Monday, July 31, 2006

Jim West on Bultmann

Jim West has been writing a number of lovely posts today in memoriam of Bultmann who died thirty years ago on the 30th of July, 1976. Be sure to read them all:

In Memoriam Rudolf Karl Bultmann. Did you know that ‘at the conclusion of the service in the Marburg Church he attended, he stood at the back holding the offering box for the poor’?

Rudolf Bultmann’s Breadth of Knowledge

A Lesser Known Side of Bultmann


Bultmann’s Books (though I was surprised not to see mention of the two-volume Theology of the NT)


Today (well, yesterday actually, but I was out all day) is my blog-birthday. I’ve been blogging for a whole year!

*Woo hoo. Cracks a few party crackers, photocopies bottom etc.*

I started off with a silly post in the evening of July 29th, 2005, certainly not intending to start a ‘blblioblog’ or anything of the kind (hence the original name ‘Brainpoo’).

For me, blogging has been a tremendously positive experience. Not only has it been a pleasure to get to know some of you a little, but the many exchanges have proven truly educational.

367 posts later, and Chrisendom is visited by a bunch of intelligent folk from the world over. I would be interested to hear what post or series stick out in your memory ...

Here are some of the posts that I most enjoyed writing (excuse my self-indulgence in the following!)


The mess on my desk, when I introduced my beautiful wife to my readers for the first time. I may have been rebuked for that one at some time.

Deissmann on Paul. If one’s passion is theology and biblical studies, then it’s hard to avoid posting more serious thoughts on a blog that didn’t actually have any great ‘biblio’ aspirations. This post is about one of my favourite books on the Apostle Paul.

My Personal Recommendations. Nevertheless, I didn’t want my blogging to become as boring as watching boring coloured paint dry, and I always enjoy writing a post that makes me smile.

This trend continued (though mainly Fundie bashing – though the odd pot shot was taken at Tom Wright’s mum here and here) with such posts as:

Velosorapture (on the so-called ‘rapture’, on which a certain Ben Myers commented: ‘I’m afraid of heights, so I sure hope I get “left behind”’!)

Discworld (I really enjoyed researching for this one)

Putting the ‘fun’ back into ‘fundamentalism’ (I was afterwards ashamed for posting such mean words)

My Spanish Inquisition post on Tom Wright circled blogdom extremely quickly. Funnily enough, I almost didn’t post this one.

Some series started but were never finished. My ‘New Perspective’ posts remain incomplete, as do my ‘Facts to make you popular’ – I only posted two, but I enjoyed writing both. One on Zeno, and the other on love-making mantises.

I’ve also posted now and then on chess. This one I especially enjoyed writing, all the more so as it apparently annoyed a few people in the process

Barth has had the odd mention on my blog too, of course. One of my first, here, may have offended some (‘depraved and evil’ was Jim West’s summary). However, news of the planned update of Barth translations from the ‘British Hard-Postmodernist and Come to Think of It Almost Nihilist Society’ caused less of a problem.

I also like to write things that ‘come from my heart’, even if I play the joker most of the time. Trinity, was one of them.

This video we made for last Christmas has been viewed more than any other item on my blog, I believe. Literally thousands of times!


Having decided on a name change (‘Free Porn’ was another contender - an attempt to boost Google hits, but it just didn’t feel honest enough), my blogging regularity increased all the more I think.

I started my Küng series way back at the start of Chrisendom, and only finished it this month! In the spirit of my ‘flat earth’ post on Brainpoo, I offered the ‘concave earth’ theory in the first month of Chrisendom. I enjoyed writing that one.

After my personal thoughts on Bultmann, I posted this monster on Barth (among other things). Even then, if you read the comments, ideas were brewing in Jim West’s mind that were to reach joyful fruition a few months later.

This is still one of my favourite citations.

I continued the Fundie bashing, of course, but also introduced a ‘Worship Song’ series (summarised here), one that really had me chuckling at my keyboard as I wrote them!

Apart from various book and article reviews, Anja made another appearance here, the comments in this post made me smile, I conversed with iGod, promoted myself within my organisation, proved Ben Myers wrong on the question of ‘Intelligent Design’, pondered the virgin Birth, Pentecost and the resurrection, got pervy in this post, and morbid in this one, gave notice of Jim West’s most incredible generosity here, got mean with extreme Charismatics here, here and here, ‘opposite blogged’ here (introducing Cardinal Spin), podcasted a few times, and I wrote a series on Inerrancy in March (till the beginning of April), one that has led to more ‘Google hits’ than I think any other (especially this one). Most recently, my ‘proved!’ series has given me a bit of fun, here (on heaven), and here and here (on hell). I still can’t believe some people think these Russians actually drilled through the gates of Hades!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A real picture of hell

Following are some excerpts from Perriman’s, The Coming of the Son of Man (I made mention of the book before, here), on the subject of hell and its nature, purpose and such like. He reaches some rather different conclusions from many (including our friends from last nights blog), and they are provocative enough to not only generate serious consideration, but also thoughtful critique. But criticism is for another time. First, to the citations.

“There is no question that there is a lot of “hellish” language in the Gospels (87) … It is far more likely that his audience would have heard the echoes from the Old Testament and reapplied the ancient stories to their own circumstances than that they would have found in these statements the nucleus of a systematic and universalised eschatology. When he warned them that they will perish (apoleisthe) if they do not repent, he means that they will be killed (88)

It seems quite likely …that what Jesus for taking place in this “outer darkness” [cf. Matt 8:11-12] was the wailing of Jews under the judgement of God, while the gnashing of teeth refers to their hostility towards the righteous. In any case, we appear still to be in the real world of national crisis, not in some final metaphysical state of hell (90-91)

By the first century, the Valley of Hinnom (in Greek geenna, Gehenna),… had become the city’s refuse dump in you, where slow fires smouldered day and night (92)

The judgement of Gehenna that God will bring upon the nation will mean death without any prospect of vindication (93)

Hades in which the rich man is tormented is not the conventional Hades of the Old Testament, which, as we have seen, is not a place of punishment. Nor is it the traditional “hell” of popular Christian belief. Rather it is an image of the destruction that would come upon the “wealthy” in Israel, who despite the riches and glories of the religious heritage failed to understand that, in the words of the beatitude, the kingdom of God would be given to the poor’ (96-97)”

By the way, do you want to see a real photograph of hell, without the Russian drillers and Fundie Visions?

Well, here is a recent picture of the Hinnom Valley:

Friday, July 28, 2006

Existence of hell proved! (Pt 2 of 2)

(Disclaimer: Dear reader, I hope that the following doesn’t cause too much offence. At least you don’t just get the same old boring stuff here, and if you want clean language, visit this blog)

Hell, to finish this mini-series, is not only ‘proved’ by our Russian ‘Gates of Hades’ smashing drill friends, but also by the two most remarkable ‘visions of hell’ to have spewed forth from modern charismatic circles.

Don’t get me wrong, many charismatics can be precious Christians with a delightful relationship with God that should make many of us theologians ashamed of using the word ‘spirituality’ casually. Nevertheless, the ones I want to cite as ‘proof’ for the existence of hell inspire me about as much as a fart in a crowded lift.

When some charismatics stand up and say ‘God said ...’ this and that, I’m fine with it, even if I find the ‘God said’ a tad too much for me. I nevertheless appreciate their desire to ‘strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy’ (1 Cor 14:1).

But when whack-jobs get going ...

Anyway, I will keep this short, cos it winds me up. First, here is a link to a certain ‘prophetess’ by the name of Mary Baxter, the lady who also helpfully provided access to the ‘audio recordings from hell’ in my previous in this series. She confidently informs us that her visions (put on a strong southern American accent here) ‘were given unto me by Jesus Christ of Nazareth’. Note the ‘unto’, not merely ‘to’ me. Her visions involve all sorts of horrifying scenes where demons spend their time enjoying torturing helpless humans, while Jesus stands coldly to the side, holding back Mary from showing compassion. Here you can download a file and listen to her testimony in her own words. You know you want to.

Specialist terminology has been used throughout church history, of course (e.g. ‘consubstantiation, dispensationalism, infralapsarianism etc.’), so I’ve invented my own theological term to describe what is going on here.

‘Crockovshit’, is my designated neologism.

I’m hoping it will catch on and find itself into theological dictionaries at some stage next to other ‘c’s like Calvinism, catechism, communion, covenant theology, etc.

Another visionary. This time, the gentleman spent 23 minutes in hell. Here you can read his moving account of what happened to him, and what he ‘saw’. I say ‘moving’. It certainly caused me to move my hand to the ‘close internet explorer button’ with speed, and then ‘moved me’ to clutch my head in despondency. You can also download this video in which he tells us all in his own words. Basically, he spends about an hour and a half telling us that the bible predicts String-Theory, Copernicus’ discovery, and various other geological and scientific facts, before scaring the living crap out of the audience with pictures of perverse human torture, unspeakable pain and suffering at the hands of evil huge ugly demons, and other imp-like versions. Oh, and by the way, ‘Jesus loves you’. His handling of scripture is a perfect example of how not to use the bible, but that is an error hopelessly overshadowed by the content of his visions. Of course, it is middle age art in the guise of being ‘biblical’.

It seems, as with both of these Fundie visionaries, that the devil has quite a lot of fun in hell, doing what he most enjoys. So, hell turns out to be a place of entertainment for demons, all the while a tad uncomfortable for us poor humans. Still, anyone who has visions of great big twelve foot demons shoving red hot pokers up one’s arse has to be a prophet of Jesus Christ, so no wonder they’ve been given a stage.

... to spew forth their wretched, pastorally insensitive and unbiblical putrifications.
Main Entry: Crockovshit
Phonetic pronunciation: [krok ov '∫it (interjectionally also 'shē-et)]
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English ‘crok o’shee’, from Old English ‘crocc shiesse’; akin to Old High German ‘Krock von Scheiße’
Date: before 21th century

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Letter of Christ

‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts’ (2 Cor 3:2-3)

I started work on the fascinating passage above today. What an intricate mix of metaphors!

The major question for me is whether evpistolh. Cristou/ (‘letter of Christ’) is a subjective or objective genitive. The vast majority of scholars choose the subjective, i.e. that Christ writes the letter. However, in a recent monograph, Bernd Kuschnerus maintains the objective-genitive interpretation in the sense that the letter is about Christ, in which Christ is the Inhalt.

I want to understand the phrase as a subjective genitive, but what I want and what is true may be two very different things. Could this be a case in which the amusingly called ‘vocal minority’ is correct?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Book Meme

1. One book that changed your life:
The Book of Psalms

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
God Crucified (Bauckham)

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Thiselton’s 1 Corinthians commentary

4. One book that made you laugh:
Platoon, the Comic version (extreme gore edition)

5. One book that made you cry:
The Penguin Guide to Onions

6. One book that you wish had been written:
3 Corinthians – what happened next, and who precisely my ‘opponents’ were (Apostle Paul)

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Blessing and Curses (Prince)

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Church Dogmatics IV (Barth)

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
The Drama of Doctrine (Vanhoozer)

10. One last book that you love:
The NT: The History of the Investigation of its Problems (Kümmel)

Existence of hell proved! (Pt 1 of 2)

You may remember, I recently offered proof for the existence of heaven.

I realise that this mini ‘proved!’ series isn’t lending well to the sort of reputation I wish to stick to Chrisendom and so I say (just in case), especially if you are new to this blog: I am being ironic. Well, ‘I’m mocking’ may be closer the truth, but either way, and rather appropriately, today I offer proof for the existence of hell!

Do I believe the NT teaches the existence of hell? Yes. So at the close of this two-part post, I shall add some sensible thoughts. But first to the silliness!

Yes, hell is proved.

Wipe those cynical looks off of your faces - we are talking empirical and verifiable evidence, we are talking Kantian ‘pure reason’ deduction, we are talking ‘logically positive’ Humite verifiability, here.

Apparently, according to the following evidence, hell is quite literally under the surface of the earth. Yes, a group of scientists have discovered its location, right near the centre of the globe. Of course, the bible has always claimed this: ‘descending to the depths’ etc. And how did they prove this? What is the proof that is exciting certiain precious conservative brothers and sisters?

Well, a team of gentlemen drilled a hole in Siberia.

Yep, a hole.

In the ground.

And it seems that one of their drills, so they claim, and this is they key bit, ‘broke through the gates of Hades’.

This is proof enough, of course, but they were also fortunate enough to have recorded some of the screams of hell’s torments they heard which was really very thoughtful of them.

That’s right, you read me correctly. Thus, unmistakable empirical audio data has now been collected, verifying medieval art, err, the bible I mean.

I can still sense your scepticism, you hard-hearted theologians you. Well doubt no longer, you can even listen to it yourself. Stop doubting my Thomite readers, and click here to listen in for yourself, and here to go to the webpage (though this page is a red-alert level for potential ‘I’m so pissed off I’m really upset now’ effect, so enter with care).

And if you are still doubting, then I am glad to be able to offer even more for you in the following post, when, among other delights, I shal be introducing you to some imp like demons who enjoy ‘tearing the flesh off of human victims’.

Who needs Nightmare on Elm Street when you have visionary Fundamentalists to keep you entertained!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Klaus Berger critiques Bultmann’s hermeneutic

The following is a selective and shortened summary of Berger’s treatment in Hermeneutik des Neuen Testaments (Franke: Tübingen, 1999), p 21f.

1. Is demythologising even possible? The most modern textual critics question if it is possible to divide between the expressions of the text itself, and that which lies ‘behind’ the text (cf. Bultmann’s Kern und Schale picture)

2. Is demythologising even necessary? Does one have to accept the uniform worldview of Bultmann? Plenty of others seem happy accepting the biblical mythic stories at face value.

3. Is radical abstinence from historical experience, the divorcing of things so cleanly from history into the personal-invisible, really healthy?

4. What happens to ethics when history is emphasised simply as simply an illustration of human potential?

5. The relation between seeing and believing, as Bultmann understood it, is, in the most recent NT research, challenged and perhaps even refuted. And that is not all, but other aspects that once seemed to confirm Bultmann’s scheme, are now very doubtful.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Final post in the Küng 'Der Anfang' series

This series has taken about 7 months, so it is good to finally post my last.

Following is a section outline of the book, followed by links to the relevant posts. I hope you enjoyed reading the posts as much as I had writing them.

What did you think of the book? Any general comments?

Part 1

A. A unified Theory for everything?
Part 1, part 2

B. God as the beginning?
Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4

C. World creation or evolution?
Part 1, part 2, part 3

D. Life in the cosmos?
Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10
(plus a three post response to Küng and miracles in Der Anfang: here, here, and here)

E. The beginning of the human race
Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4

Epilog: The end of all things
Part 1, part 2

My concluding remarks. Part 1, part 2, and finally, part 3 (i.e. this post)

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Saturday, July 22, 2006


Given the response in the previous but one post, the announcement for the official Jim West Fan Club follows (i.e. the JWFC – not to be muddled with the Jehovah Witness Football Club, of course).

Thanks to one reader, the Fan Club Motto shall be:
‘I really am a quite loathsome person filled with contempt and disdain for persons of low mental capacity’ (to be memorised, and chanted while performing the secret club handshake)
The club bylaws shall adopt those of the reasonable Association of Fundamentalists Evangelizing Catholics, detailed here.

And the Club Anthem (to the tune of ‘Row, Row, Row your Boat’) shall be:

Dr, Jim, Jim E. West,
Surely he’s the Best (women add as an echo here: ‘criticising home-schooling without Rest,
Dilettante fan he certainly isn’t,
So slap this badge on your chest ...

The death-metal version being:

AHHHhhhhhhh *Screammmm*
*Morbid and inaudible throat gruffling about death and such like*
(Return to ‘Row, Row’ tune)
Dr, Jim, Jim E West etc.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Penultimate post on Küng’s Der Anfang

Concluding remarks on Der Anfang Aller Dinge Pt 2 of 3

Words of criticism and praise.

Throughout this journey across such a wide scope of subject matter, Küng’s argumentation has consistently been a tour de force of erudition, boldness, and immense learning and familiarity with the most recent developments in numerous branches of scientific study and theology. Particularly helpful for me was Küng’s comparison of the dynamic between evolution as chance, and God’s activity within it, with the tension between human works as truly human, yet also the outworking of God’s grace (cf. e.g. 1 Cor 15:10: ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them - though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me’).

However, his work will not convince all, especially dyed-in-the-wool atheists and fundamentalists who have little time for the complimentary model Küng has pursued throughout. Nevertheless, even those sympathetic with Küng’s overall project will perhaps stumble on a number of (usually minor) issues, even though almost all of them are not original to or the focus of this monograph. Those points of contention that are not original to, but nevertheless occasionally voiced in Der Anfang aller Dinge, and which were hardly central to the argument of the book, but which will rightly continue to generate critical debate, include

  • his pessimism regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life (cf. this light hearted post)
  • his confidence in the relevance of an Ur-Ethos for interreligious ethical discussion,
  • his thesis concerning miracles, especially as compared to his less problematic treatment in On Being a Christian (discussed here, here and here)
  • his precise understanding of salvation in the world religions,
  • his assessment of the meaning of the resurrection of Christ,
  • and his ‘spirit’ theology which some will dismiss as simply heterodox.
Whatever disagreements some may have with Küng on such matters, Der Anfang aller Dinge is a work that all interested in the relationship between science and religion will be obliged to engage with.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A huge thanks to Jim West, again!

Once again, a huge thanks to Jim West for sending me his copy of the Evangelische Theologie Zweimonatsschrift (the red book on the left), dedicated to the 70th birthday of Jürgen Moltmann!

There are articles, among others, by Wolfgang Huber, Miroslav Volf, Jürgen’s wife, and a real interesting sounding one: ‘Zum Stichwort “Augenblick”. Eine Theologische und kulturkritische Skizze’, by G M Martin.

Thanks a bunch, Jim! I should start a Jim West Fan Club, and produce badges with his smiling face impressed on them ... (and mine!, while clutching all my Jim-given books!)

The book on the right (Die Sache mit Gott, by Heinz Zahrnt [Piper, München, 1966]) comes with my highest possible recommendations. It is absolutely un-put-downable! For those who want to learn a little more about Barth, Bultmann, Brunner, Tillich etc., and their contributions, this look at protestant theology in the twentieth century (up till the 60s) is written as smoothly as silk, and I’ve learnt a great deal already. It is literally keeping me up at night; I just can’t get enough.

For those of you who don’t read German, then let me recommend this little volume to you to improve your language skills. It is well written (he even pokes fun at Barth’s long sentences!), and the language is manageable for those who may not know too much German. A good book, in other words, to help get you interacting with theological German, without having to jump in at the deep end – and a superb read, all at the same time! Get it! Read it! You won’t regret it!

Oh, and be sure to read Exiled Preacher’s review of Tom Holland’s Contours of Pauline Theology.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Existence of heaven proved!

‘Hoffentlich bist du, lieber Leser, nicht durch diese meine beißende Ironie verletzt’ (Zwingli)

WorldNetDaily reports: New ‘scientific evidence’ that heaven is real

‘Until now’, they observantly point out, ‘heaven has been just a matter of faith’.

But not any more, oh no. No more silly faith when we can prove it:

They continue: ‘a new documentary, “The Evidence for Heaven,” available exclusively through WND’s ShopNetDaily online store, offers scientific evidence for the afterlife’.
Here is a typical stream of thoughts in my brain when confronted with such silly, even if well intentioned, claims:

*aware of my stunned, blank face*

*faith in humanity wilts*

*thinks about becoming an atheist*

*But then remembers Jesus. Feels foolish for atheism thought. Repents*

That’s not all. They also serve a nice helping of dualism to top it off:

‘Is there something beyond this life’, they ask, ‘a spiritual realm of some kind where the soul resides when we lay this body down?’

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgghh. NOOOooooooooo! Bad theology, consumerism, naïve epistemology, anti-intellectualism and platonic notions of the soul and heaven - all for the price of one article.

When will the torture end? When will people stop leading me to webpages that DRIVE ME NUTS? You know who you are, and you know it makes me mad. Just the other day, a ‘friend’ told me of a lovely discussion page where one fundamentalist chap had decided to caution the author of the blog for quoting C S. Lewis, ‘for he is not a Christian’, and all because Lewis didn’t fit his own wack-job frigging messed up pile of theological wackiness. I read this ‘scientific proof’ and I want to gouge my eyes out, hide under a bed, swing on a noose, drown in cynicism.

Concluding remarks on Küng's Der Anfang

Concluding remarks on Der Anfang Aller Dinge Pt 1 of 3

Now I’ve reached the end of my review of Küng’s book (and thank you for all who have read my posts and made many thought-provoking and helpful comments), I have just a few posts to put on the blog that will summarise some of my thoughts, and look back on the whole series.

The skeleton upon which the meat of the whole book hung can be summarised as follows:
Küng’s reliance on Kantian epistemology, the biblical narratives, existentialism, and an interreligious ecumenism, all surfaced at numerous points, and came to explicit expression in his repeated attempts to encourage epistemological humility from both those in the scientific as well as in the theological communities, while at the same time pointing towards a free and existential trust in an Urgrund. However, especially in relation to his eschatological arguments, the theology of God as Spirit, and his discussion concerning miracles, the influence of Hegel and his correlationist tendencies were also felt. This was all married to a strong, yet not uncritical, confidence in the proposals of modern science, and out of this dynamic his arguments found their form.

Some of the critical matters will be overviewed in the next post in this series.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

A sin-filled podcast

Jim’s recent, impassioned and tear-jerking attempt promoted me, perhaps, but I spontaneously decided to do a podcast tonight, on a subject that we all hate to love ...

SIN! (Pronounced Siiiiiiiiiiiiin, if your are called Cardinal Spin. Or if you’re puritanical. Or just plain odd.)

Yep. Sin has been on my thoughts much recently. If you know what I mean.

In my thesis, I’ve just moved on to my exegesis of 2 Cor, and my friend, Volker, recently delivered a paper on 2 Cor 3:18 in Tübingen, and so I’ve worked some of my own thoughts about that verse around my ponderings on the nature of sin in Paul.

I won’t go ahead and say what I said cos that would be stupid, so I’ll just write:

click HERE to download my latest podcast (it’s only 2MB and just over 10 minutes long – crikey, 10 minutes! What did I say that took so long?!)

I’m afraid that I’ve been having real problems with the audio recording due to a faulty microphone, so the quality is almost as bad as my preparation, but I hope you find some of the thoughts interesting, and perhaps even helpful.

By the way, I forgot to mention Berger’s work on the nature of sin in relation to Rom 7. He claimed, in Identity and Experience in the New Testament, that desire is the means by which sin rules over a person.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Approaching the end of this 7 month review of Küng's Der Anfang aller Dinge!

We are fast approaching my final post on Küng's Der Anfang aller Dinge. There shall follow a couple of posts in summary of the whole thing, but this posts ends the commentary on the text as such.

Review of Hans Küng’s, Der Anfang aller Dinge, Epilogue, Pt. 2 of 2.

In short, Küng answers this question (cf. the end of part 1 of my review of Küng's Epilogue) in the negative. The end-time stories in the bible are not chronological revelations, satisfying our curiosity with mere information concerning the last days, and to read the bible in such a way is to misunderstand it. Rather:

‘The haunting visions of the Apocalypse are an urgent warning to humanity, and individual humans, to recognise the seriousness of the situation ... The bible doesn’t, therefore, speak in the language of scientific facts, but in a metaphorical picture language’ (223).

And this language, with its actual meaning, is to be translated into the horizon of modern people, and not to be taken literally. And what is the actual meaning? These pictures stand for the hopped for and feared, and particularly represent a faith confession about the completion of the work of God in his creation. ‘Therefore, theologians have no motivation to prefer one or the other of the scientific world-models over the other, though truly they have an interest to portray God as Origin and Perfecter of the world, understandable to humans’ (224). For if God exists and one accepts this, not in light of certain ‘proofs’ but in enlightened trust, then God is surely not only God for here and now, but also at the very end.

Ending on a personal note, Küng writes: ‘Personally, I have accepted Blaise Pascal’s bet, and set myself on – not on the grounds of probability calculations or mathematical logic, but on the basis of a reasonable trust – God and the Endless, over against nil and nothing’ (225). Though Küng doesn’t believe in what he dismisses as the later legendary NT resurrection stories, he accepts their original core, that Jesus didn’t die into nothing, but into God. So die we, into God. And even if Küng’s Pascalian ‘bet’ proves to have failed, ‘I didn’t loose anything in my life. No, I lived a better, happier and more meaningful life than if I had lived with no hope’ (225).

The end of all things, then, is the hope to ultimately die into the light: ‘And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever’ (Rev 22:5)

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Christ as crucified, and Christ as risen

‘Viewed “according to the flesh” (kata sarka), Jesus is “Christ crucified”, an image of weakness and degradation; viewed by faith he is the “Lord Messiah” (1 Cor 12:3), the place where God’s transforming power breaks into the perishing world’
(An Introduction to the NT, David deSilva, 587).

A nice quote, with just a couple of qualifications necessary that I’m sure David wouldn’t grumble with.

First, it is precisely as Christ crucified, that Jesus is the Lord Messiah (cf. 1 Cor 2:2). Christ can only be proclaimed as the crucified, but when he is, he becomes present as the risen One!

Second, Jesus isn’t a place, but understood primarily by Paul in personal terms, as a risen and glorious Person. The relational connection believers have with the risen Lord may well be described in spatial terms, as Paul hints at with the ‘in Christ’ language, but this spatial metaphor is bound to the relational, thus I would prefer an interruption in the above sentence.

Oh yes indeedy, I feel very pernicious today!

But as I read this yesterday, the words literally gripped me and drew my thoughts to the debates surrounding ‘natural theology’ and the nature of faith.

Only in faith can we recognise the crucified one as Christ, a perception that cannot be reduced to a logically compelling deduction from the evidence for the resurrection. But when, in faith, we grasp the activity and love of God in the crucified Christ, the very power and presence of God mediates the risen One to us.

Küng on the end of all things

Review of Hans Küng’s, Der Anfang aller Dinge, Epilogue, Pt. 1 of 2.

Epilogue. The End of all Things

Rather appropriately for the end of a book dealing with the ‘beginning of all things’, Küng concludes by asking: What will happen to the universe in the future? What is its end fate?

Scientists have made two suggestions. First, the universe will continue to expand until it stops, and becomes still. Then it will start to contract until it collapses back in on itself into a ‘big crunch’, one which could lead to another ‘big bang’. Second, the majority opinion among astrophysicians, is that the universe will continue to expand without ever stopping. Slowly, over millions of years, coldness will grip the whole universe until all that is left is death, absolute night (cf. 220).

The apocalyptic visions of the end of the world are common among conservative Christians. Indeed, they have also grabbed the imagination of the wider public in light of the Atom Bomb and the looming threat of ecological breakdown, and are expressed in numerous Hollywood films (e.g. Armageddon) and works of popular literature (e.g. the Left Behind series). In light of this, Küng laments that such works of fiction, and others like Dan Brown’s novels, could be taken as historically credible.

However, also in the bible, passages lend to the notion of a catastrophic end of the world (e.g. Mat 24:6-8, 29). But do they mean what many conservatives Christians think they do? We turn to address this question in the next post.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Küng and the origins of the World-Ethos

Review of Hans Küng’s, Der Anfang aller Dinge, section E, Pt. 4 of 4.

5. Beginnings of the human ethos

The development of human ethical behaviour is linked to evolutionary and socio-cultural factors. They belong together. Indeed, there has never been a people group, Küng asserts, without a religion or an ethos. Even in the earliest cultures there has been a sense of justice, respect of life etc., and notably so the world over. This means that ‘Today’s living in space “World-Ethos” is based ultimately upon a biological-evolutionary pre-given, in the time tested “Original-Ethos” (Ur-Ethos)’ (213).

How does an Ur-Ethos relate to biblical ethics? First, those found in the bible are not necessarily original in and of themselves. The accounts of the giving of the law are original, not so much in the content of the morality commanded, but in the fact that it is a covenant command, involving exclusive allegiance to Yahweh. What about Christian ethics? Is there a specifically Christian ethic? Actually, the only thing unique to Christianity, Küng insists, is not morality, an abstract idea, or anything else, but the concrete and crucified Jesus as the living Christ’ (cf. 215). This Jesus, this Person, possess a realisability, clearness and audibility, more than any idea or abstract principle. He becomes orientation for an ethically floundering, meaningless, drugged up and violent society. He is, after all, called ‘the light of the world’ (Joh 8:12). However, this is not, Küng goes on, to deny the presence of ‘other lights’, as indeed Islam, Confucius, Hinduism etc. is for millions of other people in the world.

And what does a World-Ethos have to do with the religions? Küng answers:
‘The instructions of the World-Ethos can be for this world-responsibility, a ground-orientation, and one that in no way excludes the special orientation in ones religion or philosophy. Quite the opposite, each can contribute, in their own way, to a World-Ethos’ (217).

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Küng and the reality of human freedom

Review of Hans Küng’s, Der Anfang aller Dinge, section E, Pt. 3 of 4.

4. The limits of brain science

The most recent research has shown that the closer neuroscientists analyse the functions of the brain, the less they actually understand, in light of the usual models, central aspects of the consciousness. So, the prophesied explanation of the relation between brain and consciousness is not, now many claim, to be expected at all (cf. 200-201). Indeed, ‘Brain research offers, at this time, no empirically provable theory about the coherence of spirit and brain, of consciousness and nervous system’ (202).

In terms of the ‘freedom’ debate, in certain situations the decision process of our whole brain enables one to even resist limbic reflexes. And in that, Küng insists, is freedom of will made clear: to set goals and values, and to follow them through, independently of external or internal foreign influences (cf. 204)

But does an ‘I’ exists to make these goals and follow them through?

Citing the words of the neuroscientist, Wolfgang Prinz, Küng maintains: ‘Biologists can explain how the chemistry and physics of the brain functions. But no one knows, up till now, how this becomes an “I” experience, nor how the brain creates meaning at all’ (204). Besides, the ‘spirit’ of a human hardly resides simply in the brain, but in the entire bodily life of a human. The ‘I’ is certainly a social construction, but precisely therefore it is no illusion.

Furthermore, freedom is complex. One could probe around in a brain and never find ‘freedom’. And this is freedom comes to us as an experience. However conditioned I am by my environment and the processes in my brain, whether I sit or stand, speak or remain silent, the person is always conscious that responsibility for such decisions lays in his or her hands. This is, then, an understanding of freedom that doesn’t simply focus on this or that brain function, but on the whole bodily life of the human, and in this context makes a good deal of sense.

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Küng on freedom and neuroscience

Review of Hans Küng’s, Der Anfang aller Dinge, section E, Pt. 2 of 4.

2. Turning from physical development, Küng addresses the question of ‘freedom’.

The question of ‘freedom’ Küng calls a ‘problem’, one that shall concern him for much of the rest of the section. Having declared the traditional body/spirit dualism of Plato-Augustine-Descartes futile, Küng observes that ‘soul’ is hardly the commonly used label these days anyway. Today, one speaks of the psyche, thus resisting dualism. Agreeing with the general theses of Pannenberg’s extensive study, Küng concludes:

  • the Person, the ‘I’, is neither the ‘soul’ nor the brain, but the entire living, feeling, thinking, suffering, acting person – a line of reasoning that shall be of value for his later discussions on the nature of freedom in relation to the brain.
  • body and psyche are a unity, and ‘soul’ should only be understood metaphorically, poetically, liturgically etc., but never literally.
  • ‘Consciousness’ is a psycho-pyshcical process, not a spiritual ability outside neural substratum.
But does this mean that ‘spirit’ is just a secondary effect of brain functions? And does this not imply that any notion of human freedom is constrained by the neural workings of the brain? Indeed, recent studies in human sociality would emphasise that restrictions on human freedom are even more pronounced from without, not just in relation to patterns of neural synapses and the like.

Nevertheless, Küng affirms, the human is precisely within these constrains, free. Yes, the human is environmentally conditioned, but surely humans shape the environment. Yes, the human is genetically pre-programmed. But even here, the human is not entirely ‘pre-programmed’. However, Küng will devote considerable space in the following in expanding on how one can understand human freedom in light of modern science.

3. Brain and spirit

Discussions concerning ‘freedom’ have come particularly to the fore recently in light of the latest brain research. Surely the soul didn’t fall from heaven; it is a product of evolution. Hence, one may be correct to assert that the ‘I’ is entirely determined by physical-chemical brain processes. Thus ends the ‘freedom’ debate? Indeed, no theologian should ever, Küng insists, simply bring ‘God’ into this debate, and too quickly seek a theological resolution, as such language would simply speak past the scientist. Küng, on the other hand, wants to build bridges between theology and science and will do so by focusing his analysis upon the question: ‘Is freedom of will an illusion?’ In answer to this question, Küng simply insists upon more scientific humility. Physicists, Chemists and neuroscientists cannot answer such philosophical questions in their studies. They are focused upon the empirical, the concrete structures of consciousness, but to answer questions of freedom is to immediately colour scientific research with (perhaps unintended) philosophical commitments. Especially in light of the impotence of brain research to answer responsibly to questions of responsibility and guilt, one must resist reductionism. This line of reasoning, Küng expands in the next subsection.

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Making discoveries with God

I’ve just uploaded this post, on Jüngel’s sermons, on the relatively new group blog ‘God as the Mystery of Theology’, a theological forum for reading and discussing the work of Eberhard Jüngel.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Küng on the physical development of the human species, and their religiosity

(Note on the picture to those who know how hairy I am: This isn't a picture of me)

Review of Hans Küng’s, Der Anfang aller Dinge, section E, Pt. 1 of 4.

Are humans anything other than physical stuff, and is the person more than the firing of electronic synapses in the brain? What is a human? What is the ‘I’? To such questions, Küng now turns.

E. The beginning of the human race

1. The physical development of humans

Küng spends a while detailing the standard theory concerning the evolution of the human species (Homo habilis - erectus etc.), while at the same time dismissing some associated myths. During his overview, Küng points out the key role played, in this process, by the growth of the human brain, a subject that shall busy Küng later in the section. An important feature in this growth was the development of a complex syntactical speech, something that differentiates humans from their nearest relative, the Chimpanzee, and led to the human ability of strategic thinking and self-reflection.

Clearly reflecting something of Küng’s Welt-Ethos sensibility, he concludes the section with the words:
‘Never to forget: Aborigines, Bushmen, Asians, Europeans or Americans – these are not different kinds of humans, they all present one single kind of human, the same family of humans. And even if we are very different in our outward appearances, we probably all have, as molecular genetic analysis shows, one common origin. Under our skin we are all Africans’ (184)
In light of the evolutionary model expanded on in the previous section, Küng addresses the question: What are the earliest traces of religion?

In a nutshell, he argues that the two extreme theories concerning the development of religion (that use the Australian Aborigines as a test case) which purport, on the one hand, that magic was first then religion (e.g. Sir James G. Frazer), and on the other hand, that monotheism was first, followed by polytheism (cf. P. Wilhelm Schmidt), both lack empirical evidence. Indeed, an original religion (Urreligion) one can find nowhere. Nevertheless, following the recent presentation of Ina Wunn, Küng affirms that the earliest traces of religiosity are to be found in the Old and Middle Stone ages. Thus, even non-human extinct races of human relatives had religious tendencies, ‘upon which the religions of historical times built’.

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Reviewing Küng

My review of section D of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, was rather lengthy, not least because of the discussion it generated but also because the contents fascinated me. It is not finished either, as I intend to write a series of posts on the question of panentheism, a matter thrown to the light in Küng’s treatment of God’s activity in the world as Spirit.

However, I actually want to finish my review on the whole book, first – I’ve been writing this review on and off for over 7 months, after all!!

Section E is the last (followed only by a short Epilogue), and I shall not spend as much time on it for the simple reason that it didn’t interest me as much. Nevertheless, there are some fascinating topics covered by Küng, so I hope it will be of interest to my readers still.

The following review of section E (cf. here to orientate yourself) shall be divided into 4 parts.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bauckham's Eyewitnesses

Bauckham’s forthcoming book (Jesus and the Eyewitness) mentioned here is really quite a read with some claims that will make the jaws of most drop to the floor with a clatter. I wanted to wait until I finished my exegesis of 1 Cor before I started reading it, but now that I have, even after having read just the first chapter, my brain has already crashed and rebooted a couple of times. I may need new software.

While on the historical Jesus, do have a look at this excellent list of books (I love these sort of posts!) suggested by Chris Petersen of Resurrection Dogmatics. He says that James Dunn’s Jesus Remebered is the last book on the historical Jesus he plans to read for a while - but hang on, Chris, for Bauckham’s.

I wonder too, if many of my readers know of Rainer Riesner’s, Jesus als Lehrer: eine Untersuchung zum Ursprung der Evangelien-Überlieferung (Tübingen: Mohr, 1988). Rainer’s scholarship is always top-quality, and I mention him not only as his is a neighbour of mine.

‘But it’s written in German, Chris’, I hear you protest.

Well, not to worry. Last year, I translated from German (and I think cleaned up parts that were an attempt at English) a summary article of the book, written by Rainer himself, entitled: ‘From the Messianic Teacher to the Gospels of Jesus Christ’. It, of course, gets my highest recommendations (though I forget where it was published. If anyone wants to know, I’ll check it out).

Monday, July 10, 2006

My 'Opposite Blogging Day' contribution

OK, this might not be entirely what Rick Brannan had in mind when he suggested some attempt an ‘opposite blogging day’, but my creative juices weren’t driving me in any other direction, and my analytical energy levels certainly couldn’t manage anything even remotely serious.

So, I’m glad to introduce you, tonight, to Cardinal Spin. In the following, he shall be sharing his considered thoughts concerning that most sensitive of subjects: ‘Christian counselling’


Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Chris, to post on your blog. You come across a bit liberal sometimes though, so stop it and start using the KJV you freak.

I want to share my thoughts on my approach to ‘Christian counselling’, as so many get this wrong. To do this, I will give an example from my own ministry experience. No theological ‘theory’ crap here:

The situation: Recently, an old woman came to me – big fat lard she was – to discuss her ‘problems’. I was only visiting the church, but she saw my dog-collar and made a beeline for me as I walked into the back of the chapel from the car park. So I took her aside and she told me the awful story of her failed marriage and of her kids who recently left the church youth group to become Nazis.

But through all of this pain she still had her beloved poodle dog.

‘Smoochee’, she affectionately called it – even had a picture of it. Ugly bastard. But then she got all tearful as she told me how she’d run it over while reversing into the garage. Of course, I was fighting off a smirk when she told me that she’d managed to run Smoochee over twice during this episode, but funniest of all was when she broke down into tears as she detailed the business with the liposuction and her belly button. But I’ll leave out the details.

‘What should I do?’, she asked with pained eyes.

Sensitive counselling in action: Having heard her speak for a while I interrupted her before she could go on for too long. That’s the first principle. ‘Interrupt’ if you can’t be bothered to hear anymore crap. And how to do that? Well, I said ‘shut up and stop whining woman’, a suggestion that was successfully returned with stunned silence.

‘Right’, I continued, ‘I can see what your problem here is *waving a pointed finger*.

‘Clearly ... for such awful stuff to happen to you ... to have such a pitiful life ...

*imaginary drum roll*

... you obviously have siiiin in your life (I stressed the word ‘sin’ and made it sound about three syllables longer). Yes, that would be Iniquity, woman. Wick-ed-ness. Eeeevil’.

At this point her eyes started to fill with tears so I made the following deduction: She is clearly under conviction, ergo I am obviously operating under the anointing.

‘What?’, she quivered. But I had no time for sissy talk, so I got straight to the point: ‘Dear, you’re a disgusting sinner, and that’s why all of these things have happened’. Her face wrinkled into thought so I reassured her: ‘Listen, I do know what I’m talking about, OK? Cos I’m a priest. OK?

*I paused and glared to make sure she’d ‘received’ that*

I continued: ‘Good. Right, what you need to do is obvious’.

Then I looked long and hard at her and told her the age old wisdom that has gotten me through decades of counselling: ‘Old hag, what you need to do is simple:

One, Repent more *I glared at her for effect and looked for signs of conviction*.
Two, read your bible more.
Three, fast more *I jabbed her fat waist* (Here I also muttered something Zwingli said – cf. fn.* below).
Four, pray more *I grinned at her to make her feel more comfortable*.
And finally, five!. Just be generally more holy and excited about church *I waved my hands around to make clear everything I’d said was utterly self-evident*’.

She looked back at me. But I kept eye contact.

Eventually, I noticed that her face had slowly started to get a bit ‘hard’, and her eyes had narrowed.

Knowing that I’d hit the nail on the head with the ‘siiiiiiin’ speech, I’d expected this. And for those of us who have done this sort of thing before, I ‘discerned’ what was going on. Behind those pursed lips was none other than a religious Jezebel spirit. Without further ado, I grabbed her head and cried out in a loud voice ‘COME FORTH THOU JEZEBEL SPIRIT OF EVIL HARD HEARTEDNESS AND UTTER DOG-MURDERING WICKEDNESS’

She struggled to prise my hands away, so I slapped her and repeated my command with more gusto. I was starting to really enjoy myself.

At this moment the actual Priest, who had heard my authoritative commands, rushed to the scene and foolishly pushed me away. He threw his arms around the woman (who was now sobbing in uncontrollable tears), while I quietly but quickly made my way out of the side door back in to the car park.

So, to summarise this successful ministry moment: Interrupt. Be anointed. Speak the truth. Make the sicko who needs help feel comfortable. Take authority. Have fun!

* ‘Einen Grund für das Fasten sieht er, ganz modern, darin, daß wir "damit den allzu schamlos vortretenden Wanst wieder in das alte Kleid hineinbringen’ (Zwinglis Sämtliche Werke, Vol III, p. 674, line 42)


Any ‘Opposite Blogger Day’ suggestions?

I wanted to write a post for this so-called ‘Opposite Blogger Day’, but I’ve run out of time before tonights Tübingen NT Colloquium - this time, my good friend Volker shall be presenting a paper. Besides, I didn’t have a good idea, and I’m exhausted after a Tübingen second hand book shop crawl (I picked up some WONDERFUL deals today: books by Küng [Menschwerdung Gottes, for €6!!!; Christentum und Weltreligionen, for € 5], Balthasar [Bernanos; Verbum Caro and Sponsa Verbi, i.e. Skizzen zur Theologie I and II, all for a very good price] and Becker’s, Paulus)

So, any suggestions as to what to ‘opposite blog’ about today? as I’m sure I can whip something up after I return from Volker’s paper. Hmmm, as I write an idea is surfacing actually ...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Küng and God's presence in the world

Review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, section D, part 10.

The Endless works within the temporary

God, understood as Spirit, works in the physical laws of nature, but is not identical with these laws. He acts, rather, as the absolute in the relative, as the endless in the temporary. He doesn’t work from above, or outside, as unmoved mover, Küng claims. He works and acts from within creation: in, with and under all things, whether humans or not, directly within the suffering and random processes of life. God is himself the origin, middle and goal of the world process.

This means, God doesn’t just work ‘every now and then’ at special points, like a ‘God of the gaps’ (what Borg, btw, would dismisses as ‘supernatural theism’), but continually. And to qualify, this doesn’t mean that God is the world (pantheism), but that God is in the world, and the world in God (ineinander).*

With this theological view in mind, and following John Polkinghorne, Küng denies it is possible to link God to this or that event within the evolutionary process in the causal network. The relation is more complex than that, one that can only be grasped by faith and is not ‘pin-downable’, scientifically, to this or that point-of-contact. Therefore, it is not possible to claim, Küng reasons, that the great plan of the creation of the universe ever existed as a formal blueprint, detailed to the last issue. Rather:

‘The actual balance that we accept between coincidence and necessity, contingence and possibility, appears to me to cohere well with the Will of a patient and subtle Creator, one who is satisfied to pursue and track his goals all the while he accepts, in the process he initiated, a measure of violability and precariousness, in such a way that always distinguishes the gift of his freedom and love’

Understanding the mystery of God’s activity in and with the world is however, at the end of the day, a mystery, much like the balance between grace and works which is likewise a problem the church has never managed to resolved.

*(A discussion concerning ‘Panentheism’ shall follow soon)

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Küng, evolution, and God as Spirit

Review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, section D, part 9.

A spiritualised God

An understanding of God as ‘up there on a throne who controls everything’ doesn’t really gel well with Küng’s suggestions so far. Indeed, he points out that such a theology cannot answer why the developmental process has led to so many evolutionary ‘dead-ends’, nor can it give an answer to the endless suffering of terrestrial life and the presence of evil in the world.

Hence, Küng advocates, against all crude anthropomorphised images of God, an understanding of God, drawn from the scriptures, as ‘Spirit’. This will, Küng argues, enable one to helpfully focus discussion in terms of God’s relation to the world in light of the evolutionary process.

‘Palpable, yet also not palpable, invisible, yet mighty, important to life like the air we breath, loaded with energy like the wind of a storm – that is the Spirit’ (175).

He spends a little time qualifying what he means by ‘spirit’, and in so doing impressively avoids the many potential exegetical pitfalls. In particular, he was clear not to buy into the peculiar tradition of German exegesis that insists on a ‘substantial’ Spirit (cf. e.g. Friedrich Wilhelm Horn’s, Das Angeld des Geistes: Studien zur paulinischen Pneumatologie (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992).

The last post on section D shall follow tomorrow.

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Thinking with Küng about God's activity in world evolution

Review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, section D, part 8.

The last section of this excellent chapter (D. Life in the Cosmos?) is the very best. It not only summarises the reasoning Küng has worked through in the chapter, but does so in explicit and fascinating reference to the question as to how one should understand God in the light of the evolutionary process. Not only that, Küng writes more personally than ever before, and one feels that the author really ‘comes through’ in this section, even ending his words with a hymn of praise.

Quite frankly, I would like to simply translate the whole section, but as this is out of the question I shall try my best to summarise.

The question Küng now addresses is:

6. Can you think after God’s activity? (Wie Gottes Wirken denken? – tricky German to translate!)

Küng has throughout the book steadily argued for a ‘yes’ to a reasonable trust in an ‘Alpha’, a ‘Ground’ for all things, one based not on an anthropic principle, but one that is simply the ‘other side of science’, where scientific research and knowledge cannot tread.

However, what Küng affirms is not the same thing as faith in a ‘supernatural intervention’ of God in the process of world evolution. Indeed, biology has demonstrated more and more that such a ‘divine intervention’ has become superfluous. However, the evolutionary process cannot either shut out (or in) an origin, an ‘Alpha’, nor a final meaning and goal in the evolutionary process.

But how should we understand God in the light of these points, and his relation to the world?

To be continued ...


Quote of the day

‘Jesus obviously regarded the loving and saving address of God to us, and particularly to the needy and the lost among us, as the purpose of his sending. He believed that by his own sending the Father himself was addressing the lost’

Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, 1.422

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Drama of Scripture

I started a book recently called The Drama of Scripture. I haven’t worked through much yet, but the first chapter on creation was hitting the mark. However, the second chapter, on the ‘fall’ disappointed me as it implied that the biblical account of the sin of Adam and Eve was an actual event. This might be important for conservatives, but it almost caused me to give up on the book entirely. Nevertheless, after having surrendered my snobbish prejudices, I determined to carry on anyway, sensing that I was going to hear God and learn as I read it. So far, I’m glad I did. Indeed, this historicity issue is admittedly a small blemish on what is turning out to be an inspiring and easy read. Actually, the book is something I would especially recommend for church groups as an introduction to theology and the bible that leaves traditional syllabus issues till later.

Anyway, I’m not writing this to review the book, but to point to two helpful webpages that are linked to the book. There are some useful resources on them, so check them out here and here.

I have really finished my chapter on 1 Cor now; it’s already sent off, so I intend to devote a little more time to finishing my Küng series here over the next few days, and perhaps get round to doing another podcast on a theme that has been bouncing around in my brain for a few weeks.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dedicated to Walter

I recently found this useful webpage dedicated to Walter Brueggemann.

It says of itself: ‘This website is an unofficial “fan” site collecting links to articles and lectures by and about Walter Brueggemann’, before nervously adding: ‘Walter Brueggemann has nothing to do with this site’. I know what the author means, but I suspect this last comment could do with some re-wording!

Still, the content looks great, be sure to have a look.

Guess the author

‘There was a certain madman named Carabbas, afflicted not with a wild, savage, and dangerous madness (for that comes on in fits without being expected either by the patient or by bystanders), but with an intermittent and more gentle kind; this man spent all this days and nights naked in the roads, minding neither cold nor heat, the sport of idle children and wanton youths’

Here is a clue:

ἦν τις μεμηνὼς ὄνομα Καραβᾶς οὐ τὴν ἀγρίαν καὶ θηριώδη μανίαν ἄσκηπτος γὰρ αὕτη γε καὶ τοῖς ἔχουσι καὶ τοῖς πλησιάζουσιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀνειμένην καὶ μαλακωτέραν οὗτος διημέρευε καὶ διενυκτέρευε γυμνὸς ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς οὔτε θάλπος οὔτε κρυμὸν ἐκτρεπόμενος, ἄθυρμα νηπίων καὶ μειρακίων σχολαζόντω

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Germany 0 - Italy 2

Germany are out of the World Football Championship.

I had drafted a post for this moment which went something like this:


... and something similar for a few more paragraphs.

However, I don’t feel like that tonight at all. I love Germany and the German people (especially one of them, of course), and I think it’s a real pity they are out. It has truly been a delightful experience to see the roads regularly swarming with German flag waving fans, watching them, in a symbolic way, feel proud about being German, instead of living in the shadow of the WWII for a change. I’m told this is the first time Germans have ever been so bold with their flag waving, so something changed in the nation during this tournament, and it felt good.

Liebe deutsche Leser, mein Herzliches Beileid – nächstes mal, vielleicht (wenn England es nicht schaffen, natürlich).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Moscow World Religions Summit

The Moscow World Religions summit has started - see also here (and you’ll love some of the comments at the bottom of the page of the first link: ‘eine interreligiöse Organisation wäre der Anfang der Endzeit....’!)

For those of you who are, like me, praying sorts, then it will perhaps be worth remembering them as they proceed through their discussions.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Defining 'divine-Christology'

My Colloquium paper went well tonight, and the members appeared to agree with my major original contributions, which is always nice.

As it turns out, I was my worst critic, and I’ll admit, I’m still not happy with the paper. I feel this subsection of my chapter on 1 Cor has the potential to be something really good, and until I’ve chiselled that ideal out, everything else will look dull to me. For those who have asked to read a copy, I am sorry for not getting back to you – I’ve just been a been, well ... frankly, a lazy git.

My thesis concerns the present debate regarding Pauline divine-Christology.

But what is ‘divine-Christology’?

I like, at least as a provisional and working definition, that suggested by Bauckham: A divine-Christology places Christ, ‘on the divine side of the line which monotheism must draw between God and creatures’ (R. Bauckham, “The Worship of Jesus in Apocalyptic Christianity,” NTS 27 [1981]: 335).

How would you define ‘divine-Christology’?

Wise words

“It is prudent, methodologically, to hold back from too hasty a judgment on what is actually possible and what is not within the space-time universe. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in post-enlightenment philosophy, as those who have lived and worked in areas of the world less affected by Hume, Lessing and Troeltsch know quite well. This is not to say that there are not such things as gullibility, credulity, culpable ignorance, and self-deception. Nor is it to deny, what is manifestly true, that the evangelists have written their stories of Jesus, not least their accounts of his extraordinary deeds, in such a way as to make particular theological points, by echoes of the Old Testament, juxtaposition with other stories, highlighting certain elements. Nor, we should stress, is this to say that, if we reject Hume’s stance on miracles, we are bound to embrace a non-Humean worldview in which a (normally absent?) god intervenes in the world in apparently arbitrary and irrational fashion. The appeal for suspension of judgement, then, cannot be used as a Trojan horse for smuggling in an old-fashioned ‘supernaturalist’ worldview under pretence of neutrality”
... are the wise words of who, written where?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Black arm-band evening

Something terrible happened tonight, the sort of thing that can cause all kinds of difficult philosophical and existential questions to surface and shake a man’s faith.

Yes, the England football team were knocked out by Portugal.

I think the only appropriate response is a minute of silence, so perhaps you will join me. Stop what you are doing, and think about our lads, justice and the meaninglessness of everything with me:


*Looks at watch ... 60 seconds*


*stares around the room*

... 40 seconds left

*whistles - but then thinks of the national anthem and deep emotions start to well up*

*Hence diverts attention to dirt on the keyboard*

*Looks at watch ... 20 second left*

*Thinks of the ten most amusing ways to run over a Portugal football team fan in a glass-bottom Tractor*

*Feels guilty of thoughts and repents*


OK, time is up. If you can, try and get on with your normal life. Me, I’ll go and continue my sulk.