American Theological Inquiry, Volume Three, Issue One

American Theological Inquiry, Volume Three, Issue One


204 Pages


American Theological Inquiry (ATI) reaches thousands of Christian scholars, clergy, and other interested parties, primarily in the U.S. and U.K. The journal was formed in 2007 by Gannon Murphy (PhD Theology, Univ. Wales, Lampeter; Presbyterian/Reformed) and Stephen Patrick (PhD Philosophy, Univ. Illinois; Eastern Orthodox) to open up space for Christian scholars who affirm the Ecumenical Creeds to contribute research throughout the broader Christian scholarly community in America and the West.
The purpose of ATI is to provide an inter-tradition forum for scholars who affirm the historic Ecumenical Creeds of Christendom to constructively communicate contemporary theologies, developments, ideas, commentaries, and insights pertaining to theology, culture, and history toward reforming and elevating Western Christianity. ATI seeks a critical function as much or more so as a quasi-ecumenical one. The purpose is not to erase or weaken the distinctives of the various ecclesial traditions, but to widen the dialogue and increase inter-tradition understanding while mutually affirming Christ's power to transform culture and the importance of strengthening Western Christianity with special reference to Her historic, creedal roots.
"Theologians, would-be theologians, and the theologically attentive will want to check out American Theological Inquiry."
~ Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), First Things



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AMERICANTHEOLOGICALINQUIRY A Biannual Journal of Theology, Culture & History ISBN: 978-1-60899-397-0 ISSN: 1942-2709 (Print) ISSN: 1941-7624 (Online)
Gannon Murphy, PhD General Editor
Stephen Patrick, PhD Associate Editor
Glenn Siniscalchi (PhD cand.) Associate Editor
Ken Deusterman, MA Book Reviews Editor
ABOUT American Theological Inquirywas formed in 2007 by Gannon Murphy (PhD Theology, (ATI) Univ. Wales, Lampeter; Presbyterian/Reformed) and Stephen Patrick (PhD Philosophy, Univ. Illinois; Eastern Orthodox) to open up space for Christian scholars who affirm the Ecumenical Creeds to contribute research throughout the broader Christian scholarly community in America and the West broadly. PURPOSE To provide an inter-tradition forum for scholars who affirm the historic Ecumenical Creeds of Christendom to constructively communicate contemporary theologies, developments, ideas, commentaries, and insights pertaining to theology, culture, and history toward reforming and elevating Western Christianity. ATI seeks acriticalfunction as much or more so as a quasi-ecumenical one. The purpose is not to erase or weaken the distinctives of the various ecclesial traditions, but to widen the dialogue and increase inter-tradition understanding while mutually affirming Christ’s power to transform culture and the importance of strengthening Western Christianity with special reference to Her historic, creedal roots.
® Indexing. This periodical is indexed in the ATLA Religion Database , a product of the American Theological Library Association, 300 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 2100, Chicago, IL 60606, USA. email: atla [at],
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Manuscript submissionsshould be addressed to the General Editor. Emailed submissions are acceptable (gmurphy [at] atijournal [dot] org). ATI is open to diverse submissions concerning theology, culture, and history from the perspective of historic, creedal Christianity. Particular topics of interest, however, generally include:
 Theology (Biblical, philosophical, historical, and systematic).
 Engagement with the Patristical literature.
 Theological, cultural, philosophical, and ecclesial trends in the Western world.
 Perspectives on history/historical events from an orthodox viewpoint.  Cultural/philosophical apologetics. Book reviewsshould be submitted to: bookreviews [at] atijournal [dot] org
Requirements. Submissions should conform to the following standards: 1. Include your full name, title and/or affiliation, and a brief (i.e., one sentence) statement affirming the Ecumenical Creeds of Christendom (Apostles’, Athanasian, Nicæno-Constantinopolitan, Chalcedonian). Exceptions are permissible with reference to the filioque clauses and Athanasian anathemas. 2. The work has not been submitted elsewhere, or, permissory documentation is provided by the previous publisher indicating approval for publication in ATI. 3. Submit MSS or book reviews in a Microsoft Word, RTF, or text format.
Volume 3, No. 1., January 15, 2010. Copyright © 2010American Theological Inquiry, All Rights Reserved Minneapolis, Minnesota
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AMERICANTHEOLOGICALINQUIRY January 15, 2010 Volume 3, No. 1.
EDITORIAL On Nepsis and the Spirit of the Age Gannon Murphy
Epistolary Selections St. Ignatius of Antioch
ARTICLESThe Church Fathers and the Deity of Christ W. Berry Norwood Preaching as a Means of Grace and the Doctrine of Sanctification: A Reformed Perspective J. V. Fesko ‘He Went About Doing Good’: Eighteenth-Century Particular Baptists on the Necessity of Good Works Michael A. G. Haykin
The Catholic Philosopher and Metaphysics Robert Wood
In Defense of Christian Theistic Metaethics Glenn B. Siniscalchi The Dynamic, Relational, and Loving Purpose of God J. Lyle Story Stephen Charnock’s Doctrine of God: An Anthology ofThe Existence and Attributes Of God Ken Deusterman
Editor’s Note
God and Suffering—’It Happens’: Job’s Silent Solution Tony Campbell
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IN HONOR OF THE REV. DR. JOHN MCKENZIE (con…) The Reverend John L. McKenzie (1910-1991): A Personal Memoir Jean-Marie de la Trinité
Mark Noll.The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith. Tim Challies Crawford Gribben.The Irish Puritans: James Ussher and the Reformation of the Church. Ian Clary Christopher J. H. Wright.The God I Don’t Understand: Reflection on Tough Questions of Faith. Stephen G. Dempster
Eldin Villafañe.Seek the Peace of the City: Reflections on Urban Ministry. David A. Escobar Arcay John F. Haught.God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. William M. Shea William Lane Craig and Chad Meister (eds).God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible. Glenn B. Siniscalchi
Gerald O’Collins.Salvation For All: God’s Other Peoples.
Glenn B. Siniscalchi Mark Ian Thomas Robson.Ontology and Providence in Creation: TakingEx NihiloSeriously. Terry J. Wright
John N. Oswalt.The Bible Among the Myths. Mark Tubbs Oleg V. Bychkov and James Fodor (eds).Theological Aesthetics After von Balthasar. Timothy J. Yoder
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American Theological Inquiry
EDITORIAL On Nepsis and the Spirit of the Age
Gannon Murphy
From day one,American Theological Inquiryhas distinguished itself as a journal committed to the perennial tenets of the ancient Christian creeds. In a past issue, I spoke of the storied triad ofpraxis,theoria, andnepsistraduced to us by the great spiritual Fathers of the East—a framework for living an authentic Christian life, hallmarked as it is bystruggle. “In this world you will have trouble,” the Lord reminds us, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33, NIV). A new year is upon us and, no doubt, there will be troubling times ahead— many opportunities to take heart!
I wish for a moment to focus on the third term in our triad—nepsis(“watchfulness”). In the Hesychastic sense,nepsisis both an internal and external discipline. One is to be watchful of both that which one allows to “enter into” the soul (internal), while also remaining vigilant and discerning concerning how our world seeks to supplant the Spirit of Christ around us (external). These are two sides of the same coin, and also have an apologetic dimension.
There are certain issues that will always attend the kerygmatic ministry of the Church and inform her apologetic: how we can have true knowledge of God, how we are to understand thedivinus absconditus, the matter of theodicy, religious pluralism, and so on. These questions have, and will always, be asked and—awaiting the Parousia—apologists will have to continually weave together a creativeapologiain contemporary dress. What is more important even than these, however, are the particular idols of the day. The neptic Christian is a student of the age and its undulating cultural and philosophical currents. But more importantly, the Christian must understand thespiritour time—that which drives these of currents and cultivates them at root. We ought to compare our own times with other times similar or dissimilar to it—especially as it is reflected in literature, philosophy, religion, public discourse, movies, music, and so on. Whatspiritis being caught?
It is a commonly-held notion among many, perhaps most, Christian theologians that what principally confronts Christianity today issecularism(whether in modern or postmodern form), and that this is where her battlefront is. This is an artless mistake. “Secularism” denotes thetemporal, but connotes arationalist orskepticdisposition. Certainly the latter are veridical constituents of the secular. But this is precisely the problem. There’s hardly anything rationalist or skeptic about Western culture today. Also underlying this description is an implicit assumption of humanity as perfectly autonomous, that is, humans are not “under the influence” so to speak on any particular spirit, but move through their lives according to the dictates of their own unaided reason and will. None of this meshes with historic Christian teaching, much less is it Biblical. There is no such thing as autonomous human beings free of some sort of prior, spiritual allegiance or proclivity. There is no such thing as spiritual neutrality as Jesus underscores when He taught that no one can serve two masters. The apostle John puts this into sharp relief saying that “every spirit that confesses
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American Theological Inquirythat Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist…” (1 Jn 4:2-3, NAS).
Paraphrasing something Glenn Siniscalchi, one of ATI’s editors, recently said to me: we ask what peoplethinkand write papers and theses about their ideas, but we rarely seem to ponderwhat spirit they’re in. Consider, for example, the immensity of attention afforded Elaine Pagels over the years and her hideously ill-researched, rump-fed book,The Gnostic Gospels. We may debate the curiosities and complexities of the “competing orthodoxies” and “winner/loser” thesis, but would it not also benefit us (not to mention those over whom we may be teaching) to consider what might bemotivatingPagels to so strenuously advance her theories? Is it not a helpful piece of background that Pagels has long been associated with the egregiously boil-brained Lindisfarne Association? Lindisfarne is one of the most extreme (and extremely flakey) New Age outfits which sets forth as first among its goals: “The Planetization of the Esoteric.” At least we have the benefit of a rare piece of perspicuity from David Spangler, Lindisfarne’s founder, who writes, “Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into a New Age. …He is the light-giver, he is aptly named the Morning Star because it is his light that heralds for man the dawn of a great 1 consciousness.” When I was in the seminary, we were accustomed to discussing the works of Pagels and others like her as though these were merely “scholarly” matters, never once considering thespiritthat supplies the “energy” lurking behind such works.
Take another example. While we bandy around Paul Tillich’s “method of correlation” and its attending Heideggerian appropriations of “being over against non-being” and so on, we do not hesitate to call it “Christian theology.” But is it not worth knowing a little something about how the eminent theologian liked to spend his time? According to wife Hannah, he abandoned her on their wedding night to enjoy a night on the town, had a nasty little habit of sleeping with their maids, and was fond of “hiding” pornographic pictures in places where she was sure to find them. Upon arrival in a new city, Paul would also take special pains to acquaint himself with the location of the nearest red-light district. He was particularly fond of the 1930s and 1940s underground scene in Harlem. On one occasion, Paul and Hannah went to a secluded basement dance together. As the latter describes: “A nude Negress painted gold, having danced with a Negro twice her size, leaned her body against a post and masturbated with violent snakelike movements, while her former partner and another girl unmistakably performed the acts of intimate sex. It did not seem vulgar or 2 fleshy. It was filled with the natural vivacity of these beautiful black people.” Tillich relished discussing these experiences which I can classify as nothing short of demonic.
Numerous other “tales from the crypt” could easily be marshaled concerning those theologians and scholars of religion who continue to occupy our time and of whom we are all accustomed to calling “great.” No doubt, I will be accused by some of mere venomed tabloidism here. But should we not, as Paul Johnson rather neptically puts it, engage in “an examination of the moral and judgmental credentials of certain leading intellectuals to give
1 David Spangler,Reflections on the Christ(Everett, WA: Lorian Press, 1981), 45. 2 Hannah Tillich,From Time To Time(New York: Stein and Day, 1973), 177. - 2 -
American Theological Inquiry3 advice to humanity…”? Are we not to recognize others by their fruits? Do we pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Mat 7:16, NIV). Of course, none of this is to say that fresh drops of dew cannot occasionally fall to us from broken urns. To think so about anyonebe a fine example of the simpleton’s favorite piece of illogic—the “genetic would fallacy”—which some have built their entire careers on. But one should not reward a broken urn with a prominent place in the foyer. But we do. Indeed, the Academy trains us to serve dung on silver dishes.
Meanwhile, we stroke one another’s egos with praise for our published works, especially 4 if those works quote as many “great” thinkers as possible (more Hegel!, more cowbell!). Alister McGrath, refers to one such candied work (as I see it) as “Another important 5 contribution to theological reflection by this rising star.” Christianity has rising stars? Is a televised talent competition, “American Theology Idol” next? This is utter vanity—the same pernicious vanity I can feel coursing through my own blood and bubbling to the surface whenever I too desire to be a known entity, honored among my peers, and a “rising star.” We’re missing where the wind blows. Apart from the unending drip of froo-froo, woo-woo “correlative theologies” that continue to seep through the Academy, right now the lion’s share of attention within the world of Christian apologetics is attending to the vociferous baby spit-up of the “New Atheists”—Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris,et al. Now certainly this is a “challenge” of sorts and I don’t impugn those who have taken the time to craft a thoughtful response. But the fact is that most people who oppose Christianity, or perhaps just simply find it distasteful, arenotatheists and couldn’t care a fig for the sort of quasi-scientific, religion-purged, utopian society that the New Atheists are henpecking everybody about. Most people recognize all this “atheism-is-proven” business for the clack-dish, cognitive shortcut that it is. The reason for this is quite simple, though seminal: human beings have a living soul and share a mutual spiritual longing. We might even, as the otherwise alchemical creepo Carl Jung did, define human beings roundly not ashomo sapien, buthomo religiosus. Human beings, naturally and rightly, recoil at the notion that they are nothing more than walking sacks of physico-chemical fizz, born from nothing, heading toward nothing—as the few, vocal atheists in every age would have us believe. But, if on the other hand, a culture (our culture) perceives Christianity to be an untenable artifact of a stupider age, then it is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Our culture naturally shuns the crass reductionism of the atheist, but also eschews what they take to be the outmoded, uncomfortable strictures of a dead or dying Christianity. Science, they suppose, has 3 Paul Johnson,Intellectuals(New York: Harper & Row, 1988), ix. 4 Speaking of Hegel, it doesn’t seem to concern very many “great” theologians today—while scores of them continually rope his fantasies into their “Christian” doctrines of God and humanity—that the core of Hegel’s philosophical thought is one gigantic rip-off and adaptation of occultist Jakob Böhme, et al., and hermetic theosophy is general. Indeed, I would argue that one cannot even begin to understand Hegel until his occult influence is made circumspect. See, for example, Hegel’sLectures on the History of Philosophy(1840), trans. E. S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), 188-216; John W. Cooper.Panentheism: The Other God of the Philosophers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 106-119; and Glenn Alexander Magee,Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008). 5 Back cover to F. Leron Shults,Reforming the Doctrine of God(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005). - 3 -
American Theological Inquiryeffectively rendered Christianity moot; but what that same science has offered as an alternative for living one’s life, or as a new cultural narrative or myth, is stultifyingly worse. Thus what we have is a culture that is becoming more and more steeped inmythicalthinking. This is an attempt to split the difference between the horns of the dilemma and embrace science on one hand, while finding different ways to meet the deeply-felt needs of the soul on the other. And, perhaps the biggest irony of all is that one of our biggest myths is that we’re among the first people in the history of the world to be free of myths and myth-makers.
How did we get here? Historically, both rationalism and empiricism as cultural movements and philosophies failed miserably. Rationalism placed its emphasis on unaided human reason trying to unlock the secrets of the universe (like a little-necked clam pondering the sea), while empiricism restricted the pursuit of knowledge solely in terms of what could be fondled. But neither of these philosophies could tell us anything about right or wrong, love and hate, nobility or ignobility, meaning or meaninglessness. These philosophies logically impelled us to silence our hearts—the best part of us—and thus cripple ourselves. In turn, what rationalism and empiricism both eventually led to is an unbridled skepticism ofeverything. Everything can be doubted. Next, this led to an irrational mysticism which is truly what defines our day,notsecularism.
We are caught airlessly between Max Weber’s duality of “disenchantment” and “re-enchantment”. We are experiencing “a reaction against an increasingly rationalized, scientific 6 world.” This disenchantment “has meant that the rational scientific worldview of modernity had emptied the world of the mysteries…once believed to have controlled it. The spiritual and ethical meanings offered by religion, then, fell in the face of a rational rejection of the 7 supernatural.” Dutch theologian, Herman Bavinck, noted that “the only outcome [of such a situation] will be that people will seek the satisfaction of their metaphysical needs in other ways…in one way or another—including even spiritism, magic, or theosophy—they all seek compensation for what science cannot give them. And religion, along with all spiritual knowledge, having first been shamefully dismissed through the front door, is again admitted through the back door but now in the form of superstition.” Bavinck then quotes Horace: “You may expel nature with might and main; it will always nevertheless come bounding 8 back.”
We see a cycle throughout history where atheistic rationalism or empiricism eventually gives way to skepticism which then ultimately leads to mysticism—complete with every age’s own forged and shared mythologies. We are no exception. In fact, we’re quickly becoming the archetype. Consider this: writing of the emergence of a influential occult sect known as the Order of the Golden Dawn, fueled mainly by the occultic writings of the notorious Alister Crowley, historian Francis King wrote that: “Its foundation came at a time when many people were beginning to be dissatisfied with the pathetically over-confident
6  Mark Morrisson,Modern Alchemy:Occultism and the Emergence of Atomic Theory(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 34. 7 Ibid, 28. 8 Herman Bavinck,Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. I (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 222. - 4 -