How to Pray Before You Read and Write: A Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas Before Study

How to Pray Before You Read and Write: A Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas Before Study

Church and Theology, Productivity and Time Management
I want to share with you the following prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas Before Study, based on Oratio S. Thomae Aquinatis ante studium, which Thomas Aquinas would pray before studying, writing, or preaching. We prayed it responsively before class (Patristic and Medieval History and Doctrine) with Dr. Piotr Malysz at Beeson Divinity School, and I’ve since turned back to this prayer often! A Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas Before Study O God, Creator of all that is, From the treasures of Your wisdom, You have arrayed the universe with marvelous order, And now govern with skill and might. You are the true fount of light and wisdom. Pour forth a ray of Your brightness Into the darkened places of our minds; Disperse from our souls the twofold darkness into which…
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The Hermeneutical Implications of Scripture’s Theological Location

The Hermeneutical Implications of Scripture’s Theological Location

Bible and Scripture, Church and Theology
INTRODUCTION Theological hermeneutics – human understanding and interpretation in light of the identity and acts of the triune God – faces two problematic questions that, I believe, every biblical and/or theological scholar must be prepared to address. First, should the Bible be read in some special sense as divine revelation, or should we read the Bible like any other text? And second, should biblical and theological studies be one discipline, or two? In what follows, I propose that we can best account for both (1) the relationship between general and special hermeneutics and (2) the relationship between biblical and theological studies by first attending to Scripture’s theological location regarding its subject matter – the all-encompassing story, to which it bears witness, of how the triune God creates and redeems a…
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To Be or Not To Be Religious: A Clarification of Karl Barth’s and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Divergence and Convergence Regarding Religion

To Be or Not To Be Religious: A Clarification of Karl Barth’s and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Divergence and Convergence Regarding Religion

Church and Theology
Christian theologians Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) inherited a particular understanding of religion. In the broadly post-Kantian milieu, nineteenth-century thinkers such as Friedrich Schleiermacher, Albrecht Ritschl, and Adolf von Harnack defined religion essentially, anthropologically, and subjectively. That is, religion has a particular essence, and is in some manner inalienable from our humanity. The emphasis of this conception is on the experience of the religious subject, instead of the knowledge of religion’s object (let alone its reality).[1] It is this notion of religion that both Barth and Bonhoeffer challenged. (For a[n attempted] summary of the Christian faith, see my essay: "Theology in Outline: What do I Believe?") However, despite the challenge they issued to their shared intellectual heritage, Barth and Bonhoeffer appear to diverge on both the definition and,…
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30 Works on Karl Barth & Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Are There Others?

30 Works on Karl Barth & Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Are There Others?

Church and Theology
ABROMEIT, Hans-Jürgen. Das Geheimnis Christi: Dietrich Bonhoeffers erfahrungsbezogene Christologie. Neukirchener Beiträge zur systemaschen Theologie 8. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1991. BEINTKER, Michael. “Kontingenz und Gegenständlichkeit: Zu Bonhoeffers Barth-Kritik in ‘Akt und Sein.’” In Krisis und Gnade: Gesammelte Studien zu Karl Barth, edited by Stefan Holtmann and Peter Zocher, 29–54. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013. BENKTSON, Benkt-Erik. Christus Und Die Religion: Der Religionsbegriff Bei Barth, Bonhoeffer Und Tillich. Arbeiten Zur Theologie, II/9. Stuttgart: Calwer, 1967. BETHGE, Eberhard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography. Edited by Victoria J. Barnett. Revised. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1967. BOOMGAARDEN, Jürgen. Das Verständnis der Wirklichkeit: Dietrich Bonhoeffers systematische Theologie und ihr philosophischer Hintergrund in “Akt und Sein.” Gütersloh: Chr. Kaiser/Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1999. BURTNESS, James H. “As Though God Were Not Given: Barth, Bonhoeffer, and the Finitum Capax Infiniti.” Dialog 19, no. 4…
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Christians and Wealth: An Argument for Downward Mobility

Christians and Wealth: An Argument for Downward Mobility

Church and Theology, The Christian Life
Great news! If you only have a minute to read about wealth, here's my argument in a nutshell: Outline of My Argument Main Claim: American Christians should reduce their standards of living to what is necessary for human flourishing and give their excess resources beyond this standard to the poor and oppressed. God is the firmest advocate for human flourishing. The pursuit of wealth is spiritually dangerous and crippling. Our culture’s inclinations toward upward financial mobility go against the message of the New Testament and the life of Christ. God is revealed in Scripture to have a special concern for the poor and the oppressed. Christians will be held accountable for how they treat the poor and the oppressed. Objections: This line of reasoning is advocating asceticism and is unbiblical.…
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Barth, Bonhoeffer, & The Theological Critique of Religion: My Reading List This Fall

Barth, Bonhoeffer, & The Theological Critique of Religion: My Reading List This Fall

Church and Theology
This semester -- my final one at Beeson Divinity School -- I'm doing a directed study with Piotr Malysz on the topic of "Religion" in Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The impetus for this study was a discussion question in Dr. Malysz’s Spring 2015 20th Century History and Doctrine course. On March 24, our third class period on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, our second question for discussion read as follows: “What is religion for Bonhoeffer? What are its anthropological manifestations (in Bonhoeffer’s day)? In what ways is Bonhoeffer's understanding of religion similar to, and different from, that of Barth?” Having taken Malysz's Fall 2014 seminar on Karl Barth, I was intrigued by the question. We only spent a few minutes on the topic in class, focusing on how Bonhoeffer’s definition of religion focuses…
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Frustrated with Church? You’re the Problem!

Church and Theology
Yesterday, I asked you to join the Church if you, like me, are frustrated with the Church. The strongest critiques of religion come from within, not without, the Christian community. Plus, your frustrations are likely shared by many others within the Church! However, it's not enough to point the finger at others from your pew, instead of doing so from the public square. Yes, that's a good first step, but another one is necessary. You - and I - need to be willing to take ownership for the Church's failures. (more…)
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Frustrated with Church? Join the Club…

Church and Theology
...and by "club" I of course mean "Church"! What am I getting at? Am I calling the Church a mere "club"? No. Although, unfortunately, it often feels that way, doesn't it? A club full of hypocrisy, idolatry, indifference, and platitudes. A club full of power-plays, fear-mongering, and Bible-thumping. A club full of saints too afraid to admit that they are sinners. Perhaps you're sick of this "club," and you're ready to leave, if you haven't left already. I'm asking you to stay. To come back. To join for the first time. Why? Because the Church must be composed of people who realize the Church's shortcomings and failures. Otherwise, it is just a club. I'm asking you to stay, because most leaders within the Church share your frustrations. Because the strongest critiques…
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Reading Recommendations? Barth's & Bonhoeffer's False Gods

Church and Theology
Hi internet - especially all you Barthians and Bonhoefferians (-ites?) out there. I'm in the process of compiling a reading list, and I could use your suggestions. Here's my goal: to explore the possible relationship between Barth's critique of the "No-God"(Nich-Gott) and Bonhoeffer's critique(s) of viewing God as a "stopgap" (Lückenbüßer) or "working hypothesis." As far as primary sources go, I plan to focus on the Romans commentary, Garrett Green's recent re-translation of CD §17, and Letters and Papers from Prison. As for secondary sources, right now I'm starting the list with Tom Greggs' Theology Against Religion. I've read this twice now, and it has been a major inspiration for the project. I've also got my eye on Michael DeJonge's Bonhoeffer's Theological Formation, Ernst Feil's The Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Andreas Pangritz's Karl Barth in…
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Improvising Church & State: Overaccepting as a Synthesis of Anglican and Anabaptist Approaches

Improvising Church & State: Overaccepting as a Synthesis of Anglican and Anabaptist Approaches

Church and Theology
INTRODUCTION: ACCEPTING, BLOCKING, AND STATUS From the church’s perspective, is the state a promising offer, or a threatening one? At the risk of breathtaking oversimplification, Anglicans have tended to adopt the former perspective, leading to accommodation, and Anabaptists the latter, resulting in separation.[1] Following Samuel Wells in his theological appropriation of terms from theatrical improvisation, the Anglican tradition has tended to respond to the promising offers (invitations to respond) of the state by accepting – maintaining the premise(s) of the state’s action(s).[2] The historical legacy of the Church of England has given Anglicanism, as Anderson notes, an “inheritance of a strong loyalty to the state and a conservatism that has led the church to promote the status quo more often than it agitates for reform.”[3] This inheritance from the established…
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