Trust Witness

From the November 2015 Print Edition

Revelation as Testimony
by mats wahlberg
eerdmans, 256 pages, $20 T wentieth-century theologians across a great spectrum—Catholic and Protestant, conservative and progressive—were critical of theories of divine revelation based exclusively on propositional truth. They were united not in their beliefs, but in their allergy to scholasticism. Instead of saying “in the New Testament God reveals the divinity of Christ” or “Christians must believe by faith that God is a Holy Trinity,” there was a move toward the notion of encounter: Revelation occurs when Christ manifests himself personally to us as Lord, or when we realize that God is personally addressing us as the Holy Trinity. This was the more traditional version, which emphasized the interpersonal and existential dimensions of faith. On the other end of the spectrum, revisionists like Paul Tillich and Hans Küng claimed that dogmas and propositions are expressions of religious experiences or spiritual intuitions, alerting us to an encounter with God that goes beyond all formulas or man-made intellectual systems. These trends were united by a common feature: a notion of revelation that is less cognitive and truth-based, more intuitive and emotional. Mats Wahlberg, a young Swedish theologian and recent convert to Catholicism, has written a devastating critique of these modern theo­logies, one conducted with elegant argumentation and which seeks to vindicate more traditional approaches. Continue Reading »

Difficult Marriage in A Modern Age

From Web Exclusives

In 1567, the famous reformer Pope Pius V condemned various propositions from the writings of a little known theologian by the name of Michael Baius, a professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium. Concerned with combatting a rising secularism, yet ironically yielding to it, his problems are to a great extent our own. Continue Reading »

Divine Perfection

From the March 2014 Print Edition

The God of the Gospel: Robert Jenson’s Trinitarian Theology? 
by scott r. swain?
ivp academic, 258 pages, $24
How can we know if God exists? Is the existence of God philosophically demonstrable, and if not, is the act of faith a fundamentally subjective decision? After the rise of the modern sciences and the decline of classical metaphysics, modern philosophers influenced by Immanuel Kant’s counsel against speculative pretension have often proposed theoretical agnosticism as a basic intellectual norm. Religious faith can then be characterized as something nonrational.In the darkness of modern skepticism, Karl Barth saw the ­opportunity to assert a classical theological truth: We are saved not by the strength of our reason but only by the ­initiative of God’s grace. The question is not “How can we come to know God by our own powers?” but rather “How has God made it possible for us to know him uniquely through divine revelation, in the history of Jesus Christ?” Continue Reading »

The Light of the Torah

From the January 2014 Print Edition

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has composed a message to the Christian community replete with intellectual light and heartfelt warmth, and it is a great honor to be asked to respond to him. I would like to focus on three topics: creative minorities, universalism, and Christianity in a post-Constantinian age.First, then, creative minorities. Sacks identifies three forms of creativity in Judaism that have greatly influenced humanity over time. Let’s call these the creativity of internal renewal, cultural mediation, and the construction of the modern mind. It would not be difficult to transpose each of these themes into a Christian key. Continue Reading »

Sociology as Theology

From the June/July 2013 Print Edition

Just when you thought liberal Protestantism was dead, Robert Bellah writes what is arguably the greatest work of liberal Protestant theology ever. Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age is about the evolutionary roots of religious behavior. It is a magnificent treatment . . . . Continue Reading »

Inevitable Scholasticism

From the April 2011 Print Edition

Introduction to Scholastic Theology by Ulrich G. Leinsle trans. Michael J. Miller Catholic University of America, 392 pages, $29.95 The standard narratives of twentieth-century Catholic theology written in the past forty years typically depict the ways in which modern Catholic theologians managed . . . . Continue Reading »