Prawn sandwiches and preaching

Roy Keane, one of the greatest footballers (‘soccer players’ if you must) of his generation, current manager of Sunderland, and former captain of Manchester United, may not be everybody’s idea of a model for church members. Foul-mouthed, angry, and sometimes violent, his unquestionable talent and passion was too often eclipsed by all-too-public rants at almost anybody. He belittled his team-mates, the fans, his national team, and most of his managers (although never, at least publicly, Sir Alex Ferguson). But I’ve preached in several dozen churches over the past few years, and not met one that would not benefit immensely from listening to Keane’s views on prawn sandwiches. And I can tell you that, as an Arsenal fan from childhood, it...

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Bodies and the Body

Yesterday we managed to divert both Cyril O’Regan, Huisking Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, and Matthew Levering of Ave Maria University to St Andrews to give us papers. In the morning Prof O’Regan explored von Balthasar’s apocalyptic trinitarianism, which helped me to understand why Halden has thought McCormack’s ideas echo Balthasar. In the afternoon, Dr Levering gave us a paper soon to be published in Pro Ecclesia on the theological interpretation of Scripture, a topic we talk a lot about in St Andrews. Levering explored proposals from O’Collins and from the Princeton Scripture Project before giving us his own account of what theological interpretation ought to look like. It was good stuff. One point got me thinking, however....

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On Christian ‘belief’

Various folks commented in response to the two posts I managed to put up during Christmas travels, suggesting that a properly Christian account of ‘belief’ implied rather more than I had implied or allowed for. I am aware of this, of course, but probably should have been clearer that I was. The best analysis (as almost always…) comes from the scholastics: ‘belief’ is to be divided into three parts: notitia (‘knowledge’); assensus (‘agreement’); and fiducia (‘commitment’ or ‘trust’). To ‘believe’ in the gospel is, simultaneously, to know the claims of the gospel, to agree that they are true, and to stake one’s life upon them. My problem is that I don’t think that...

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Bruce McCormack’s TFT Lectures (5): Evaluation

How to evaluate McCormack’s novel account of kenosis? I want to make two comments. The first is that I think it is at least potentially defensible when judged according to the canons of classical (Reformed) orthodoxy. I do not think there is any major doctrinal decision that it offends against, although on one point I was left with the feeling that more work was needed to establish the defence. The second comment is that I was not convinced by Bruce’s account of the pressure towards a revision of doctrine in this area. Very simply, I think his account of kenosis can be held, but it need not be: it remains open, in my view, to hold to the classical formulations of Christology without the need to revise them, and, personally, this would be my preferred position....

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Bruce McCormack’s TFT Lectures (4)

A note on the nature of these posts: I am not typing up notes of the lectures (I tend to take none, other than a few scribbled phrases intended to aid in the formulation of a question or comment at the end of the presentation). Instead, I am working from my memory of them, and my reflections following them. My intention has not been to give an exhaustive account of the arguments deployed, so much as to make clear what I took to be the main thread of argument running through the presentations, and my evaluation of it. In turning to Bruce’s final lecture, I am going to depart completely from the structure of the lecture as it was given, which was split into three (unequal) sections: reflections on the proper exegesis of Phil. 2:5-11; an outline of the constructive...

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