On Being a Christian Professor

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Some of you probably think that I have fallen off the face of the earth, but for some reason, this past year has just been so busy that my ability to keep up the blog was hindered. Hopefully I can get back to it a bit more regularly this coming year.

Recently, I was given notice that I will be promoted to full Professor here at Briercrest College and Seminary. As part of my portfolio for promotion, I included a short essay I wrote entitled, “On Being a Christian Professor.” I append it below and I hope you enjoy it.

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On Being a Christian Professor

The Cornell professor of history, Carl L. Becker, once said, “A professor is somebody who thinks otherwise.” In other words, professors are, amongst other things, marked by a refusal simply to accept and reiterate that which is accepted as common sense or conventional wisdom. Thus, professors, according to Becker, are those persons whose thinking is on the liminal edge of their discipline, leading the way into thoughts which heretofore have not yet been thought.

Such a characterization of a professor as an original thinker, of course, is widely held. But it is precisely this commonly held view which leads us into a kind of intellectual conundrum. For if it is commonly believed that it is a fundamental requirement of professors to “think otherwise,” then there is but a hair’s-breadth between the professor and the madman, both of whom “think otherwise”! Who adjudicates between that which is thought “otherwise” in the mind of the professor and the mind of the madman? One can justifiably understand why the phrase “mad genius” has found its way into everyday parlance!

It is, of course, highly ironic that the idea of a professor as an intellectual contrarian has forgotten that the Latin meaning of professor, professōris (from which the English word is clearly derived) is quite simply “teacher.” And this is not even to mention the more obvious English verb, “to profess,” from which the noun is derived! Had sad it is, then, in modern times the professor has become associated primarily with great feats of cognition rather than with great feats of pedagogy. Undeniably, the professor must think; there are today too many examples of professors who have gained tenure but who have long ceased to contribute anything of worth! But thinking without teaching is akin to inhaling without exhaling!

As I ponder what it means potentially to take up the designation of professor, I am drawn to one of the apostle Paul’s aphorisms as tremendously apropos: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1).

It is quite likely that the apostle, an educated man himself, understood something of academia. Perhaps he even had some of the Sophists of his day in mind as he penned these words. Sophists, one will recall, were men who travelled itinerantly, teaching (for a fee) on whatever subject was in popular demand. Some sophists prided themselves on being able to win an argument, even against the established “experts” of the day. But to be sure, the end goal of the Sophists was personal profit and public recognition rather than the upbuilding of their pupils.

Whether he had Sophists in mind or not, Paul goes on to indict “the man who thinks he knows something” when he clearly does not: Such a man is one who “does not yet know as he ought to know” (1 Cor 8:2). On the contrary, Paul declares, it is the “man who loves God” who is “known by God” (1 Cor 8:3). That is interesting, isn’t it? Paul shifts the whole equation around, making “being known” as having greater importance than “what one knows.” And in the middle of it all, he inserts—love.

It is perhaps in this vein of thought that Augustine later argued that the primary difference between the city of man and the city of God is not a differing set of ideas, beliefs or knowledge, but the difference between what is loved and cherished. In fact, Augustine defines a “people” as “an assembled multitude of rational creatures bound together by common agreement as to the objects of their love” (City of God, 19.24). Whether a people of the world or a people of God, they are defined by what (or whom) they love. We become that which we love. Or to paraphrase the Jesus, “Whatever you cherish reveals who you are” (Cf. Matt 6:21).

While it may be that there is a distinct people group within academia bound together by their common love for a particular field of knowledge, in a Pauline-Augustinian perspective, Christian academia—and therefore the professors that supposedly lead the way—must necessarily be defined and driven by God’s love for us, and in proper response, our love for God, the highest and finest object of our love. The common object of our love must be none other than the God who has first loved us (1 John 4:19).

So what does this all have to do with the topic of “being a professor” at Briercrest? Hopefully it is becoming plain: To be a Christian professor is to profess the God who first loved us. Such a profession of this truth cannot be restricted to lofty thoughts thought otherwise, but in the inextricable combination of Christian teaching by word and deed in the name of Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us. To be a Christian professor, in other words, starts with holy confession and issues in holy love. All disciplinary tasks of researching, publishing, marking, mentoring, meeting, and studying aside, the base line prerequisite of the Christian professor is to point students away from oneself toward the source of all love and life, God himself the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all. The professor’s first words, then, ought to be a prayer, like unto the Baptist who cried out, “He must increase, I must decrease!” (John 3:30).

The theological implications of this stance, of course, are staggering, such that I almost tremble to recount them. Nevertheless, it is clear that that Christian professor must stands in sharp contrast to the Cartesian professor who asserts, “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.” On the contrary, the Christian professor is one who confesses, “I am loved, therefore I am known, therefore I love.” It is my prayer that this would be how I am marked—as one who in all my academic and professional pursuits is more concerned about embodying the love of God than assertion of my own independent existence and significance.

Whatever the case, it is in this construction between love and knowledge that the role of the professor as a teacher may be understood. Two things are briefly observed.

First, knowledge in this biblical framework is relationally defined. To know is to be loved. We are nobody apart from the love of God demonstrated toward us in Christ Jesus (cf. Rom 5:8). But in and through the love of God in Christ, we are somebody. It is this knowledge that is fundamental to our identity: We become as we are loved. We do not become and subsequently love; we become because we are loved. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, “My egocentric identity has been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer my ego that lives, but Christ lives in and through me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who made me who I am by loving me and giving himself for me” (Cf. Gal 2:20).

It can be a significant source of temptation for a professor to see her or his students as underlings whose identity are not yet shaped and who have come to the professor to gain this identity. Somehow, professors can get caught up in thinking that they have succeeded as a professor when their students end up looking a lot like them. But a Christian professor must, indeed, “think otherwise!” Rather than seeking to make students look like us, we professors must continually remember that pupils do not gain their primary identity students or academics, but as sons and daughters loved by God. As malleable as our students are, and as intellectually and pedagogically influential as we may aspire to be, we violate our students’ primary identity when we forget that they are, first and foremost, loved by God and only secondarily and temporarily “our students.” Good professors remember that the goal is not to make students in our image, but to lead students to discover Who it is that first loved them and therein to discover their true identity. This kind of “theo-pedagogy” in which we lead students to God does, of course, run the risk that students, in the long term, will remember more about God than they do about us. But that, I believe, is a risk worth taking. He must increase, I must decrease.

Second, in the knowledge of God’s love for us, a professor must be constrained to act in accordance with our nature as those whose identity is extra nos—external to ourselves. As those whose identity is founded in the Father’s outwardly focused love toward us in Christ, we ourselves become intrinsically other-focused. “I am loved, therefore I am known, therefore I love.” In this regard, the professor is marked by sacrificial service to those under our temporary care. It is our service to our students when, above all else, we love them. Of course, the content of that love for the student must be biblically defined. We love them through the display of patience and kindness. We love them as we resist pride, boasting, envy, and anger. Indeed, the entire thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians gives abundant insight for the kind of sacrificial love we ought to have toward our students—most plainly because that is the kind of love which God has already shown to us in Christ.

But why love? Can we not teach without love? Clearly we can—if we are content to be remembered as nothing more than a clanging cymbal (Cf. 1 Cor 13:1). But the Christian professor loves, not only as an additional requirement to her or his profession, but as something vitally intrinsic to it. Rather than succumbing to the temptation to separate love and knowledge, we must be adamant that to love is to teach. Indeed, the antithesis to loving our students is to withhold the life-giving, person-defining knowledge of God revealed in Christ! Teaching, therefore, in a biblical sense, is more than the passing on of knowledge and information, but the daily life display of the fullness of life in the Spirit spoken and practiced in a community of learners called to seek first God’s kingdom, whatever the subject matter and whatever academic discipline may occupy our professional time. How tragic it would be for me to have spent my career passing on biblical and theological content, only to have a student detect in me evidence of theological sophistry! How utterly appalling and horrifying that someday I could potentially be judged—not only by my students but by God himself!—to have been a “posing professor” who had the appearance of godliness through proper use of words, phrases, paragraphs and discourses, but who had denied God’s power through a failure to love! (cf. 2 Tim 3:1-5) With God’s help, I pray this will not be me.

 

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Jesus Evicted: A Short Advent Story

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While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7)

It was the usual row which came up year after year on town council for the past 10 years straight: Could the crèche be located on the lawn of City Hall or not?

Lines were drawn, as usual, between the “pro” and “con” crowds. Prominent on one side was cranky old Bartholomew (“Bart”) Collins, a part-time Social Studies substitute teacher for Bethel High, who faithfully reminded everyone on council of the principled need to keep “church and state” separated. His position was clear:  City Hall is no place for Baby Jesus! On the other side was Miriam Dominique (or as more commonly known, Sister Mary), well known as the town’s longest-employed and most beloved kindergarten teacher at St. Peter’s Elementary. Not surprisingly, Sister Mary argued consistently and vociferously to “keep Christ in Christmas”!

Every year for the past decade,  Sister Mary’s sensible voice had prevailed, and every year for the past decade, Baby Jesus lay quietly, but prominently, on City Hall lawn. But every year the vote edged closer and closer toward a “secular upset.” Two years ago, the usual 8 to 1 vote had been 6 to 3, and last year, Jesus had only narrowly avoided being ousted with a 5 to 4 vote.

Given this history, the city’s council chamber this year was buzzing with both nervous and gleeful energy. Whether one was nervous or gleeful, depended on which side of the hall one sat: Sister Mary’s “Bible thumpers” occupied stage left and nervously fidgeted and frowned across the aisle toward Bart’s fellow “commies” clustered in strategic spots on the right. But tonight, the Bart-contingent was poised for a well deserved victory. Victory indeed! For rumour had it that Bart had successfully swayed the new-comer and youngest member of council , one Lisbeth Johnson, to the cause. But only time–and a fateful vote–would tell.

“I now moo-ve to the last item of bizness,” the Chair drawled. “We have here a motion on the floor from thuh last meetin’ which reads, “Moved by Councillor Dominique that a Nativity scene be located on the East Lawn of City Hall for the full month of December to commemorate the Christmas holiday.”

As was the custom, various members of council rose, one by one, to speak for or against the motion. The speeches were short and to the point, and civic respect marked both sides of the debate. By now, virtually everyone in the room knew Bart and Mary’s speeches–neither had bothered to change a word in their argument from year to year. Consequently, few really listened to their arguments while they spoke, including the town reporter who momentarily suspended her scribbling to sip her Starbucks and send an SMS message.

Beyond Bart and Mary, everybody else’s position also became clear: three Councillors each supported Bart and Mary, leaving only one more to speak–the newcomer. Now, the commonplace gave way to suspense, as if there were an invisible scoreboard showing a 4 to 4 tied hockey game! Onlookers sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for sudden death overtime to decide the game!

And then, Lisbeth rose to her feet to speak.

Mary looked down with despondency. Word on the street was that the newcomer would come in like an clumsy ox and upset the manger. Sister Mary prayed silently that the onslaught of evil forces pervading the room would be vanquished by the heavenly host, while Bart’s countenance shone brighter than the star in the East as he already sensed victory!

“Most of you are still getting to know me,” young Lisbeth began. “So let me tell you just a bit about myself before I argue for or against this motion.”

“I was raised in a little town, not too far from here, where every Sunday I attended a little white church with my parents. There I heard weekly the stories of the Bible. Of course, you won’t be surprised that I heard the story about Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the angels, the shepherds and the wisemen over and over again. And to be honest, I loved that story and I still love it today. In fact, the Christmas story really gives me a warm feeling inside whenever I hear it. And whenever I see a Nativity scene, I get that same feeling all over again.”

Sister Mary raised her head, pondering these words. Perhaps all was not lost. Perhaps Lisbeth would rise up and support the Christ Child!

Bart, on the hand, nervously nudged his pen back and forth on the desk. Was Lisbeth going to cave in to emotion and nostalgia over against clear-headed rationality and civic principles? Would she give in to the self-righteous duress imposed by those–those–fundamentalists?

Lisbeth continued. “But today, the decision to put a crèche on the lawn of City Hall cannot be decided by memories of days gone past or of personal nostalgia, even my own. Rather, we must decide on the basis of what really is for the good of all us citizens, whether Christian or not. And those of you here today who claim to be Christians, I don’t think I need to remind you that Christmas story itself says something about having ‘peace on earth and good will amongst all the people’.”

Lisbeth paused. Those in attendance held their breath. The clock ticked more slowly than it ought to have.

“I realize that my vote on this issue will likely be a tie-breaker, and that whatever I vote, I will likely be vilified by the other side.

“But today, let it be known here and now that I will vote against my own warm feelings, and therefore, I will vote against the motion to allow the crèche on City Hall Lawn. Not everyone in this town is a Christian and since City Hall is a public space, I declare my conviction that the Nativity does not belong there.” And with this, Lisbeth  sat confidently down.

The room was, momentarily, silent, only to erupt a full 3.5 seconds later with a grand cheer from the right when Lisbeth’s intended vote sank in! Bart and company had finally won! Council had finally seen the light. Time to send Jesus packing!

On the left, Mary’s supporters were sullen. A few even sobbed quietly. Moments later, when the chair called for the vote, the crèche, for the first time in a decade, was prohibited from occupying public space. 5 to 4 against the motion. The motion was defeated!

The next morning, a busy businessman,  having finished his morning newspaper, latte and cigarette, stuffed paper, cup and butt into the garbage can on the corner.

Emerging from the alley, a frail,  straggly-haired, old man, reeking of urine, shuffled toward the receptacle, grabbed the paper, snatched the cup and rescued the smoldering cigarette.  Pausing momentarily, he scanned the paper’s front headline: “Baby Jesus Evicted!

“I know the feelin’,” he muttered as he stuffed the newspaper into his jacket, if only to battle the bitter cold yet one more day.

Karl Barth’s ecumenical contribution on the Filioque

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Yesterday, a box from Purolator came with my gratis copies of Karl Barth on the Filioque. I’m very pleased with how Ashgate designed the text!

Here’s a snippet from the book itself. I’ve chosen a section in chapter five, dealing with the question of whether Barth’s theology of the filioque has any ecumenical significance to the filioque debate.

Can Barth’s defence of the filioque contribute anything significant to the contemporary ecumenical debate? Of course, the answer to that question will depend in large part on how one wants to use Barth. If Barth is sought as an ally in bringing about an ecumenical solution to the filioque debate, it must be borne in mind that his contribution will at best be indirect. Barth can no more be viewed as successfully or single-handedly solving the age old dispute between East and West on the filioque than anyone else to this point, not to mention that Barth clearly had no intentions of wanting to “solve” a puzzle he did not think needed to be solved. He did not seek an apologetic for the filioque that would convince Orthodox or Old Catholic theologians regarding the acceptability of the filioque. Nor did he seek a synthetic solution that would be acceptable to both Eastern and Western churches. Nor did he seek to encourage the churches in the Western tradition (the Reformed churches in particular) to move toward a theological and historical repristination of the Creed whereby the original form of the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed was set over against subsequent Western trinitarian thinking. Nevertheless, Barth’s “failure” in this regard can hardly be counted against him; each of these options has been attempted since Barth’s death without resulting in full rapprochement between East and West, even if some of the results are showing some signs for being encouraged.

However, if Barth is heard on his own terms and from within his own systemic logic, even while acknowledging that his position prima facie has close affinity to the Western tradition, it becomes clear that Barth was less interested in defending the Western filioquist argument and more interested in better understanding what was dogmatically at stake if the filioque were denied, regardless of what might eventually take place at a formal ecumenical level. Rather than falsely claiming to understand the Eastern rejection of the filioque (which he apparently did not ponder for any significant length of time), Barth wanted to think through the meaning of the doctrine of the filioque as a Western, Reformed theologian. As Barth sometimes argued, it is pointless to denounce another tradition without first unpacking the internal dogmatic logic of one’s own tradition. Certainly, it is arguable that Barth could have provided a better defence had he investigated the Eastern position more closely. Yet that is to criticize his position for what he did not do, a common critique to be sure. . .

…Barth’s doctrine of the filioque is not wholly typical of historic Western defences. Most specifically, a dogmatic adherence to the filioque does not necessitate holding the notion of a “double procession” of the Spirit, despite the fact that this is how it has been described typically by Western proponents and Eastern critics alike.  Rather than speaking of a double procession of the Spirit from the modes of being (or hypostases) of the Father and Son, Barth sought to preserve in this matter a delicate dialectic between the essence (Sein) and the persons (Seinsweisen) of the Trinity without giving ontological priority to one or the other. It is thus arguable that Barth was at least partly responsible for pointing ecumenically oriented scholarship in this direction during the later quarter of the twentieth century. Consequently, more research needs to be undertaken in comparing Barth with contemporary ecumenical scholars for whom the filioque is still a live issue. In particular, it is evident that careful consideration of the Athanasian parallels in Barth’s thought is needed, for Athanasius appears increasingly to be viewed as the common theological denominator by Western and Eastern theologians alike.

On the other hand, … [there is] ambiguity in Barth’s way of speaking of the filioque in relationship to “origin” in God and in the doctrine of perichoresis. Though Barth did speak of the origin of the Spirit from the Father and the Son, it is also the case that he increasingly links the filioque to the doctrine of perichoresis without delineating how perichoresis and origin are themselves to be related. Indeed, both Barth and Torrance ultimately speak of the procession of the Spirit in terms of perichoresis, even though both Eastern and Western traditions have normally spoken of the procession in terms of origin. More work must be done in order to disentangle these concepts.

David Guretzki, Karl Barth on the Filioque, Ashgate, 2009, pp. 184-6.

Does “Abba” mean Daddy?

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My most recent column in Faith Today entitled, “Does ‘Abba’ mean Daddy?” can be found here.

By the way, Faith Today is now going to be available digitally. A sample free issue (May/June 2009) is also found online, and my column entitled, “What’s So Christian About Reconciliation?” can be found on page 36  or just click here.

Hope everyone is having a good summer. I’m on holidays all of July and am enjoying the time. Most of the next two weeks will be taken up with rebuilding/painting our fence. Fun fun!


Updike and the “Funny Theologian”

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John Updike, the American novelist, died last week. I haven’t read much of Updike, though I did read one of his novels while I was studying at McGill. (I actually managed to read a lot of novels while commuting when I lived in Montreal, including The Hobbit, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), all while riding trains and buses!) 

Lots of commentators have spoken of Updike’s affinity for Barth. But I found a 1992 article by John McTavish (who, at the time of writing, was a Canadian United Church minister) in Theology Today entitled, “John Updike and the Funny Theologian.” As the McTavish puts it, “Barth, said Updike once, is ‘a funny theologian,’ adding wryly, ‘They’re not all funny.'” The article explores Barth’s doctrine of the covenant of grace as seen through three of Updike’s novels: Rabbit, Run (1960), The Centaur (1963), and Of the Farm (1965). Worth the read when you have a few minutes.

 I know personally that Roger’s Version (the one Updike novel I’ve read) comes at you from left field, especially the descriptions of the wild (wild at so many levels) dream sequences of the divinity professor turned agnostic. At the time, I wasn’t tuned into the “Barthian” influences in Updike so it would be interesting to read some of the above mentioned novels through those lenses. Anyone here read any of these three novels? Comments on what you saw in his work?

Theommentary?

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As far as I can discern, there are two initial tasks incumbent upon a new participant in the world of blogging: 1) Coming up with a clever and/or catchy title for the blog; and 2) providing an apologetic for “why yet another blog” to take up someone else’s computing time. So I will get right down to fulfilling my obligations as a newly self-minted blogger:

1) Why “Theommentary”?
I’ve decided to call this blog “Theommentary.” You ask (rightly), “What in the world is ‘theommentary’?”  Well, as far as I can tell, it is a neologism because it isn’t in the dictionary, and the only two uses that Google could identify were spelling errors! But as you can undoubtedly guess , the word is simply a compound of theology and commentary–thus, theommentary. So, simply put, this blog will be my own “theological commentary” on whatever it is that I think needs commenting on! And I won’t even begin to try to guess what that will be. We’ll see as we go along. As to whether the title “Theommentary” is is either “clever” or “catchy”–I’ll leave that up to you to decide. On to task number 2…

2) Why another blog?
Well, let me start out with a frank confession: As a professor of theology engaged in teaching and research in a college and seminary setting for some 15 years–roughly the same length of time as the internet boom (I remember my first year as a teacher here at Briercrest when I heard about “email”)–I have been for several years now more than a little skeptical (and yes, even scornful at times) of blogs, particularly those engaged in academic discussions of sorts. I thought of these blogs as quick and dirty ways to get one’s writing out to the masses without having to go through the long-standing tradition of submitting manuscripts for scrutiny to peers for publication. Alas! my perspective has had to change on this, particularly as I have observed well established and much respected scholars in my own field continue both to publish and to blog. And so I have to admit that this reason for not blogging is no longer a valid reason to continue my non-blogging.

But I am also a person that needs a better reason to do something than just because everyone else is doing it. I don’t consider myself a “bandwagon” sort of guy (e.g., I don’t own a Blackberry or cell-phone; I don’t go to an “emerging” church; and I don’t particularly care to cheer for the Saskatchewan Roughrighers, even though I’ve lived here the better part of 15 years). So what convinced me to start blogging?

The answer will likely sound more “holier than thou” than I intend it to be, but I have decided to blog as a partial way to fulfill my calling to be teacher to the church–a calling I took seriously enough to pursue a doctorate in an area (theology) that likely has little chance of making my family permanently and comfortably financially secure and to continue working in a geographic location largely isolated from the larger academic centres where research and funding for theologians are more likely to be found.

To be honest, I like to consider myself a theologian (doesn’t that sound sophisticated??), but the Bible doesn’t really call anyone a theologian. What it does recognize is the place and need for “pastor/teachers” (cf. Eph 4:11).  From this biblical perspective, then, I need constantly to remind myself that the primary sense of my calling is not as a theologian per se, even if professionally that is what I am. Rather, I am a pastor/teacher. And pastor/teachers, well, amongst many other things–teach.  And as they teach, they are confronted with using new media to accomplish that calling. I consider blogging to be one more medium that, with all its pros and cons,  more and more people in the Church are using and that her teachers, therefore, need also to contend with. Indeed, I believe a good teacher is someone who is marked by a continued commitment to learn. Here at Briercrest Seminary, one of our oft-talked about values is that our students would become “life-long learners.” Taking the plunge and learning to blog, I think, is one way that I realized that I, too, have to keep learning. So in this regard, I think about how some of the great theologians of the past learned to work with the new media: Martin Luther’s use of the printing press; Carl F. H. Henry’s use of a “magazine” format for theological dissemination; Reinhold Niebuhr’s unparalleled output of newspaper editorials in the secular press, and Paul Tillich’s intellectually stimulating lectures in the public university, and now the widely read blogs of theologians (to name just a few) such as Scot McKnight, Richard Mouw, Albert Mohler, Ben Myers, and John Stackhouse, Jr.

So, I consider this blog an extension of my calling to be teacher in the service of Christ and his Church. As such, I want it to inform and to challenge all those who read it and who also call upon Jesus as Lord–and for that matter, I also want to be challenged to respond in a theologically intelligent way to the issues that might be pressed upon me.

That said, don’t take my entry (yet) to the blog world as my “blessing” on the medium. Marshall McLuhan rightly understood, I think, that there is no such thing as a “neutral” medium and the weblog is no exception to the rule. I’m not sure we yet know what the implications are for a church increasingly engaged in blogging, nor more than Martin Luther clearly understood (he didn’t) how a widely published vernacular Bible would affect the Church in the decades and centuries to follow. Maybe the profusion of blogs will be good for the church, maybe it will be bad. More than likely it will be both both and good. It is my prayer, though, that we will know the difference when called upon to make that judgement.

Whatever the case, for now I embark on the task of blogging with the following distinction in mind: my favourite theologian Karl Barth (you wondered how long it would take me to mention him, didn’t you?) once made a distinction between what he called “regular” and “irregular” dogmatics. “Regular” dogmatics, according to Barth, is the methodical reflection on the whole of revelation in an orderly fashion and is contained in books, lectures, and sermon series. His own massive Church Dogmatics would be a prime example of the “regular dogmatics” at work. In contrast, 

Reflection on scripture and revelation, on God’s Word above, behind, and in [DG: notice the allusion to Lutheran sacramental theology?] the sermons one hears or preaches, when done in terms of isolated thoughts or from specific standpoints or for particular reasons, is irregular dogmatics, a little of which all of us secretly do and which we ought to do boldly, especially if we are pastors. (Karl Barth, Göttingen Dogmatics, 38)

So, in deference to the Swiss master, I have convinced myself that blogging should be viewed, at least in part, as a manifestation of my pastoral/teaching task to be engaged in “irregular dogmatics.”

Just please help me to remember, readers, not to neglect my work in regular dogmatics for the sake of the irregular dogmatics found in this blog.

DG