Besides being one of my new favorite bloggers, Michael F. Bird is an excellent scholar who has an amazing ability to churn out books despite how relatively young he is. He has a post that is awesome here concerning the two-natures analogy of wolves, which he finds to be inconsistent with the New Creation that has happened in Christians through Christ Jesus.
One of my professors, Dr Craig Blomberg, will be in Birmingham this week (my hometown!) to lecture on parables at Beeson Divinity School. See below for info:
is pleased to welcome Dr. Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, who will present the twentieth annual Biblical Studies Lectures on our campus next week. His theme for these lectures is “Interpreting and Proclaiming in the Twenty-first Century.” Dr. Blomberg will preach on Tuesday, April 14, and will lecture on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and again on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Each of these events will take place in Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel. Professor Blomberg received the Ph.D. in at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland . He has written or edited fifteen books including Contagious Holiness: Jesus’s Meals With Sinners; Neither Poverty or Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions; and From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts Through Revelation. Perhaps he is best known for his important study, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, now recently revised in a twenty-first century edition. You are warmly invited to meet Professor Blomberg and hear his lectures. , Each session takes place in Hodges Chapel on the campus of Samford University and is open to the public at no charge. For more information, please email Lee Hansen or call (205) 726-2731.
This is probably the best critique of Erhman in a blog post that I have ever come across! Thanks Dr. Witherington!!!
[**In no way is this a full acount of Oden’s theological methodology. Moreover, please forgive the lack of footnotes…I have not figured out how to import those into a blog post.]
Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel states that “our concern is not how to worship in the catacombs but how to remain human in the skyscrapers.” Indeed, the setting for 21st century Christian living is different in ways unimaginable to those in the early church. However, Thomas C. Oden, theologian and long-time professor at Drew University, has spent the last few decades of his career promoting the idea (in different language) that one knows how to live (worship, think, and theologize) precisely by looking to the early church. Once a theological nomad of the landscape of contemporary theology, Oden has anchored himself into the rich traditions of the church and is on a mission to educate Evangelicals, and Christians more generally, in the ways of the consensus ecclesia catholicae. In particular, Oden has developed a particular method (or received, he might say!), called Paleo-Orthodoxy, which when combined with his Wesleyan posture and his commitment to Scripture creates a theological tour de force. In following, an attempt will be made to elucidate and evaluate his theological method. Specifically, attention will be directed towards how Oden’s biographical Sitz im Leben influenced his theological method(s) and their attendant epistemological assumptions.
From A Movement Theologian to an Ancient Theologian
To fully cover Oden’s influences one would need much more space than a few pages. This is because in the early part of his career, Oden was a “movement theologian,” one that moved with the cultural waves of faddism into whichever ideology Read the rest of this entry »
If “reformists” insist on keeping the boundaries of heresy open, however, then they must be resisted with charity. The fantasy that God is ignorant of the future is a heresy that must be rejected on scriptural grounds (“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come”; Isa. 46:10a; cf. Job 28; Ps. 90; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1), as it has been in the history of the exegesis of relevant passages. This issue was thoroughly discussed by patristic exegetes as early as Origen’s Against Celsus. Keeping the boundaries of faith undefined is a demonic temptation that evangelicals within the mainline have learned all too well and have been burned by all too painfully. (Thomas Oden, “The Real Reformers and the Traditionalists,” Christianity Today, Feb. 9, 1998, p. 46. emphasis added)
In response to the omni-prevalent notion of individualism in America (and abroad, no doubt), it has recently become popular in some Christian circles to be much more communitarian, or community-focused. This is good for a number of reasons, reasons that I will not go into for sake of time, and honestly, laziness. One theologian, Stanley Grens (RIP), even goes so far as to elevate the idea of community into the role of being a dominant operative metaphor for the doing of theology (see his Theology for the Community of God).
Now, I have recently developed what I think to be a pretty compelling idea which I think lends credence (sp?) to the need for hermeneutics to be communally postured? What do I mean by communally postured? I mean that the hermeneutical process undertaken by anyone interpreting Scripture ought to involve readings that are both, (1) subject to more than one lone interpreter in isolation & (2) outside its own domain, or circle(s) of existence. For instance, we do well to read what might be called advocacy group readings (post-colonial readings, feminist readings, third-world readings, liberation readings, etc.). My professors, Dr. William Klein & Dr. Craig Blomberg do an excellent service to me and other students at Denver Seminary by encouraging us towards this end. But, aside from assuming a priori that we need to consider such readings, is there any grounding or legitimacy to the idea that we NEED to read from such diverse perspectives and traditions?
I think there is…and here is where my “compelling idea” comes in:
[It might be a generous to call it “my” idea since it has been inspired a writing of C. S. Lewis, but the application is certainly (I think) original to myself.And again, keep in mind that I am trying to provide justification for a communal reading (a reading that by its very definition does not flow from a lone interpreter but takes into consideration the work of the Spirit in community and, particularly, in communities much different from its own].
But enough qualifications; let us consider an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves:
Lamb says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but ‘A’s part in C,’ while C loses not only A but ‘A’s part in B.’ In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves.’ For in this love ‘to divide is not to take away.’ Of course the scarcity of kindred souls–not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices–set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious ‘nearness by resemblance’ to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ to one another (Isaiah VI, 3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.
–from the Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
From what I understand, the essence of what Lewis is saying is that we can know more about an individual when they are immersed in community. In the context of community, what would seemingly detract from our ability to know someone in actuality helps us to know them even better. That is, if I have two friends and one dies, just b/c I now have more of the other person to myself, this does not mean that I will know them better. This is because there are certain things about that person which will now never be excavated or evoked b/c the only person that could see them or bring them out is that third friend who has passed on. But how does this apply to reading and interpreting Scripture?
When we think about Holy Scripture and the Word of God more generally, we need to always understand the idea of revelation in terms of SELF-revelation (a point I gladly borrow from my beloved Dr. Payne). The authority of Scripture, as N. T. Wright points out, has to always be understood in terms of GOD’S (!) authority. Thus, when we seek to understand the Word of God, we are seeking to understand something which is inherently personal. [This is presupposition of mine is crucial for understanding what I am about to say]
If we then think back to what Lewis highlights, we do not necessarily know more about the Word of God if we have sat in our Western, academic tower and through much rigorous and personal engagement with the text, exegeted it to our satisfaction. [Obviously the Word of God is more than just the text, but hear me out] Indeed, we may know more of what the author originally intended, what kind of genitives are being used, what socio-cultural factors are in the background, etc. However, if we want to truly seek to understand the Word of God, then we need others. We need to gather together with others in community and share our exegesis, our interpretations, our understandings of the Word, not withholding our differences but bringing them to bear fully on the text. With convicted civility and humility, we may then and only then, learn more fully what the Word of God is trying to tell us. You see, by hearing Johnny Liberationist’ reading and personal engagement with the Word of God, I am not getting less of the Word of God, but more. Granted, not just any reading helps me know the Word of God more, but there are no doubt instances where readings VERY different from my own might bring out elements of the text which my cultural blinders passed by. Now, there will have to be boundaries to just who can be your “hermeneutical friend.” I am convinced that more often than not I will not be able to successfully have a “hermeneutical friendship” with a deconstructionist, primarily due to such different methodological commitments. However, this is not to say that it is impossible.
So, what do you think? Does my application of Lewis’ illustration make sense when applied to hermeneutics? I might suggest provisionally that I wonder if this is what was going on in the conciliatory creeds of the early church? Who knows? Please, share your thoughts!!!
Dr. Doug Moo, a world-renowned New Testament scholar, will be speaking February 11th from 9:30-10:30 on the topic of “Fresh Thoughts on Justification in Paul and James.” This will be a timely discussion given the developments on the topic of Justification posited by the New Perspective camp. Stop by if you are in the Denver area!