Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Don Draper's Progress" (ABPnews Blog)

Today the ABPnews Blog maintained by Associated Baptist Press/Religious Herald published my post "Don Draper's Progress," which originally appeared as a guest commentary for ABPnews/Herald under the title "'Mad Men' as an exploration of human fallenness" last week. Here's an excerpt from the opening; full text will appear here on Ecclesial Theology in a few days.

“I keep wondering: have I broken the vessel?”

Don Draper’s mid-flirtation confession to his airline seatmate in the April 13 premiere of the seventh (and final) season of the AMC drama Mad Men may prove to be the single most theologically significant line of the series.

Man Men has been rich in material that evokes theological reflection on the human story, for this tale of the excesses of 1960s-era Madison Avenue advertising executives is really an exploration of the fallenness of the human condition. Lest anyone miss what the show is really about, the opening sequence features an image inspired by the falling man poster for the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo — a silhouetted businessman falling from a Manhattan skyscraper, tumbling through the advertised symbols of American affluence.... (read the full post on the ABPnews Blog)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

'Mad Men' as an exploration of human fallenness

Every now and then I engage in a little theological reflection on expressions of popular culture. My guest commentary "'Mad Men' as an exploration of human fallenness" for ABPnews/Herald is one such excursion.

Here's an excerpt from the opening:

“I keep wondering: have I broken the vessel?”

Don Draper’s mid-flirtation confession to his airline seatmate in the April 13 premiere of the seventh (and final) season of the AMC drama Mad Men may prove to be the single most theologically significant line of the series.

Man Men has been rich in material that evokes theological reflection on the human story, for this tale of the excesses of 1960s-era Madison Avenue advertising executives is really an exploration of the fallenness of the human condition.... (read the full article on ABPnews/Herald)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ecumenical Perspectives on the Filioque for the 21st Century--available for pre-order

Ecumenical Perspectives on the Filioque for the 21st Century, ed. Myk Habets (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, forthcoming July 2014), a book to which I contributed the Foreword "Ecumenical Reception of Ecumenical Perspectives on the Filioque," is available for pre-order directly from the publisher and from Amazon.com. The book description and Table of Contents appear below.


About Ecumenical Perspectives on the Filioque for the 21st Century

The volume presents a range of theological standpoints regarding the filioque. With some contributors arguing for its retention and others for its removal, still others contest that its presence or otherwise in the Creed is not what is of central concern, but rather that how it should be understood is of ultimate importance. What contributors share is a commitment to interrogating and developing the central theological issues at stake in a consideration of the filioque, thus advancing ecumenical theology and inter-communal dialogue without diluting the discussion. Contributors span the Christian traditions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Pentecostal. Each of these traditions has its own set of theological assumptions, methods, and politics, many of which are on display in the essays which follow. Nonetheless it is only when we bring the wealth of learning and commitments from our own theological traditions to ecumenical dialogue that true progress can be made. It is in this spirit that the present essays have been conceived and are now presented in this form.

Table Of Contents

Contents
Dedication
Contents
Acknowledgments
Foreword: Ecumenical Reception of Ecumenical Perspectives on the Filioque. Steven R. Harmon
List of Contributors
1. Introduction: Ecumenical Perspectives and the Unity of the Spirit. Myk Habets
Part 1: The Filioque in Context: Historical & Theological
2. The Filioque: A Brief History. A. Edward Siecienski
3. Theological Issues Involved in the Filioque. Paul D. Molnar
4. The Filioque: Reviewing the State of the Question, with some Free Church Contributions. David Guretzki
Part 2: Developments in the Various Traditions
5. The Eternal Manifestation of the Spirit ‘Through the Son’ According to Nikephoros Blemmydes and Gregory of Cyprus. Theodoros Alexopoulos
6. The Spirit from the Father, of himself God: A Calvinian Approach to the Filioque Debate.
Brannon Ellis
7. Calvin and the Threefold Office of Christ: Suggestive Teaching Regarding the Nature of the Intra-Divine Life? Christopher R.J. Holmes
8. The Baptists ‘And The Son’: The Filioque Clause In Noncreedal Theology. David E. Wilhite
9. Baptized in the Spirit: A Pentecostal Reflection on the Filioque. Frank D. Macchia
Part 3: Opening New Possibilities: Origin, Action, & Intersubjectivity
10. Lutheranism and the Filioque. Robert W. Jenson
11. On Not Being Spirited Away: Pneumatology and Critical Presence. John C. McDowell
12. The Filioque: Beyond Athanasius and Thomas Aquinas: An Ecumenical Proposal. Thomas Weinandy
13. Beyond the East/West Divide. Kathryn Tanner
14. Getting Beyond the Filioque with Third Article Theology. Myk Habets
Index

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ecumenical news update: Pan-Orthodox council announced, Baptist-Methodist dialogue begins

Baptist World Alliance-World Methodist Council joint delegation
Catching up on sharing on Ecclesial Theology some recent ecumenical news:

At a meeting of the archbishops of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches at the Phanar in Istanbul March 6-9, they issued a "Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches" which announced that "The Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church will be convened by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople in 2016." This Pan-Orthodox Council would be the first such assembly since the Second Council of Nicaea in AD 787, reckoned by many churches as the Seventh Ecumenical Council. In Orthodox perspective, this could be considered the Eighth Ecumenical Council, since as Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware) notes in his book The Orthodox Church, "...the Orthodox Church also believes that, if it so desired, it could by itself convene and hold another ecumenical council, equal in authority to the first seven. Since the separation of east and west the Orthodox (unlike the west) have never in fact chosen to summon such a council; but this does not mean that they believe themselves to lack the power to do so." (It should be noted that there was a Fourth Council of Constantinople in 879-80, an attempt at East-West reunion, that some regard as an Eighth Ecumenical Council.) At the very least, the 2016 council has the potential to be something of an "Orthodox Vatican II."

In other news, the bilateral international ecumenical dialogue between the Baptist World Alliance and the World Methodist Council had its initial meeting January 30-February 5 at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. Below is the official communique from the meeting as posted on the World Methodist Council Ecumenical Relations page:

Communique from the Bilateral Dialogue between the Baptist World Alliance and The World Methodist Council

Representatives of the Baptist World Alliance and the World Methodist Council met January 30-February 5 at the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. The meeting was the opening round of conversations in the first international dialogue between Methodists and Baptists. The overall theme of the dialogue is faith working through love. The delegations were welcomed by the Provost and Executive Vice President of the University, Dr. J. Bradley Creed, as well as Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church and Rev. Dr. Mike McLemore, Director of Missions for the Birmingham Baptist Association.

Participants discussed presentations on the history, theology, and contemporary global situation of Methodists and Baptists. The dialogue is co-chaired by Rev. Dr. Tim Macquiban, Superintendent Minister of the Cambridge Methodist Circuit and minister of Wesley Methodist Church in Cambridge, England, and Rev. Dr. Curtis Freeman, Research Professor and Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina. Rev. Dr. Paul Chilcote, Dean of Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, and Rev. Dr. Fausto Vasconcelos, BWA director of Mission, Evangelism, and Theological Reflection, serve as co-secretaries.

Other members of the Methodist delegation present were Dr. Ulrike Schuler, Professor at the Reutlingen School of Theology in Germany; Rev. Malcolm Tan, Pastor of Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore; Rev. Lauren Matthews, Minister, Umngeni Circuit, Natal Coastal District, Methodist Church of Southern Africa; and the Rev. Christine Gooden-Benguche, Secretary, Jamaica District Conference, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas. The additional Baptist members present were Rev. Dr. Deji Isaac Ayegboyin, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria; Dr. Valérie Duval-Poujol, Professor of Biblical Exegesis, Catholic Institute, Paris, France; Rev. Dr. Timothy George, Chair, BWA Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity and Dean of Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Alabama; and Rev. Dr. Stephen Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Theology, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland. Also attending were Rev. Professor Robert Gribben, chair of the ecumenical relations committee of the WMC, from Melbourne, Australia, and Rev. Dr. Neville Callam, General Secretary of the BWA.

The participants worshipped together each day drawing on the two traditions, and attended the Sunday service at the Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham. They made a pilgrimage to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where they met with Rev. Carolyn McKinstry, author of the book While the World Watched based on her experience as a survivor of the 1963 bombing of the church. They then visited the Civil Rights Institute where they particularly noted the participation of local churches in the struggle for racial justice.

The meeting next year is planned for Singapore where they will take up the conversations on the nature of the church with special attention to justification and sanctification.

5th February 2014
 
 



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion--Southeast Region 2014 Annual Meeting

As Vice President for the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion--Southeast Region, I am pleased to announce the program for our 2014 annual meeting that will convene at McAfee School of Theology on the Mercer University--Atlanta campus on Friday, March 7. Below is the program for the meeting; a map of the Mercer University--Atlanta campus is available here.


National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, Southeast
2014 Southeast Regional Meeting
Friday, March 7, 2014
McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia

8:30-9:00  Registration and Refreshments

(McAfee School of Theology Student Lounge)

9:00-9:15  Opening Session (Cecil B. Day Auditorim)

Welcome from the President—Mikael Broadway (Shaw University Divinity School)
Welcome from the Host—Alan Culpepper (McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University)
Announcement of Program—Steven Harmon (Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity)

9:15-10:00  Presidential Address: “When Jesus Says Good News”

Mikael Broadway (Shaw University Divinity School)

10:00-10:15  Responses from Membership

10:15-10:30  Break

10:30-11:15  Panel Discussion:
The Challenge of Teaching World Religions in Baptist-Related Universities

Lisa Battaglia (Samford University)
Don Berry (Gardner-Webb University)
Kathryn Muller Lopez (Campbell University)
Marc Mullinax (Mars Hill University)

11:15-11:45  Discussion by Membership

11:45-12:00  Business Meeting

12:00  Adjournment for Lunch

Friday, February 28, 2014

Divine Immanence in Christian Philosophical Theology seminar

This weekend I'm headed to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where on March 1 I'm presenting guest lectures for an Analytic Theology Cluster Group seminar on "Divine Immanence in Christian Philosophical Theology." The cluster group involves students and faculty from the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond and Regent University, led by Elizabeth Newman, the Eula Mae and John Baugh Professor of Ethics at BTSR, and T. Ryan Byerly, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry in the area of Philosophy at Regent. My lectures are titled "Natures and Narratives: Patristic Accounts of Divine Immanence in the Incarnation" and "Natures vs. Narratives: Suffering as a Test Case for Accounts of Divine Immanence in the Incarnation." My lectures will focus on the incarnation of God in Christ as an instance of special/local divine immanence; they will be paired with lectures by Alexander R. Pruss, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, who will give attention to the Eucharist as an instance of special/local divine immanence. (The cluster group seminar will also meet on April 5 in Richmond, with guest lectures by David Schindler, the Edouard Cardinal Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family of The Catholic University of America, and Katherin Rogers, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delaware.)

This cluster group seminar is funded by a grant from the Analytic Theology Project of the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame. The Analytic Theology Project is in turn funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Baptists and Catholics together--Twitter edition

(The following post was originally published by the Associated Baptist Press/Religious Herald ABPnews Blog]

What do Baptists and Catholics have in common?

That sounds like the set-up for a joke of some sort–or at least for a very brief response, given the anti-Catholicism that has marked much of the Baptist tradition (even when we were defining ourselves over against the Church of England).

When the Baptist World Alliance and the Catholic Church engaged in a series of international conversations from 1984 through 1988 to see what they might be able to say together, the two communions were actually able to say a great deal about their agreement on “God’s saving revelation in Jesus Christ, the necessity of personal commitment to God in Christ, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, and the missionary imperative that emerges from God’s redemptive activity on behalf of humankind,” as paragraph 2 of the 17-page report “Summons to Witness to Christ in Today’s World” summarized the matters on which Baptists and Catholics were able to say something together about our common commitment to the good news of our testimony that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

That report also identified deep differences evident in those conversations that warranted continued exploration: theological authority and method; the shape of ecclesial koinonia; the relationship between faith, baptism, and Christian witness; and the place of Mary in faith and practice.

When I served as a member of the Baptist delegation to a second series of conversations between the BWA and the Catholic Church from 2006 through 2010, we directly addressed those ongoing differences. The result was a nearly 100-page report, “The Word of God in the Life of the Church,”  published last summer and presented at the annual gathering of the BWA in Jamaica that July. The document is not a description of our differences. It is rather a statement of our surprisingly substantial consensus on the church’s participation in the koinonia of the Triune God, the authority of Christ in Scripture and tradition, baptism and the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper, Mary as a model of discipleship, and the ministry of oversight (episkope) and unity in the life of the church.

We presented these agreements as a “differentiated consensus”: paragraphs set in bold type expressed our basic consensus, followed by paragraphs set in regular type that offered commentary on the nature of that consensus and/or identified the ways in which there are remaining differences in how each communion understands and embodies what Baptists and Catholics have been able to say together.

Having said these things together, Baptists and Catholics now have the responsibility of “reception” of the report. In a “Glossary of Key Ecumenical Terms” in my book Ecumenism Means You, Too: Ordinary Christians and the Quest for Christian Unity, I offered the following definition of that task:

Reception—The process by which worldwide communions, national churches and denominations, local parishes and congregations, and individual Christians become informed about, consider, and act upon the proposals and agreements that result from bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogue.
 
When the “The Word of God in the Life of the Church” went online last October, I launched an experiment in utilizing social media to encourage reception of the report. Beginning on October 11, I began posting a semi-daily “tweet” from my Twitter account summarizing in 140 characters or less a statement of agreement from the bold-type consensus paragraphs of the report (actually a good bit less than 140 characters, as the inclusion of the hashtag #BaptistsCatholics and the condensed URL link to the report left only 89 characters for summary and paragraph number reference). Since Facebook status updates don’t have the 140-character restriction, I posted a parallel series of Facebook updates with the full consensus statements from which the tweets were abridged.

I posted the final #BaptistsCatholics tweet on January 3 of this year. Here’s the tweet-by-tweet “Twitter edition” of the bold-type consensus paragraphs from “The Word of God in the Life of the Church,” sans hashtags and URLs:

7. The one God exists from eternity in a life of relationship–a koinonia of persons

7. Jesus Christ, God’s self-revelation, draws us into communion with God & each other

7. The Word of God in the church in the fullest sense is Christ himself

11. The church is a koinonia (fellowship) grounded in the koinonia of the triune God

11. Believers are joined in koinonia through participation in communion of Triune God

11. Believers also in koinonia through participation in community gathered by Christ

11. “Communion ecclesiology” expresses the heart of the nature of the church

12. Principle of koinonia applies both to local church & to gatherings of congregations

12. Local church does not derive from universal church, nor is universal a mere sum of local forms

12. There is mutual existence & coinherence between local and universal church of Christ

16. The koinonia of the church may also be understood as a ‘covenant community’

16. Covenant is God’s initiating relationship with us & our commitment to each other & God

16. Church is gift in being gathered by Christ, & gathers in response to call of Christ

16. Koinonia of church is both gift & calling, as unity of church is both gift and task

20. Communion with triune God & whole church is continually actualized in Eucharist/Supper

20. In Euch we share communion not only w/ congregation but whole church in time & space

20. Because we hear word of God in eucharist, it is a sharing in both word and sacrament

23. Local churches must be in visible communion w/ each other, or communion lacks fullness

26. Local churches have communion w/ each other to hear Word of God & find mind of Christ

37. The Bible is the divinely-authorized written norm for faith and practice

37. The normativity of Scripture is principally located in the worship of the church

37. The Bible was canonized by and for the worshipping community

37. Bible supplies narrative content of acts of worship that recall/represent acts of God

37. Scripture is the source of story of the triune God in which worshippers participate

41/42. God is the author of Sacred Scripture…through human instrumentality

46. OT and NT together form coherent story that requires a Christ-centred interpretation

56. Bible is written embodiment of living tradition handed down through work of H. Spirit

56. The source of this process of transmission is the living Word of God, Jesus Christ

58. Scripture & tradition coinherent–mutual indwelling & interweaving of 1 in the other

58. Scripture and tradition should not be considered as separate and unrelated sources

58. Scripture & tradition = 2 streams flowing together from same source: God’s revelation

63. Apostolic tradition distinguished from merely ecclesiastical trad; apostolic normative

73. Sacraments/ordinances = signs through which God acts, visible signs of invisible grace

77. Sacrament and ordinance express both God’s gift of love & faith-filled human response

77. Sacrament/ordinance becomes intersection between divine commitment & human commitment

79. Christ central to meaning of sacraments/ordinances & their relationship to the church

81. There is a coinherence between sacraments/ordinances and preaching of the Word of God

83. Baptism and the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper are central to the life of the church

85. Sacraments/ordinances are encounters w/ Christ that transform worshipers by the Spirit

85. No experience of salvation is fully whole without entrance of the believer into church

85. There can be no experience of grace apart from faith

91. Rel. of faith & sacrament/ordinance involves faith of individual believer & community

93. We baptize in obedience to Christ’s command ‘Go therefore..baptizing them’ Mt 28:19-20

93. Baptism has its foundation & meaning in the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology

93. Through baptism we are brought more deeply into the communion of the triune God

93. Through baptism…we [also] share in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ

97. Faith is always necessary for baptism

101. Initiation into Christ & his church is a process wider than the act of baptism itself

101. Can recognize different forms of initiation as an entire journey of faith and grace

107. Baptism is with water, in name of Father & Son & Holy Spirit, & a once-for-all event

109. In baptism we are united with other believers in the church of Christ (1 Cor 12:13)

113. Baptism signifies forgiveness of sins and new birth

116. Eucharist/Lord’s Supper is essential to the church & celebrated in obedience to Jesus

119. The Bible must play a formative role in the liturgy of the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper

121. There is a trinitarian pattern in the order of worship of the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper

125. Christ is really present to his disciples in celebration of Eucharist/Lord’s Supper

130. There is a strongly ethical & eschatological dimension to the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper

133. Mary has significant place in NT–witness to Christ, mother of Savior, called blessed

133. Beliefs about Mary should be rooted in, warranted by, & not contradicted by Scripture

135. Mary belongs to the Jewish people….Mary may be called ‘Daughter of Israel’

137. A number of Old Testament passages may be interpreted as referring to Mary

139. The Gospels present Mary as ‘hearer of the Word’–a disciple who heard, obeyed Word

140. Jesus conceived by Spirit, born of Virgin Mary–sign of divine origin & true humanity

143. Mary is properly named the Theotokos or ‘God-bearer’–safeguards identity of Christ

146. Mary has a special calling in plan of salvation, but also redeemed by Christ by grace

150. Mary is a model of discipleship in faithful listening and obedience to God’s Word

154. Mary is not only a member, but also representative figure, of the church of Christ

156. The church prays with Mary and learns to pray like Mary in the communion of saints

159. The representations of Mary in particular cultures are subject to the gospel as norm

162. Christ is the head of the church, her founder, creator and cornerstone

162. The church owes her whole existence to Christ, who is her ‘episkopos’ (1 Pet 2:25)

162. Christ nourishes/sustains church with Gospel & celebration of sacraments/ordinances

165. Episkope (oversight) is Christ’s gift to church to enable ministry of people of God

165. Christ calls whole people of God to share in his ministry as prophet, priest & king

165. The episkope of some is a gift of Christ to enable & equip body of Christ as a whole

168. Our differing patterns of episkope seek to be faithful to Scripture & apostolic trad

173. Episkope is exercised in personal, collegial and communal ways in the church

176. Episkope primarily exercised in local church, but always in communion w/ wider church

179. Personal episkope is established by Christ for the good of the church

182. One principal purpose of the ministry of episkope is the promotion of Christian unity

184. Jesus’ prayer for unity (=both spiritual&visible) sets out vocation of all Christians

186. The unity of the church reflects its apostolicity, expressed both by faith & ministry

186. Ministry is apostolic if it hands on apostolic faith & fulfills missionary mandate

200. Past failures of both Baptists & Catholics must be addressed with due repentance & appropriate action

The report itself says those things much more fully and with all the necessary qualifications and distinctions. I hope this radical abridgement of the essential Baptist-Catholic consensus expressed in “The Word of God in the Life of the Church” will pique the interest of ABPnews Blog readers enough to encourage further reception of the report—which is not necessarily agreement with its take on Baptist-Catholic consensus, but “the process by which worldwide communions, national churches and denominations, local parishes and congregations, and individual Christians become informed about, consider, and act upon the proposals and agreements that result from bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogue.”

That sort of reception starts with reading—even if it’s only 140 characters (or less) at a time.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Baptists and Catholics together--Twitter edition" on ABPnews Blog

My post "Baptist and Catholics together--Twitter edition" appears today on the ABPnews Blog published by ABPnews/Herald. I'll post the full text here at Ecclesial Theology in a few days; meanwhile here's a snippet from the beginning of the post:

What do Baptists and Catholics have in common?

That sounds like the set-up for a joke of some sort–or at least for a very brief response, given the anti-Catholicism that has marked much of the Baptist tradition (even when we were defining ourselves over against the Church of England).... (read the full post at ABPnews Blog)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

U2, "Invisible," and theological anthropology

Beth Maynard over at the U2 Sermons blog has kindly referenced my observations--originally aired as a Facebook status update--on the theological import of the line "a body in a soul" in the newly-released U2 song "Invisible." (The post also mentions Ecclesial Theology blog and my book Ecumenism Means You, Too, which draws illustrative material from the music of U2.) Read the U2 Sermons post here. The song debuted as an iTunes download on February 2; a provisional transcription of the lyrics appears on the atu2.com fan site.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ecumenical Review on The Church: Towards a Common Vision

The current issue of The Ecumenical Review, a quarterly journal published by the World Council of Churches, is a thematic issue devoted to articles offering commentary on the landmark convergence text The Church: Towards a Common Vision (Faith and Order Paper No. 214), which was presented at the 10th Assembly of the WCC in Busan, South Korea this past fall and commended to the churches for study and response. The World Council of Churches web site has posted a release with information about the issue.