). The criteria for establishing a resuscitation include showing (a) that a person truly died, (b) that the resuscitated person's corpse no longer exists, and (c) that the resuscitated person was seen after his or her supposed resuscitation. The difficulties of traditional attempts to defend the Resurrection are shown to hinge on the limited amount of evidence available in the New Testament for these three conditions. The possible value of the Shroud of Turin for the first two of these conditions, and of ongoing visions of Jesus for the third condition, is discussed.
John Perry, "Dissolving the Inerrancy Debate: How Modern Philosophy Shaped the Evangelical View of Scripture" (.htm)
The debate among American evangelicals over scriptural inerrancy has received less attention in recent literature than it did during its height in the 1970s and 1980s. Nonetheless the issue itself remains unresolved; indeed, many consider it beyond hope of resolution. Recent work by certain philosophers, however, suggests that there is a way out -- not by resolving the debate but by dissolving it. In particular, a model developed by Nancey Murphy for understanding the history of the split between Protestant liberals and conservatives can be appropriated for understanding the history of the inerrancy debate. Examining the history of this debate through the postmodern lens of Murphy's model reveals that certain shortcomings of modern philosophy fed into the debate, forcing theologians to overstate the significance of certain claims. As the debate progressed, there was a steadily increasing concern that Scripture be considered accurate in all matters, including the precise recording of detailed historical events and matters of science. For some conservatives this eventually became a test of orthodoxy; that theologians such as Martin Luther and John Calvin did not share this view reveals the force of modernity's influence. Looking beyond the current evangelical view of Scripture, a postmodern world provides room for an even stronger commitment to the Bible's authority, though one that does challenge certain evangelical assumptions.
Rudolf Bisanz, "Jesus is Victor! Karl Barth and Pietism, the Blumhardts and Politics" (.htm)
Testing the referents of the title Pietism, the Blumhardts, Politics against the facts and data of Barth's life and work can help clarify the larger meanings of his systematics. Polemics that distort his theology could thus yield to fresh insights into his larger thinking as an agent of spiritual renewal and civic empowerment. This account commences by evaluating certain interlocking Barthian positions on: religious enthusiasm versus metaphysical temperance, Evangelical discernment and the nature of Biblical verity, and church governance in relation to matters of ministerial conscience. Using these linked data as a basis of inference and argument, this study continues by examining theory versus practice in the making of theology. It concludes with the affirmation that 'God-talk is action', namely that the science of divinity matters, both theoretically and functionally, especially when the Church is in the line of secular fire.
Herman J. Pietersen, "Meta-paradigms in Theological Thought" (.htm)
Archetypal frameworks of knowing and being are introduced, in an analysis that places the science of God in meta-theological perspective. Four basic types of knowledge orientation are identified, each of which represents a different way of understanding and making sense of God and Creation. They are: the rationalist-transcendent (example: Augustine); rationalist-immanent (example: Aquinas); subjectivist-immanent (example: Luther), and subjectivist-transcendent (example: Calvin). Together, these ways of understanding provides a basic set of different, and often also conflicting but complementary knowledge approaches or meta-paradigms in theology.
In addition, the history of thought also points to the primacy of three fundamental dimensions of being, namely, the Natural (physis), the Social/Cultural (nomos), and the Spiritual (logos). Utilizing a combined epistemological and ontological approach, the paper briefly outlines key elements characteristic of the thought of a number of well-known theological pioneers.
||Volume 5 (2000)|
Michael Peters, "Orthos Logos, Recta Ratio: Pope John Paul II, Nihilism, and Postmodern Philosophy" (.htm)
Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio, delivered in Rome at Saint Peter's, on 14 September 1998, is the first encyclical to address the relationship between faith and reason, and other matters philosophical, for over a hundred years. Pope John Paul II suggests that, in the history of philosophy, postmodernism appears as a form of nihilism, resulting from the crisis of rationalism. He argues for a new dialogue between theology and philosophy to recover authentic wisdom and truth. This article reviews and discusses the argument of the letter, briefly sketching the Pope's argument concerning the relationship of the Church to philosophy. Beginning with Nietzsche's "death of God," it also provides an account of postmodern philosophy and the problem of nihilism that contests the Pope's interpretation, while, at the same time, suggesting lines of possible debate between Catholic theologians and postmodern philosophers.
Todd Billings, "Theodicy as a 'Lived Question': Moving Beyond a Theoretical Approach to Theodicy" (.htm)
The thesis of this essay is that the theodicy question should be configured as a "lived question" for Christians, an open question, which affects the shape of Christian practice. Building upon the work of Terrence Tilley and Kenneth Surin, who chronicle the perils of disconnecting theodicy reflection from questions of practice, this essay seeks to articulate a Christian framing of the theodicy question in which confession and practice are configured as a mutually forming dialectic. The result is that compassionate action is rendered as a way of protesting against the present state of violence, asking with the sufferer, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Thus, as Moltmann says, the problem of suffering becomes "the open wound of life" which has concrete action as its response. The essay argues that the scriptural portrayal of creation and consummation leaves the problem of suffering as an open question -- but a question which must continue to be asked through compassionate response even when that response cannot "fix" the sufferer.
D. Lyle Dabney. "Nature Dis-Graced and Grace De-Natured: The Problematic of the Augustinian Doctrine of Grace for Contemporary Theology" (.htm)
Contemporary theologians, as one of their number has commented, have turned from a theology of the Word to a theology of the world. After a period during the first half of the twentieth century in which theologians concerned themselves primarily with questions of their discipline's identity and character, they have in recent years turned to address as a matter of first principle the physical, the social, and the political issues in the world about them. In the course of this effort to shift theological direction, a number of fundamental issues have been raised which have yet to be fully examined. Perhaps the most urgent of these is the problematic of the western doctrine of grace. If contemporary theologians wish to develop a theology of the world, it is imperative that they come to grips with the fact that the soteriological categories of our western traditions offer precious little help in doing so. For the western doctrine of grace has concerned itself almost exclusively with the 'innerness' or the 'soul' of the individual, and has but rarely addressed itself to human being or human society or the material world as a whole. In point of fact, basic to the western doctrine has been the distinction between the world as a whole and salvation, i.e., between "nature" and "grace" a distinction which has had "disastrous results", in that it has led to "God and world' and "creation and redemption" being torn asunder. If a "theology of the world" is ever to be developed, therefore, this disjunction, indeed, this virtual contradiction between 'God and world' and between "creation and redemption" in our thinking and doing must be addressed anew. This article seeks to begin to do so, first, by examining the theology of Augustine, the source of this western doctrine with its axiomatic separation of grace from nature, secondly, by exploring how that separation has characterized the western theological tradition, and third, by suggesting that Augustine himself points to a possible way beyond that separation through a theology of the Holy Spirit.
Jeffrey W. Robbins, "From Thinking to Religion: The Opening of Ideality in 19th Century Protestant Thought" (.htm)
In this essay, I argue for a philosophical continuity and progression to Protestant religious thought in the Nineteenth Century. More specifically, I center on the work of Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Sören Kierkegaard, all of whom are Protestant Christians concerned with maintaining the worth of religion in a culture grown skeptical. The essay argues that it is the great value of Kierkegaard as a religious thinker that he provides a way beyond the conditions and strictures placed on thought by those "defenders of faith' who came before him. Kierkegaard does this by enfranchising a kind of thinking that might be called religious, and thus, makes the object of religious reflection not theology as a cognitive science, but a prayerfulness that makes possible a religious becoming.
Lewis S. Ford, "A Review of God and Contemporary Science, by Philip Clayton" (.htm)
||Volume 4 (1999)|
Jeffrey Bloechl, "Have we Need of Invoking Postmodernity? Identity and Difference in Theological Discourse"
While the term "postmodernity" remains vague or equivocal, theologians increasingly concede that it is one which they can not avoid trying to understand and deal with. One definition of the term proceeds by way of sharp contrast with specific features of modernity, thus clearly distinguishing postmodernity from even late modernity. The key to this distinction seems to be a particular conception of "difference" which is worked out rigorously in Heidegger's, "The Principle of Identity." Proceeding from Heidegger's claim to think difference anterior to identity, postmodernity is then presented here as the source of considerable difficulty to a theology which would seem committed to basic identification with Christ. Clarification of these difficulties and the dangers they harbor for a theology which would speak according to the postmodern condition illumines the general contours of a theology which instead speaks about it or in discussion with it. Some implications in the fields of pastoral and speculative theology are highlighted.
James J. Buckley, "Beyond Evangelical Theology's Scholasticism and Pietism? A Review of A Future for Truth: Evangelical Theology in a Postmodern World, by Henry H. Knight III"
Henry H. Knight III. "Response to James J. Buckley"
||Volume 3 (1998)|
Mark Wilms, "The Rebirth of Luther's Two Kingdoms in Kant's Commonwealths"
To most people acquainted with Immanuel Kant and Martin Luther, their differences in philosophical and religious outlook prevent comparison on most levels. Nevertheless, it is in the idea of two realms of spiritual or moral renewal that they begin to speak similar language. More specifically, Luther's description of Christians living in two kingdoms, living the spiritual life of faith alongside their imperfections in daily life, is echoed in Kant's notion of the ethical and political commonwealths, where a society of people ruled by morality is put alongside the political realm where these same people must be ruled by law. Like Luther, Kant affirmed the presence of what he termed radical evil in human nature, but also believed that the morally renewed person would express goodness in society as well. This "tempered" optimism can be compared to Luther's conviction that faith would have a positive effect on the life of the believer, in spite of the inevitability of sin.
Gunther Pratz, "The Relationship between Incarnation and Atonement in the Theology of Thomas F. Torrance"
Thomas F. Torrance's understanding of the relationship between incarnation and atonement is deeply shaped by his understanding of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed and Greek patristic theology, particularly that of Athanasius. The soteriological emphasis of Nicene theology and the soteriological orientation of Athanasius in his whole approach to the doctrine of the Son and his cosubstantial relation to the Father are central points in Torrance's Christology. He gives a supreme place to the Nicene homoousion and interpreting from this foundation he sees atonement as taking place within the incarnate being of Jesus Christ. An examination of the modes of atoning redemption which underlie the scriptural account as well as early patristic theology shows their significance concerning the relation of incarnation and atonement. The ontological mode of atoning redemption, when seen in the light of the incarnation, lays emphasis on the full humanity of the Redeemer Jesus Christ and that he actualised kinship with humankind through the incarnation and claimed our sins and guilt and provided atoning redemption in himself, bringing us back into union and communion with God the Father. Whereas this mode could be seen as countering and refuting such heretic ideas as Arianism and Apollinarianism, the dramatic mode of atoning redemption speaks against ideas like Deism, where God is too far removed from our world to intervene, or such notions of God and our world as we find in Isaac Newton and his closed system. While the former stresses the complete humanity and thus the kinship of the Son of God with us and the latter the complete divinity of the human Jesus Christ, the priestly or cultic mode of atoning redemption interpenetrates both of the others by emphasising the significance of the divine and human natures being in union in the incarnate logos. All three modes are, therefore, essential in the understanding of atonement in relation to the incarnation.
David Basinger and Randall Basinger, "The Logic of Theodicy: A Comparative Analysis"
The purpose of this essay is to compare how three theistic perspectives -- theological determinism, freewill theism and process theism -- do (in fact, must) approach the reality of evil in this world and then reflect on whether any of these approaches (theodicies) can be judged superior to the others. We conclude that, while a person can justifiably maintain for herself that one of these responses to evil is superior, there exists at present no objective basis for claiming justifiably that any one of the theodicies (and thus theisms) is in fact more plausible than the others. However, even if the type of comparative discussion in which we engage cannot identify a winner, this type of discussion can, we contend, clarify crucial issues (for instance, identify crucial assumptions inherent in each theodicy) and therefore is of value.
||Volume 2 (1997)|
Max L. Stackhouse, "In the Company of Hauerwas"
This critical response to Stanley Hauerwas' work, especially as found in his recent book, In Good Company, raises questions about the nature and character of Christian Ethics. For instance, it doubts that a tradition so closely linked with Israel as Christianity must be, can so easily dismiss principles of right and wrong (cf. the Torah). Furthermore, one must question whether we should be so confident of the human capacity to cultivate virtues by habituation to overcome evil, or so doubtful of the capacities for humans to carry on commensurable discourse about serious matters between contexts. Still, there are areas of agreement, especially a very large agreement about the prospect for critic and target to take communion together, and the importance for Protestants to engage such Catholic teachings as John Paul II's Centessimus Annus in our time.
Thomas J. J. Altizer, "Apocalypticism and Modern Thinking"
This article seeks to draw forth the deeply apocalyptic ground of a uniquely modern thinking, which it attempts to understand as a rebirth of an original Christian apocalypticism. Such a ground is already manifest in the birth of modern science, and in the advent of a new and dichotomous interiority, one decisively present in Cartestian thinking and in German Idealism, and which in Hegel evolves into a fully apocalyptic systematic thinking. But modern apocalyptic thinking is grounded in a uniquely modern realization of the death of God, which can be understood as a conceptual realization of the crucifixion, as the crucifixion for the first time undergoes a purely conceptual expression. In Nietzsche, modern apocalyptic thinking passes into a uniquely modern nihilism, one which is being transcended and reversed in our time by the purely apocalyptic thinking of D. G. Leahy, a thinking which is apocalyptic and Catholic at once.
Vincent Bacote, "Called Back to Stewardship: Recovering and Developing Abraham Kuyper's Cosmic Pneumatology"
Abraham Kuyper's cosmic pneumatology provides an indispenable resource for the contemporary systematic development of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Though contemporary scholars have attended to this neglected aspect of pneumatology, there has been inadequate development of the ecological, cultural, and sociopolitical implications of the relation between the Spirit and creation. In Kuyper's cosmic pneumatology, the Spirit completes the creative act, animates all of life, and restrains the effects of sin in the world. This understanding of the Spirit/creation relationship overlaps with Kuyper's understanding of common grace, thus making the Spirit the agent of common grace. This grace provides the impetus for cultural development, social action, and political involvement. Bacote argues from this that the Spirit drives this kind of activity, and thus motivates Christians toward "responsible" stewardship of creation, leading to thoughtful environmental proposals and redemptive cultural and political involvement in society.
||Volume 1 (1996)|
Elmer M. Colyer, "A Theology of Word and Spirit: Donald Bloesch's Theological Method"
One of the distinctive characteristics of Donald G. Bloesch's evangelical theology is his theological method. Bloesch proposes "a theology of Word and Spirit" in which the action of the Spirit brings the Word of God (Jesus Christ) present, yet hidden, in Scripture to light so that people hear and respond in faith. The Spirit is given the primary role in forging a conjunction between the human and historical words of Bible and divine revelation never at human disposal. The rigorous application of this theme leads to characteristic reformulations of various elements in Bloesch's theological method including revelation, Scripture, hermeneutics, authority, and the role of reason and philosophy in theology. Bloesch's theological method is similar to that of Karl Barth and is, therefore, subject to similar criticisms.
Donald G. Bloesch, "Response to Elmer Colyer"
Colyer pinpoints a major issue that emerges in my discussion of theological authority. While God can be known only through God, are there not creaturely structures that carry the message of God's salvation? Reformed theology has traditionally emphasized the incapacity of the finite to bear the infinite, but this needs to be counterbalanced by the recognition that the infinite is capable of the finite. The finite cannot in and of itself carry the infinite, but the infinite can use the finite to reveal itself. By the power of the Spirit the gospel can enter creaturely structures and thereby make them means of grace. The structures that God chooses are precisely those that have arisen within salvation history and that constitute this history. I depart from Barth because he posits only a loose association rather than a inseparable connection between the sign (the creaturely structures) and the thing signified (the gospel).
Also please check the papers of the Christian Theological Research Fellowship.