90 Slices
Medium 9781538105849

Response to Contributors

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Response to Contributors

Paul Hinlicky

There are few experiences more gratifying in life, especially the life of a theologian nowadays, than being heard and understood. I am honored for just this reason at the rich, appreciative, and insightfully critical essays written by these four comrades who undertook the daunting task of reading my massive book—Pro Ecclesia board member Joe Small asked me at the last board meeting whether I do books under ten pounds! I am grateful to all four though in distinct and personally particular ways.

My old friend Michael Plekon, student of Peter Berger, Kierkegaard scholar, and ebullient writer in Orthodox theology and spirituality for the past twenty years, writes an unabashedly personal response to what he has read in Beloved Community. This is fitting. We both eschew a certain academic pretense of disinterested objectivity that would downright filter the person out of the theology. Our stories tell a lot about who we are as believers, as thinking believers, and as theologians. The modality here is testimony. The agency is the Spirit who makes quite ordinary folks over into icons of holiness—dare we say that about theologians? Yes, if the stage is God’s world, “this world” including the academy, and if the performance in it is that of a “holy secularity.” This “life as prayer” motif resonates deeply between us and with Plekon’s approbation of Pope Francis—a living icon of this worldly spirituality in our post-Christendom world!

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Medium 9781538102718

What’s to Celebrate?

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

What’s to Celebrate?

Robert W. Jenson

Since it is commonly supposed that the Reformation began in 1517 with Luther’s debate theses on penance and the fuss they occasioned, people are looking to celebrate its five hundredth anniversary in 2017. And there you have it, the inevitable word, celebrate. For it is also commonly supposed that what happened back there rightly occasions celebration: large gatherings, encomiums, cheerleading, processions/parades, that sort of thing. Like the Fourth of July used to be in the United States.

But celebrate what, exactly? And how are we to do that? (The “we” here are the Protestants, including those reluctant to be so labeled.)

We can hardly now celebrate the eventual separation itself, since Protestant churches in the ecumenical movement spent decades lamenting and working to overcome it. Protestants could praise God for the supposed gift of churches liberated from papacy, so long as we thought that the papacy was an aspect of Satan’s tyranny, doomed to destruction with Islam and the like. For many good reasons, most of us have given up that doctrine. And getting along simply without a universal magisterium has in the meantime proven easier said than done.

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Medium 9781442261150

Receiving the Fragments of Balthasar: Critique and Community in Christian Theology

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Receiving the Fragments of Balthasar: Critique and Community in Christian Theology

Natalie Carnes

Karen Kilby’s A (Very) Critical Introduction to Balthasar could only have been written by a scholar who has devoted decades to reading the eponymous theologian. It is distilled, lucid, even masterful in its facility with Balthasar’s unwieldy corpus. The book is luminously clear and a pleasure to read. It is also unsettling, for Kilby levels a devastating charge against this very popular theologian: that he takes a God’s eye view in his theologizing—and not just occasionally but persistently—as an abiding feature of his theology.

For any theologian, the accusation of imitating divine sight is severe, and it is especially so for Balthasar, whose expressed theological commitments forbid such a view. Yet how Balthasar writes theology, according to Kilby, does in fact betray what he writes. This immanent critique energizes her charge against Balthasar, but its significance redounds far beyond his theological world. In rehearsing Balthasar’s “performative contradiction” (14), Kilby stages a broader argument about how to do theology.

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Medium 9781442252189

Responses to Reviewers: Identifying What Matters Most

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Responses to Reviewers: Identifying What Matters Most

D. Stephen Long

Seeing your own work through the eyes of others is illuminating, humbling, and revealing. What an author thought was a minor theme gets picked up as major one, while a major one is sidelined. Or what was intended as description is read as evaluative and vice versa. Unforeseen misunderstandings arise. Or perhaps they are not misunderstandings? Perhaps the author was deceived about the true intentions of his or her work? Are authors ever fully transparent even to themselves? Reading one’s work through the eyes of others can make it more transparent not only to readers but also to the author. Publications have a life of their own that authors cannot, and should not, control.

I preface my response to Jenson, Portier, Casarella, and Oakes with these remarks in hopes that readers will be encouraged to engage in the conversation that motivated Saving Karl Barth with the same care my four respondents have. I am in their debt. They are all careful readers who pose insightful questions and illuminating interpretations that advance the conversation and show me aspects of my own work that I admit I had not envisioned. It should come as no surprise to readers that I find less of what I intended to write in Jenson’s response than in those of Portier, Casarella, and Oakes. That does not make Jenson’s “dispositive evidence” against my interpretation incorrect; it only suggests that if he is correct, he has shown me something about my work about which I was not fully aware. Jenson reads my work as a polemical essay. As he puts it, “With slight exaggeration, one could say that Balthasar versus McCormack, with Long managing Balthasar, is an underlying plot of the whole book. Long has his own preoccupation.” I hope the exaggeration is more than slight. This book is not about McCormack; it is about Balthasar and Barth. McCormack’s work had to be addressed because, despite all his appreciation of Balthasar, he more than any other Barth scholar finds Balthasar’s reading inadequate. Had I written this book without attending to that critique, it would have been an obvious lacuna.

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Medium 9781442270626

Defending Biblical Literalism: Augustine on the Literal Sense

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Defending Biblical Literalism: Augustine on the Literal Sense

David Graham

Theological exegesis is making a remarkable comeback. In the concrete life of the church, to be sure, this manner of reading never quite died out. Yet in the last half-century or so, an increasing number of Christian scholars from various traditions have grown impatient with critical hermeneutics. In order to transcend the effective consignment of the biblical text to secular history, they have sought a rediscovery of the felicitous interplay of Scripture and divine reality. But this rediscovery need not entail a simple reversion to a precritical mind-set, which, as it is usually conceded, lacks a reliable safeguard against the untamed Origenists among us. Instead it ventures to incorporate some of the values implicit in modern reading habits. This intention has taken shape, for instance, in the renewal of critically informed figural reading—that is, spiritual interpretation that remains based upon and accountable to the literal sense of the text. Conceived thus, theological exegesis has the potential not only to furnish Christian formation; it also promises, so it seems, to maintain some of the intellectual credibility of the church amidst the academy.

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