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The Handelian oratorio Judas Maccabaeus was produced in 1746 as a compliment to the Duke of Cumberland for suppressing the Jacobite rebellion. The librettist, Thomas Morell, based his text largely on 1 Maccabees, but whereas he followed the biblical text relatively closely in Parts II and III of the libretto, he diverged from it significantly in Part I. The divergences correspond to ideas that Morell outlined in a sermon in 1739/40, which shows victory in war as inextricably linked with divine favour. Hence, Morell's version of 1 Maccabees portrays the Maccabaean campaign, and therefore the anti-Jacobite campaign which it represents, as having unequivocal divine favour.
Written in honour of the Berlin systematic theologian Wolf Krötke, this paper gives an exposition of two propositions. (1) ‘A Christian dogmatics of the divine perfections is a positive science in the church of Jesus Christ whose task is the rational articulation of the singular identity of God the Holy Trinity, freely presented in the works of God's triune being.’ Christian dogmatics is a positive science concerned, not with deity as maximally perfect, but with the singular identity of God in his self-presentation as it is confessed in the sphere of the church. That identity is God's identity as Father, Son and Spirit, confessed as immanently complete and as operative in the economy of God's works. This is applied to the attributes of holiness and love in a further proposition: (2) ‘God's holiness is the majestic incomparability, difference and purity which he is in himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which is manifest and operative in the economy of his works in the love with which he elects, reconciles and perfects human partners for fellowship with himself.’ God's holiness is self-consecration to be the wholly unique being that he is. But as the triune God, his self-consecration includes his consecration of the creature as he singles out the creature for blessing in his works of election, reconciliation and sanctification. As such, God's holiness is operative as the love which maintains the creature's cause by eradicating all that hinders the creature's consecration to life in fellowship with God.
Paul and Acts suggest that after Easter Peter lived in Jerusalem and had special responsibility for the mission to Palestine. 1 Clement mentions his two-plus labours (cf. Acts 3–4, 5, 12), but not Rome and not martyrdom. It places him second of seven chronologically ordered victims of jealousy between AD 40 and 70. Asc. Is. 4:2–3 is about Nero redivivus, not the historical Nero, and has nothing to do with Peter. By AD 100 legends were forming about his sojourn in Rome (1 Peter) and his martyrdom (John 21). He probably died in his bed in Jerusalem about AD 55.
Calvin has been traditionally regarded as having consistently interpreted scripture according to its literal sense and having also consistently repudiated non-literal modes of interpretation. This view has been recently challenged, however, by Gary Hansen, who claims that ‘Calvin's theological rules or priorities of interpretation allow for and even require non-literal interpretation of biblical texts’. The issue turns, however, on what interpreting scripture according to the literal sense actually meant for Calvin. Hans Frei claimed Calvin as a champion of the literal sense because he affirmed the primacy of the literal sense with respect to scripture's witness to the identity of Jesus Christ – that is, following the longstanding consensus of the church, Calvin proceeded on the basis that what the scriptures are literally about is not a concept or timeless truth, but the suffering, obedience, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
The fact that other so-called ‘non-literal’ modes of interpretation such as allegory appear in Calvin's exegesis should not necessarily, however, be seen as a betrayal of Calvin's commitment to literal interpretation, but rather as evidence of the elasticity of the concept. For Calvin, metaphorical or allegorical interpretations may, to a limited degree, be ascribed to the literal sense, but they must not offend, subvert, or be given independent or equivalent status alongside the literal rendering of the basic story about Jesus depicted in the Gospel narratives.
This essay demonstrates that the literal sense in Calvin is a much more supple notion than many have assumed, especially when one considers his Harmony of the Gospels. Contrary to modernist assumptions and in contrast to a strict, direct identification between signa and res, a tight, irresidual, one-to-one correspondence between what is written and what is written about, Calvin's approach to literal interpretation allows for what Frei called ‘breathing space’.
The thinker who approaches the problem of evil theoretically will conceive of the issue differently from one who approaches it practically. He will also differ on what would constitute a satisfactory ‘solution’. One looks for a logical coherence in theism, the other for consolation and the elimination of evil. The theoretical approach, it is argued, actually subverts the thinker morally and religiously. In the face of intractable evil, a theological suggestion that evil is a dark mystery is also rejected in favour of a more practical and constructive approach. It requires an active resistance to evil and then finds consolation in the consequent unity with the Holy Will that opposes all evil.
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it. Marx's Theses on Feuerbach, no. 11
In light of current discussions in theological ethics, Karl Barth's ethics can be understood within the dialectical relationship of ‘postmodern’ and ‘realism’. Barth shifts theological ethics beyond anthropocentric Kantian or naturalist inspired ‘modern realism’ on the one hand, and a nihilist or deconstructionist inspired ‘postmodern antirealism’ on the other. Beginning with the centrality of the Word of God, Barth deconstructs modern (anthropocentric) moral realism, while at the same time reestablishing this same moral realism on theological grounds, which ironically moves it beyond the claims of postmodernism itself. What makes Barth's thought post-modern, then, is not his similarity to antirealist and deconstructionist thought, but his departure from its secular and anti-theological assumptions. Barth's ‘postmodern realism’, therefore, not only provides a way for contemporary theological ethics to dialectically be critical and hopeful, deconstructive and constructive, decentering and centering, but does so from the anti-anthropocentric and anti-secular standpoint of the Word of God.
This paper is concerned with how we should understand the distinctive contribution of music to Christian worship. It considers two contrasting views that have powerfully influenced contemporary church music – the pursuit of musical excellence by highly competent performers on the one hand, and the adoption of simpler, popular and more inclusive musical forms on the other. This contrast is explored against the background of a biblical understanding of prayer and sacrifice, and in the light of some philosophical issues surrounding both the idea of divine service and the nature of music.
The question concerning conflicting truth claims so often at the center of theological discussions of religious pluralism has not shown signs of resolution insofar as the debates have proceeded from within the framework of propositional discourses. Among other reasons, this is in part due to the inadequacies of language to capture and communicate transcendental realities, in part due to the variety of interpretative systems associated with the religions, and in part due to religious truths claims as inviting inhabitation and practical embodiment rather than just describing objective realities. The thesis proposed here is that a pneumatological approach to the diversity of religions provides hitherto untapped resources for the theological understanding of religious truth. Building on the narrative of Pentecost in Acts 2, it is suggested that the Spirit's being poured out upon all flesh enables us not only to register the values of particular and distinct claims to truth, but also to engage such truths in some ways ‘from the inside’. This preserves the otherness of the religious other even while enabling interreligious dialogue.
Although the death of Jesus has been much written about by biblical scholars and theologians, most discussions have focused on its redemptive efficacy. In this essay, however, the focus is on NT references to Jesus' death as inspiring, exemplary, and descriptive of, and criterion for, Christian life. The basic thesis advanced is that the NT refers to Jesus' death as ‘paradigmatic’ impressively widely and with far-reaching applications. Insofar as Christian theological reflection involves taking seriously the scriptural testimony, this widely shared emphasis on Jesus' death as paradigmatic should be reckoned with in the content and perhaps also the practice of theology.
This article exemplifies a theological hermeneutic where the concerns of systematic theology shape the way a NT text is read. It intends to show that the unfolding testimony of Acts 1–2 (1) continues the process begun in Luke 24 of moving its audience towardan incipiently triune portrait of Yahweh; (2) provides public testimony to the truth of God's lordship by narrating its embodiment in a restored Israel; (3) enlarges a trinitarian reader's imagination with regard to the nature of the triune life of God when that imagination is stimulated by Luke's portrait of the embodied risen and ascended Son.
The purpose of this article is to look at how the Lord's Prayer, with its scriptural base (Matt 6:9–13) and frequent use in late medieval piety, came under careful scrutiny at the Reformation: Luther retained it as central to catechesis and worship; Calvin regarded it as an essential guide to the character of all prayer, but was cautious about its liturgical use; and Thomas Cranmer took a conservative approach, so that it appeared in all the services of the Book of Common Prayer and sometimes twice. Richard Hooker, the late Elizabethan theologian, had to defend Prayer Book usage against Genevans in the English church, who were suspicious of ‘vain repetitions’ – the Geneva Bible's translation of Jesus' warning about prayer (Matt 6:7) – and sought to base his defence by seeing the prayer as an essential part of all worship, both at the daily offices and at the eucharist. Some of his arguments, however, have not stood the test of time, as witness the revisions of the twentieth century, where the prayer is recited only once at each service, and invariably with the doxology – which Calvin favoured, and which Cranmer did not adopt.
The essay begins by noting some of the things Karl Barth might have said to defend himself against Stanley Hauerwas's criticisms, in the otherwise largely appreciative discussion in With the Grain of the Universe, of Barth's anthropology and pneumatology and the consequent problems in his ecclesiology. I then discuss some issues that Barth himself might have wanted to raise with regard to Hauerwas's own ecclesiology, especially in reference to its comparative lack of emphasis upon divine action and the difference that makes to an account of the church's witness. I argue that Barth and Hauerwas differ to some degree in their understanding of the gospel and of Christianity, with Hauerwas emphasizing rather more than Barth the necessity and centrality of the church's work in the economy of salvation. Barth, on the other hand, sees the need rather more than Hauerwas of situating the church's activity within a well-rounded account of the work of the Word and the Spirit. I offer some concluding remarks to suggest that this particular aspect of Barth's ecclesiology is worth preserving as an effective way of responding to modernity.
The anti-episcopal polemic of early Scottish presbyterian historians like Row and Calderwood has misled us to presume that most contemporary presbyterians saw bishops as enemies of the gospel. Instead, both episcopal writings and the manuscript records of kirk sessions, presbyteries, and synods show presbytery within prelacy working quite well in Scotland from the Reformation until the troubled 1630s. William Cowper, minister of Perth from 1595 to 1613 and thereafter bishop of Galloway, illustrates how and why the system worked. Calvinist, visionary, preacher, and vigorous reformer of manners, Cowper as minister joined with the Perth session to impose discipline, administered communion Geneva-style, and enforced the Reformation's abolition of traditional holidays. He was by any definition a puritan, and he remained one after his acceptance of a bishopric in 1612. As bishop of Galloway he declined to enforce kneeling or observance of Christmas despite royal mandate, cooperated with presbyteries and sessions, and continued active preaching and discipline. Charges against him of greed and ambition prove unfounded. His puritan episcopacy represents and explains the success of the kirk's hybrid polity in the post-Reformation period.
In this essay I strive to exorcize an epistemological demon, the demon of closure. The demon has long haunted theology to devastating effect. It makes chimeric concerns appear urgent, encourages false trajectories of inquiry, fosters unnecessary fears, propagates intolerance, and instigates violence. I begin with Charles Taylor's exposure of the demon in the context of philosophy's free will/determinism debate. Second, I sketch the demon's haunting of the patristic trinitarian and christological controversies, and its recent haunting of theology vis-à-vis the problem of evil. Third, I delineate and champion what I call ‘Chalcedonian reason’ (Taylor calls it ‘revised transcendental reasoning’). Chalcedonian reason emerges in the wake of the exorcism of the demon of closure (and involves significant revision of modern ideas about rationality). I argue that Chalcedonian reason is as old as Job, emerges amazingly triumphant, if unrecognized, in the patristic period, fosters humility and openness to the Spirit, and is wonderfully consonant with Christian theology and spirituality.
The essay suggests that three main approaches have been taken toward Christ's resurrection in recent theology. One view focuses on the question of existential meaningfulness. While it may or may not affirm the resurrection as a statement about Jesus' particular eternal destiny, it takes his resurrection primarily as a symbol of spiritual regeneration. A second view affirms precisely what the first rejects, namely, that Christ's resurrection is grounded in an actual historical occurrence. Knowledge of his resurrection is mediated by modern critical research and confirmed by it. Whether this mediation is necessary under the conditions of modernity or merely a matter of apologetic ground-clearing remains various within the type. Finally, there are those who argue that questions of meaningfulness and historicity, though important, are secondary, because determined by the nature of the resurrection event – which is necessarily unique in kind. Its meaningfulness and historicity are themselves correspondingly unique. Whereas the first type is seen as emphasizing transcendence at the expense of historicity, the second does the reverse by elevating historicity at the expense of transcendence. The mysterious conjunction of historicity and transcendence is what the third type regards as essential to understanding other relevant questions. The first type is represented by Schleiermacher, Bultmann and Tillich; the second by Pannenberg and Wright; the third by Moltmann, Frei and Barth.
Karl Barth saw himself as a ‘Randfigur’, a boundary figure, in ecumenical theology, while important members of the ecumenical movement regarded him as a ‘Wegbereiter de Okumene des 20. Jahrhunderts’, a pioneer of the ecumene in the twentieth century. Which characterisation is correct?
The article sheds light on Karl Barth as an ‘ecumenical theologian’ in eight different phases of his life: his wrestling with Roman Catholicism in Göttingen and Munster, particularly with the help of the Munich Jesuit Erich Przywara; his encounter and interaction with ecumenical leaders such as Visser't Hooft and Pierre Maury at the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship and his disappointment about the failing resistance of the ecumenical institutions against Hitler; his search for a clear ecumenical course during the Second World War and the Cold War thereafter; his contribution to the meeting of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in 1948 and in the preparation of this meeting; his complex and complicated dealing with the ‘fundamental ecumenical question’ of church and Israel; the reception of his theology in Roman Catholicism in the 1950s and 1960s through von Balthasar, Kung and other young theologians and Barth's interaction with them; Barth's engagement with Vatican II and his trip to Rome; finally, his personal ‘ecumenical existence’ in the last years of his life.
The contribution explores continuities and discontinuities in his stance towards ‘ecumenical theology’ – ecumenical theology in its various meanings. It depicts Barth in his journey from a fighter against the ‘Roman heresy’ to a critical pioneer of ecumenical theology in general and the institutionalised ecumene in particular.
This article aims to set out a modest, ’pre-theoretical’ or common sense account of metaphysical realism in Christian theology. The essay defends and explores the claim that Christian theology does not rest on definitions or world views when it speaks about ’realism’. Christian realism is not a method, especially not a method spinning free of its proper content, nor a theory about schools of realism. Christian theology is ordered to God's own ways and works: it is a realism in which the God of Israel is both agent and sovereign, both object and subject in the world we inhabit. Christian realism is reflection upon the reality created and blessed by the Creator.
The future of Cambridge University is discussed in the context of the current British and global situation of universities, the main focus being on what the core concerns of a major university should be at this time. After raising issues related to core intellectual values (truth-seeking, rationality in argument, balanced judgement, integrity, linguistic precision and critical questioning) and the sustaining of a long-term social and intellectual ecology, four main challenges are identified: uniting teaching and research fruitfully; interrelating fields of knowledge appropriately across a wide range of disciplines; contributing to society in ways that are responsible towards the long-term flourishing of our world; and sustaining and reinventing collegiality so that the university can be a place where intensive, disciplined conversations within and across generations can flourish. The latter leads into questions of polity, governance and management. Finally, the inseparability of teaching, research and knowledge from questions of meaning, value, ethics, collegiality and transgenerational responsibility leads to proposing ‘wisdom’ as an integrating concept. The relevant sources of wisdom available are both religious and secular, and in a world that is complexly both religious and secular we need universities that can be places where both are done justice. Given the seriousness and long-term nature of the conflicts associated with religious and secular forces in our world, it is especially desirable that universities in their education of future generations contribute to the healing of such divisions.
The following is a critical appreciation of the Reformation theological foundations of English church establishment which seeks to demonstrate their importance not only for the Church of England in the current political and legal climate, but also for non-established Anglican churches and for the Anglican Communion. It identifies as their central structure the dialectic of church and nation, theologically articulated as the dialectic of proclamation and jurisdiction. The enduring achievement of this dialectic, the paper argues, is to hold in fruitful tension the two unifying authorities of sinful and redeemed human society: the authority of God's word of judgement and grace and the authority of the community of human judgement under God's word. The historical analysis traces the evolving ecclesiastical and civil poles of the dialectic through their Henrician, Edwardian and Elizabethan formulations, from William Tyndale and the early Cranmer to John Whitgift and Richard Hooker, clarifying the decisive late medieval and contemporary continental influences, and the key schematic contribution made by the humanist Thomas Starkey. A continuous concern of the exposition is with the paradigmatic place occupied by interpretations of monarchical Israel in the shifting constructions of both civil and ecclesiastical polity, with the attendant dangers from a relatively undialectical relation between the ‘old Israel’ and the ‘new Israel’. The concluding evaluation and application focuses on the contemporary need for a theological construction of the nation and the church that grasps the complexities of the dialectic of proclamation and jurisdiction, especially as they bear on the unity and discontinuity of ecclesiastical and secular law at the national and international levels.
Traditional atonement theories (and especially penal readings of the atonement) are being challenged because they seem to be based on divine violence and thus seem to condone or contribute to human violence rather than enable human practices of hospitality. In the face of such criticism, this paper argues that attempts to eliminate all violence from atonement theology do not contribute to the flourishing of hospitality but imply an erasing of boundaries necessary to counter unjustified violence and to safeguard the possibility of God's eschatological hospitality. Specifically, the paper critiques three stepping stones used in the defence of non-violent theories of the atonement. They are (1) the definition of violence as inherently negative, to which the paper opposes the possibility of the Augustinian notion of justified violence as an act of love; (2) the ‘fall model’ of Constantinianism which erroneously regards penal atonement theories as the outcome of the fourth-century Christianizing of the Roman Empire; and (3) the abandoning not just of penal atonement theories, but necessarily of each of the three main models, since each defends God's involvement in violence. The paper then argues that a penal aspect is indispensable to safeguard both God's absolute eschatological hospitality and its incarnation in human relationships.