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Out of the Closet: Theological Confession Meme

Following Ben Myers’ new meme, here’s a list of my own “theological confessions”:

I confess:  I really do think Balthasar was a better and more interesting theologian than Barth.

I confess:  I’ve never really read much Frei or Lindbeck.

I confess:  If I wasn’t a “new monastic” free-church protestant, I’m pretty sure I’d be a Roman Catholic.

I confess:  I think Rowan Williams is the best archbishop of Cantebury and theologian of the Anglican communion since Cranmer.

I confess:  Whenever I hear the world “sola” I throw up a little bit.  In my mouth.

I confess:  I think Robert Jenson is the best theologian writing today.

I confess:  I stand with the church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sex.

I confess:  I think that T.F. Torrance, Colin Gunton, and Robert Jenson carry on and develop Barth’s theological heritage in a better and more interesting way than John Webster, Bruce McCormack, and George Hunsinger.

I confess:  I think that dogmatic precision can often come at the cost of theological faithfulness and creativity.

I confess:  I think that Henri de Lubac, not Rahner, Schillebeeckx, or even Balthasar is the greatest Catholic theologian of the 20th Century.


  1. Ben wrote:

    I confess: if I weren’t born Roman Catholic, and I had to choose, I would be Eastern Orthodox.

    I confess: a lot of times I wonder if theologians are simply making it all up. Especially ontology talk.

    I confess: the only thing that keeps me from getting a degree in theology is the money. I mean, the lack of it.

    I confess: sometimes I’d rather read a book ABOUT liturgy than actually attend liturgy.

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  2. Fred wrote:

    for your penance, pray the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) ~Fred

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  3. bobby grow wrote:


    what is it that keeps you from being full-fledged Roman Catholic? Is it apostolic succession?

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    That’s one of the things I suppose. Mostly though its that I don’t think that shopping around for the “right” communion is the right way to go about stuff. I see very good theological reasons for being Catholic and for being Protestant and I happen to be Protestant, so I try as best as I can to bring about union between both from where I am. The goal after all is not for us to find the “right” comnmunion, but to make the communions one.

    Another reason is my high level of commitment to my current congregation. I really just don’t think I could ever leave this group of people unless I had extremely strong convictions that, before the Lord, I had to be somewhere else. And I don’t feel that level of conviction. I think both Catholic and Reformation churches are part of the history of God’s work in making a people for himself. One day, all will be one, and I hope that it comes soon.

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  5. I tried posting this before, but I’ll try again. This statement is very interesting:

    “I think that T.F. Torrance, Colin Gunton, and Robert Jenson carry on and develop Barth’s theological heritage in a better and more interesting way than John Webster, Bruce McCormack, and George Hunsinger.”

    You’ve organized these theologians into rather interesting groups. In terms of friendships and personal connections, you would have to put McCormack with Gunton and Jenson, who are/were all friends. Hunsinger and Torrance are two of a kind, while Webster falls somewhere between those two and the other group.

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  6. Halden wrote:

    Yes, I wasn’t so much thinking of friendships and connections as of the ways in which they are all based in Barth’s theology, but Webster, McCormack, and Hunsinger tend to simply exposit Barth with dogmatic precision whereas Torrance, Gunton, and Jenson take Barth’s thought and run with it, so to speak, developing it in new ways, and at points breaking from it. Generally I find them to be more creative and interesting then the “Princeton” crowd. Though, I did have some ambiuity about putting Hunsinger in that group as he has done some more creative and engaging dogmatic work.

    And all of this, of course is my opinion. I know you find Webster very engaging.

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  7. I really think you need to start reading McCormack’s essays. He is by far the most radical reader of Barth, second only to Jenson. If you only know his book on Barth’s theology, then you’re missing the incredibly creative work that he’s doing. Hunsinger strives to be faithful to Barth as much as possible, but McCormack wants to take Barth’s central insights and go beyond Barth (see his recent work on a Reformed kenoticism). Jenson and McCormack are friends, but they also share this interest in theologizing in creative ways. After McCormack and Jenson spoke at the conference on divine impassibility at Providence College, one doctoral student said that the two of them are showing the way forward in theology today. I heartily agree with that statement. If anything, McCormack might be guilty (according to some) of going too far past Barth! The same is often said of Jenson.

    Webster, for me, remains the greatest living theologian today. He has gleaned all the important insights from Barth, but he’s also delved deeply into Jüngel. He is the most rigorous thinker. Jenson is creative, but often sloppy. Webster is both creative (not as creative as Jenson, to be sure) and precise. McCormack is also creative and precise, but he does not produce nearly as much material as Webster does, which is a shame.

    Minor correction: Webster is not part of the “Princeton” crowd, though I wish he were!

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 8:04 pm | Permalink
  8. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, I like some of the essays that McCormack has done, but it still doesn’t seem nearly as innovative as Jenson, at least in my book. The Reformed Kenoticism article was interesting, and maybe I’ll give it a read again. I liked his article on participation in God pretty well, too. But maybe I will need to hit up a few of the articles I haven’t read of his. It does seems to me that McCormack thinks, at least to a point that the Reformed tradition can kind of incorporate just about every theological insight, and I just don’t think it can. But I know that you love the Reformed tradition and I respect that.

    And of course you know that I couldn’t disagree more about Webster. I really doubt he’ll be more than a footnote in the history of theology. I do, though appreciate the pains that Webster goes to for the sake of nuance and precision. Those are always things to admire in a scholar. As to Jenson’s “sloppiness” its really a matter of whether or not you agree with his radically historical ontology. What you call sloppy, I’d probably call radical. :)

    And I knew he didn’t teach at Princeton, but I stil throw him in that group. The connections are pretty close.

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  9. Aaron G wrote:

    I agree with you about “dogmatic precision.”

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  10. adamsteward wrote:

    I throw up in my mouth anytime anybody uses latin or greek when they aren’t trying to make a point about how the sense of a passage is different in the other language. If you want to prove to the world that you know a language, then translate something from it that hasn’t been translated yet. Being pretensious isn’t useful to anyone. Oh, and here’s some confessions.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
  11. Scott wrote:

    I agree with almost all of your confessions/comments. The only one that tripped me up was the very last one. If I had to decide between de Lubac and HuvB, I’d choose the latter. Two incredible thinkers, nonetheless.

    Thanks for your posts.

    Saturday, August 18, 2007 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

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