“With both feet firmly planted in mid-air, he takes off in several directions.” -- Moira Creede
"My grandmother once instructed me when I was quite young about how to clean a spot out of a textile. She said, “When you have a spot you have to remove, do not start by rubbing directly on the spot. Start out at the edge and work in from all around -- because if you rub on the spot, you will get the spot out and leave a ring around it. So you work from the outside in.” If I have a theological method, that is it: to walk around the question or the issue or the problem and see it as carefully as I can from several perspectives and then hope that the outcome is useful. Often it is, and often it is not." -- Joseph Sittler
Week 3 of Joe’s Lectures in Theological Method is done. It says something about the course that it has gone so far from Luther, to Calvin, to Schleiermacher, one week for each. And from what I can see, it goes on from here to Aulen (with detours into Pannenberg and Rahner), and thence on to Barth and Tillich. (Apparently also, at the end, back to Athanasius, though I don’t think I have that tape.) Along the way, so far, we’ve also touched Kierkegaard, and this week Bonhoeffer pretty heavily. Schleiermacher is here in the syllabus because “he belongs to the genetics by which you’re here at all.”
There’s a Barth quote key to this week, for all that Joe finds Tillich to be more directly Schleiermacher’s heir, to the effect that if you haven’t been seduced by Schleiermacher on these points, you may end up giving away your theological virginity too easily later on.
It’s been far too long since I digitized these, and when you’re multitasking, it becomes harder to devote sufficient time to the summary writing. So rather than let my guilt over that hold up the publication any longer, I’m just going to give them to you straight, no chaser, so we can get back to the game.
The recordings we have of the Lectures on Theological Method skip over session 5, which is also Calvin (but for which Joe was at Notre Dame), so today’s lesson is the second set of Friday class discussions, this week on Calvin. And since I’ve been doing what we call “summaries” for these recordings, I’m going to include the Summaries Document entry for today after the recording this week. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on. ;)
More Luther/Calvin comparison today, as one might expect from a Lutheran teaching Calvin to Lutherans. Also quite a bit of Barth in this Calvin discussion. Quite a number of important pieces here for any discussion of creation.
Session VI, Friday, Oct. 11: Calvin, continued. 59 minutes. (1 tape, 2 copies) Prof. David also present today; Sittler presenting. “The Necessity of the Revelation” (book I, chapter 6) in the Institutes as a clear methodological section. Beginning with the Word of God, interpreting it as law. More Calvin vs. Luther. Calvin attempting to fill the authoritative role of the teaching office of the church in all the questions it answered, in its waning, with the Bible. [Skips in the recording throughout group discussions.] Calvin as pedagogical, not ontological, in his discussion of the nature of God – which is how he can go quite so long before he gets to Christ, who focuses the doctrine as mediator. Doing theology “from God through Christ to the Holy Spirit.” Discussion of Calvinist presuppositions in reading Christ into the Old Testament as misreading the Old Testament. Kierkegaard and The Concept of Dread; origin of evil – as Barth says, “das Nichtige” – in the freedom of being and its possibility for its own negation. Ontological dizziness and the “why not?” imagining the no as well as the yes. [Skip to whole class discussion.] A question about the natural (in)capacity for the good, and a reminder to keep in mind the questions and issues that Calvin is trying to answer. Calvin’s “massa perditionis” vs. Luther’s “tincture of sin in all that man does.” Whether man must be free to be faithful, or faithful to be free – the dialectical necessity of both. Repetition of Kierkegaard material. [Tape sides overlap with no lost material; recording ends before Sittler is done.]
The next installment of the Methods course begins the class’ study of Calvin. And having gone through Luther’s 95 Theses and touched on the Heidelberg Disputation last week, the class gets a lecture today about what makes for the differences in Luther and Calvin, as well as follow-up on what it means to be an “occasional” theologian.
Interesting to note, in connection with the Bicentennial Reflections sermon I posted this morning, that here we see a lot of the material Joe uses there in development as a commentary on the influence of Calvinism on American society.
I think it’s fitting on this day, July 4, 2011, to post Joe’s bicentennial sermon from July 4, 1976. It’s a great meditation on love of country for the sake of the beloved and for the sake of God’s purposes in it, and I commend it to you here:
n.b.: This isn’t a fresh transfer of the original on our good equipment, since I don’t have the tape to hand here at home. It comes from our testing rig, and has been noise-filtered to make the non-decoded Dolby B go away. But for all that, it’s quite good, if a little choppy in places.
Just finished with session 3 of Joe’s 1974 Lectures on Theological Method. The last two were Monday and Wednesday of the first week of the fall term, and this one is Friday, in a bit of a different format. And because of that, where the last two were under an hour, the third is 1:30. Since the audio breaks across sides were overlapping on these two tapes, I’ve given this one the full treatment — spliced together where possible, and basic noise removal to clear the tape hiss and a bit of the background white noise. Makes the questions easier to hear, and has the fringe benefit of cutting down the size. Unlike the original hour-long tapes, this is divided where the audio breaks, at about 45 minutes, so we have two relatively equal pieces.