In the first post, Forsyth looked at the intention of Christ in “rounding off” his revelation with his election of the apostles. Below I have provided three highly illuminating passages wherein Forsyth further explains his understanding of this apostolic primacy and why it alone is authoritative for the Church. Note especially the last passage.

“As we have God by the miracle of Christ, so we have Christ by the miracle of the apostolic inspiration. (Mat. xi. 27, xvi. 17). If the manifested deed is miraculous, so is the inspired. The apostles’ understanding of the cross is miraculous, like the cross itself. It is there by the direct and specific action of the same Spirit as that by which Christ offered himself to God, though the action took another form. So also the form of our illumination through the apostles is different from theirs by the very fact that they had no apostles to mediate the truth to them. As Christ was the direct mediator of the work itself, having himself no Saviour, so the apostles are the direct mediators of the central truth about it, having therein no human revealers.” (The Person and Place of Jesus Christ, p. 173)

“As to the authority of the Bible, especially on a matter like the Godhead of Christ, we may note this. The mere historical aspect of the Bible is a matter of learned inquiry. Its evidence for a mere historical fact must stand at what it is historically worth. The difficulty only begins with facts which are more than merely historical, whose value lies not in their occurrence, but in their nature, meaning, and effect. It is not the crucifixion that matters but the cross. So it is not reanimation but resurrection. And here the authority of the Bible speaks not to the critical faculty that handles evidence but to the soul that makes response. The Bible witness of salvation in Christ is felt immediately to have authority by every soul pining for redemption. It is not so much food for the rationally healthy, but it is medicine for the sick, and life for the dead.” (p. 178)

“The authority in the Bible is more than the authority of the Bible; and it is the historic and present Christ as Saviour. The Gospel and not the book is the true region of inspiration or infallibility — the discovery of the one Gospel in Christ and His cross. That is the sphere of inspiration. That is where inspiration is infallible. …The true region of Bible authority is therefore saving certainty in man’s central and final part — his conscience before God. …It is by the Bible that Christ chiefly works on history. All the Church’s preaching and work is based on it, on what we only know through it. As no man could succeed the apostles in their unique position and work, but their book became their true successor, so no book can replace this. The apostles are gone but the book remains, to prolong their supernatural vision, and exercise their authority in the Church. In so far as the Church prolongs the manifestation and is Christ’s body, the Bible prolongs the inspiration and is Christ’s word. The writers were and are the only authentic interpreters of Christ. They said so, under the immediate shadow of Christ’s action on them, whether his historic or his heavenly action. They never contemplate being superseded on the great witness till Christ came. If they are wrong in that, where are they right? And where are we to turn? To a critical construction of what they said — they including the evangelists? But does that not make the critics, the constructors, to be the true Apostolate? …In [the Bible’s] substance it is part of the revelation; its penumbra; and it is as authoritative in its way as the manifestation whose vibration it is. It is of eternal moment to the soul whether it take or leave the Christ that this book as a whole preaches to the world.” (pp. 179-181)

Lord of Lords

September 28, 2008

Beholding Your beauty
Is all that I long for
To worship You Jesus
Is my sole desire
For this very heart
You have shaped for Your pleasure
Purposed to lift Your Name higher

Here in surrender
In pure adoration
I enter Your courts
With an offering of praise
I am Your servant
Come to bring You glory
As is fit for the work of Your hands

Now unto the Lamb
Who sits on the throne
Be glory and honour and praise
All of creation resounds with the song
Worship and praise Him
The Lord of lords

Spirit now living
And dwelling within me
Keep my eyes fixed
Ever on Jesus’ face
Let not the things of this world
Ever sway me
I’ll run ’til I finish the race

Now unto the Lamb
Who sits on the throne
Be glory and honour and praise
All of eternity echoes the song
Worship and praise Him
The Lord of lords

Holy Lord, You are holy
Jesus Christ is the Lord

Now unto the Lamb
Who sits on the throne
Be glory and honour and praise
Call all the sinners to join in the song
Worship and praise Him
The Lord of lords

©2007 Brooke Fraser / Hillsong

The Absolute in the Finite

September 26, 2008

The purpose of this post, and some subsequent posts, is to explore Hans Urs von Balthasar’s understanding of Being (=Love) disclosed through created reality. In short, nature intimates a covenant. Von Balthasar’s favorite illustration of this disclosure is the child’s apprehension of his own existence through the loving address of his mother:

The little child awakens to self-consciousness through being addressed by the love of his mother. This descent of the intellect to conscious self-possession is an act of simple fullness that can only in abstracto be analyzed into various aspects and phases. It is not in the least possible to make it comprehensible on the basis of the formal “structure” of the intellect: sensuous “impressions” that bring into play a categorical ordering constitution that in its turn would be a function of a dynamic capacity to affirm “Being in absolute terms” and to objectify the determinate and finite existing object that is present here. The interpretation of the mother’s smiling and of her whole gift of self is the answer, awakened by her, of love to love, when the “I” is addressed by the “Thou”; and precisely because it is understood in the very origin that the “Thou” of the mother is not the “I” of the child, but both centers move in the same ellipse of love, and because it is understood likewise in the very origin that this love is the highest good and is absolutely sufficient and that, a priori, nothing higher can be awaited beyond this, so that the fullness of reality is in principle enclosed in this “I”-“Thou” (as in paradise) and that everything that may be experienced later as disappointment, deficiency and yearning longing is only descended from this: for this reason, everything — “I” and “Thou” and the world — is lit up from this lightning flash of the origin with a ray so brilliant and whole that it also includes a disclosure of God. (Explorations in Theology, III: Creator Spirit, Ignatius Press, p. 15)

[After some poetic profundity, von B continues later:] A subsequent process is necessary — and it is the parents’ task to begin this — in order to differentiate the initially indivisible love of the child into love for fellow human beings and love for the absolute, in order to introduce the direction for the child’s love to God. This happens most painlessly when the parents declare that they are themselves “children of God” and behave accordingly, turning to God together with their children, for then the unconditional love that flows between parents and children does not need to be tied down and “demythologized” to the limited worldly measure; rather, this can be the love that is the foundation and bears the love of parents and children and is now related explicitly to the absolute “Thou.” …This highest realization is, however, an extreme achievement that is made wholly possible only within Christianity. But even here, at the outset, it remains important that we see that Christianity will be the only fully satisfactory unfolding of what has been implied in the first experience of Being on the part of the awakening human spirit: Being and love are coextensive. (p. 17)

So, we move from Being to God to Christ in an unveiling of love. The possibility of identifying the love apprehended in our (natural) relations with the love apprehended in God’s reconciliation in Christ is challenged by the deficiencies experienced in our relations, in our created existence. Many theologians of a more existential mold (and often Protestant) will allow this deficiency to be the norm which cuts against all such identity (and so we have the classic debate between the “theologies of glory” and the “theologies of the cross,” between an analogia entis and, at best, an analogia fidei). But, if we follow von B, the experience of love here and now, as between mother and child, can be apprehended as “the highest good” and “absolutely sufficient,” wherein all of existence is “lit up from this lightning flash of the origin with a ray so brilliant and whole that it also includes a disclosure of God.” Still, this existence also reveals a feeble contingency wherein death, non-existence, seems to be the only true and trustworthy absolute, the consummation of our being. So, how can we know from existence as it is given to us, apart from the explicit promise of the Word made flesh, that Being as life, as love, as creative, is the final word? Must not we say with Heidegger that Being and death (not love) are coextensive, such that Being is “Being-toward-death”?

To be continued.

The T&T Clark blog has a fascinating review of an upcoming book by Rolfe King. These are vitally important matters, and as such they can be handled terribly wrong (and often are). So, I’ll be interested to read how he handles it all. I do think the “trustworthiness” motif (vis-à-vis the problem of evil) is spot on. Here’s the review:

This is a bold and imaginative book that puts forward the thesis that there are, by the nature of the created order, aspects of creaturely existence that block or hinder some forms of divine disclosure thus necessarily shaping the way in which God discloses himself. It proposes that there is a logically given structure to revelation, which God, if there is such a being, must work within. By implication the thesis seeks to sharpen our understanding of what kinds of knowledge of God we can expect to find and the nature of the faith that apprehends revelation. It also suggests that the concepts of omnipotence and freedom, when applied to God, need more careful analysis than is sometimes allowed.

King’s argument emerges out of a rigorous conversation with major historical and contemporary figures in theology and philosophy, such as Calvin, Barth, Kant, Kierkegaard, Swinburne, Plantinga, Alston, Phillips and Hick, amongst others, and sets itself the distinctive task of exploring theological ideas of the hiddenness and mystery of God through a careful philosophical analysis of revelation and faith. The writer argues that there are a number of epistemic features of human existence that give shape to the way in which God can reveal himself. God’s revelation as encoded in texts, as well as more direct forms of disclosure have the character of self-testimony. If these are to be received as revelations of the existence and loving character of God, then there must be trust in the being who is self-testifying. Trust, in turn, is dependent on a person’s immersion, and intellectual and emotional growth within an evidential context that teaches them why they ought to trust God and how they can rightly perceive God’s revelation. This is to say that revelation can only be received from within a context that nurtures a sense of God’s trustworthiness; revelation can only be received as and when trust develops. The importance of the trustworthiness of God to faith explains, in the writers view, why the problem of evil is a significant issue. It is because it weakens the hold of the believer’s trust in the good purposes of God. Moreover the perspective of the writer leads him to describe faith in terms of a journey epistemology. By this is meant that faith depends on evidenced based trust in God trustworthiness that leads a person to belief God’s self-disclosures and which begins with an explicit decision to trust that becomes gradually and over time an implicit, tacit trust in God and his disclosures.

A main virtue of the book is that it approaches familiar theological issues, such as the kenotic self-limitation of God in Christ, from the perspective and using the tools of analytical philosophy. The writer strives for conceptual clarity and rigorous argument throughout and gives a good account of a range of important thinkers in the course of his argument; the book would be well worth reading for its expository value alone! Through his careful discussions of numerous thinkers King puts forward a systematic and cohesive argument in support of his position. Along the way, moreover, he explores some of the ramifications of his position in relation to topics such as the form of human knowledge of God in the eschaton and the importance of miracles to God’s revelatory strategy.

The book is an excellent addition to the literature dealing with revelation. It would be useful to advanced students of theology and theologians, in that it posits a striking thesis that potentially illuminates some key theological concerns and it does this through drawing on the tools and insights of analytical philosophy of religion. It would be also be helpful to philosophers because it offers fair expositions of the work of many key thinkers and takes provocative, well-argued positions within a number of current debates in the field.

Adam Hood, Queen’s Theological Foundation

Obstacles to Divine Revelation is available in the UK from Jan 2009 and the US from March 2009.

Case in point

September 26, 2008

Yet another example of Catholic apologetic attempts to transcend the epistemic foundations we all share. I wouldn’t have posted this except that it is a perfect example of what I had said, in the recent exchange here, to Dr. Liccione. Thankfully, Dr. Liccione offers serious and substantive considerations of the issue(s).

Adrienne Young

September 22, 2008

Here’s some peaceful Appalachia music from Adrienne Young, covering “Brokedown Palace.” She has released three albums: Plow to the End of the Row (2004), The Art of Virtue (2005), and Room to Grow (2007). All three albums are great, especially if you appreciate agrarian values which are a found throughout and flow well with the music. The title tracks to her first two albums are fine examples:

“Plow to the End of the Row” (Click on title to listen to full track)

Wake up in the morning in the moonlight grey
We got dirt to break, we got a note to pay
Gonna plow, plow to the end of the row
Wake up in the morning and plow to the end of the row

Down to the kitchen with my feet still bare
Children to the table, papa say a prayer
Gonna plow, plow to the end of the row
Down to the kitchen, got to plow to the end of the row

Cornbread for breakfast, won’t ya boil the grinds
Got to cut the furrow ‘fore the sun gets high
Got to plow, plow to the end of the row
Cornbread for breakfast and I plow to the end of the row

Sun just broke out over the trees
I got a aching in my back and a tremblin’ in my knees
If the mule won’t pull then the plow won’t go
If the seed don’t set, crop won’t grow

Chickens to the market, seven miles to town
Gotta make it home ‘fore the sun goes down
Big storm coming, I can see it in the sky
Hope it don’t hit ‘fore the clothes get dry

I got rocks in my shoes, dirt in my eyes
Working like a dog til the day I die
You got to plow, plow to the end of the row
I got rocks in my shoes when I plow to the end of the row

My baby’s waitin’ for me at the end of the day
She likes to ball the jack in the sweetest way
Gotta plow, plow to the end of the row
My baby’s waiting’ for me, so I plow to the end of the row

Wake up in the mornin’ in the moonlight grey
We got dirt to break, we got a note to pay
Gonna plow, plow to the end of the row
Wake up in the mornin’ and plow to the end of the row

“Art of Virtue” (Click on title to listen to full track)

Gonna start a revolution,
Made of action, not of words
Practicing the Art of Virtue
A joy ride on the learning curve

Gonna keep my eyes wide open
Till I have something to say
Start to put my house in order
Save some money for a rainy day

Gonna do just what I ought to
Finish what I say I’ll do
Spend my time on something useful
Worry less and speak the truth

I’d like to learn some moderation
Know just when enough’s enough
Meditate on being tranquil
Injure none and bear no grudge

I let go of my resistance
Son of God is inside me
I’m waitin’ for the real thing, honey
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with chastity

If I could walk the path of Jesus
Live each day the best I can
Follow in those humble footsteps
I might reach the promised land

Gonna start a revolution
Made of action, not of words
Practicing the Art of Virtue
A joy ride on a learning curve

Come and join this revolution
Made of action, not of words
Practicing the Art of Virtue
It’s all the rage, oh have you heard?

Click here to buy her albums. God will like you for it (I cannot back that up).

Every so often, the canon debate is renewed in the blogosphere. The latest manifestation is found at Parchment and Pen with Michael Patton’s latest consideration of Sproul’s dictum, “We have a fallible canon of infallible books.” Michael Liccione gives a Catholic response at Philosophia Perennis.

I think the canon debate (=authority debate) might be better served if we actually start with what is actually going on in scripture instead of epistemological categories (e.g., certainty). To this end, here’s an excerpt from P. T. Forsyth’s brilliant lectures, The Person and Place of Jesus Christ (1909):

In Christ God redeemed once for all. To make this effective in history it must be declared. What is the work for us without its word? It must be interpreted, unfolded, in thought and speech, else men would not know they were saved. The work alone would be dumb as the word alone would be empty.

There are some who recognize in Christ’s death no action beyond what it had, and has increasingly, upon mankind. It did not act on God but only from Him. Those who so think may be particularly asked what provision Christ made that a work with that sole object should be secured to act on history, and should not go to waste. He wrote nothing himself. If he had it could not well have included the effect of his death — unless he had done with a posthumous pen what my plea is he did by his Apostles. He did not even give instructions for a written account which should be a constant source for the effect on us intended by his life. Nor did he take any precautions against perversions in its tradition. Yet it is hard to think that a mind capable of so great a design on posterity should neglect to secure that his deed and its significance should reach them in some authentic way. He surely could not put himself into so great an enterprise, and then leave it adrift on history, liable to the accidents of time or the idiosyncracy of his followers. He could not be indifferent whether an effective record and interpretation of his work should survive or not. He would then have shown himself unable to rear the deed he brought forth. It would have been stillborn unless the close of it in some way secured its action on the posterity which we are told was its sole destination, on those whom alone it was to affect or benefit. But the completion of his work he did secure if he inspired its transmission and interpretation in the Bible. If he died to make a Church that Church should continue to be made by some permanent thing from himself, either by a continuous Apostolate supernaturally secured in the charisma veritatis, as Rome claims, or by a book which should be the real successor of the Apostles, with a real authority on the vital matters of truth and faith. But, we discard the supernatural pope for the supernatural book. And so we come back, enriched by all we have learned from repudiating a verbal inspiration and accepting an inspiration of men and souls, to a better way of understanding the authority that there is in the inspiration of a book, a canon. We move from an institutional authority to a biblical: and then from Biblicism to Evangelism. But it is an Evangelism bound up with a book because bound up with history. …And this because, for all the pronounced personality of each Apostle, he was yet the representative of a whole Church, an Eternal Saviour, and a universal salvation. The interpretation of the manifold work of Christ should be a corporate matter. …[Christ] rounded off his great work by inspiring an authoritative account of it, in records which are not mere documents, but are themselves acts within his integral and historic act of salvation. …[They] form an integral part of the deed itself….They are part of the whole transaction, integral to the great deed. And we do not get the whole Christ or his work without them.

(pp. 170-172)

©2007 Tenteri, tenteri.deviantart.com

©2007 Tenteri, tenteri.deviantart.com

Kent at Theology Forum has posted a quote from John Webster’s essay in The Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology. It’s a good, succinct statement of Webster’s approach to theological method. It ends with, “In particular, dogmatics can help to prevent the distortions of perspective which can be introduced into an account of the faith by, for example, pressure from polemical concerns or excessive regard for extra-theological norms.” I doubt anyone reading this blog would have any problems with that. Of course, actually implementing this, trying to form a standard, is a bit harder. This was especially brought to my attention when reading that R. C. Sproul has become a Creationist (6-day YEC) after a career of openness to evolutionary claims. This is tragic. It would not be quite as tragic if Sproul’s reasons were actually scientific. What were his reasons? Pretty much, the Bible says so and the WCF says so — biblicism and confessionalism, in the bad sense of those terms:

For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four–hour periods. According to the Reformation hermeneutic, the first option is to follow the plain sense of the text. One must do a great deal of hermeneutical gymnastics to escape the plain meaning in Genesis 1-2. The confession makes it a point of faith that God created the world in the space of six days. (Truths We Confess, vol. 1, pp. 127–128)

So, the plain sense of the text proves it. Not the plain evidence of nature, as attested by 99.9% of the scientific community. Nope, we got to go with an account that is followed by a talking snake and a fruit of “the knowledge of good and evil.” Now, most would say that we’re obviously dealing with a mythological account intending theological truth. That’s what I say. That’s what real Christian scientists say. But, wait, theologians have a different standard, so they can justify their scientific claims with their “higher” biblicist and confessionalist committments. So, what is Sproul doing? He’s taking the dual paths in our acquisition of truth — revelation for divine truths; nature for scientific truths — and collapsing the latter into the former, creating a false dualism at the natural level where our apprehension of nature becomes fundamentally suspect and untrustworthy.

Sproul is not alone, of course. Al Mohler and Russell Moore at Southern Seminary have said the same thing. They don’t — and can’t — offer scientific evidence for their Creationism. They point to Genesis 1-2, they point to Romans 5, they don’t point to creation itself. That’s a problem. It’s a problem because our commitment to truth is a commitment to reality as a whole. The natural sciences thus produce extra-theological norms to which we must be committed and which we cannot bracket off when we do our exegetical and dogmatic work, not as competitive norms but as complementary in a single reality. This, of course, is easier said than done, as witnessed by those who have (rightly) re-worked protology in light of contemporary science, but it is a necessary task. The alternative is to throw off science (real science) and, thus, throw off truth — retreating from God’s glorious creation and into an ecclesial hermitage. Webster is right in that we need to be aware of an excessive regard for extra-theological norms (e.g., we need not reject Original Sin entirely or make it purely existential with a purely existential solution), but we cannot just say F.U. to science.

Leaving Church, pt. 2

September 10, 2008

©2008 Ben Heys, sifu.deviantart.com

©2008 Ben Heys, sifu.deviantart.com

Back in May, I did a post quoting Bishop Robert Vasa’s comment that rationalism is the primary reason for why people leave the Church. Vasa ends his observations with, “Modern man finds faith unreasonable and therefore unbelievable. In America there is a very strong notion that what we believe must make perfect sense to us, and that we are somehow automatically absolved from believing that which does not seem to be rational.” I think this is spot on. While postmodernism has certainly captured certain segments of academia, even the most Foucauldian of my professors would cite standard (modernist) rationalist and historical-critical arguments against the Christian faith. Doug Chaplin disagreed with me (and Bishop Vasa), citing the fact that many people simply slip away from the Church due to social circumstances and not any real rejection of Christian tenets. As I said in response to Doug, while this is true for many, most of those I’ve encountered who leave the Church “do put forward arguments from reason, whether moral, existential, logical, historical, or a mixture….[They] cite rational obstacles. They will cite the immoral God of the Old Testament, the contradictions in the gospel witness to the Resurrection, or, if they do not know the historical arguments, they will cite the problem of evil or the simple fact that all we see in the universe is the blind mechanical forces of nature.”

Why am I repeating all this? Over at Parchment and Pen, C. Michael Patton has been posting emails that he has received by young adults who have rejected their Christian beliefs. Obviously, the type of person who would email a lay catechetical apostolate is the type of person who is intellectually-engaged to some degree in the Christian claims. Regardless, I am convinced that these reasons are standard fare for ex-Christians. Michael’s latest email is from a guy who cites, among other things, the following:

Two more aspects encouraged me to truly shed my faith.

First. I read the bible. Contrary to fundamentalist beliefs, the bible promotes many hideous acts: genocide, sacrificing children, raping women, slavery, incest, etc. Indeed these ideas are mixed with many wonderful morals. Yet, they reveal the bible as just another book authored by humans.

Second: Science. The same empirical method that allows modern technology (laptops, medicine, spaceships, etc) shows the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and the earth is 4.5 billion years old. The evidence also shows all life evolved from a common ancestor. This is not philosophy, culture, or modern opinion. These are scientific facts supported by libraries, museums, and universities overflowing with evidence!

So, there you go. The immoral God of the OT and the blind mechanical forces of nature. No surprise. And what baffles me is that Church leaders, especially evangelical pastors, ignore this. They don’t take it seriously. They think you can entertain instead of educate, or “educate” in as entertaining a medium as possible. What even more baffles me is that pastors will say that they do not know why so many, especially young adults, are leaving the Church. So, here’ s the point of me writing this post: We know. We know why people leave the faith. It’s not a big secret. It’s not some elusive, deep personal or social force. Ex-Christians all cite the same damn things when they explain why they are not a Christian. So, listen to them. Don’t get me wrong: Personal and social forces are in play; especially sin (pride) is always in play. But, our pride does not need unnecessary alibis, and (to use an obvious example) showing Ken Ham videos to your youth creates an unnecessary alibi when they grow-up and realize that the scientific community is not conspiring against Creationist “evidence.”

I’m Done

September 4, 2008

 

King's College Chapel, University of Aberdeen

King's College Chapel, University of Aberdeen

I finished my master’s dissertation, in systematic theology (though my dissertation was on epistemology). Hopefully the examiners will be generous, and/or happy drunk, when grading it. It was a surprisingly difficult topic, largely due to the many different avenues that could be taken but would have required a much larger project (and skill). The topic was the moral epistemology of John Henry Newman, especially as related to the problem of certitude (i.e., how can we claim to be certain when we have been previously certain about various matters and later noticed our error?). It was all very interesting, if frustrating because there is no real “solution” to the problem. Newman is brilliant, but, more than brilliant, he has amazing psychological insight. This makes for a highly complex epistemology, because he sees logic just as fundamentally a moral enterprise as it is a rational enterprise. Apart from self-evident truths (e.g., basic mathematics), our assents are dependent upon our hopes, fears, likes, dislikes, loves, opinions, prejudices, traditions, and so on. Our beliefs are rational (or not), to be sure, but they are rational because they cohere with a larger perception of reality and fittingness. This extends even into his religious epistemology where he argues that our faith depends on a prior regeneration of our moral self, so our faith (or doubt) is dependent upon our likes, dislikes, loves, etc. What makes faith “supernatural” is this prior regeneration, a work of the Holy Spirit, but the act of faith itself is not really different from our other assents and their dependence upon our moral constitution. So, there’s some of what I’ve learned.

As for the University of Aberdeen, School of Divinity, I have the highest praise. The four dogmatics professors/lecturers are, of course, the primary reason for attending the school if you want to study dogmatics. Phil Ziegler and Don Wood are the lecturers. Dr. Ziegler will tell you everything you need to know, and more, about Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, and everyone else who wrought all the mess that the 20th century had to clean up. But he is far from dismissive of this liberal tradition, which I greatly appreciated because I came from a philosophical training which took this tradition as basically the final word. As an undergraduate, I studied Tillich, not Barth — my professors never once even uttered Barth’s name. Moving on: Dr. Wood is a fine lecturer, cutting to the chase, ever directing us poor students away from unnecessary byways and toward the fundamental logic. His specialties are hermeneutics and contemporary dogmatics. Professor John Webster, of course, is the Professor of Systematic Theology. Webster is one of the few great evangelical dogmaticians working today. If you enjoy serious dogmatic work and can see its (not-so-obvious) importance, then Webster is your man. He has specialized in Jüngel and Barth, but has more recently been giving devout attention to classic Reformed theology (Calvin to Turretin) and Herman Bavinck. He is currently beginning work on a multi-volume systematic theology. My other professor at Aberdeen was Francesca Murphy, formerly Reader in Systematic Theology, now Professor of Christian Philosophy. She is an amazing teacher and amazing asset to the department. A follower of St. Thomas, Gilson, von Balthasar, and the Pope, she provides a nice balance to the other, rather Reformed, Protestants on the faculty. Considering my own desire to balance quasi-Reformed commitments and more natural law (moral) sort of thinking, I especially appreciated Dr. Murphy, who directed my dissertation.