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The article considers the relationship between divine will and being as revealed in election, particularly according to Karl Barth's unique formulation of the doctrine. It comes at the salient features of this relationship by way of a public disagreement between Bruce McCormack and Paul Molnar. In agreement with McCormack, the author contends, on the basis of Barth's provocative claim that Jesus Christ is not just object but subject of election, that we cannot speak of God's being apart from his will for humanity, and this from all eternity, or in God's most intimate primordiality. Yet echoing Molnar, this observation does not entail the logical priority of grace to being. The author argues that a thoroughgoing commitment to conceiving of the being of God in the act of electing means affirming the eternal simultaneity and indeed reciprocity of will and being, as Jesus Christ is the full and total revelation of both. One cannot serve as ground for the other. As such, a preferable way of construing election is as the decisive statement of Godself – the primordial, eternal iteration of God for humanity – or the specification of divine being.
When Jürgen Moltmann's Theology of Hope first appeared in 1965, it was seen as ushering in a new era of theological thinking. Karl Barth, however, sharply criticised the work as too heavily dominated by a ‘principle of hope’ that he believed Moltmann had inherited from the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch. This interpretation has largely been taken as fact among interpreters of Moltmann's theology of hope. This has caused most interpreters to see his turn to panentheism and ecotheology in God in Creation (1983) as being less of a shift of emphasis than a total change of trajectory or even break. There is evidence, however, that a different source contributed to the overall orientation of Moltmann's theology – an orientation that has remained throughout his life. This other source is the life and thought of the radical Schwäbean Pietists, Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805–80) and his son Christoph Blumhardt (1842–1919). In this article the authors flesh out the thesis that the Blumhardts are the prior, deeper and more long-lasting influence on Moltmann by focusing on three key theological motifs that permeate his theology: 1) Christianity as eschatology; 2) the ‘theology of the earth’; and 3) the ethics of hope. Furthermore, they argue that when the ‘hidden’ influence of the Blumhardts is acknowledged, Moltmann's later ‘shift’ can be understood as essentially in continuity, rather than discontinuity, with his earlier thought.
Until the recent discovery of a page of Isaac Newton's observations on John Locke's Paraphrase and Notes on St Paul's Epistle to the Romans, it was not known whether Newton had received or remarked upon Locke's work or, in turn, whether Locke had ever received Newton's comments. Since its discovery, however, it is possible to trace Locke's corrections and speculate on the extent and direction to which Newton may have influenced Locke. This article first establishes the theological relationship between Newton and Locke and, second, argues that Locke's revisions in light of Newton's suggestions reveal an anti-trinitarian spirit to his discussion. A previously unpublished transcription of Newton's manuscript fragment is also included.
In this important new volume, William Stacy Johnson, a lawyer and a chaired theology professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, provides a detailed and helpful typology of seven positions on same-sex relationships at work in American churches. These range from the ‘non-affirming’ positions of (1) prohibition, (2) toleration and (3) accommodation, to the ‘affirming’ positions of (4) legitimation, (5) celebration, (6) liberation and (7) consecration.
I wish that I could commend William Stacy Johnson's book, A Time to Embrace, as a rigorous and fair assessment of Christianity and homosexuality from a homosexualist perspective. Unfortunately, Johnson so regularly violates scholarly standards for honesty and accuracy in representing secondary literature, conceals from readers the most important counter-arguments to his position and shows gaps in logic, that I cannot embrace A Time to Embrace. Given space constraints, it is impossible to give a systematic presentation of the book's errors in fact or argumentation. I refer readers to my website for material that could not fit here and for a rejoinder to Johnson's response (http://robgagnon.net/ArticlesOnline.htm).
I thank the editor for the opportunity to respond to two forceful conservative critics of my position. As everyone knows, this is a controversy that threatens to split churches and divide society. Yet there is also hope for a way forward.