I have just posted a guest post (at my other blog Behind The Back) by Myk Habets on Thomas Torrance’s Framing of Natural Theology through John Calvin & Karl Barth (my title). This is quite good, and would’ve fit in quite well with Travis’ recent Barth Blog Conference. For anyone interested in such things come give it a read, give some feedback, I’m sure Myk would be happy to respond back. See you there . . .

. . . just a heads up, I’ve started one more blog called Behind The Back, it is strictly dedicated to discussing the theology of Thomas F. Torrance; if you’re interested in ‘strictly TFT’ then that blog will be the place for you. My posting over there might be slower than here; but I will be posting as time permits. See you there:

Behind The Back

It is no secret that this blog, in many ways, is shaped by Thomas F. Torrance’s influences. I have “known” T. F. for only the last three years, and I’m still getting to know him 😉 , and everything that I’ve read of his has been a TTorrance_smll“page-turner.” Almost everything I see him saying resonates with my own sense and theological predisposition; I’m obviously a great fan. Not only that, but we even have our very own T. F. Torrance scholar here at TEC, in the person of Dr. Myk Habets (who recently guest-posted some poetry for us). I say all this, because — and I was actually and naively unaware of this, until a few months ago — I have been becoming more and more aware that T. F. Torrance (I knew about Barth) is not a trusted source for many a theologian out there. Here is an example provided by Dr. Michael Haykin, he recently said this at his blog about Barth and Torrance, comparing B and T with Warfield:

. . . to take one example of comparison between Warfield and Barth/Torrance: when the latter read the Fathers, they frequently read them wrongly, out of context and with their own agenda so that the Fathers end up sounding like neo-orthodox before their time. T.F. Torrance’s study of grace in the Apostolic Fathers is very one-sided and fails to aprpeciate [sic] texts like the Letter to Diognetus, while his reading of Nazianzen (I am thinking of his article on Greg Naz and Calvin on the Trinity) is accepted by few patristic scholars. Warfield, on the other hand, read the Fathers well, partly because of his training as a NT scholar, and devotes monographs to their study. This rich understanding of historical theology informs his systematic study and forms the subsoil out of which he develops a rich overview of the Christian Faith. My problem with Barth and Torrance is that I find I cannot trust them when they are doing patristics, and that makes me suspicious of their interpretation of holy Scripture. (taken from: here)

I can understand his reticence, and I find his transparency commendable. But at the same time, come on! Certainly Barth and Torrance took liberty in some of their readings of the Patristics, but what one calls liberty, another calls interpretation. In other words, isn’t this the work of scholarship, to read and interpret, reconstruct and vivify folks from the past? This happens all the time in theological academia, Haykin makes it sound like there is a static norm and threshold of scholarship that must be met, before any particular scholar can be taken seriously. Come on! Scholarship is fluid, views are fluid, interpretations are fluid (I’m not a relativist 😉 ). To say, as Haykin does, that he cannot trust folks like Torrance — which is his perrogative, and that’s fine — and his interpretation of scripture, is too much of a generalization to take seriously. All I see Haykin, and others doing, is protesting the particular metaphysics that folks like Barth and Torrance  (click on the hyper-link to see a good intro to this kind of ‘metaphysics’ done by Kevin Davis) were forwarding (contra the classic kind, that I presume Haykin is committed to). What Haykin does is engage a genetic fallacy, by basically stating that anything that comes from Barth and Torrance is suspect simply because it is coming from Barth and Torrance.

What I appreciate about Torrance is simply his constructive theological creativity; it is his ideas, it is his unique brand of theology. I appreciate him because I think that what he communicates (by-and-large, I don’t agree with everything that comes from TFT) provides some great explanatory power per the ‘inner logic’ implicit in scripture (sola scriptura!). I would like to see Haykin, and folks like him (the prejudice), critique the thought and material content of TFT’s broader theological project versus engaging in sweeping generalization when it comes to Barth and/or Torrance.

A little rant, sorry. Btw, over at his blog, Haykin does see Barth and Torrance as necessary dialogue partners, but I’m afraid that this just means that they serve as “those other guys, over there” foils for magnifying real teachers of truth (like Warfield represents for Haykin). I know nothing of Dr. Haykin, except for what I just read over at his blog, so hopefully I’m completely off base here.

lurkerI like doing an “Emergency Lurker Check” every now and again on my blogs . . . this is one of those ‘now and agains’. So what I would like you to do, oh lurker, is to say hi, identify your self. You don’t have to say anything more, unless you want to, than hi (don’t worry no commitments 😉 ); I just would like to see how many of you all are out there, and hear from you, even if it’s just a simple gidday, hi, hola, etc. This is your chance, my dear lurkers (I know you’re there, my stat counter has you tagged 🙂 ), let me hear ya . . .

Go see this really good post by Jason Goroncy on Calvin:

Michael Jinkins on, ‘Myths and urban legends about John Calvin’

Nathan Hitchcock (doctoral candidate in systematic theology at New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland — lucky, that’s where TFT taught, I’ll try not to covet 😉 ) just alerted me to a conference that he is taking part in, at Sioux Falls Seminary. The conference is entitled: Calvin and Current Calvinisms Conference. This conference is in honor of Calvin’s 500th anniversary (his birthday, now belated); here is the conference’s theme:

This year is the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, great servant and theologian for the Church. To commemorate this occasion Sioux Falls Seminary is hosting a conference on Friday, October 16, 2009 for lay leaders and pastors, theologians and scholars, seminarians and university students.

On one hand, the conference seeks to recognize the tremendous impact Calvin had in his own era. Expert historian Scott M. Manetsch will help clarify the significance of his work in Geneva, and chart the development of the churches shaped by him in the sixteenth century. From there, the conference seeks to facilitate a conversation between the many groups identifying themselves as “Calvinist” or “Reformed” today. How has Calvin’s legacy been received and developed in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches? Why are so many Baptist groups and free churches identifying themselves with him? And what about these so-called “young Calvinists”?

The day will include several main presentations, a breakout session for the reading of scholarly papers, and a diverse panel of thinkers discussing what it means to follow in John Calvin’s footsteps in this day and age.

This conference is made possible in large part by the gracious support of Sioux Falls Seminary, Classis Heartland (CRCNA) and Classis of West Sioux (RCA). (taken from here)

It looks like a one day conference, taking place October 16th; if you’re in the area, I would encourage you to drop by! This sounds great!!!

Scott Kirkland, fellow Evangelical Calvinist, has just posted on “Evangelical Calvinism: Atonement,” you should go read it! We share kindred hearts, although I fear I’ve been going astray a bit, he desires to communicate what EC is about at understandable levels; in ways that a person need not be a “trained theologian” to understand. He is doing a two point series, his next post should be a good one as well; he will relate the vicarious life of Christ to his discussion on ‘Atonement’. This is great, since both go hand-in-hand.

Go here to read it