[Common Places]: 9.5 Theses Concerning Our End
Common Places has been a regular column on the Zondervan Academic blog with a focus on systematic theology. The loci communes or “common places” of Christian theology, drawn out of the Scriptures and organized in a manner suitable to their exposition in the church and the academy, have functioned historically as common points of reference for theological discussion and debate. This column has focused upon the classical loci of systematic theology, not as occasions for revision, but as opportunities for entering into the ongoing conversation that is Christian systematic theology. After a three-year run, this final post concludes Common Places. Thank you for joining the dialog.
1. We live in a day and age marked by the active life. In theological terms, this tendency manifests itself in a proclivity to focus upon conversational theology wherein theological concerns are put to…
[Common Places] Sanctification: Interview
Our current series, Sanctification, looks at elements of the forthcoming volume by Michael Allen in the New Studies in Dogmatics series.
Your treatment of sanctification is itself a whole dogmatics in miniature. What led you to take this approach?
Two things have been formative here.
First, I’ve been increasingly alert to the way in which Christian moral teaching falls on deaf ears, it seems, not only in our wider culture but even within churches. It seems to me that we not only struggle with what we might call biblical and theological illiteracy, that is, unfamiliarity with the material, but perhaps more subtly with a complete misperception of its meaning. Words like “holy” are assumed to carry mainstream social meaning and, perhaps, Christ is taken to be…
[Common Places]: Christological Anthropology: An Interview with Marc Cortez
For the concluding post on christological anthropology, we offer an interview with Marc to further explore some questions and issues related to his recent book Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology (Zondervan Academic).
What is a “christological anthropology”?
I explored a few ways of defining this in the book. From one perspective, almost all Christian anthropologies are “christological” in the sense that we think Jesus was fully human and is, therefore, relevant to understanding what it means to be human. We also have the imitatio Christi tradition, in which Jesus serves as an exemplar of a human life well lived, and the imago Dei discussions in which Christology often features prominently. So you could define the concept rather broadly and include many kinds of theological…
[Common Places] A Conversation about Cultural Liturgies: An Interview with James K. A. Smith
As a conclusion to our series of engagements with James K. A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies project, Michael Allen and Scott Swain interviewed him regarding the series thus far and concerning its concluding volume. In so doing Smith addresses anthropological, liturgical, formational, and pedagogical matters.
James K. A. Smith: A big impetus was an invitation and prodding from my colleague, John Witvliet, who directs the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Around here, at Calvin College and in the Kuyperian tradition more broadly, we’ve been talking about “worldview” for a hundred years. John’s challenge to me was to reconnect worldview to worship, and thereby reconnect the college—and…
[Common Places] New Studies in Dogmatics: The Holy Spirit—Interview with Christopher R. J. Holmes
Zondervan Academic’s New Studies in Dogmatics series launched this fall with its first volume, Christopher Holmes’s The Holy Spirit, which is now available. We will introduce readers to this work and engage with some of the doctrinal issues addressed therein over a series of four posts here at Common Places. For our second post, we have asked Chris a few questions about his book. (Click here to read the first post in this series.)
You begin your book by addressing the distinction between theology and economy. What benefit does that distinction offer the student of Holy Scripture? What is it meant to do or to prompt us to remember?
Chris Holmes: The distinction between theology and economy maps nicely onto…
[Common Places] Engaging with Kate Sonderegger: Interview (Part 2)
The release of a book within a multi-volume systematic theology project makes for a momentous occasion in the world of systematic theology. Over the last few years a number of such projects have launched, none to greater acclaim or worthy of more significant attention than Katherine Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology. In our first post we introduced and began to explore critically the volume on the Doctrine of God, then we posted the first installment of an interview that Scott Swain and Michael Allen had with Kate Sonderegger about her book, her theological approach, and her upcoming volumes. Now we conclude that interview by considering some substantive decisions made in this volume, regarding substance metaphysics, causality language, and scriptural exegesis that spans the whole canon.
[Common Places] Engaging with Kate Sonderegger: Interview (Part 1)
The release of a book within a multi-volume systematic theology project makes for a momentous occasion in the world of systematic theology. Over the last few years a number of such projects have launched, none to greater acclaim or worthy of more significant attention than Katherine Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology. In a previous post we introduced and began to explore critically the volume on the Doctrine of God. In this and another post we will make available an interview that Scott Swain and Michael Allen had with Kate Sonderegger. In this post we inquire about her book’s organization, her theological influences, her commitment to monotheism (in light of charges that such a belief leads to hegemony and violence), and how this inaugural volume will relate to her upcoming volumes in…
[Common Places] Introduction to New Studies in Dogmatics
Over the next few weeks and months, Common Places will be introducing a new series to be published by Zondervan Academic entitled New Studies in Dogmatics. The vision of the series flows from judgments about the past practices of theology, the current state of the discipline, and the hoped for future conversations that we wish to see occurring amongst Christians and churches. The specific vision of the series can be seen in the series preface:
New Studies in Dogmatics follows in the tradition of G. C. Berkouwer’s classic series, Studies in Dogmatics, in seeking to offer concise, focused treatments of major topics in dogmatic theology that fill the gap between introductory theology textbooks and advanced theological monographs. Dogmatic theology, as understood by editors and contributors to the series, is a conceptual representation of scriptural teaching about God and all…
[Common Places] Announcing Our Next Series: New Voices for Theology
Ours is a day of noise, not silence.
The great difficulty in navigating theological study in the English-speaking world is not owing to the absence of resources, but to the profusion of so many significant resources (and, well, maybe a few not so significant ones offering cover). Targeted marketing may guide you to products for your likely demographic, but there’s little guarantee that you’ll find that thought-provoking volume that haunts you for years to come and no surety that the most worthy studies of our times will find the audience that they deserve. Indeed, some of the more substantive theological works have found their audiences years, if not lifetimes, later.
New Voices for Theology seeks to introduce reader-theologians to new publications worthy of their attention. This connection is no small matter, especially for those interested in doing systematic or dogmatic…
Common Places: A New Forum for Old Conversations
Alexander Solzhenitsyn characterized modern literary and artistic culture as exhibiting “a stubborn tendency to grow not higher but to the side.” The same judgment might be made about much modern theology. There is growth, to be sure, and developments in all manner of technical facets and interdisciplinary conversations. One would have to be a curmudgeon of a particular order not to appreciate the many blessings of life this side of the modern phase of Christian theology.
Has Theology Seen Better Days?
And yet, in many ways, this growth exhibits a sideways drift, not an upward progression. In its attempts to move beyond traditional modes of reflection upon God and the works of God and beyond traditional patterns of biblical commentary and interpretation in order to engage new methods, disciplines, and philosophical approaches to the study of the Bible and…