Monday, 23 February 2009

The current state of Anglo-Saxon dogmatics

Ben Myers of Faith and Theology has this brilliant quote from John Webster:

“I have found that commitment [to Christian dogmatics] has sometimes entailed a measure of academic isolation. In view of the widespread view that English language doctrinal theology is in a much healthier condition than it has been for many years, this isolation may seem odd. But as I read a great deal of contemporary systematic theology, I am struck by a sense that the centre of gravity is in the wrong place – usually it is heavily ecclesial, strongly invested in the Gospel as social and moral reality, overly invested in the language of habit, practice and virtue, underdetermined by a theology of divine aseity. It is not yet Ritschl; but, without a seriously operative eschatology, it has little protection against slipping into social and cultural immanentism…. And so I find myself at odds with those of my British colleagues who are more confident of the state of systematic theology: where they see an invigorated and invigorating discipline engaged in lively conversation in the academy, I tend to see a soft revisionism chastened by bits of Barth, or over-clever Anglo-Catholicism with precious little Christology, soteriology or pneumatology” (Shaping a Theological Mind: Theological Context and Methodology, ed. Darren Marks; Ashgate, 2002) p. 133).
I'm not a systematic theologian, but I sense the developments he warns us against.

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