Two thoughts on the sacraments

The Rutherford House Edinburgh Dogmatics conference this week, which is always a highlight. Amongst many good things, I came away with two passing comments which might yet between them change the way I think about the sacraments. The first was from Bruce McCormack. Bruce simply pointed out in passing in a paper that there is no obvious NT linkage between baptism and Eucharist – they are not described using the same word, or spoken of together, or… There is thus no good reason for us to assume that we can deal with them under a common head, ‘sacramentology’ – it might turn out to work, but we should not assume a priori that it is the best way forward. The second was from Henri Blocher, who suggested the key question to be asked of...

Read More

Trying to understand John Piper

John Piper’s recent blog post, which offers an interpretation of a surprising tornado as God’s providential warning to the ECLA convention during its discussion of a denominational statement on sexual ethics, has attracted a fair amount of – I think the best word would be ‘derision’ -  from theological bloggers. I have not seen, however, any attempt to explain why Dr Piper should have come to this interpretation. I tend to the view that a large part of the task of theology is to probe the connections between ideas. I know that attempting to understand patiently, rather than to condemn loudly, is unfashionable, particularly in online theology, and it is certainly no way to attract readers to a blog, but allow me my idiosyncrasies. As...

Read More

Culture, guilt, and Lockerbie

Local news today is full of the debate over whether Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, should be freed on compassionate grounds. He is dying of cancer, and my understanding is that it would be normal practice in Britain to allow any prisoner who is terminally ill to die at home (indeed, another very high-profile convict, Ronnie Biggs, was freed on such grounds just last week). His crime, of course, affected families and the wider community in the USA as much as in Britain. The news reports I have heard suggest that the notion that he might be freed is being greeted with simple incredulity in the USA. The breadth of condemnation from across the Atlantic is striking: it is not confined to (families of) victims, or to social...

Read More

Theology and the Bible

I gave a paper on Calvin last week, picking up on the recent historical work (by David Steinmetz, Richard Muller, and others) that has given us a far better understanding of his context. One result of this is to revise our understanding of how to relate the Institutes and the Biblical commentaries. Roughly, an older way of reading Calvin saw the Institutes as the central text in his corpus, understood as some sort of proto-systematic theology, which everything else – including the commentaries – fed into; a better understanding of Calvin’s work sees his Biblical commentaries (and sermons) as central to his endeavour, with the Institutes not a systematics, but a text designed to aid Calvin in writing the commentaries, and his readers in reading...

Read More
get facebook like button