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One Theologian on Deserted Island

If you could pick the writings of one theologian to have with you on a deserted island, who would it be and why? You can have everything they’ve ever written, but only one person.

Me? Probably Barth. Or Yoder. But probably Barth.


  1. Geoff wrote:

    Augustine, Luther, or Barth…probably Barth.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  2. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Well, Barth would be good because it would take you a lifetime on a deserted island to scratch the surface of his thought. But, I think I’d probably have to take Rowan Williams with me. I’d want his books AND sermons.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  3. Mika Luoma-aho wrote:

    Have to love the mileage on Luther and Barth, but I’ll opt for Bonhoeffer. For the variety.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  4. Andrew wrote:

    I think it would be problematic for me to be on a deserted island with any theologian. If food became scarce he might realize that heretics are most palatable medium-rare.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  5. poserorprophet wrote:

    I think I would take von Balthasar over Barth. Equally massive output (perhaps even more massive?), equally profound, but much more variety.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  6. Hill wrote:


    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  7. andrew wrote:


    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  8. Eddie wrote:

    Have any theologians written a cookery book or a survival manual?

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  9. Dostoevsky.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
  10. X-Cathedra wrote:

    I’d say Jesus of Nazareth. Though he wasn’t terribly prolific…;)


    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
  11. Whoever has written the most. If I’m alone on a desert island I don’t know how much good theology would do me except for kindling.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  12. D C Cramer wrote:

    Perhaps Wesley. But probably Yoder. Though it would get frustrating reading all that christological socio-political critique with no one to point it at!

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  13. Miller wrote:

    Eddie–see Robert Capon.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
  14. Dave Belcher wrote:

    It would seem most appropriate to have profoundly meditative, contemplative works — especially considering the profound isolation (DC Cramer makes a great point about having Yoder on a desert island — although I would hope that doesn’t mean Yoder is taken to only be prescribing “effective” means for political discipleship and responsibility!)….in any case, I would say Kierkegaard….and yes, I do think Kierkegaard can fit the “mystic” bill much more so than the typical “existentialist” attribution…

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
  15. N. Dan SMith wrote:

    Forget writings, give me the living, breathing theologian: Hauerwas.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Permalink
  16. Ed wrote:

    What about Moltman?

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  17. Adrian Woods wrote:

    Theologian – Balthazar
    Philosopher – Taylor or Plantinga
    Poet – Walt Whitman
    and if Only 1 Book of the Bible – John

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 6:31 pm | Permalink
  18. Dan wrote:

    A German, French and USAmerican theologian had been stranded on an island for several years when a lamp washed up on the beach. When the French theologian cleaned it off a genie came out of the lamp. He offered the French theologian the traditional three wishes which he promptly decided to share with his colleagues. The French theologian then wished he was home in France and whoosh he was instantly transported to his beloved homeland. The German theologian wished he was back in Germany and ZAP he found himself home again.

    The American theologian looked around and said, “It sure is lonely here. I wish those two were back here with me.”

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Permalink
  19. Evan Kuehn wrote:

    Hegel. Probably just because I’m reading him right now, but I’m simply awestruck by his depth, creativity, and ability to frustrate.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  20. Arni wrote:

    Wow, Dan, that is an ancient joke! :)

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  21. Adam Morton wrote:

    Luther. Enormous output, dazzling variety, many jokes.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  22. Tough call on this one . . . Maybe Ray Anderson. He just tend to think a little different than most, and it makes for a nice change of pace.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 9:16 pm | Permalink
  23. Matt Jenson wrote:

    Has no one really said Calvin?! Seriously?! He’s got any number of points to get you riled up (and you need a good sparring partner on a desert island), but can you think of someone who writes with a deeper sense of Scripture’s logic and manner of speaking, or with more clarity? Plus, you get the commentaries to boot. The longer I read him… It’s worth the price of admission for the ecclesiology alone.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
  24. Matt. I’m so pleased you mentioned Calvin. He was next on my list. For what’s it’s worth, it seems that if Barth read Halden’s blog, he would agree with you. He once confessed in a letter to his dear friend Eduard Thurneysen: ‘Calvin is a cataract, a primeval forest, a demonic power, something directly down from the Himalayas, absolutely Chinese, strange, mythological; I lack completely the means, the suction cups, even to assimilate this phenomenon, not to speak of presenting it adequately … I could gladly and profitably set myself down and spend all the rest of my life just with Calvin’.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 3:30 am | Permalink
  25. Liam wrote:

    I was all ready to say Barth and give my top 3 reasons but after reading the comments I feel like I would just be following the crowd. As much as I enjoy the social ethics of Hauerwas, Surely engaging with culture would become tiresome fictional reading on a desert island alone?

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 3:52 am | Permalink
  26. CTN wrote:

    Barth, because with him you get Scripture and most of the Church Fathers in long quotations. That’s why the Church Dogmatics is so long.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 8:44 am | Permalink
  27. Geoff wrote:

    Now that I think about it, Ray Comfort wrote a short manual on how to survive disasters…he may be a goof, but if his book helps me leave the island and get back to my library, it’s gotta be him.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 9:10 am | Permalink
  28. Paul Fischer wrote:

    Moltmann, because if I was stranded on a desert island, I would be constantly hoping for eschatological fullfillment, in the form of a ship discovering and rescuing me.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  29. Star Nobel wrote:

    Writings would not help me much, I’d need a person. Tabitha Langel, one of the owners of Tall Grass Prairie in Winnipeg (local bakery that supports local farmers). She has much knowledge and relationship with the land. I would say that one of her names is Theologian.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  30. Brian LePort wrote:

    N.T. Wright

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 1:46 am | Permalink
  31. mergatroid wrote:

    George Macdonald or G. K. Chesterton. Poetry and Fictions included.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  32. Yoder, no doubt about it.

    Friday, October 31, 2008 at 5:02 am | Permalink

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