May 30, 2013

Karl Barth, The Word of God and Theology, trans. Amy Marga (New York: T&T Clark, 2011), 242 pp. (review copy courtesy of T&T Clark) Annie Dillard once wrote that she did ‘not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing... Read more

May 28, 2013

For twelve years, the Torrey Honors Institute has organized the G. Campbell Morgan Theology Lectures, a ten-hour overview of the major doctrines of systematic theology. It’s designed for Torrey freshmen and sophomores who have been immersed in primary texts from the history of theology: Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and even a few authors whose names don’t start with A (Irenaeus, Gregory of Nazianzus, Bonaventure, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan). The basic idea is that since these students in Biola’s great books program... Read more

May 24, 2013

A prayer given at Torrey graduation, May 24, 2013. It includes a little unfootnoted Calvin, a little Barth, a little Lincoln, a little Psalm 98, and is based on a prayer I prayed ten years ago for another graduating class. O Sovereign God, your story is bigger than ours. We come to you today with a handful of little stories: the stories of these candidates with their 4-year plans completed just behind them and new prospects of achievement opening before... Read more

May 24, 2013

The Los Angeles Bible Training School graduated another class of Bible students last week. These graduates have earned a Bible certificate that equips them to carry on their ministries with greater depth and more training, based on a systematic study of the Scriptures. The commencement speaker was Dr. Clint Arnold, dean of Talbot School of Theology, who spoke from Ephesians 1. At the end of the service I gave this benediction, which a few people have asked to see: The... Read more

May 24, 2013

“Write prayers and burn them,” advised P.T. Forsyth in The Soul of Prayer.  Why write them? Because it gives you a chance to be more careful in choosing words, in shaping the overall prayer with craft and coherence. Most of the praying that we do throughout a work day is either unscripted and spontaneous, or praying through words composed by somebody else (the Lord’s prayer, or a bit of liturgy). I have found that writing out a prayer is a... Read more

May 17, 2013

Here’s a little meditation on marriage I wrote for the Christianity Today blog Her.meneutics. Read more

April 29, 2013

This week Fred Sanders posted a link to a meditation on Barth and the experience of doubt in the life of a Christian, and especially of a theologian. The article deals with two forms of Christian doubt, one innocuous, one dangerous, but both negative. While this post rightly identifies two ways doubt can go wrong, any student of Pascal will argue that there’s also a way that doubt can go right, acting as a corrective for presumption and pride in... Read more

April 24, 2013

One of our semesters at Torrey Honors Institute is called On Learning and Knowledge, and it is an excellent thematic investigation of epistemology, philosophy of education, and even pedagogy, among other things. Our juniors in this course read Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, Frederick Douglass and John Henry Newman, along with Descartes, Pascal, Locke, Hume, and Kant. It’s a remarkable run. But we also have a long-standing commitment to spend part of every semester in Scripture. Some great books... Read more

April 24, 2013

Fred Sanders and Matt Jenson finish their series of posts on Steve Holmes’ new Trinity book (the others are here and here) with a discussion about his overall project and what it suggests for trinitarian theology.  Jenson: Holmes steers awfully close to despair at the end of his book, Fred. On the last page, after a brief summary of the consistent Patristic understanding of the Trinity, he concludes: ‘In our accounts of a Trinitarian revival, we wanted little or nothing to... Read more

April 22, 2013

I am fairly certain that John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University has been on the required reading list of the Torrey Honors Institute since I began working here eight years ago. Given how we teach in Torrey, however, I had never had the opportunity to lead sessions on the text. So, back in December I asked to teach Newman this spring, and was pleased to be given seven sessions on Newman. That’s twenty hours of discussing The Idea... Read more

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