I’m doing a course at University this semester entitled “The Study of Theology.” The aim of the course is to take a step back and take a hard, reflective look at the process in which we learn about God in an academic setting. As such, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to study theology in a University environment. And I’ve become more and more overwhelmed by the privilege.
I’m beginning research for my honours dissertation, which is looking at an aspect of Christology in Barth’s theology and his developments from earlier Reformed thinkers, especially Calvin. This morning I came across this quote (which I know has floated around before), and I thought I’d share it with you. The context is Barth writing in the summer of 1922 to Eduard Thurneysen. That is the same summer in which, as a young professor, he delivered his long lecture series on Calvin’s theology in an attempt to immerse himself in the Reformer’s theology.
Calvin ist ein Wasserfall, ein Urwald, ein Dämonisches, irgendetwas direkt vom Himalaja herunter, absolut chinesisch, wunderbar, mythologisch; es fehlen mir gänzlich die Organe, die Saugnäpfe, dieses Phänomen auch nur in mich aufzunehmen, geschweige denn richtig darzustellen. Was in mich eingeht, ist nur ein dünnes Wässerlein, und was ich dann wieder hergeben kann, ist wiederum nur ein dünner Extrakt von diesem Wässerlein. Ich könnte mich gut und gerne hinsetzen und mein ganzes ferneres Leben nur mit Calvin zubringen.
Source, Karl Barth et al., Karl Barth-Eduard Thurneysen Briefwechsel / Karl Barth ; Bearbeitet Und Herausgegeben von Eduard Thurneysen, Gesamtausgabe. V., Briefe (Zürich : Theologischer Verlag,, 2000), p. 80.
Every quarter, Vineyard Music produces a small magazine called Inside Worship. Edited by Dan Wilt, a man who has been a catalyst for great leaps in my own development as a “Worship Artisan”, it regularly explores both ancient and modern expressions of worship, asking how we might grow in maturity as a worshipping community.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me or has taken more than a cursory glance at my browser history that I am a Guardian fan. Perhaps a more accurate term would be a Guardian believer. I like its frequently intelligent comment, its willingness to engage seriously and (normally) fairly with non-mainstream viewpoints. This simple Bible-believing evangelical charismatic feminist finds a lot of natural points of agreement with the paper’s general outlook.
That all said, however, I have been annoyed this week by two articles they put out. The first was by Andrew Brown on Justin Welby’s links with Holy Trinity Brompton. The second was by the prolific media-savvy vicar-cum-journalist Giles Fraser (who I normally like and definitely respect, not least for his principled stance during the Occupy St Pauls) bemoaning aspects of Evangelical faith and culture and, again, taking a dig at HTB. One would be forgiven for thinking that Nicky Gumbel had said something incredibly rude about the Guardian Editor’s cat at a party, and the paper is out for revenge as a result.