Four Reasons Evangelicals Should Still Read Karl Barth

During my first year of seminary I discovered Karl Barth. He was grappling with theological challenges that were new to me, he was operating within a theological tradition that was largely foreign to me (names like Ritschl, von Harnack, etc. meant nothing to me at that time), and there was an aura about his approach to theology that felt reverent and profound. I became intensely interested. Many an afternoon of 2006 and 2007 was spent struggling through Romans and Church Dogmatics—and then onto the secondary literature, especially Bruce McCormack. With enough distance from that episode now to have some critical…

Why We Misunderstand the Beatific Vision

I’ve been reading Hans Boersma’s helpful and interesting book Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition (Eerdmans 2018). For a while I’ve been wanting to learn more about this intriguing and often neglected doctrine, so now I’m finally getting around to it. The beatific vision is widespread throughout the early and medieval church, East and West, and into Protestantism (especially the Reformed tradition). Yet many evangelical today have never heard of it, or misunderstand it. As Kyle Strobel puts it, “few doctrines are as ‘standard’ in the history of theology, and ignored in contemporary theology, as the beatific vision.”…

Why Study Anselm?

For the past four years, I’ve been pursuing a PhD in historical theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. I graduated this past Saturday. The whole experience has been very rewarding, and I’m grateful that the Lord opened the door for me to do it. I don’t take that for granted. I had abandoned the dream of doing a PhD and committed myself to local church ministry, and then surprisingly God opened the door to do this one on the side, while continuing on in ministry. For me, the degree wasn’t really about any job requirements, but simply about learning, and wanting…

Looking Back At Favorite Blog Posts and Series

I’ve been blogging for just over 6 years now. Its been a far more enriching experience than I had expected. My primary purpose in blogging has always been my own learning: I find that I learn best in a dialogical, two-stage process of both (1) reading and (2) writing. Stage 1 typically involves carefully reading a book with my pen in hand, making notes on the pages and inside the back cover as I struggle with how to place and understand the book. (Sometimes, of course, it could also be an article, movie, etc.) The key in this stage is…

A Primer on Divine Simplicity

D.A. Carson observed at the 2010 NEXT conference that evangelicals tend to be relatively weak in the area of theology proper, or the doctrine of God.[1] One aspect of the doctrine of God that has been a hallmark of patristic, medieval, and reformed thought, and yet tends to receive less attention today, is the doctrine of divine simplicity. Richard Muller has observed, “the doctrine of divine simplicity is among the normative assumptions of theology from the time of the church fathers, to the age of the great medieval scholastic systems, to the era of Reformation and post-Reformation theology, and indeed,…

Truth and Struggle

I was reading a bit about Luther the other day. I really admire him. I was especially struck this time by the intensity of the struggle that preceded his so-called “tower experience” in which he came to understand the doctrine of justification by faith from Romans 1:17. I cannot figure out whether this experience came after his posting the 95 theses in October 1517 or before, but it does seem to have come after a great deal of struggle and courage. I’m researching and writing much about Anselm these days, and I’m also struck by the intensity of the struggle he…

Staking Down Olympus

I’m reading a lot of Anselm these days for my current PhD reading. This is one my favorite Anselm quotes. I think it so helpfully captures the attitude appropriate for theological defense and disputation. “If I, a trivial and inconsiderable fellow, should try to write something to add strength and support to the Christian faith, when there are so many holy and wise people all over the world, I would indeed be judged arrogant, and could appear worthy of ridicule. For if other people were to see me well-supplied with stakes and ropes and other things, by which we often…