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Showing posts from December, 2010

Was Aquinas a Thomist? or, the importance of reading primary texts...

Today I have been reading part of the Summa and thinking about natural law in particular. I came to the task with very particular ideas in mind - most significantly that Aquinas put a huge emphasis on natural law theology (which gave rise in turn to natural theology) and that his moral theology was steeped in this way of thinking too. But, part way through my reading I got caught up with self-doubt and questioning - the Aquinas I read was not at all akin to the Thomist I expected to encounter. It was a perplexing experience, which I am still dwelling on an hour or so after putting the text down (this is what good theology should do I think). The self doubt I am experiencing comes not because my expectations were frustrated, but for the more important reason that once upon a time (as an undergraduate) I briefly studied Aquinas. When I did I distinctly remember coming away with the impression that natural law was an almost central concept in Aquinas' thought, but today's work re…

God, metaphysics and morals

In a recent post on Gerald McKenny's latest book on Barth's moral theology I discussed his handling of the 'primordial ethical question' of how human action relates to God's grace. That book proposes a very interesting argument about analogy and continues to fuel my thinking on the subject - something to which I hope to return in blog form in coming days. It is a major question for protestant theology, and moral theology in particular. Barth proves to be an interesting dialogue partner for this discussion. I have recently heard good things about this new volume by Mattew Rose, Ethics With Barth: God, Metaphysics and Morals (Ashgate, 2010). From what I've heard, the author develops an account of Barth's moral theology that argues that his work is best understood along Catholic lines - with nature not as the epitomy of all that opposes grace, but as it fulfilment. This locates nature in the grand narrative of God's gracious dealing with creation, and thus…

Read more Barth...

Barth on the authority of scripture (2)

In my last post on this subject I considered some of the questions that Barth raises for us about scriptural authority, the authrotiy of God, and ethical deliberation. I have continued to think along those lines for the past few days, and have been reading Barth's Ethics with a view to the question of the Bible's place. Barth's overwhelming theological apologia for the freedom and sovereignty of God, even over the scriptural witness, informs his approach to bibical interpretation. It is this that defines his account of revelation. Scripture is not permitted to occupy any of the space that is God's alone. The following quotation is indicative of where these theological presuppositions lead Barth with regard to the Bible and ethics:

...we have to remember that throughout the Bible the biblical commandments are not simple and direct revelation, but like the whole bible they are witness to revelation, and it is in this specific sense which excludes their use as general mora…

Commanding Grace: Studies in Karl Barth's Ethics

The quality of recent books on Barth's moral theology, as I have indicated elsehwere with reference to Gerald McKenny's latest offering, is high. As well as McKenny, I have been occupying myself with a new volume of collected essays, edited by Daniel Migliore, entitled Commanding Grace: Studies in Karl Barth's Ethics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010). The volume is the published papers of the 2008 Karl Barth Conference, held at Princeton Theological Seminary, USA. I have so far only given light reading to several of the chapters, and must return to them in coming weeks with a more serious eye to the detail of the arguments presented (not least because I'm reviewing it for Theology journal), but thus far I have been enlivened by what I've read and the quality of engagement (positive and negative) with Barth's thought.

The papers are offered by a host of international scholars, from across theological disciplines, both male and female, and are equally varied in their…

Beauty, Glory and the Trinity - Barth and Bentley Hart

The latest paper of the Barth Blog Conference is available here. It is given by Keith Starkenburg, lecturer at Trinity Christian College (IL, USA) and PhD candidate at the University of Virginia. His research examines Barth's doctrine of glory and his ecclesiology. The paper is entitled,


Beauty, Glory and Trinity in Karl Barth and David Bentley Hart

Go take a look!