Here is a little promo I put together for the exciting new translation book launch of Hesiod's Theogony & Works and Days.
Monday, September 24, 2012
A theologian friend of mine who is a protestant gave me some books and asked me recently about my thoughts on Karl Barth and how his approach constituted a radical critique of modern, liberal protestant theology.
Of course when I say letter I mean e-mail. Here is an excerpt from my my latest message.
There is strong support for Karl Barth having an immense effect and influence on our modern day understanding of theology. Barth came from the dialectical tradition and his impact on Christianity has been worldwide. Barth saw himself as a man of faith and he used that as his starting point for his theology. Throughout the centuries theologians have held to the mantra of St.Anselm, “Faith seeking understanding” (as opposed to the deconstruction crowd witch claim “doubt seeking understanding” (which just so happens to be the slogan for a couple Profs. at TWU). Originally Barth had a passion for mainstream liberal protestant theology, (Barth coined the phrase) which was the exact opposite of that of his father’s and of his youth. While still young he was enthusiastic about joining the mainstream German liberal position.
Barth takes on a different set of influences through friendships and the current political and social events of the time (these new friends included Christian socialists). With vigor he decides to return to the written word and challenged his understanding (of the Bible) as a witness rather than a report about God. Barth along with Eduard Thurneysen wants to approach the bible as if they have never read it before. Barth felt God had been lowered to the everyday domesticated. This was a time of “Crisis Theology”
New relationships forced Barth to concentrate on the Gospel as viewed in the light of various political circles, which were in turn affected by his involvement in labor movements, his interest in politics and how to improve the lives of people.
Karl Barth noticed something with his faith, he realized that modern day theologians were not conveying the deep internal longing for Christ and if they were, they were not very successful at it. Barth became disenfranchised by the liberal Protestantism position with the coming first world war. It was distressing to learn that many of those that had taught Barth were on board with the current war manifestos in Germany. Barth was wondering, where are these war policies biblically based? Which part of the bible did Barth miss? Barth came to the conclusion that the theological leaders that he looked up to were in fact missing the basic theological foundation of Christianity. The liberal’s answer to God in times of turmoil was you should look towards yourself and that you should not rely on some supernatural force that can come and save or create meaning in your life. Barth held certain political issues concerning militarism and world peace were urgent. Barth had a strong sense that any theological work that began at any other point other than God’s revelation to us was likely to be fundamentally flawed and this would lead to theological mistakes. This is one of the points why Barth did not agree with “natural” theology, and was the reason for tension between Emil Brunner and Barth.
Barth’s major work “Church Dogmatics” is a theology in the service of the church; the definition of “church” can be a point of problem for some (Catholics) for Barth it would be followers of Christ, the invisible body of believers.
Barth supports the notion that God does not select sinners that will pass into eternal glory and send others to damnation. (CCC 1037)
“God predestines no one to go to hell”
Although I don’t believe Barth was a Universalist, his theology seems to sway in that direction as does his Catholic counterpart Von Balthasar.
He wished to focus on the Christocentric idea of salvation that we must choose Jesus and the person of Jesus is fundamental to every aspect of theology, whether it is creation or salvation. Through Jesus believers are able to see the wholeness of God and who God is for us. I remember that Barth also had a triune version of what the “word” meant. The word as in the word of God (bible), the word as in Jesus Christ himself and in the spoken preached word (tradition)
Karl Barth also enjoyed the movement that the Catholic Church was making towards modernizing the Church. Although many theologians would like to quickly point out that many Catholics have praised Barth, one cannot be to careful with taking these accolades out of context. One of the biggest hurdles is the definition of the “Church”. When Barth speaks of the Church he is speaking of an invisible body of believers, not those who are part of a visible structured organization. Catholics have always believed that Christians can unknowingly be members of the Catholic Church, but without the sacrament of confession to clean their soul from mortal sin they have in fact separated themselves from the body of the Church. Barth really wants to be a positive theologian; the result of the enlightenment was very negative theology. Barth had the ability to focus on aspects that almost all Christians can relate to. He praised the new ecumenism and the radical changes that came out of the second Vatican council. Although many of his assessments from the council are completely misguided (seeing the bible as important, the “church” is the people of God) this is exactly where Barth fails (along with many Catholic’s) in the understanding of tradition in the Catholic faith. Barth’s theology was a major player in the halls of the Vatican during the council even if most times it was kept a closely guarded secret. All the while still believing that non-Catholic Christians must first understand the history of the reformation and that separating denomination to denomination will not be beneficial to anyone.
Barth was a true social justice warrior who had a deep love for his own understanding of God. He constantly demonstrated that he was willing to dialogue with other theologians with different views respectfully and scholarly (I wish I could do the same).
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
All Saints Day is a great way to get your children involved learning about the lives of the Saints. With less than two months to go for 2012 All Saints Day I thought it would be a good idea to post a few pictures from last years event at our parish. The kids learn facts about their Saint, give clues and try to "stump" Father.
Time to start planning costumes now.
Time to start planning costumes now.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Sulpicius Severus (ca. 360-ca. 420) was a Roman Christian historian and hagiographer who wrote a chronicle called Chronica, Chronicorum Libri duo orHistoria sacra (published after 404), which portrays sacred history from the Creation to AD 400.
In the meantime, the number of the Christians being now very large, it happened that Rome was destroyed by fire, while Nero was stationed at Antium. But the opinion of all cast the odium of causing the fire upon the emperor, and he was believed in this way to have sought for the glory of building a new city. And in fact, Nero could not by any means he tried escape from the charge that the fire had been caused by his orders. He therefore turned the accusation against the Christians, and the most cruel tortures were accordingly inflicted upon the innocent. Nay, even new kinds of death were invented, so that, being covered in the skins of wild beasts, they perished by being devoured by dogs, while many were crucified or slain by fire, and not a few were set apart for this purpose, that, when the day came to a close, they should be consumed to serve for light during the night. In this way, cruelty first began to be manifested against the Christians. Afterwards, too, their religion was prohibited by laws which were enacted; and by edicts openly set forth it was proclaimed unlawful to be a Christian. At that time Paul and Peter were condemned to death, the former being beheaded with a sword, while Peter suffered crucifixion. And while these things went on at Rome, the Jews, not able to endure the injuries they suffered under the rule of Festus Florus, began to rebel. Vespasian, being sent by Nero against them, with proconsular power, defeated them in numerous important battles, and compelled them to flee within the walls of Jerusalem. In the meanwhile Nero, now hateful even to himself from a consciousness of his crimes, disappears from among355 men, leaving it uncertain whether or not he had laid violent hands upon himself: certainly his body was never found. It was accordingly believed that, even if he did put an end to himself with a sword, his wound was cured, and his life preserved, according to that which was written regarding him,—“And his mortal356 wound was healed,”—to be sent forth again near the end of the world, in order that he may practice the mystery of iniquity.
So then, after the departure of Nero, Galba seized the government; and ere long, on Galba being slain, Otho secured it. Then Vitellius from Gaul, trusting to the armies which he commanded, entered the city, and having killed Otho, assumed the sovereignty. This afterwards passed to Vespasian, and although that was accomplished by evil means, yet it had the good effect of rescuing the state from the hands of the wicked. While Vespasian was besieging Jerusalem, he took possession of the imperial power; and as the fashion is, he was saluted as emperor by the army, with a diadem placed upon his head. He made his son Titus, Cæsar; and assigned him a portion of the forces, along with the task of continuing the siege of Jerusalem. Vespasian set out for Rome, and was received with the greatest favor by the senate and people; and Vitellius having killed himself, his hold of the sovereign power was fully confirmed. The Jews, meanwhile, being closely besieged, as no chance either of peace or surrender was allowed them, were at length perishing from famine, and the streets began everywhere to be filled with dead bodies, for the duty of burying them could no longer be performed. Moreover, they ventured on eating all things of the most abominable nature, and did not even abstain from human bodies, except those which putrefaction had already laid hold of and thus excluded from use as food. The Romans, accordingly, rushed in upon the exhausted defenders of the city. And it so happened that the whole multitude from the country, and from other towns of Judæa, had then assembled for the day of the Passover: doubtless, because it pleased God that the impious race should be given over to destruction at the very time of the year at which they had crucified the Lord. The Pharisees for a time maintained their ground most boldly in defense of the temple, and at length, with minds obstinately bent on death, they, of their own accord, committed themselves to the flames. The number of those who suffered death is related to have been eleven hundred thousand, and one hundred thousand were taken captive and sold. Titus is said, after calling a council, to have first deliberated whether he should destroy the temple, a structure of such extraordinary work. For it seemed good to some that a sacred edifice, distinguished above all human achievements, ought not to be destroyed, inasmuch as, if preserved, it would furnish an evidence of Roman moderation, but, if destroyed, would serve for a perpetual proof of Roman cruelty. But on the opposite side, others and Titus himself thought that the temple ought specially to be overthrown, in order that the religion of the Jews and of the Christians might more thoroughly be subverted; for that these religions, although contrary to each other, had nevertheless proceeded from the same authors; that the Christians had sprung up from among the Jews; and that, if the root were extirpated, the offshoot would speedily perish. Thus, according to the divine will, the minds of all being inflamed, the temple was destroyed, three hundred and thirty-one years ago. And this last overthrow of the temple, and final captivity of the Jews, by which, being exiles from their native land, they are beheld scattered through the whole world, furnish a daily demonstration to the world, that they have been punished on no other account than for the impious hands which they laid upon Christ. For though on other occasions they were often given over to captivity on account of their sins, yet they never paid the penalty of slavery beyond a period of seventy years.