I started a tradition in 2018 of selecting a theologian and reading all (or at least most of) his works over the course of the subsequent year. My hope is that this allows me to not only to become familiar with important figures and texts, but to also get into his theological mind over a large body of work. This year I picked to a group of theologians: the Cappadocian Fathers.
The Cappadocian Fathers are three hugely influential, 4th-century theologians and churchmen who wrote and ministered in Cappadocia, what is now central Turkey. They are Basil the Great (330-379), the bishop of Caesarea; his younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa (~335-395), who was bishop of his namesake; and their friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (or Gregory Nazianzen; 329-389), who was briefly bishop of Nazianzus before becoming bishop of Constantinople…
I was frustrated with the lack of good, simple family trees explaining the American Reformed landscape, so I made my own. Better, more interactive versions are to come (high quality link here).
This problem [of modern mythologies of a coherence in “Calvinism”] has been enhanced by the numerous books that present interpretations of such decontextualized constructs as “Calvin’s doctrine of predestination,” “Calvin’s Christology,” or “Calvin’s doctrine of the Lord’s Supper,” as if Calvin actually proposed a highly unique doctrine. We need to remind ourselves that the one truly unique theologian who entered Geneva in the sixteenth century, Michael Servetus, did not exit Geneva alive…
It is perhaps worth noting that the Dutch word is not “tulip” but “tulp.” “Tulip” isn’t Dutch – sometimes I wonder if Arminius was just trying to correct someone’s spelling when he was accused of omitting that “i” for irresistible grace.
From pages 52, 58 of Richard Muller’s Calvin and the Reformed Tradition. I laughed a lot at this snark, and I can’t tell if it’s really that funny or if my descent into theological nerdery is complete.
I started a tradition in 2018 of selecting a theologian and attempting to read most of their works over the course of a year, as well as reading some commentaries on their work. Last year I got ambitious and selected two theologians. But in 2020 I’m scaling back to one, and am selecting someone more modern: G.C. Berkouwer.
Berkouwer (1903-1996) was Dutch Reformed theologian who taught systematic theology VU Amsterdam, holding the same chair previously occupied by Herman Bavinck. He was a prominent interlocutor of Karl Barth, and was a formal observer of the Second Vatican Council. His 14 volume (in English) dogmatics remain very influential…
I finished the prior version of the creed in January, 2018. I was mostly content with its doctrine and organization, but was advised that it was too long (it was about 240 words and 326 syllables, compared to 220/290 for the Nicene Creed and 110/160 for the Apostles’ Creed, respectively). I took over a year off from editing it in order to gain better perspective, and it is now much smaller, compact, and effective.
I solicited a lot of feedback in the drafting process, which was quite interesting. A number of people (mostly Anglicans) thought it was an attempted usurpation of the ecumenical creeds, which was not my intent. Quite a few people (mostly Reformed) thought that it needed more information or emphases on different aspects of redemption. That would be nice, but it was ballooning into something unwieldy. One of the interesting differences between the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds is the precision of the former; you can’t defend historic Trinitarian orthodoxy from explicit statements in the Apostles’ Creed the way you can from the Nicene. Yet, the Apostles’ Creed is orthodox and provides a creedal foundation for catholic Trinitarianism. There are “hooks” within the Apostles’ Creed that draw people to the more explicit formulations of the Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian creeds. In the end, that was the model I decided to follow for the Redemption Creed. Prioritize accuracy in what is there, emphasize Reformational soteriology, and make it usable. It is not a substitute for either the ecumenical creeds or the Reformed confessions and catechisms, but hopefully a valuable, liturgical supplement.