- Jason Byassee on tradition, Jaroslav Pelikan and the Masai creed: ‘I love the way Herbert McCabe, the Dominican priest and theologian, put it: “We don’t know what Christians will believe in the 24th century, but we know they will not be Arians or Nestorians.” Creeds, usually occasioned by a new teaching the church must either bless or condemn, cut off certain roads. But they do not mandate which road we all must go down for all time. Future ages will have to figure that out, while submitting to what has come before. But that submission is a granting of freedom, not a tragic cutting off of possibility’. There are some important implications here for the conversation currently going on in my own denomination about writing a new confession of faith.
- Anthony Gottlieb on God and gardens.
- Cynthia R. Nielsen continues her series on Gadamer with two more posts.
- Stanley Hauerwas responds to Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
- Renardo Barden reviews Dylan’s Christmas album: ‘Occasionally Dylan chases and misses the high notes and botches daring full-throttle endings. His church Latin is no good, and he’s losing yet more ground on his claim to sing as good as Caruso. But he’s still out there, making new of what’s old, light of what’s silly, and merry for merriment’s sake’.
- Halden Doerge offers some critiques of individualism as will to power: ‘… “individualism” is only scary to those who want to control the social lives of others. Honestly I don’t think it can possibly be a coincidence that the folks most virulently critical of individualism are white males who have significant university posts. Indeed I’m hard pressed to think of a single female scholar who has attacked individualism in ways akin to say Robert Bellah or Zygmunt Bauman … It seems to me that critiques of individualism invariably come beset with a totalizing vision of “the good society” that, ostensibly should be actualized whether people like it or not (because obviously they don’t like it or they’d be doing it already). In short, I don’t know how critiques of individualism, as such, avoid the charge that they are simply instances of the will to power. They are always animated with angst, fear, and revulsion towards the current shape of social life and deeply desirous of reshaping society in accordance with their own vision. It’s hard for me to image that not being ultimately fascist (Milbank is perhaps the most sophisticated example of a theological fascist writing today)’.
- Andre Muller posts on music.
- Finally, I’ve been posting on advent: Part I, II, III, IV.
Recently, Speaking of Faith ran a repeat of an interview with Jaroslav Pelikan on the need for creeds wherein Pelikan argued that ‘strong statements of belief are not antithetical, but necessary, if 21st-century pluralism is to thrive’. It can be downloaded here or listened to here.
Of course, Pelikan (1923–2006) is best known for his wonderfully-helpful 5 volume work The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. (Vols I, II, III, IV, V), but many have also benefited by drinking deeply from his many other books, including Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture, Divine Rhetoric: The Sermon on the Mount As Message and As Model in Augustine, Chrysostom, and Luther, Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition, Acts (in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series), Fools for Christ: Essays on the Good, the True and the Beautiful, and Bach Among the Theologians.
Pelikan was ordained by the Lutheran Church, taught at Yale from 1962 until 1996, and in 1998 was received into the Orthodox Church in America. Those wanting to read more about Pelikan’s work can visit:
- David W. Lotz, ‘The Achievement of Jaroslav Pelikan’, First Things (June/July 1992).
- Mark A. Noll, ‘The Doctrine Doctor’, Christianity Today (December 2004).
- John H. Erickson, ‘In Memory of Jaroslav Pelikan: A Homily Delivered at His Funeral Vigil Service’, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (May 16, 2006).
- Timothy George, ‘Delighted by Doctrine’, Christian History (Summer 2006).
- Robert Louis Wilken, ‘Jaroslav Pelikan: Doctor Ecclesiae’, First Things (August/September 2006).