Eschatology

Paul Fiddes: Eschatology Revisited

In addition to his public lecture at the recent ANZATS Conference, Paul Fiddes, gave two further, and equally stimulating, lectures on the conference theme, ‘The Future of God’. In the first lecture, ‘Shaping a New Creation: Realized and Future Eschatology Revisited’, Professor Fiddes briefly outlined the history of biblical and theological interpretation of realised and future eschatologies in Schweitzer, Dodd, Barth, Bultmann and Cullmann, before turning to Moltmann’s notion of the future as adventus. He noted how for Moltmann, the eschaton is an event in which the future happens ‘to’ time. He drew attention to a postmodern challenge of openness to ‘the event of the other’, before turning to give some shape to his own Moltmannesque proposal – drawing along the way upon Bloch, Jüngel, Derrida, Ricœur, Hartshorne, Vanstone, Rahner, Swinburne, and others – of God and an open future. God’s future, Fiddes insisted, is elastic, allowing space for both God and the creature to shape their future together. God allows those who are loved to share in the making of the future life. In this way, space is made for genuine human response to the life of God, for genuine interaction between God and creature. Love means that creatures and God both make a contribution to their future together. He argued that it is not only the creatures who wait for this end – God does too! And God is ceaselessly calling out possibilities in the imagination of the creature towards the possibilities that God himself has for the future – a future which is genuinely open. ‘The end is open – certain but surprising’. God makes waiting worthwhile precisely because the future is open – both to God’s creative freedom and to the creature’s response. This means that we ought to be ‘expecting the unexpected’. Divine omniscience, Fiddes noted, means that God knows everything that there is to be known. God does not yet know, however, the details of the future because the future is not yet there to be known. The future, therefore, is both open and closed. Its details are uncertain and genuinely open. That the end is the reconciliation of all things unto holy love is, however as sure as God’s self. During the question time following, Fiddes stated that it is not possible to speak either of God or of the eschaton literally. Language reaches its limits here. We are driven to metaphor.

Fiddes’ final lecture at this meeting was titled ‘Patterns of Hope: Penultimate and Ultimate Eschatology Revisited’. Herein, he outlined John Hick’s pareschatology, and noted that one of the problems with Hick’s eschatology is its ‘highly individualistic’ nature. Again, Fiddes turned to Moltmann, this time outlining Moltmann’s version of millennialism and identifying some of its more unsatisfying features. Drawing this time upon Derrida, Huxley, Graham Ward, Heidegger, Kristeva, Merleau-Ponty, John Robinson, Barth, John Macquarrie, Pannenberg and Whitehead, Fiddes spoke of the way in which the notion of resurrection functions as an image of ultimate eschatology. He spoke too of the unacceptability of any ongoing simultaneity and oppressiveness, and proposed instead an eschatological vision that concerned the healing of time. Penultimate eschatology, he said, has an identity held in the triune God. There must be a penultimate eschatology if our identity is to be preserved, i.e. if God is to keep communion with who we are. When questioned from the floor about the nature of final judgement, Fiddes responded by insisting that final judgement means being confronted with the truth. This, of course, is a painful process, particularly for those who delight in living a lie.

Paul Fiddes, ‘Images of Eternity: A Literary and Theological Enquiry into the Future’

In his public lecture at the recent ANZATS Conference in Melbourne, Paul Fiddes, one of the most stimulating theologians writing today, considered three literary giants – William Shakespeare, William Blake and TS Eliot. He argued that for Blake, eternity is about the wholeness of persons under the aegis of imagination and forgiveness, and that imagination petrifies when reason casts its laws upon it. Of Eliot’s work, Professor Fiddes drew attention to the notion of eternity as the healing of time, and as that which overcomes the division between past, present and future. We were reminded, and that with eloquence typical of the speaker, that God holds and heals the past, the present and the future in the transforming presence of love, and that we never escape from time but time can bring us into a new sphere of love.

These are themes with have much occupied Fiddes’ thought in recent years (see, for example, The Creative Suffering of God, The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature and Freedom and Limit: A Dialogue Between Literature and Christian Doctrine), and around which he is due to lecture further this year. He will be a keynote speaker at ‘The Power of the Word: Poetry, Theology and Life’, a conference held jointly between Heythrop College and the Institute of English Studies, and at the 2010 Biennial Conference of the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture, to be held at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, between 23–26 September 2010 around the theme ‘Attending to the Other: Critical Theory and Spiritual Practice’.

Is there an Old Testament eschatology?

Adrio KönigFrom one of my favourite books:

‘… if eschatology is concerned with the reaching of a goal, then there can in principle be no eschatology in the Old Testament. It is only possible in and through the history of Jesus Christ’. – Adrio König, Here Am I: A Believer’s Reflection on God (Grand Rapids/London: Wm. B. Eerdmans/Marshall Morgan & Scott, 1982), 170.

Eschatology and the doctrine of God

‘Every statement of Christian eschatology … is an inference from some basic truth in its doctrine of God, and must be judged and tested accordingly … Every truth about eschatology is ipso facto a truth about God … What God is, is what in history He asserts Himself to be’. – John Arthur Thomas Robinson, In the End, God: A Study of the Christian Doctrine of the Last Things (London: James Clarke & Co., 1950), 31, 36, 37.

April Book Notes – 2

This is my second list of book notes for this month. The first can be read here. It’s been a month of reading around themes of hope. To that end, few are better friends to turn to than Jürgen Moltmann, whose writings grow on me more every year. He seeks to give voice to many of the questions of existential bite that I wrestle with, and along the way creates the invitation for the kind of open and informed conversation that I believe theology ought to be having much more often. So, to the list of highlights:

Richard Bauckham, ed., God Will Be All in All: The Eschatology of Jürgen Moltmann (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001).

This is a valuable collection of 6 critical reflections on Jürgen Moltmann’s eschatology (and 8 responses by Moltmann) that arose from a conversation at St Andrews some years back between Richard Bauckham, Trevor Hart, Timothy Gorringe and Moltmann (there’s also a essay by Miroslav Volf, who was not present). Who would not have loved to have been a fly on the wall in that room! Anyone who wants to engage with Moltmann’s impressive vision – and contemporary theology more generally – could do little better than familiarise themselves with these indispensable interactions. I reckon it’s worth buying just to read Moltmann’s brilliant 5-page essay on ‘The Logic of Hell’. The main drawback is that Bauckham (who is the editor after all) spills more than his fair share of ink and it may have been preferable to have some other voices included, or just a shorter book. ♦♦♦½

Brian Hebblethwaite, The Christian Hope (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1984).

In this study, Brian Hebblethwaite provides the reader with a helpful survey of the tradition of Christian hope in both its classical and modern dialects. While sometimes his brevity leads him to so simplify the facts that he distorts them, this book is a useful introduction to some of the key names and issues that have informed Roman and Protestant eschatological discourse. ♦♦♦

Jürgen Moltmann, In the End – The Beginning: The Life of Hope (trans. Margaret Kohl; Philadelphia: Fortress, 2004).

This was a re-read for me, and not for the last time. One of Moltmann’s best. ♦♦♦♦

Geoffrey Rowell, Hell and the Victorians: A Study of the Nineteenth-Century Theological Controversies concerning Eternal Punishment and the Future Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974).

I am aware of no more comprehensive – or important – study on nineteenth-century thinking concerning questions of heaven and hell than this one. That Rowell’s work remains a standard text after 30 years is testimony in itself to its abiding value. (The more-recent work by Michael Wheeler, Death and the Future Life in Victorian Literature and Theology (along with its popular-level version, Heaven, Hell, and the Victorians (1994)) is also very valuable.) While Rowell’s study (too) largely neglects non-conformist voices and, to a lesser extent, voices from within evangelicalism (Anglican or otherwise), the treatment remains a valuable and encyclopaedic study! ♦♦♦♦

John Arthur Thomas Robinson, In the End, God.: A Study of the Christian Doctrine of the Last Things (London: James Clarke & Co., 1950).

Though pushing close to 60 years old (Forsyth did encourage us to ‘think in centuries’, after all!), and in parts showing its age, this short treatment remains a useful study, not least for the fact that herein Robinson outlines some critical contours in which the conversation regarding eschatology should take place. I found the chapters on the resurrection of the Body, and ‘The End of the Lord’, to be the most fruitful. Here’s a few tasters:

‘Indeed, every statement of Christian eschatology, whether of the end of the person or of the world, is an inference from some basic truth in its doctrine of God, and must be judged and tested accordingly. False ideas of the last things are direct reflections of inadequate views of the nature of God’. (p. 31)

‘The hope of immortality is a corollary of faith, but yet of a faith which knows no personal God. In consequence, it is a hope that can hold out no guarantee of the future as a life of personal communion’. (p. 79)

‘The sole basis for such a doctrine [of universalism], as more than wishful thinking, is the work of God in Christ’. (p. 108)

‘The recovered awareness is the “the Christian lives not at the End of Time, but rather from the End and in the End of Time” (Lambert). [The Christian] sees everything from an eschatological perspective. The Biblical world-view is not obtained by regarding all things under the form of a timeless eternity, nor as ideally they might be, but as they are already in Christ, the End’. (p. 125).

Covers an impressive amount of material in an easily accessible way. ♦♦♦♦

Jürgen Moltmann, The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology (trans. Margaret Kohl; Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2004).

It is impossible for me to do justice to this book in a wee book note. Suffice it to say that there is a sense that in this book all that this great teacher has been saying previously – about God, creation, ecclesiology, hope, justice, christology, pneumatology, soteriology, mission, Sabbath, shekinah …everything – reaches its head. Like the best of muscats, this one is to drink slowly, and often. Here’s Moltmann on the fullness of God:

In order to grasp the fulness of God, we are at liberty to leave moral and ontological concepts behind, and to avail ourselves of aesthetic dimensions. The fulness of God is the rapturous fullness of the divine life; a life that communicates itself with inexhaustible creativity; an overbrimming life that makes what is dead and withered live; a life from which everything that lives receives it vital energies and its zest for living; a source of life to which everything that has been made alive responds with deepest joy and ringing exultation. The fulness of God is radiant light, light reflected in the thousand brilliant colours of created things. The glory of God expresses itself, not in self-glorying majesty, but in the prodigal communication of God’s own fullness of life. The glory of God is not to be found, either, in his laborious self-realization by way of his self-emptying, but follows upon that of the eternal day of resurrection (p. 336).

Amen, and Amen. ♦♦♦♦½

James Baldwin Brown, The Doctrine of Annihilation in the Light of the Gospel of Love (London: Henry S. King & Co., 1875).

J. Baldwin Brown was PT Forsyth’s pastor, and his influence on the young Forsyth is obvious in a number of areas, eschatology among them. This series of lectures was penned and presented at a time when conditional immortality was an even more richly debated topic than it is today in the post-Fudge world. While much of what Brown has to say in his critique of annihilationism is inadequately developed, his instincts remain valuable, and his pointing us to towards the broader scope of God’s redemptive purposes as the overflow of his own community of love puts the discussion at least on the right page. ♦♦♦½

The view from here

‘The recovered awareness is that “the Christian lives not at the End of Time, but rather from the End and in the End of Time” (Lambert). [The Christian] sees everything from an eschatological perspective. The Biblical world-view is not obtained by regarding all things under the form of a timeless eternity, nor as ideally they might be, but as they are already in Christ, the End …

For when that word [of God] is heard, nothing appears quite the same. The fashion of this world looks different when seen from the End. The neutrality goes out of it. It is as though the beam of a searchlight has been turned upon it, immeasurably deepening the contrast between light and shade. The flatness is taken from living. A new edge and tone is given to it. The common round becomes charged with fresh moment and decisiveness.

It is precisely this gift that the modern world so desperately lacks. It is for this reason that it seeks an outlet in the man-made eschatologies of Fascism and Communism. It is for this reason that it creates the artificial stimulants of sensational journalism and football pools, and continually screws itself up to some new pitch of excitement and suspense. All these are attempts to recreate a lost sense of each moment as the day of decision, to restore that pinch of expectancy to a life which has became flat and dead and insipid.

But those who have breathed again the atmosphere of Christian eschatology, who in a tired and drab world have sniffed the clean, crisp air of the Advent message and the Advent hymns, have no need of such expedients. It is difficult to express in language the effect of this recovery.

There is perhaps one analogy which may convey to our contemporaries a little of its feel. For there was a moment in recent English history when something of the transforming power of apocalypse was sensed as a shared experience of the nation. In the summer of 1940 we felt everything become braced to a sudden tautness. The slack went out of life. The indecision vanished. Blurred outlines leapt into focus. For a flash all stood out sharp and clear-cut, pin-pointed as in an etching or as by moonlight on snow. There was nothing artificial about that. The issues of life and death confronted us: there was no shuffling, no shrugging them off.

It is in such a moment that the Christian life is eternally set. It is the very nature of the Christian community to be an eschatological reality. This is what is being rediscovered by many of our generation. And when this happens, the Church wears no longer the dull sub-lunary look which it has when the dimension of apocalypse is absent. It is seen essentially as “the place where … the Spirit, that element of the ‘last days’ is active” (O. Cullmann, Christ et le Temps, 109). It has its very existence “between the times.” It is the bridge which spans the “moment” between the Resurrection and the Parousia’. – John Arthur Thomas Robinson, In the End, God.: A Study of the Christian Doctrine of the Last Things (London: James Clarke & Co., 1950), 125, 126–8.

Colin Gunton’s ‘The Barth Lectures’: A Review

Colin E. Gunton, The Barth Lectures (transcribed and edited by Paul H. Brazier; T&T Clark, London/New York, 2007). xxiv + 285 pages. ISBN: 9780567031402.

While he fruitfully enjoyed a life-long engagement with and formation by Karl Barth’s work, produced numerous articles on various aspects of such, and lectured on Barth most years he taught at King’s College London, Colin Gunton never fulfilled his ambition to pen a monograph devoted solely to this his favourite theologian. Had he done so, these lectures (recorded and transcribed almost verbatim by Paul Brazier, complete with charts, diagrams, live-questions and Gunton’s responses) would have served as the basis.

Chapters 1-3 attend to the intellectual, historical and theological background to Barth’s thinking. Beginning with a focus on Enlightenment philosophy as it finds voice in Kant, Schleiermacher and Hegel – all three of whom ‘identified Christianity too closely with modern culture’ (p. 17) – Gunton then turns to Barth’s early theological formation in the nineteenth-century liberalism of Harnack and Herrmann, as well as to some other voices and ideas that impinged on Barth’s theological development – Johann Christoph Blumhardt (who also influenced Moltmann), Albert Schweitzer and Franz Overbeck through whom eschatology was re-confirmed on the theological radar. Barth’s engagement with existentialism (Kierkegaardian and other) and theologies of ‘religion’, ‘crisis’ and ‘dialectics’ are introduced in the second and third lectures, and re-appear subsequently throughout. Certainly, for the Swiss theologian, ‘no road to the eternal world has ever existed except the road of negation’ (p. 33). Thus when Gunton later comes to unpack something of the charge concerning Barth’s ‘irrationality’ through the continuing influence of Der Römerbrief, empiricism, and Barth’s ‘assertive style’, the United Reformed Church minister notes:

The influence of empiricism, especially on the minds of English and American theologians, cannot be dismissed. The English, or to be more pertinent, the Anglican theological mind is shaped by a philosophical tradition that does not find Barth’s approach to theology easy to understand let alone agree with … Part of our intellectual tradition makes it hard for us to understand – particularly an Anglican tradition. Anglicans on the whole like things to be nice and middle way, the via media. And there is not much of the middle way in Karl Barth! … Barth’s assertive style does make it difficult for mild-mannered establishment Anglicans to cope with. (p. 66)

Whether critiquing Augustine, Calvin, Kant, the ‘Absolutely Pagan’ Hegel (p. 17), or the ‘great opponent’ Schleiermacher (p. 15), Gunton repeatedly identifies that the crucial question for the author of the groundbreaking Der Römerbrief remains ‘how much of your intellectual method hangs on something foreign to Christianity?’ (p. 42; cf. pp. 52-3). To this end, Gunton also devotes an entire lecture (pp. 53-63) to Barth’s 1931 work on Anselm, Fides quaerens intellectum, and to the Archbishop’s understanding of the relationship between ‘proof’, ‘reason’ and ‘faith’. He later writes: ‘Barth is a post-Reformation thinker with the rallying cry, by scripture alone and by faith alone! Barth found in the Reformation tradition a conception of theology based on a view of God that is linked with human salvation. The problem for Barth with the Scholastic tradition is that they begin with a rational view of God – a rational idea of God abstracted from human salvation. Barth begins with scripture because the God of scripture is about salvation not philosophical argument’ (p. 69). And on a comparison with Schleiermacher: ‘the problem with beginning with religion is that it is not theological, it can be, it can lead into theology, but in essence it is not: religion is an experiential concept, not a theological concept. Barth wants a theology that is theological right from the very outset. Barth considers that Roman Catholics and Protestants such as Schleiermacher are wrong in thinking that there can be a non-theological basis for theology. Barth is a theologian you see, to the fingernails’ (p. 69).

From Chapter Four onwards, Gunton turns to Barth’s Church Dogmatics, acutely aware that ‘there is nothing as boring as résumés of Barth’s Dogmatics‘ and that ‘the way to get into Barth is to select and to read – read him, there is no substitute!’ (p. 71). Over the next 190 pages, this is precisely what Gunton masterfully helps us do; whether on Barth’s theological prolegomena, his witness to the three-fold Word, trinity, the doctrine of God proper, election, christology, soteriology, ethics and creation, we are all along driven by the only thing of theological interest for Barth, the question ‘Who is the God who makes himself known in Scripture?’ (p. 77). ‘When Barth is at his best’, Gunton writes, ‘he looks at the biblical evidence in detail; when he is weak he tends to evade it’ (p. 119)

A few tastes from ‘5. Barth on the Trinity and the Personal God’:

Barth is anti-foundationalist … God’s revelation is self-grounded; it does not have to appeal to anything else beyond itself. Because it is revelation through itself, not in relation to something else, because it is self-contained, lordship means freedom. This is characteristically Barthian: a characteristically Barthian phrase. Lordship means freedom – freedom for God, absolutely central for Barth’s theology. (p. 78)

The basis of all theology lies in the fact that revelation does happen … This revelation is Christological: Jesus Christ is God’s self-unveiling. The Father cannot be unveiled, but the Father reveals through the Son. This is imparted through the Holy Spirit. A little artificial I actually think, but you can see what he is actually trying to do: he is trying to show that inherent in the structure of God’s presence in Jesus Christ is a Trinitarian view of God … The point here is that in Jesus Christ we see the limits, the possibilities of the knowability of God … So Barth in a way is still retaining this dialectical structure: veiling-unveiling, knowability -unknowability, revelation-hiddenness … In the end you have only got paradox … God preserves his privacy. (pp. 79-80)

The logic is that if God is like this in time then because he doesn’t con us, so to speak, he doesn’t pull the wool over our eyes, because he is a revealing God, then that is what God is. So don’t think that the God we meet in Jesus is one God and that the God of eternity is entirely different from Jesus. The God you meet in Jesus is no different from the God you might meet if you were able to have a direct view of eternity. (p. 83)

Barth is against all mathematics in theology – he is against theories and ideas propounded down the centuries by theologians whereby examples are given of the Trinity, where three things make one; Augustine was often doing this, it is pure analogy or an attempt at analogy, which generally fails to offer any theological elucidation … I don’t like Augustine. I think he is the fountainhead of our troubles. (pp. 84, 96)

[Barth] is often accused of modalism, and I think he is near it … I think he is on a bit of a knife-edge myself, but then all theology is on a knife-edge, it is such a difficult discipline. [Barth] wants to do what the Cappadocians did, and Barth thinks he has done it better with this term – ‘modes of being’. Well, I don’t agree with him, but that is the way he puts it. (pp. 88-9)

Theology is our interpretation of God’s self-interpretation. God interprets himself to us, that is what revelation is. Our response is to interpret this faithfully, or as Jüngel would put it, responsibly … We move from faith to understanding. We move from a grateful acceptance of revelation to an attempt to understand as best we may what that revelation means for God and ourselves. And the understanding consists in the fact that we can talk of God as Father, Son and Spirit. It is so obvious that we should, isn’t it! We might talk of God as a tyrannical monad, but the fact that we can talk of God as Father, Son and Spirit is, so to speak, a demonstration after the event that we are making sense, that God is making sense, our theology makes sense. (p. 91)

And from ‘8. Ethics: Church Dogmatics Chapter VIII:

I do think that there is a problem of abstractness because there isn’t really in Barth, I think (and I say this tentatively), I think that there isn’t really in Barth an account of how this relationship between God and the moral agent takes shape. There is not much of a principle of formation. How are people formed so as to take one ethical direction rather than another? Barth is relatively weak in ecclesiology; that is, some account of how ethics are shaped by the community of belief. He is so anxious not to tie God down; that is always his anxiety, not to tie God down. (p. 133)

Throughout, Gunton is rousing his 30-40 mostly MA and PhD students (although the lectures were intended for undergraduates and so leave considerable ground un-traversed and engage minimally with secondary literature) to ‘read as much of the man himself’ not least because ‘the people that write about him are much more boring than he is’ (p. 9; cf. p. 39). In a sense, this is one book to ‘listen to’ more than to ‘read’. At times, it’s a bit like the difference between a live album and a studio version. Not all the notes are spot on, but the energy – filled with a depth of theological and pastoral insight that betray years of wrestling with the things that matter – is all there.

Such wrestling means that whether expounding a key motif in Barth’s theology or fielding questions, Gunton reveals not only a deep indebtedness to Barth’s work, but also points of divergence. He is upfront in the first lecture: ‘Not everyone buys into Barth … I don’t, all the way along the line, as I get older I get more and more dissatisfied with the details of his working out of the faith … over the years I think I have developed a reasonable view of this great man who is thoroughly exciting and particularly, I can guarantee, if you do this course, that you will be a better theologian by the third year, whether or not you agree with him – he is a great man to learn to think theologically with’ (p. 10; see the prefaces to his Theology Through the Theologians and to the second edition of The Promise of Trinitarian Theology). Clearly, Gunton is no clone of Barth. Though mostly unnamed, he draws upon Coleridge, Owen, Zizioulas and Polanyi as allies in order to attain a measure of distance from Barth’s theology (and that of Barth’s student Moltmann), notably on creation, trinitarian personhood (Gunton prefers the Cappadocians), natural revelation, Jesus’ humanity, Christ’s priesthood, the Word’s action as mediator of creation, ecclesiology, and an over-realised eschatology, among other things (see pp. 52, 74, 82, 88-90, 96, 133, 142, 148, 170-1, 186, 200, 212, 227, 236, 250, 253-4, passim). Not alone here, Gunton reserves his strongest criticisms for what he contends is Barth’s weak pneumatology (for which he blames Augustine and the filioque): there is ‘not enough of the Spirit accompanying and empowering Jesus at different stages of his ministry’ (p. 200). Again: ‘the second person of the Trinity is made to do a bit more than he does in Scripture’ (p. 212). Gunton is always cautious and respectful however: Barth ‘never really forgets anything, he is too good a theologian for that. And when you are criticizing Barth it is only a question of where he puts a weight; he never forgets anything, he is too good a man for that’ (p. 171). Even on the Spirit, Gunton suggests that he can only be critical here because of what he has learnt from Barth already: ‘That’s the great thing about Barth: he enables you to do other things that aren’t just Barth but yet are empowered by him. Yes, that’s his greatness’ (p. 200).

While the reformed theologian is ‘too-multi-layered a thinker to have one leading idea’ if there is one, Gunton suggests it is that of covenant: ‘that from eternity God covenants to be the God who elects human beings into relation with himself’ (p. 149), that from eternity the triune God is oriented towards us. Gunton’s chapter on Barth’s revision of God’s election in CD II/2 is an astounding example of his adroitness and élan as a theological educator. Not many teachers could summarise so sufficiently and with such economy (just 12 pages!) what for Barth is the root of all things, ‘creation, atonement, all’ (p. 115), that is, election. Gunton concludes by (over?)-suggesting that Barth’s effort was ‘a huge improvement in the crude determinism of the Augustinian tradition, which did not represent a gracious God. The Augustinian doctrine replaces grace with gratuity: God gratuitously chooses group A and not group B – this is not the God who seeks out the lost [even Judas] and does not reject them’ (p. 121).

This volume is significantly more than merely a course on the theology of the twentieth century’s superlative theologian. It is also a reminder that to read Barth attentively is to be introduced to a broader dogmatic and philosophical tradition. Moreover, it is to be led to do so by one of Britain’s ablest pedagogues. A foreword by Christoph Schwöbel and a warm introduction by Steve Holmes prepare us for one of the freshest introductions to Barth available. Again, we are placed in Professor Gunton’s debt.

Developing a Reading List – 5

This is the last of a wee series of posts (here, here, here and here) that have been written in an effort to put together some sort of a reading list for various areas of systematic and pastoral theology. The fact that it is listed here does not mean that I endorse any or all of the theology expressed by the various individuals.

This post is concerned with books on Pastoral Ministry, Preaching, Theology and the Arts (BEWARE: a long list), and Eschatology.

Remember, the kind of thing I have in mind is developing a reading list and resource for English-speaking undergraduate theology students – a kind of answer to the ‘where should I start?’ question. What books have you found helpful as either a teacher or a student that ought to be on such suggested a reading list?

Many thanks to those who have made suggestions.


Reading List: 17. Pastoral Ministry:

Christian D Kettler and Todd H. Speidell (eds.), Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in Church, Society, and Family: Essays in Honor of Ray S. Anderson

Eduard Thurneysen, A Theology of Pastoral Care

Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction

Eugene H. Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work

Eugene H. Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness

Eugene H. Peterson, Working The Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity

Henri J. M. Nouwen, Creative Ministry

Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

Ray S. Anderson, The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry With Theological Praxis

Ray S. Anderson, The Soul of Ministry: Forming Leaders for God’s People

Ray S. Anderson (ed.), Theological Foundations for Ministry

Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor

Thomas Oden, Pastoral Theology

Walter C. Wright, Relational Leadership: A Biblical Model for Influence and Service


Reading List: 18. Preaching:

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon

Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers

Deane Meatheringham, Gospel Incandescent

Dietrich Ritschl, A Theology of Proclamation

Geoffrey C. Bingham, The Preacher and the Parrot

Geoffrey C. Bingham, True Preaching: the Agony and the Ecstasy

Gerhard O. Forde, Theology is for Proclamation

Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching

Gustaf Wingren, The Living Word

Helmut Thielicke, How to Believe Again

Helmut Thielicke, What’s Wrong with the Church?

James Denney, ‘Preaching Christ’, in Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels (ed. J. Hastings), 393-403.

John Stott, I Believe in Preaching

Karl Barth, Homiletics

Peter Adam, Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching

Peter T. Forsyth, Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind

Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text

Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method

Thomas F. Torrance, Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking

Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

William Perkins, The Art of Prophesying


Reading List: 19. Theology and the Arts

Aidan Nichols, The Art of God Incarnate, Theology and Symbol from Genesis to the 20th Century

Bridget Nichols. Literature in Christian Perspective: Becoming Faithful Readers

Calvin Seerveld, Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves

Calvin Seerveld, Rainbows for a Fallen World

Calvin Seerveld, Voicing God’s Psalms

Christopher Deacy, Screen Christologies: Redemption and the Medium of Film

David Bailey Harned, Theology and the Arts

David Thistlethwaite, The Art of God and the Religions of Art

Dorothy L. Sayers, The Mind of the Maker

E. John Walford, Jacob van Ruisdael and the perception of landscape

Edward Farley, Faith and Beauty: A Theological Aesthetic

Flannery O’Connor, Flannery O’Connor: Collected Works

Frank Burch Brown, Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste

Frank Burch Brown, Religious Aesthetics: A Theological Study of Making and Meaning

Gabriele Finaldi, The Image of Christ

Gaye W. Oritz and Clive Marsh (eds.), Explorations in Theology and Film

Gene Edward Veith, Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture

Gene Edward Veith, Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature

Georg W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art

George Pattison, Art, Modernity and Faith

George Steiner, Grammars of Creation

George Steiner, Real Presences

Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen, Theological Aesthetics: A Reader

Hans R. Rookmaaker, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture

Hans Rookmaaker, The Creative Gift

Henri Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

Hilary Brand & Adrienne Chaplin, Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts

Jaroslav Pelikan, Bach Among the Theologians

Jeremy Begbie, ‘Christ and the Cultures: Christianity and the Arts,’ in Companion to Christian Doctrine, ed. Colin Gunton

Jeremy Begbie, ‘The Gospel, the Arts and Our Culture,’ in The Gospel and Contemporary Culture, ed. Hugh Montefiore, 1992, 58–83.

Jeremy S. Begbie (ed.), Beholding the Glory: Incarnation through the Arts

Jeremy S. Begbie, Theology, Music and Time

Jeremy S. Begbie, Voicing Creations Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts

John De Gruchy, Christianity, Art and Social Transformation: Theological Aesthetics in the Struggle for Justice

John Dillenberger, A Theology of Artistic Sensibilities

John Drury, Painting the Word: Christian Pictures and Their Meaning

John Newport, Christianity and Contemporary Art Forms

Karl Barth, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Kathleen Powers Erickson, At Eternity’s Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent Van Gogh

Larry J Kreitzer, Pauline Images in Fiction and Film

Larry J Kreitzer, The New Testament in Fiction and Film

Larry J Kreitzer, The Old Testament in Fiction and Film

Leland Ryken, Culture in Christian Perspective: A Door to Understanding and Enjoying the Arts

Leland Ryken, The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Critically about the Arts

Leonid Ouspensky & Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icon

Margaret Miles, Image as Insight

Ned Bustard, It was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God

Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, Art in Action: Towards a Christian Aesthetic

Nigel Forde, The Lantern and the Looking-Glass: Literature and Christian Belief

Patrick Sherry, Spirit and Beauty: An Introduction to Theological Aesthetics

Paul Corby Finney, Seeing Beyond the Word: Visual Arts and the Calvinist Tradition

Paul Corby Finney, The Invisible God

Paul Fiddes (ed.), The Novel, Spirituality and Modern Culture

Paul Fiddes, Freedom and Limit: A Dialogue between Literature and Christian Doctrine

Paul S. Fiddes, The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature

Peter Fuller, Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace

Peter T. Forsyth, Christ on Parnassus: Lectures on Art, Ethic, and Theology

Peter T. Forsyth, Religion in Recent Art: Expository Lectures on Rossetti, Burne Jones Watts, Holman Hunt and Wagner

Richard Harries, Art and the Beauty of God: A Christian Understandin

Richard Harries, The Passion in Art

Richard Viladesau, Theological Aesthetics: God in Imagination, Beauty, and Art

Robert Jewett, Saint Paul at the Movies: The Apostle’s Dialogue with American Culture

Robert Johnston, Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue

Roger Lundin, The Culture of Interpretation

Roland Delattre, Beauty and Sensibility in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards: An essay in aesthetics and theological ethics

Rowan Williams, Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love

Roy Kinnard & Tim Davis, Divine Images: A History of Jesus on the Screen

Simon Jenkins, Windows into Heaven

St John of Damascus, On the Divine Images

Stanley Porter et al, eds., Images of Christ, Ancient and Modern

Stephen May, Stardust and Ashes: Science Fiction in Christian Perspective

Steve Scott, Like a House on Fire: Renewal of the Arts in a Postmodern Culture

T. R Wright, Theology and Literature

Trevor A. Hart and Steven R. Guthrie (eds.), Faithful Performances

Trevor A. Hart, A Poetics of Redemption Volume 1: Creation, Creatureliness and Artistry (forthcoming)

Trevor A. Hart, A Poetics of Redemption Volume 2: Incarnation, Embodiment, and Art (forthcoming)

Trevor A. Hart, A Poetics of Redemption Volume 3: Holy Spirit, Imagination and the Salvation of Humanity (forthcoming)

William Dyrness, Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards

William Dyrness, Rouault: A Vision of Suffering and Salvatio

William Dyrness, The Earth is God’s: A Theology of American Culture

William Dyrness, Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue


Reading List: 20. Eschatology:

Adrio König, The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology: Toward a Christ-Centered Approach

Anthony Hoekema, Bible and the Future,

Alister McGrath, A Brief History of Heaven

Ben Witherington III, Jesus, Paul & the End of the World

David Powys, ‘Hell’: A Hard Look at a Hard Question

Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory

Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes: The Biblical Case for Conditional Immortality

Geerhardus Vos, Pauline Eschatology

Geerhardus Vos, Eschatology of the Old Testament

Hans Schwarz, ‘Eschatology’, in Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (eds.), Christian Dogmatics, Volume 2

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, Vol. 5

Helmut Thielicke, The Evangelical Faith, Volume 3: The Holy Spirit, the Church, Eschatology

Herman Ridderbos, Coming of the Kingdom

James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Doctrine: Systematic Theology, Vol. 2

John F. Walvoord, Zachary J. Hayes, and Clark H. Pinnock, Four Views on Hell

Jürgen Moltmann, The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology

Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope

Jürgen Moltmann, In the End – The Beginning: The Life of Hope

John Polkinghorne, The God of Hope and the End of the World

Michael S. Horton, Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama

Peter T. Forsyth, This Life and the Next

Richard Bauckham, God Will Be All in All: The Eschatology of Jürgen Moltmann

Robert A. Peterson, Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment

Wayne Martindale, Beyond the Shadowlands: C.S. Lewis on Heaven and Hell

William H. Katerberg and Miroslav Volf (eds.), The Future of Hope: Christian Tradition amid Modernity and Postmodernity