The Pacific Journal of Baptist Research: a call for papers

pjbr nov 2015.pngThe Pacific Journal of Baptist Research (PJBR) is an open-access online journal which aims to provide an international vehicle for scholarly research and debate in the Baptist tradition, with a special focus on the Pacific region. However, topics are not limited to the Pacific region, and all subject matter potentially of significance for Baptist/Anabaptist communities will be considered. PJBR is especially interested in theological and historical themes, and preference will be given to articles on those themes. PJBR is published twice-yearly in May and November. Articles are fully blind peer-reviewed, with submissions sent to international scholars in the appropriate fields for critical review before being accepted for publication. PJBR is indexed with ATLA/S. PJBR is currently accepting contributions for its 2017 volumes from graduate students, faculty, and other researchers. Information for contributors can be found here and essays can be emailed to the Senior Editor, Dr Myk Habets.

Participatio is out

Torrance_4The latest edition of Participatio, the journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, is now available. It includes an extended article by Bob Walker on the relationship between the incarnation and the atonement in TF‘s theology, as well as pieces (some quite dated) by Baxter Kruger, David Fergusson, Victor Shepherd and Paul Molnar.

While I’m thinking of Torrance, those looking for some advent reading would do well to consider journeying with, among other of TF’s work, TF’s New College lectures published as Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, or his brilliant study on the Nicene Creed published as The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Faith (which was my own entrée to TF’s thought), or his extraordinary shorter book The Mediation of Christ.

Papers on TF Torrance

The journal Theology in Scotland has just published a special issue devoted to papers given at two recent day conferences marking the publication of the two-volume edition of Prof. T.F. Torrance’s dogmatics lectures.

The issue’s contents are a mix of academic papers on aspects of Torrance’s work and personal reminiscences by several of his former students. Also featured is a fascinating exchange of letters between T.F. Torrance and the distinguished American philosopher Brand Blanshard on the reception of the theologies of Karl Barth and Emil Brunner.

The special issue is priced at GBP12.50 including p&p, and is available from the University of St Andrews online shop or by sending a cheque payable to ‘University of St Andrews’ to Production Manager, Theology in Scotland, St Mary’s College, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9JU, Scotland.




Critics, writing, Sudoku and some other interesting stuff …

Oscar Wilde, T. S. Eliot, Matthew Arnold, Randall Jarrell, Lionel Trilling and Walt Whitman.

The New York Times recently ran a fascinating multi-author series on criticism, and on why criticism (still) matters:

An interesting wee piece by Ed Park on The Art of the Very Long Sentence.

Richard Bauckham has a very witty piece on ‘Reconstructing the Pooh Community’ wherein he has a swipe at some of the speculative sociological readings of the NT that some in the guild are want to become obsessed with.

Ben Myers continues to enthral us with his own fiction, this time with ‘a short story’ called The Shakespearean Death.

Benedict Carey tells me why I’m a Sudoku- and crossword-junkie (and more recently a jigsaw-puzzle-junkie) in his article on Tracing the Spark of Creative Problem-Solving.

Michael Jinkins posts some Nominees for Today’s Niebuhr.

The latest edition of the Journal of Reformed Theology is out. It includes articles by David P. Henreckson (‘Possessing Heaven in Our Head: A Reformed Reading of Incarnational Ascent in Kathryn Tanner’, pp. 171–184), Paul Helm (‘Reformed Thought on Freedom’, pp. 185–207) and Meine Veldman (‘Secrets of Moltmann’s Tacit Tradition: Via Covenant Theology to Promise Theology’, pp. 208–239).

Ruminate, and ‘Weekend Plans’ by David Holper

This week, I received my first hard copy of Ruminate (Issue 14, Winter 2009–2010). First impressions? It’s beautifully produced, and aesthetically yummy. Now, having read through it all, I remain delighted. This edition – like most – comprises of mainly poetry, but also includes two short stories, and is peppered with some provocative images (ink and charcoal, serigraphy, intaglio) by Scott Kolbo. Here’s my favourite poem from this issue:

‘Weekend Plans’, by David Holper

In a talk I recently heard, the speaker said
that at 50, a man has less than
1500 weekends left in his life.
Having chewed on this fact for the last week,
I now realize that my 1499th weekend is coming.

And so I’m making big plans:
On this 1499th remaining Saturday,
I plan to grade a stack of student papers.
But knowing that there are only so many of these
Saturdays to sit through,
I am planning on writing the most
remarkable comments and grades
I have ever composed.

Instead of pointing out where the prose clunks,
I will say that the sentence over which I stumble
reminds me of a ’62 Fiat convertible
I once owned, a car that ran well enough
when I bought it,
until I rear-ended a truck one day
and the front end crumbled
pushing the radiator back just enough
that the fan chewed a hole through
the back end,
the blades not only making an unearthly racket,
but also bleeding the radiator dry
and leaving a green stain on the pavement.

And instead of pointing out that a comma is not a coma,
that noone and alot are two words,
that a manor is a large country house
(in a manner of speaking)
and that collage
is not an institution of higher learning,
I will point out to them that Shakespeare, too,
invented new spellings and words
so that rather than see their grades as a kind
of condemnation,
they might rather embrace these marks as a sort of celebration
of their wild and anarchic spirit
which has emancipated itself from all bounds,
from all pedestrian, prosaic concerns
on this glorious, remaining 1499th Saturday.

International Journal for Religious Freedom

The latest issue of the International Journal for Religious Freedom 2/2, (December 2009), produced by the International Institute for Religious Freedom, is out and freely available online (can be downloaded as pdf) for a few weeks. Articles include:

  • ‘Thinking twice about the minaret ban in Switzerland’, by Thomas K Johnson
  • ‘Christian suffering and martyrdom: An opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation’, by Richard Howell
  • ‘The role of government and judicial action in defining religious freedom: A Sri Lankan perspective’, by Roshini Wickremesinhe
  • ‘The religious other as a threat: Religious persecution expressing xenophobia – a global survey of Christian-Muslim convivience’, by Christof Sauer
  • ‘Christianity and democracy’, by Thomas Schirrmacher
  • ‘Agonizing for you: Christian responses to religious persecution’, by Charles L Tieszen

As the professor snips the richest bud for his lapel, his scalpel of reason lies on the tray: some weekly wanderings

Some more weekly wanderings

And here he is with Jan Garbarek & Manu Katche:

‘For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else’

invisible man

Participatio: A new journal is born

tftorranceParticipatio is the journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship. The long-anticipated first volume is now available for download here, and includes Eulogies by Alasdair Heron and George Hunsinger, and Recollections and Reflections by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Elmer M. Colyer, Jock Stein, Howard Taylor, David Torrance, Kenneth Walker and Robert T. Walker. It also includes the following Essays:

  • Ray S. Anderson, ‘The Practical Theology of Thomas F. Torrance’
  • Alister E. McGrath, ‘Thomas F. Torrance and the Search for a Viable Natural Theology: Some Personal Reflections’
  • Paul D. Molnar, ‘The Centrality of the Trinity in the Theology of Thomas F. Torrance’

I know what I’ll be reading in the next few days …

American Theological Inquiry is out

The latest edition (2:1) of American Theological Inquiry (ATI) has been released and is available free here. For more information about this newish journal (sponsored by our friends at Wipf and Stock), visit here. It’s a great journal and deserves our support.

The edition includes the following articles:

  • ‘The Theology of Gerald O’Collins and Postmodernism’, by Craig Baron
  • ‘Late have I left thee: a reflection on Augustine the Manichee and the logic of belief adoption’, by Charles Natoli
  • ‘Jesus On The Big Screen’, by Stephen Nichols
  • ‘Lutheran Puritanism? Adiaphora in Lutheran Orthodoxy and Possible Commonalities in Reformed Orthodoxy’, by Daniel Hyde
  • ‘A Rose By Any Other Name: Attempts At Classifying North American Protestant Worship’, Lester Ruth
  • ‘Twin Parables Of Stewardship In Luke’, by J. Lyle Story
  • ‘Death, Killing And Personal Identity’, by Todd Bindig

There’s also book reviews on the following:

  • Philippe Sellier. Port-Royal et la littérature, Vol. II., by Charles Natoli
  • John R. Muether. Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman, by Ryan McIlhenny
  • Bryan Spinks (ed.). The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer: Trinity, Christology, and Liturgical Theology, by James R. A. Merrick
  • Edwin Christiaan van Driel. Incarnation Anyway: Arguments for Supralapsarian Christology, by Myk Habets
  • Charles Natoli. Fire in the Dark: Essays on Pascal’s Pensées and Provinciales, by Trent Dougherty
  • Karl Barth; Kurt Johanson (ed.); Christopher Asprey (trans). The Word in This World: Two Sermons by Karl Barth, by Benjamin Myers
  • Timothy George (ed). God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice, by Benjamin Myers
  • Christopher Hitchens; Douglas Wilson. Is Christianity Good for the World?, by Ian Clary
  • D. A. Carson. Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications, by Tim Challies
  • Stephen Nichols. Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to The Passion of the Christ, by Tim Challies
  • David Wells. The Courage To Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World, by Tim Challies
  • Thomas Fowler; Daniel Kuebler. The Evolution Controversy: A Survey of Competing Theories, by Tim Challies

International Journal of Public Theology is out

The recently-birthed International Journal of Public Theology has announced its second volume, which includes the following articles:

Scottish Journal of Theology (61/3) is out

The latest Scottish Journal of Theology (Volume 61, Issue 03) is out and includes the following articles and reviews:

‘Resurrection as surplus and possibility: Moltmann and Ricoeur’, by Devin Singh.

Though Moltmann and Ricoeur have a history of interaction, little attention has been paid to this relationship and its implications for their respective programmes. These thinkers have much in common, however, and the Ricoeurian categories of surplus and possibility elucidate critical aspects of a theology of hope, serving to strengthen its contemporary implications. Nuance is provided for the resurrection’s role in redemption, and an existential mode of hope is delineated. Focusing on Moltmann’s interactions with Ricoeur concerning the resurrection elevates these latent themes and demonstrates the fruitfulness of a continued conversation between these two thinkers. Furthermore, examining Moltmann’s thought in Ricoeurian perspective opens new directions for conceptualising resurrection hope and praxis in a postmodern context.

‘Maimonides, Aquinas and Ghazali: distinguishing God from world’, by David Burrell

This exploration focuses on Moses ben Maimon’s attempt to give philosophical voice to the revelation of the Torah to offer a window into the comparative (though not actually collaborative) efforts of Jewish, Christian and Muslim medieval thinkers to adapt the metaphysical strategies available to them to the hitherto inconceivable task of articulating a creation utterly free, with nothing presupposed to it. Short of a divine revelation, nothing could have suggested such an affirmation, so crafting the adaptations demanded of familiar philosophical categories would require exploiting the illumination inherent in those distinct revelations. Far from being a merely historical exercise, these efforts are presented as object lessons for philosophical theologians today, as we move to show how Aquinas and Ghazali complement Maimonides’ way of negotiating recondite regions where reason and faith interact. In that sense, this exercise inspired by medieval thinkers may be dubbed , since the deliverances of faith can be seen to be interwoven with rational inquiry and indispensable to its execution. Moreover, their witness can also challenge current who may all too easily presume their categories to be adequate to the task of probing the reaches of religious faith. In this way, the call to transform philosophical strategies in ways not unlike that undertaken by our medieval thinkers can suggest a benign reading of the situation in which we admittedly live.

‘From Hilary of Poitiers to Peter of Blois: a Transfiguration journey of biblical interpretation’, by Kenneth Stevenson

The Transfiguration narratives have received considerable attention from New Testament scholars, but so far very little has been written about them from the point of view of their reception-history. The purpose of this article is to examine the ways in which they have been interpreted in the Latin West from the time of Hilary of Poitiers in the fourth century to Peter of Blois in the early thirteenth. Among these writers, from the big names like Jerome to the lesser known figures like Peter of Celle, a varied tapestry emerges where light allegory plays an important part, whether in the symbolisms given to the choice of the three disciples, Peter, James and John, or to the dazzling clothes of Christ as baptismal glory before cross ), or as a festival in its own right, the Transfiguration emerges as an unusually rich source of biblical interpretation that poses real challenges to the use of the religious imagination today. And it provides a significant contribution to the development of a balanced view of reception-history in our own time.

‘The Barthian heritage of Hans W. Frei’, by John Allan Knight

Hans Frei and the of narrative theology are often understood to be Barthian in orientation, but only rarely have the origins and contours of Frei’s engagement with Barth been treated in the secondary literature. Frei’s dissertation itself remains unpublished, with the exception of an oddly edited abridgement that appeared ten years after Frei’s untimely death. This lacuna is unfortunate, because Frei’s dissertation on Barth, and especially his treatment of Barth’s method, are of signal importance in that they set the agenda and orientation for much, if not all, of Frei’s later work. Consequently, in this article I analyse Frei’s dissertation on Barth, focusing primarily on his treatment of Barth’s protest against . On Frei’s reading, three moves constitute Barth’s break with relationalism: the primacy of ontology over epistemology, the subordination of method to positive affirmations about God, and the conformance of interpretative method both to Barth’s methodological commitments and to his affirmations about God. In his dissertation, Frei argues that Barth believed that, without these moves, theology would be vulnerable to Feuerbach’s critique. Frei’s construal of Barth’s break with relationalism sets the agenda for Frei’s own later work, in which he appropriates these Barthian moves by insisting on the primacy of biblical narratives in theological method. Similar to Barth, Frei takes twentieth-century hermeneutic theology to be vulnerable to deconstructionist critique. His insistence on the primacy of a literal reading of the biblical narratives is his attempt to rectify this vulnerability.

‘The struggle between the “image of God” and Satan in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve’, by Rivka Nir

According to a tradition in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve (GLAE), Seth and his mother Eve were confronted by a wild beast that attacked Seth. This article asserts that Seth’s battle with the beast should be understood as a struggle between the and Satan, and viewed in a Christian context. The claim is based on three aspects of the story: how the beast is described, why it attacked Seth and only he could control it, and why the beast was confined to its dwelling place until the Day of Judgement. The struggle between Seth and the beast/Satan should be seen as a link in the chain of struggle between the image of God and Satan. It begins in Paradise between Adam, the image of God, and Satan, as recounted in the story of Satan’s fall from heaven, continues on earth between Seth, Adam’s descendant, and Satan, and will culminate with the final victory of Jesus, the ultimate image of God, over Satan at the end of times.

‘Torture and the Christian conscience: a response to Jeremy Waldron’, by Jean Porter

In remarks offered in 2006 at a conference at Princeton Theological Seminary, inaugurating a National Religious Campaign against Torture, the legal philosopher Jeremy Waldron observed that Christian leaders have contributed relatively little to the recent debate over the use of torture. This is regrettable, in his view, because secular morality does not have resources sufficient to address the question of torture, and a Christian perspective emphasising the absoluteness and divine character of the relevant moral norms would represent an important contribution to our reflections on this question. This article offers a response to Waldron’s timely and important challenge, setting forth a Christian theological argument that the practice of torture is categorically prohibited. The basis for this prohibition does not rest, however, on the absoluteness of moral norms as such rather, it rests on the distinctive character of torture as an egregious assault on the human person regarded as image of God.

Book Reviews include:

  • ‘Eberhard Busch, Karl Barth and the Pietists: The Young Karl Barth’s Critique of Pietism and Its Response‘, by Cherith Fee Nordling
  • ‘Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory‘, by Ray S. Anderson
  • D. Stephen Long, John Wesley’s Moral Theology: The Quest for God and Goodness‘, by Todd C. Ream and Kevin K. Wright
  • ‘James Bernauer and Jeremy Carrette, eds, Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience‘, by Matthew Halteman
  • ‘I. Howard Marshall, Beyond the Bible: Moving from Scripture to Theology‘, by Steven J. Koskie
  • ‘Jeffrey Stout and Robert MacSwain, eds, Grammar and Grace: Reformulations of Wittgenstein and Aquinas‘, by Harold E. Ernst
  • ‘Stanley E. Porter, ed, Reading the Gospels Today‘, by Edward W. Klink
  • ‘Samuel Wells, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics‘, by Mark Douglas
  • ‘Bruce D. Chilton and Jacob Neusner, Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism: Comparing Theologies‘, by Brad Embry

Journal of Reformed Theology is out

The latest issue of Journal of Reformed Theology (Volume 2, Number 2, 2008) is out and includes the following articles:

Cornelius van der Kooi, The Appeal to the Inner Testimony of the Spirit, especially in H. Bavinck

Abstract: “The Reformation took-deliberately and freely-its position in the religious subject.” In this article, the argument is made that Bavinck has not formulated a strong position with this statement; but rather, a dubious starting point for Reformed theology. The question is whether this thesis, with its focus on the subject, can still be maintained in this manner within the current ecumenical situation, or whether it is imperative that it be adjusted.

Jason A. Goroncy, ‘That God May Have Mercy Upon All’: A Review-Essay of Matthias Gockel’s Barth and Schleiermacher on the Doctrine of Election

Abstract: The doctrine of election lies at the heart of Reformed theology. This essay offers a review of Matthias Gockel’s recent comparison between two of Reformed theology’s greatest voices: that of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Karl Barth. Gockel outlines Schleiermacher’s contribution to the doctrine before turning to consider its modifications in Barth’s work. The advance of these two thinkers on this issue has significant implications for the ongoing questions of universal election and universal salvation. Consequently, the possibility of an apokatastasis panton arises naturally from their theology. This possibility is briefly explored.

Oliver D. Crisp, The Election of Jesus Christ

Abstract: In modern theology the election of Christ is often associated with the work of Karl Barth. In this paper, I offer an alternative account of Christ’s election in dialogue with the Post-Reformation Reformed tradition. It turns out that, contrary to popular belief, there is no single ‘Reformed’ doctrine of election; a range of views has been tolerated in the tradition. I set out one particular construal of the election of Christ that stays within the confessional parameters of Reformed theology, while arguing, contrary to some Reformed divines, that Christ is the cause and foundation of election.

Ad Prosman, A Dutch Response to Nihilism: an Evaluation of K.H. Miskotte’s Interaction with Nietzsche

Abstract: This article discusses the way in which the Dutch theologian K.H. Miskotte interpreted the nihilism of Friedrich Nietzsche. It will be pointed out that religion is the central notion of Miskotte’s approach of Nietzsche. Discussing this theme, it will be necessary to pay attention to the concept of Nietzsche’s nihilism. From there we receive a clearer insight in the interaction between Miskotte and Nietzsche. It is expected that examining nihilism and the interaction with nihilism will be helpful to contextualize theology. The method of Miskotte is attractive because he does not evaluate nihilism in a philosophical manner, but he counters it by the Thora. Belief stands against belief. Nevertheless we can ask whether Miskotte’s concept of religion is adequate enough to tackle the problems we have to deal with in our nihilistic culture. Is Miskotte right when he connects nihilism and religion, and what kind of religion is he connecting with nihilism?

Mechteld Jansen, Indonesian and Moluccan Immigrant Churches in the Netherlands: Missionary History and Challenge

Abstract: As a result of immigration of many Christians from all parts of the world to the Netherlands, about 1,000 ‘immigrant churches’ have been established in the country during the last decades. This paper focuses on two churches in the Netherlands that mainly consist of members of Asian descent: the Gereja Kristen Indonesia Nederlands (GKIN) and the Geredja Indjili Maluku (GIM). Both are Protestant churches that have a history within the Netherlands for many years. Since these churches are not very well-known in the worldwide family of Reformed churches, I will describe their historical and cultural backgrounds quite extensively. This also includes the Dutch missionary involvement with the former Dutch colony of Indonesia. Subsequently, I will turn to their actual situation, and my main question will be how they view and carry out their missionary vocation in Dutch society. In the final section, it will be maintained that these churches do not simply mirror the missionary approach of the Dutch in Indonesia, but they consider themselves partners with other churches in a revised mission in which their own features can be a blessing for the whole Dutch society.


The Australian Evangelical Alliance has launched a new online journal for theology and ministry called Crucible. The stated aim is ‘to enhance creative thinking about the relationship of biblical and theological truths to the life, ministry and mission of the church. It is a forum for scholars and practitioners to publish material, interact and resource the Christian community’. The first issue includes the following articles, reviews and poems:

Latest IJST is out

The April 2008 edition of the International Journal of Systematic Theology (Volume 10/Issue 2) is now out and includes the following articles:

Abstract: The position of Barth and others, that the covenant with Adam is thoroughly legalistic, is based on the incorrect assumption that grace and works cannot coexist as covenant principles. However, the difficulty of seeing the harmony between these principles is real. This article reconsiders the covenant with Adam in light of the medieval concept of the two powers of God, or as we shall argue here, the two perspectives on God’s power. These two perspectives, part of the original intellectual milieu in which covenant theology arose, demonstrate that the divine covenant with humanity may include aspects of both God’s grace and human merit simultaneously. God’s grace is apparent de potentia absoluta, from the perspective of God’s absolute power, and God’s justice and the possibility of Adam’s merit are apparent de potentia ordinata, from the perspective of God’s ordained power. Both perspectives, what God could do and what he has in fact chosen to do, are valid and necessary perspectives for understanding God’s covenant dealings.

Abstract: In recent theology, both Jürgen Moltmann and Wolfhart Pannenberg have made the kingdom of God a central theme in their thought. However, there has been little ensuing discussion delimiting the precise theological insights entailed in their positions or relating this aspect of their work to their broader theological endeavours. Moreover, discussions surrounding the moral implications of the kingdom of God in these two thinkers have been oddly estranged from the theological articulations on which these ethical suggestions have been based. This article aims to address this deficit in the current debate by examining and exploring the nature and role of the kingdom of God in Moltmann and Pannenberg’s thought. Once the material content of the kingdom has been explored theologically, both theologians will be critiqued on the manner in which they include the theme of judgement into the kingdom, and the subsequent ethical results.

Abstract: Henri de Lubac intended to found his theology on a revaluation of nature achieved by reasserting nature’s dependence on divine supernatural action. He usually identifies nature with human nature however, and therefore fails to demonstrate that the wider natural order also depends on God for its creation, preservation and redemption. In his extensive engagement with the oeuvre of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, de Lubac nevertheless begins to revise this reduction of nature to human nature, although does not fully incorporate the insights gained into his theology. Teilhard’s fundamentally eucharistic understanding of materiality provides suggestive possibilities for the successful completion of de Lubac’s abolition of the philosophy of pure nature.

Abstract: Beginning from Pope Pius IX’s doctrinal definition in Ineffabilis Deus, this article explores the circular paradox of the Virgin Mary’s immaculate fiat. Fully contingent on Christ’s work of reconciliation (and ‘immaculate’ by virtue of it), Mary’s fiat paradoxically precedes that work and consents to it. The article suggests that this circularity is integral to the intimate bond that unites Mary’s fiat to the Son’s kenosis on the cross. Her fiat thus points the way of redeemed creation into the reflexivity of God’s own intra-trinitarian communication. Mary is hereby read as ‘the way to prayer’, the ‘epiphany’ of the Holy Spirit (as Alexander Schmemann names her) who cries ‘Abba, Father’ on behalf of those who do not know how to pray

Abstract: While holiness is one of the motifs in theological discourse that can legitimately be said to entwine many others, the coinage it receives for such honour is being largely exiled from discussion. Thus, any contribution that could be made by considering Jesus Christ as the defining revelation of holiness is sidelined. Beginning with some biblical observations, and enlisting some help from Scottish Congregationalist P.T. Forsyth, this article seeks to encourage a reclaiming of holiness vocabulary as a distinctly christological reality and gift that finds expression first in the unique incarnate life and death of the Son, and then in the life and mission of the community created and sustained by that same Son.

Journals out

New editions of The Heythrop Journal and New Blackfriars are now available (online), both including articles on the Virgin birth/conception, turning our gaze back to the sources in the inscripturated witness and its significance in the divine economy.

The Heythrop Journal (Volume 49, Issue 2, March 2008) includes the following articles:

In modern theology the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Christ, including the doctrine of his Virginal Conception, has been the subject of considerable scepticism. One line of criticism has been that the traditional doctrine of the Virgin Birth seems unnecessary to the Incarnation. In this essay I lay out one construal of the traditional argument for the doctrine and show that, although one can offer an account of the Incarnation without the Virgin Birth which, in other respects, is perfectly in accord with catholic Christianity, such a doctrine is still contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture and the Creeds on the question of the mode of the Incarnation. It might still be thought that the Incarnation was an ‘unfitting’ means of Incarnation. In a final section I draw upon Anselm’s arguments in defence of the Incarnation to show that this objection can also be overcome.

Also, New Blackfriars has announced the following articles in their latest edition:

In Jeffrey Archer’s The Gospel According to Judas, Judas dismisses the virginal conception of Jesus as no more than another example of ‘Greek myths that tell of gods in heaven who produce offspring following a union with women of this earth’. To attribute such a view to a first-century Jew like Judas seems strange, since the earliest evidence shows Jewish critics of the Christian movement rejecting the virginal conception as a case of illegitimacy. In any case such Greek myths do not provide plausible sources for the two Gospel accounts of the virginal conception. Yet such merely historical debate is insufficient. One should press on to illustrate the religious significance and theological importance of the virginal conception within the whole story of Jesus: for instance, the role of this conception in revealing the Trinity at work for human salvation.

SJT is out

The latest edition of the Scottish Journal of Theology (Volume 61 – Issue 01 – February 2008) is out and comprises the following articles, including a timely essay by Dr Ben:

Abstract: T. F. Torrance has made a significant contribution to theological method with his model of the stratified structure of theological knowledge. According to this model, which is grounded in Torrance’s realist epistemology, the knowledge of God takes place at three distinctive levels of increasing conceptual refinement. First, at the level of tacit theology, we intuitively grasp God’s trinitarian reality through personal experience, without yet understanding that reality conceptually. Second, at the level of formalised theology, we develop an understanding of the economic trinitarian structure which underlies our personal experience. Finally, at the meta-theological level, we penetrate more deeply into the structure of God’s self-revelation in order to develop a refined conceptualisation of the perichoretic relations immanent in God’s eternal being. The conceptuality achieved at this meta-theological level constitutes the ultimate grammar and the unitary basis of all theological knowledge; and a concentration of thought at this level offers the promise both of thoroughgoing theological simplification and of a shared ecumenical vision of the essential content of theological knowledge. Central to Torrance’s entire model is the homoousial union of Jesus Christ with God: the homoousion enables a movement from a personal encounter with Jesus Christ to a knowledge of the economic Trinity, just as it further enables a movement from the economic to the ontological Trinity. Although our theological thought thus moves towards increasingly refined concepts and relations, it remains always grounded in and coordinated with our personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.