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Should all animals kept for human consumption be freed for their own sake and happiness? Or can their killing for meat and consumption be a “priestly act” through God’s permission, as Karl Barth puts it.
This week we will cover the first half of the final chapter of Christopher Southgate’s “The Groaning of Creation.”
Please answer one of the following questions:
In the latter half of Book VIII, Augustine wrote a lot about free will, however, everyone in the group decided not to write about it (I was betting someone was bound to) surprisingly. We did come around to discussing free will in the beginning and was equally surprised to learn that a majority of our group thought that free will was more or less an illusion and that everything was deterministic, even from a theological standpoint.
Anyway, here are our essays about whether or not conversion to Christianity limits your options and freedoms; thoughts about original sin; the role of shame and repentance prior to conversion (whether it’s necessary or not); and bibliolatry and the Barthian or “encounter” view of Scripture.
A clip from the movie “Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine.” Bishop Ambrose is depicted here embracing Augustine and later baptizing him.
This week, we will finish the rest of Book VIII – chapters 7 – 12 of Augustine’s Confessions.
In these final chapters, we encounter the monumental moment when Augustine finally devotes himself to the Christian faith as he recounts in great detail in these writings.
So we had a very active and stimulating meeting last night and discussed a whole range of topics; a lot of it focused on the nature of God and how He relates with us.
Virtually all of us agreed that a theocracy was not the best form of government and disagreed that the Kingdom of God that Jesus talked about would not fall under the category of a theocracy; strains of Manichean beliefs or at least dualism within not only charismatic and fundamentalist sects of Christianity but also Catholicism; struggling to define what a ‘spirit’ actually is and what it means that God is ‘spirit’, and whether or not it differs with the concept of a soul; the eternal question of free will and God’s sovereignty (i.e. Does God have a predetermined plan for everyone’s lives or are we responsible for our own actions) and whether or not the universe might be free and open; and discussions on whether or not God suffers and if that is the case, does that mean He can change his mind or plan on things.
Here are our essays.
UPDATE: Chapter 24: Part II – German Christians during WWII; Stalin and the Orthodox Church; the ‘Word of Faith’ and ‘Health and Wealth Gospel’ movements
We were finally able to meet this past Wednesday and submit our essays and finish Chapter 24. Just one more chapter to go!
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Reading Church history as we’ve been doing for the past year and a half has been quite sobering, to say the least, for all of us as we go through MacCulloch’s book. In this chapter, we thought about the reasons why so many Christians might ally themselves with blatantly evil forces such as the Nazi Party during World War II. At times, during extreme circumstances you have to go into a form of ‘survival mode’ and defer to the powers at be in order to stay alive or not get yourself killed. Yes, this is a very watered-down reasoning on why the German (both Protestant and Catholic) Churches supported the Nazis (there are other more complex factors involved for sure), but it was, dare I say, understandable. If faced with a life and death situation, there will be some who will become martyrs for the faith in defiance towards the powers at be, and others who will compromise and capitulate to the domineering powers. Though many will make quick, knee-jerk reactions and snap judgements that they were cowards and perhaps not real Christians, in reality it’s not an easy decision to make. When you factor in personal economic and family considerations, you count how much you can lose and base your decisions on that. We cannot be quite sure how we’d respond during extreme circumstances where our faiths are tested to its furthest extent.
Also, a couple of us in the group (Michael and I) have been part of Pentecostal and charismatic churches in the past, and it was interesting to learn and read about the history of the development of its theology over the years, and why it has such a high appeal to so many people that it is the fastest growing Church movement in history.
Here are our essays.
We will finish up the rest of Chapter 24 and discuss the impact World War II had upon Christendom.
Please read the last three sections: The Churches and Nazism: The Second World War, World Christianity Realigned: Ecumenical Beginnings, and World Christianity Realigned: Pentecostals and New Churches.
UPDATE: Chapter 22: Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815 – 1914) – Part I – First-wave feminism, Ultramontanism, and Hegel
This past Wednesday we had a rather lively discussion on the notion of visions in Christianity – visions of Mary for Catholics and just general visions by Pentecostals or other generally charismatic sects. It’s quite interesting that the Mother Mary almost never (to my knowledge) appears to Protestants – visions of Mary almost always occur to poor girls in small villages that are going through war or political strife. For Protestants, claims of visions or other prophetic utterances seem to be hit or miss according to the limited experiences we discuss from our own personal encounters.
There was also some discussion on whether or not missions (in general throughout history) isn’t a form of Western imperialization in some respects. We tend to go there and not only want to preach the gospel to them, but also hope and pray that they’ll receive the same benefits and even the comforts of an affluent Western lifestyle. Has the Western mindset of the gospel been diluted and mixed with the gospel of Western standard of living and materialism? There was also some thoughts as to whether or not Marcion was right in stating that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are NOT one and the same. Christianity has moved so far away from Judaism and its understanding of God that when you compare the two, they seem worlds apart. It is arguable, but it’s an interesting thought nonetheless.
Here are our submissions from our meeting this Wednesday.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Wolfhart Pannenberg, last Friday on September 5.
On and off, I’ve been reading his magnum opus, Systematic Theology vols. 1 – 3, along with his Jesus – God and Man, Metaphysics and the Idea of God, and Theology and the Philosophy of Science.
I’m also currently reading a book about his theology edited by one of his students, Philip Clayton, titled “The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg: Twelve American Critiques, with an Autobiographical Essay and Response“.
You can read Clayton’s obituary of Pannenberg here.
Prof. Pannenberg will be missed.
More about Prof. Pannenberg:
“Imagining Barth and Nietzsche in Conversation” by Daniel Migliore and the Third Ed. of “Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology”
Just as Project Augustine celebrates its two-year anniversary this month, Eerdmans Publishing will have the 3rd Edition of Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology out next month.
Project Augustine started off with going through all of the 2nd Edition of Daniel Migliore’s Faith Seeking Understanding which you will find here in July of 2012.
From the article:
In my dialogue I try to avoid giving all the good lines to one of the speakers and reducing the other to a mere foil. My reason for doing so is that Nietzsche’s critique, even if dated, is in some respects devastating, and if I understand Barth’s way of doing theology aright, his response to the atheist challenge is not to try to defeat it by a clever apologetic strategy but instead simply to present as clearly as he can the Christian understanding of God centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ as attested in Scripture.
Our group took great joy going over Prof. Migliore’s book and we look forward to the new edition coming out next month.