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Bondage and Freedom

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation sent me back to Luther and his debate with Erasmus. The two were among the most widely read authors in sixteenth-century Europe. In the early 1520s, they exchanged dueling treatises on free will. They raised recondite theological questions of biblical . . . . Continue Reading »

Death of God Fifty Years On

On April 8, 1966, a five-thousand-word cover story appeared in Time magazine, sending the country into a panic over a group of theologians few had heard of then and nobody remembers now. Paul van Buren, Thomas Altizer, and William Hamilton are forgotten. The cover, however, remains memorable. The . . . . Continue Reading »

Theology Worth Smuggling

When Harvey Cox was a student minister in Berlin in 1962, one year after the erection of the Wall, he was able to travel back and forth between East and West because he held an American passport. He thus became a courier for pastors and Christian laypeople on both sides of that divide and was . . . . Continue Reading »

Letters

BARTH'S LEGACY I am grateful to Phillip Cary for his admirable review of my book Reading Barth with Charity (April). I have only one demurral. I would simply like to enter a plea for greater historical consciousness. After all, it has not yet been fifty years since Barth’s death. It seems . . . . Continue Reading »

Barth Wars

Reading Barth with Charity: 
A Hermeneutical Proposal 
by george hunsinger 
baker, 208 pages, $24.99 Rumors of war persist in Princeton. The seminary faculty there boasts two eminent Barth scholars, George Hunsinger and Bruce McCormack, who don’t see eye to eye. Recently the battle has . . . . Continue Reading »

Letters

Which Barth? Whose Failure? A Reply to Matthew Rose Matthew Rose: “Barth agreed with the Enlightenment insistence on the historical and empirical conditions of our knowledge, only to observe that God himself became historical and empirical” (“Karl Barth’s Failure,” . . . . Continue Reading »

The End of Negative Theology

When I was in graduate school in the eighties, negative theology was all the rage because it seemed like such a blessing. What better form could a theologian give to the confounding perplexities of deconstruction and the metaphysical obfuscations of postmodernism? Not willing to admit that radical theology was merely reactive, I wrote my dissertation on Karl Barth’s Epistle to the Romans to show that Barth was Derrida avant la lettre. I have since repented of such foolishness. Evangelism is the best retort to questions about our ability to speak about God. As St. Paul said, “I believed, and so I spoke” (2. Cor. 4:13). In the act of witnessing, ambivalence and indecision melt into air. Continue Reading »

Negative Theology

The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspectiveby james barrfortress, 715 pages, $40 Formerly the Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford and now the Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible Emeritus at Vanderbilt Divinity School, James Barr is surely one of the leading biblical scholars . . . . Continue Reading »

Derrida, Death, and Forgiveness

Barth, Derrida, and the Language of Theologyby graham ward cambridge university press, 258 pages, $54.95 The Gift of Deathby jacques derrida, translated by david wills university of chicago press, 115 pages, $18.95 Though Jacques Derrida is perhaps France’s best-known living philosopher, his . . . . Continue Reading »

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