Tag Archives: LATC

LATC 2018 – Hans Madueme: “Man’s Heart is the Seat of All Evils:” A Theological Argument for Dualism

Rough notes on Hans Madueme’s plenary talk:


Context

  • Philosophers and Theologians question the usefulness of dualism – in some circles physicalism is the standard position
  • According to some – physicalism makes most sense of the world, especially in light of the work of some neuroscientists – Both the OT and NT teach monism
  • Substantivalist accounts of the Imago Dei – lend themselves toward physicalism
  • In spite of these developments – traditional dualism has been and should continue to be the position of the global church20180119_113910

 

“Most laypeople assume our capacity to sin requires dualism – and I agree”

  1. Three accounts of physicalism that provide an attempt to say how moral responsibility is possible
  2. Look at biblical material of sin
  3. Argue that the biblical material requires dualism
    • Respond to one objection

 

Part 1

  • The hard problem of Consciousness
  • The “hard problem” on Sin
  • Three accounts: Green, Murphy, and Clayton

 

Part 2

  • Does Scripture have anything to say about human composition and sin?
  • Matthew 5:27-30 – The inner thought not the external act is the real location of the sin – there is an implicit anthropology here.
  • Romans 2:28-29 – Being outwardly Jewish is not sufficient – a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly – circumcision of the heart. This inward outward contrast is best understood with some form of dualism
  • Ezekiel 36 & Jeremiah 31 – The heart is understood metaphorically as talking about the inner person
  • Demons are immaterial creatures – and they are quintessential sinners – therefore one should think a body isn’t necessary for sin
  • Because we are embodied – sin has an embodied character but embodiment is not necessary for our sin

 

Summary

  • Physcialism can’t provide moral responsibility
  • Biblical data assumes doctrine of sin
  • One Objection – if one things theological determinism is true and still hold to moral responsibility, why not think physical determinism is true and hold to moral responsibility
    • First, theological determinism does not entail physical determinism
    • For the sake of argument lets conceded Calvinism entails physical determinism, this would be a problem if physical was all there is

 

Conclusion

  • Is this account too dogmatic? Is the problem that we have differing intuitions? But there are two main questions:
    • Does my Anthropology fit with current scientific findings?
    • Does my Anthropology fit with the dogmatic deliverances of the faith?
  • Most Christian physicalists acknowledge science cannot adjudicate the debate.
  • Not only is dualism more plausible given the reality of sin but also other doctrines: The intermediate state (Rev 6).
  • Does our theorizing actually preach, comfort the disturbed?
  • Our thoughts on this topic must also fit with our Christology
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LATC 2018 – Adam and Christ: Human Solidarity Before God

The following are notes from Frances Young’s plenary talk.


Slime Mold

  • Japanese Scientist “trained” them to make their way through a maze
  • A self-organizing organism that is greater than the sum of its parts
  • Emergence & feedback mechanisms – do we need to reimagine ourselves as constituting an organism that is greater than the sum of its parts?

 

David Kelsey

  • Shares some common themes – but today we take up a feature that lies outside of Kelsey’s definition
    • Personal living body with an unsubistitutable identity
    • Rules out participation in Christ
      • “It is human kind that is some sort of corporate whole that exhibits the image of God. However just what this means is unclear.”

 

Corporate Personality (Whole of Humanity Represented both in Adam and in Christ)

  • Central to early Christian understanding

 

Athanasius

  • He took humanity that we might share divinity
  • Does he think of Christ’s humanity as that of a particular human man or humanity in general?
  • To grasp the sweep of his story we need to take account of his apologetic concerns
    • There is an oscillation in Athanasius’ work between Humanity and Soul
  • The Death of all was fulfilled in the Lord’s body – he somehow dies the death of the whole human race – its impossible to do justice to patristic thought without taking into account the corporate whole of humanity

 

Athanasius and the Corporate Whole

  • Passages reflect Platonist intellectual background – particular cases acquire a certain property by participating in its absolute form.
  • Because he is the TRUE Son – particulars can participate in this form
  • The body of Christ – passing through death and resurrection – is absolute humanity – renewed and recreated – the humanity of Christ is some kind of coproprate whole and Athanasius’ theological schema will fall apart without it.
  • Two-fold scheme – Solidarity in Sin and Solidarity in Christ

 

Charles Taylor and The Modern Sources of the Self

  • Contrast “modern” anthropology & this participation model
  • We no longer think of ourselves collectively
  • The term community has crept in but it is a way of talking about individuals who feel they are in the same boat – they think relationships are ultimately about themselves and their own personal commitment
  • “The Hunger Angel”

 

However necessary it is to counter individualism with the emphasis on our communal nature does not actually reclaim the human corporations that we find in the patristic sources.

See the book “Think like an anthropologist” – we are all interconnected – scientific study upholds a view of a universal human nature – the intertwining of narratives is a way in which the particular and universal interact

Back to Slime Mold

  • Through feedback mechanism individuals become part of a larger whole
  • By emergence we have the capacity to reappropriate something like the corporate personality of the patristics

LATC 2018 – Nature, Grace, and the Christological Ground of Humanity

Rought notes on Marc Cortez’s LATC 2018 Plenary Talk


Christology as basis for establishing anthropology20180118_113512

  • Hedgie the Hedgehog
    • Why should Hedgie be seen as paradigmatic?
  • Establishing that JC is perfect human – how can we make the jump to making claims about true humanity….

Irenaeus as a conversation partner for thinking why JC should be the basis for our theological anthropology

  • Humans are made in the image of God
  • Jesus is the True image of God

How does Irenaeus unpack this? What are the implications? Four Claims

  1. TA must be rooted in the embodied humanity of Christ
  2. TA must be rooted in the eternal identity of the son
  3. TA must recognize the ontological and epistemological priority of Christ over Adam
  4. TA must be studied in such a way that does not completely bifurcate nature and grace (I did not fully catch this 4th point)

 

Claim 1

  • The very idea of an image requires an embodied form – the son must have a visible and determinate form
  • The body is intrinsic to the Imago Dei – Man not a part was made in the likeness of God. The perfect man consists of the comingling of soul and flesh
  • The fashioning of the human flesh is intimately connected to Christ – Humanity is patterned according to the pattern of the incarnate Christ
  • The imago is Christological in the sense that we see the reality that all persons are directed towards the Triune God
  • No biblical passages prove this but there is biblical warrant

 

Claim 2

  • What does it mean for I to claim that human nature in the manger is logically prior to the humanity in Genesis 1?
    • Means archetype of humanity exists eternally even though it has not been instantiated
    • Maybe it’s a divine idea – maybe Christ is the historical idealization of that idea
    • I never posits an eternal idea…. The archetype of humanity is always the person of JC himself (Does a Gnostic background inform why he never did this?)
  • Schleiermacher & James Dunn
    • Jesus just is the idea of humanity – the driving person behind the act of creation
    • This however may overshadow the son’s existence in eternity
  • The Son’s identity has been shaped eternally in virtue of the incarnation

 

Claim 3

  • Adam does not simply prefigure Christ – Adam was consequent on Christ – his humanity has been shaped by the archetype which is Christ
  • There is at least one sense in which Christ is ontologically dependent upon Adam
  • For JC to be fully Human he had to receive his humanity from Adam – to claim J could have received a different kind of humanity – would be problematic for our salvation – he would be instantiating a new kind of humanity rather than recapitulating the humanity which started with Adam
  • How come – looking at the ontologically secondary being (Adam) wouldn’t be a good way to figure out what humanity is all about?
  • I thinks we need to maintain C’s epistemological priority?
    • I says because Adam wasn’t perfect…. They are not yet complete and hadn’t fully grown yet
    • Even though Humanity was created in the image in the beginning we don’t truly see what humanity is until the advent of Christ
    • “Adam and Even give only a dim impression of what it means to be in the image of God.” – Boersma
  • Does this approach do justice to the canonical form of the biblical message about Humanity?
    • Don’t we already know what it means to be human when JC is born? The logic of cannon and creed seems to indicate we already know what it means to be human prior to the incarnation
  • We can know other things about humans….
    • Studying humanity in general can and should provide some insight into humanity (learn about the Mona lisa by studying a replica) – move is complicated by falleness of humanity (someone wrote all over the mona lisa)
    • The developmental account does not denigrate the fact that we can know something about humanity from stages prior to the incarnation. (Studying Marc Cortez as a 7th grader can give you some info about Marc Cortez today). This means we shouldn’t neglect the study of Humanity in its history prior to Christ

 

Claim 4

  • Doesn’t lead us to distinguish between Nature and Grace
  • This developmental model provides some basis for interdisciplinary studies of human nature
  • In addition to understanding humanity through the lens of the natural – we are required to study humanity in the state of Grace too

 

Conclusion

Although Hedgie might be the cutest hedgehog to ever walk the earth – it seems reasonable to claim that not hedgehog forms the epistemological or ontological basis for all other hedgehogs.

 

On I’s view of the Imago Dei we have something very different with the embodied humanity of JC. We have the actualization in history – the archetype – of humanity. For I that is the only adequate ground upon which to base a theological conception of the human person.

LATC 2018 – The Christian Doctrine of Humanity

This year LATC came back to Fuller Seminary. I will be trying to post my notes from the plenary sessions on this blog. However, this year I am helping to co-cordinate the event, so I may not fully catch all the talks or all the content of each talk!

 Plenary Speakers

  • Marc Cortez- Wheaton College
    Nature, Grace, and the Christological Ground of Humanity
  • Megan DeFranza – Boston University School of Theology
    Imago Dei: Theological Anthropology in a Hall of Mirrors
  •  Hans Madueme – Covenant College
    “Man’s Heart is the Seat of All Evils:” A Theological Argument for Dualism
  • Ian McFarland – University of Cambridge
    “The Upward Call:’ The Category of Vocation and the Oddness of Human Nature
  • Frances Young – University of Birmingham
    Adam and Christ: Human Solidarity Before God

 

 

LATC 2017: Dogmatics & Systematic Theology – Scott Swain

Here are some notes on Scott Swain’s plenary lecture at LATC 2017….

Introduction

Bavinck: Dogmatic Theology is the knowledge God has revealed in his word to the church about the world and creatures as they stand in relation to him.

  • Dogmatics exists because of the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.20170112_203913

Some concerns of Systematic Theology

  • Concerns for unity – NT & OT, Theological Knowledge and other Knowledge
  • Scope – all of scripture
  • Proportion – science of everything, but not about everything
  • Relations – between different areas of Christian theology

B.B. Warfield found that it was necessary to defend the disciplines right to exist. Barth later on concluded that “nothing we are producing now can stand with the achievement of medieval, post-reformation, etc. dogmatics”

  • 20170112_203913Though it hasn’t reached its glory days, it holds some degree of prominence again today

The recent ascendency of ST hasn’t necessarily received a strong welcome from evangelicals. BB Warfield even acknowledges some think that Biblical Theology has replaced ST.

BT’s resistance to letting ST rule has grown. Evangelicals have questioned ST’s ability of ST… it tends to impose a structure not transparently given in scripture. “ST doesn’t encourage the exploration of the Bible’s plotline.”

BT seeks to seek out the rationality and genius of each genre and to ground stuff in unfolding drama of redemptive history.

More recently Missional theology also wonders whether ST needs help. Missional theology would direct ST to attend more to the missional nature of Scripture, and direct itself towards the church’s missional end.

Aim: commend a particular conception of ST as theoretical, contemplative, wisdom.

Thesis One

  • God presents himself to us in his word under the mode of a vision of glory, theological vision is therefore a wonder to be held, a truth to be known, a doctrine to be believed.
    • Vermigli – contemplative wisdom holds first place over practical wisdom
      • The end of Christian godliness is that in us should be repaired that image…. That everyday we may grown in the knowledge of God.
      • Speculative knowledge prior to action

Thesis Two

  • Dogmatic theology has a mixed character, but is still a unity
    • Some disagree – theoretical and practical
    • The unity of the object is not in the material of the object….
    • Because holy scripture speaks of doctrines and morals and describes the principle of unity
  • JI Packer’s illustration of balconeers watching people travelling below. They are onlookers….. travelers, face problems which are essentially practical. They may think over the same area, but their problems differ. The theology of travelers has a theoretical angle. Packer seems to suggest that any concern that unprocessed theory is arcane and uninteresting, engaged in the vice of curiosity.
  • Speculation… a viscous mode of contemplation.
  • We should be anti-speculative but we cannot afford to be anti-theoretical or anti-speculative.
  • Does thinking of theology as “contemplative wisdom” encourage idolatry?
    • Luther: sinful human and the God who justifies
    • Bayer – thinks that it suffers from a totalizing problem, and a de-historicizing problem.
    • With Bayer we can agree that it is susceptible to these mistakes – but the many errors of Hegel aren’t addressed by abandoning ST but modifying it (perhaps under a Pilgrim context)
    • This allows us to insist upon the limited nature of our contemplation
    • Directs us to expecet perfect contemplation only in the beatific vision
    • Some problems w/Bayer – his view undermines God’s self-presentation of his word. Yes God is the justifier, but it does not exhaust God’s action.
  • Dogmatics desrives its character from its primary object: the Triune God
  • Bavinck: God is independent, not only in his existence but in all his attributes and perfections
  • God does not exist for any reason that exists outside of himself. From him and through him and to him are all things
    • Thus while the study of God produces all kinds of practical ends, but it is not exhausted in its service towards practical ends
    • Godliness prepares us for contemplation of God
    • God is Wisdom’s goal

Thesis Three

  • Theology is not a view from nowhere
  • Dogmatic theology occupies itself with God, it is a view of God
  • Theology’s object is twofold – God’s being, wisdom, and power ALSO the unsearchable depth of God’s works
    • It is the thrice holy God almighty and all things relative to God
  • It contemplates objects contemplated by other objects as well, what distinguishes dogmatic theology is not the uniqueness of its objects or what it knows, what distinguishes it is the prespective from which it knows God, humanity and the lilies of the field…
    • From the perspective of God’s self revelation, his naming of humanity, his care for the lilies of the field
  • Dogmatic theology is a view of God from God
    • How? Cuz God has revealed himself to us as he himself is
  • This is why dogmatics does not follow the method of so many science of reasoning from effects to causes. The method of dogmatic theology is to begin from God. That is because that is how God has revealed himself in his word.
  • It is also a view of God from the presence of God
    • Our theology, ectypal, contemplates it from a humbler vantage point. To profess theology is a priestly ministration
  • It is the view of God from God in the presence of God

Thesis Four

  • It takes a systematic shape in commending its work of contemplation
  • What shape might a modest system of dogmatic theology take?
    • Astonished contemplative wonder of Paul, also John’s sketches
  • Following a brief introduction, a system of theology might first treat the depths of the riches of the triune God in his unfathomable being
    • This is not very popular in modern theology
    • “Protestant Theology for Liberals” as an example – it treats God exclusively in relation to creatures.
    • While its true of pilgrim theology that creaturely mediation is a fact, something more is required. Treating God before his relation to creatures takes seriously that God is who he is apart from anyone else. He is who he is.
    • Treating God himself before treating his relation to creatures – allows us to treat his relationship’s mixed nature. One of absolute benevolence, marvelously disinterested interest in us.
    • It may treat secondly, the works of God. Nature, Grace, Glory. Each of these three works are related. Grace restores and perfects nature.
    • Third – connect each individual topic to God as cause. It is due to the fact that strictly speaking, the nature, ends and activities of God’s creatures only exist in relation to God, and therefore creatures can only be understood in relation to God, their supreme author and end.
  • In following this method ST proves itself true to its name as Theology – God, always God from beginning to end (Bavinck)

Dogmatics is a mixed discipline…contemplative understanding of dogmatics might inform the organization of theology. How might such a conception relate to theological and academic disciplines?

Dogmatic theology has the capacity for functioning as an inclusive discipline. Because of its attention to the supreme object and its concern to order all thing in relation to him, it can provide a framework to organize the other disciplines. For these disciplines are finally ordered to the glory of the Triune God and our wellbeing in him.

LATC 2017 – Knowledge Puffs Up, But Love Builds Up

Some notes on Chris Tilling’s break out session at LATC 2017…

20170112_162633

1 Corinthians 8:1-7

  • Contains the epistemological issue
  • Paul creates the contrast that structures what follows
    • Knowledge puffs up, love builds up
    • Knowledge as possession puffs up, he is not anti-intellectual. He is against a particular way of knowing.
    • Paul articulates a relational/covenantal way of knowing, expressed in our love of God
    • The necessary knowing in 8:2 is expressed as knowing God and being known by God in 8:3 – this is a covenantal knowing
      • Monotheism = within context of covenant refers to a rigorous exclusivity of relationship.
    • In Paul’s idiom covenant and knowledge go hand in hand
  • Verse 4-6 repeat and elaborate the contrast that proceeded
    • Two propositions (Corinthians)
      • We know that no idol in the world really exists
      • There is no God but one
    • Paul’s Response
      • Even though no idol exists (as real divine beings)
      • But for us there is one God the Father, etc.
      • Corresponding w/ love for God, he uses the words of the Shema b/w God and Jesus
      • This is a love-oriented understanding of “knowing”

Paul, The Task of Dogmatics, and “Barthian” Theology

  • Barth means by revelation – a concrete relation to concrete humanity
  • For Barth the criteria and possibility of dogmatics is described in personal terms
    • The Word of God is a success word
    • Revelation is not simply over there, but includes the entire correspondence of man’s side
    • The personal word becomes a relational or participatory one

Stephen Holmes & Katherine Sonderegger

  • Sonderegger
    • If Paul claims knowledge of God is bound up in loving God, and as such cannot be a possession or abstraction
    • In the first couple of chapters of her ST, there is an imposition of non-relational abstract knowledge. She presses the distinction between the who & what of God, and narrative/metaphysics. i.e. to look beyond the genre of scripture to its subject matter
    • Problem – she deploys an abstract concept, speaking of the WHATNESS of God. In contrast to this, Pauline epistemology, ONENESS is not just a brute theological fact, it’s a relational fact explained in relational terms.
    • Sonderegger’s project lands on the wrong side of the Pauline contrast
      • Question – Can you come to know certain things on the “right side” of this contrast, but explain it in such a way that when it is articulated or communicated it looks more like the “wrong side?”
    • Certain theological facts cannot be abstracted/divorced from God’s relationship from his people.
    • “Almost every attempt to articulate a metaphysical truth, lands on the wrong side of the structural contrast.”
  • Stephen Holmes
    • The doctrine of the Trinity is necessarily and precisely “useless” – knowledge of the divine is a highest end, it is the nature of the highest end that it is of no instrumental use.
    • Knowledge of God that is not discipleship/lived is not theological knowing at all, it is a mere puffing up.
    • He is allowing an abstract concept to order his God-talk. It is a means-end schema.
    • Also problematic, Christ is talked about in Scripture as both means and end

Conclusion

  • Paul had a controversy about knowledge /w the Corinthians who had an intellectualized understanding of knowledge, Paul highlighted participations and relational nature of knowledge. Barthian theology resonates deeply with this. It locates theological knowledge in the wider grammar of faith, love, and repentance. Recent trends in theology are losing this Barthian sensibility, and are allowing abstract knowledge to drive them. If this continues unchallenged, the gap b/w Systematic Theology and Biblical studies will continue to widen.

LATC 2017: Why Should Protestants Retrieve Patristic and Medieval Theology? – Gavin Ortlund

Some notes from Gavin Ortlund’s Breakout Session….

Retrieving the Leavened Bread out of the Unleavened

  • Warfield on Augustine: Doctrine of Grace is Augustine’s greatest legacy. A new Christian piety comes from Augustine. He is the author of grace and the “Father of 20170112_144711evangelicalism.”
    • Warfield calls Augustine the found of Roman Catholicism too
    • Shows broader attitude: Evangelical doctrines and bad Catholic doctrines, two children struggling in his mind, but the REAL Augustine is the “evangelical Augustine.”
    • He was a proto-protestant who would have eventually become a “protestant” had he lived longer
  • Method: The last 500 years are the “good years”, we construct theology and see older theology through the lens Protestantism
    • Easy to take sola scriptura and make it sola reformationae
    • In Warfield’s account it never comes into view where Protestantism may be stretched and challenged by Augustine’s theology.
  • There are good reasons for including the entire 2000 years of church history, as a part of protestant’s theological community. We have a good example in the works of the Reformers
  • Reformers where engaged in a work of theological retrieval
    • Defended their cause against the charges of novelty
  • Warfield saw the church as having experienced a fall that needs to be recovered from. Luther and Calvin by contrast saw the early church as a tool to be recovered and retrieved.
  • Calvin and Luther both affirmed the continuation & preservation of the true church in every generation. The last thing they intended was a denial of the first 13 centuries. They saw themselves as attempting the establishment of a proper Catholicism.

How Patristic & Medieval Theology Can Resource Protestant Theology

  • Four ways….
  • First – P & M can help bulk up PT where it is weak and underdeveloped.
    • Metaphor: Child attending a school
    • One need not regard church tradition as infallible, simply recognize that each generation of the church has a unique gift towards the church
    • Medieval theologians saw creation, fall, relationship to angels as theological topics with important consequences
  • Second – can help shape theological sensibilities and values
    • Metaphor: visiting the grand canyon doesn’t just give you information
    • Example of sensibilities: Doctrine of God had different instincts/sensibilities in P&M, like divine simplicity or univocity/analogy or hiddenness
  • Third – can help provide perspective on modern theological debates (liberal/conservative spectrum)
    • Metaphor: Going to see a counselor to get perspective on something
    • Example: Augustine’s doctrine of creation. There are concerns he has that are very different than ours. Favored an approach to the text which provides a helpful model of humility, wants to learn from natural sciences
  • Fourth – can help bring about synthesis
    • Metaphor: A Guide
    • Example: Doctrine of Atonement. Approaching this doctrine helps you see ways of holding things together that in the modern literature seem to be at odds with one another.

Three Case Studies of Patristic & Medieval Retrieval

  • Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy
    • Philosophy functioned as a handmaiden to not a replacement for theology. Can help w/doctrine of God: creation/Creator, simplicity, foreknowledge, God’s relation to time
  • Gregory the Great’s Book of Pastoral Rule
    • Capable administrator but Gregory regarded himself primarily as a religious leader. Calvin called him the last good Pope. He lived in a Latin district of Constantinople, thus he was shaped by eastern theology. Gregory is the only Latin Father whose works were translated into Greek in his lifetime. How to benefit: practical focus – how to speak differently to different kinds of people
  • John of Damascus Writings on the Iconoclast Controversy
    • The preeminent representative of the Byzantine Tradition. Was practically unknown in the West until the 12th Protestant iconoclasm didn’t even refer to John of Damascus. The ancient eastern church included more than just Greek churches (Syriac, Coptic, Slavic, Armenian, etc.). All human thought about the divine is pictorial. As a result – they were encouraged to develop a rich theology of art. For evangelicals, his work may challenge what embodiment would mean for us.20170112_144711