The Evangelical Calvinist Blog is Closed. I Will Leave the Blog Up as its Own Archive: UPDATE Lol

Addendum 2: I’ve decided to come back here to blog. This blog continues to generate the type of traffic that it did before I closed it. I had full intention of quitting blogging altogether. I grow weary of social media. But I guess the reality is, is that at some level I’ll always be a hopeless blogger. So I have annulled my relationship with my new Torrance blog, and this will be the exclusive place for reading me online (as far as this sort of platform goes). Sorry for the inconvenience. But hey, I used to do this sort of stuff every few months or so. At least this time I went about ten years before I did it this time ;). 

Addendum: Alas, I’ve already started another blog project. If you’re still here, come over and subscribe to the new blog. It is called Sub Specie Torrancitatis. You can find it by Clicking HereOr alternatively, here is the full address: http://posttorrancean.wordpress.com . I explain in my first post there the rational behind starting a new blog. Even in this short week I’ve realized, once again, that having a blog is part of my DNA, at this point. It helps with my reading, and gives it some purpose other than simply being for me. Blogging fills a lacuna in my life, and the PhD may never come. My energy levels are tapped out, it seems, at just maintaining a blog (I currently work graveyard, and even now am operating on minimal and terrible sleep). Anyway, if you want to continue to read my stuff then come on over and subscribe. It will be a different experience, I think; as far as focused content on TFT. But of course, if you’ve been reading me for awhile here, you’ve gotten plenty of Torrance here as well. See you there!! 

I’ve come to the conclusion that this blog The Evangelical Calvinist has run its course. I originally started blogging in 2005, and had many other blogs prior to this one which I started in 2009. I originally started this blog as a secondary blog to focus on what Myk Habets and I were doing with Evangelical Calvinism; this blog was never intended to be my only or primary blog, but that’s what it ultimately became. In some ways I feel like my blog is holding me back from doing something new; meaning, I really want to pursue the PhD and other things, and holding onto this blog almost makes me feel locked into a past that zaps my focus that way. So part of closing the blog has to do with that. But on the other hand, blogging itself has, in my view, changed or died, relative to the function it used to have in the online world. Blogs used to have a network of other blogs it was part of, and there was a lot of helpful banter and debate that took place as a result. That has all changed, and the comments sections of almost ALL blogs has seemingly dried up; thanks to the way Twitter and Facebook has conditioned people to interact on social media (I think). Anyway, I am totally appreciative of all my faithful readers, although I don’t even know who you are because you never comment ;). But I think it really is time, this time, to retire this blog.

So what does this mean for this blog? What it means is that I will no longer be actively posting here. What it doesn’t mean is that I will delete this blog; I will never do that. This blog represents blood, sweat, and tears; it represents lots of work and lots of research. This blog will serve integral to my PhD work (whenever that happens) in the days to come. I have so many quotes and ideas embedded in the makeup of this blog that it would be ludicrous to delete it. Hopefully, even though I will no longer post here, this blog will continue to serve as a resource for folks who are looking for an alternative mood within the Reformed Christian reality.

Because I have at least eight outstanding blog book reviews I have committed to over the last couple of years I will continue to write at my Medium.com site. In fact, I will continue to write at my Medium site quite regularly. I will leave a link to that at the bottom of this post. As I have in my sidebar: ““I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” – St. Augustine cited by John Calvin. Since this is the case: I will always need a place to write and learn. Medium will serve as a nice transition place for me; it is set up more like Facebook, in a way (meaning, the like button is more of the focus rather than comments so much, although commenting is still available at Medium), with a focus on the writing itself rather than on comments so much—which fits with the way blogging itself has gone anyway.

I am sort of sad to do this, but I think it is an important step for me with hopes of transitioning to a new phase in regard to what I would like to accomplish academically in the days to come. Again, I so appreciate the faithful readership so many of you lurkers have offered me over the years. And hopefully you’ll still be able to benefit from any insights I might have as I continue to write over at Medium. So for the last time here at The Evangelical Calvinist Pax Christi and Blessings!

You can still read me over at: medium.com/@bobbygrow

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Thinking About Retiring The Evangelical Calvinist

I’ve been blogging consistently since 2005, not all at this url, obviously. I’m starting to think that I might retire TEC. It isn’t as fulfilling as it once was, and I’m not even sure I have that many readers anymore. But even if I do, I’m starting to think the work of The Evangelical Calvinist might be done and over with. If I do retire TEC, I’ll still write, sometimes, over at my Medium site; which if I do retire I’ll leave a link to that here. But the reason I ever originally started TEC was to be a thematic blog that sought to offer an alternative mood of Reformed theology; alternative to Federal theology, and the more popular iterations of Calvinism found in baptistic and five pointed forms. That battle, or engagement, has seemingly been fought; at least in the theoblogosphere, and I’ve said everything I need to say about that.

Anyway, I’m contemplating.

A Word on My Blogging Style and Type of Blog I Operate

I used to write posts like this more often; I think it’s time for another one. What I want to briefly do is explain my theory of blogging, and then discuss how and why I write blog posts in the main. I also want to clarify what I’m open to and not open to in regard to feedback here at the blog.

Blog posts are going to be bloggy, they aren’t essays. At most they will be something like an abstract to a paper rather than the paper itself; they will be suggestive (most of the time) rather than substantive (in regard to development). So blog readers, at least here, need to adjust your expectations to these standards as I understand them per my blogging activity. There will be variance with regard to my many blog posts, some will be more developed than others; but you should know by now (if you have been reading here for any amount of time) that my posts are typically me interacting with whatever I am reading at the time. I will often attempt to creatively apply what I am reading to current events in the Christian world; but again, those applications will typically be in line with the standards I just laid out.

As far as the style of my blog: It is unapologetically Christian academic in orientation. On my last post I received two comments—one rude and snarky (which I spammed), and the other not as rude in its language—which either wants me to quit using “academic jargon,” or wants me to offer greater depth of clarity and explanation (so something like a paper).  I read academic theology, it is all I read! I am trained as an academic. I have internalized academic parlance. Academic jargon is not jargon to me but my internal-conversational lingua franca. I will never EVER be apologetic about that! If you read my blog hopefully you are being challenged to stretch (if in fact academic theology is not your first or second language). I don’t have the time to break down all of these things; when I blog I, as I have noted often!, am simply throwing my thoughts out there (free of charge!—whereas pastors expect to be paid for their services). Again, when I write blog posts I am not writing a research paper with finished thoughts; typically my posts have beginning thoughts that would need to be finished off at a later date (but that’s what makes them bloggy).

I hope this makes sense to you all. Indeed, I will post provocative things with provocative titles; I always have and always will—that’s my blogging mode. I have opinions and view points, and will attempt to align those with substantive theological developments even if I don’t have time to always develop those developments myself (which is why I often quote others who have). Thanks for reading, and I hope you can appreciate where I’m coming from.

P.S. I am not open to being edited, or told how or what I should write. I write what I write, when I want to write, if I feel like writing. This is the joy and freedom of blogging I have always appreciated, and will continue to. I have never written for blog stats or large audiences. I am thankful to have readers, and glad that my writings have blessed some over the years. I plan on continuing my blogging activity up and until the eschaton. Pax Christi

Let Me Be Clear About David Congdon’s Theology and Its Relationship to My Blog Over the Years

Let me make something crystal clear: I repudiate David Congdon’s theology tout court. Something I tacitly was aware of was made really clear to me earlier today. In my early days of blogging (2005-06) I came into contact with two Princeton Theological Seminary students: David Congdon and W. Travis McMaken. I developed a better relationship with Travis than David, but they were two guys I thought I shared certain trajectories with (although not at first). As they finished their MDivs and went on to do their PhDs at PTS I followed along with them through their blogs and other writings. Over the years it became clear that they were progressing in ways that I wasn’t. I think the clincher for Congdon was his decision to study the theology of Rudolph Bultmann for his PhD dissertation. He has since published that, and an expansion of it in a massive tome (almost a thousand pages); which I am currently half way through. It has become apparent that David has not only been overcome by Bultmann’s way of thinking, but he has, as far as I understand Bultmann, sought to radicalize even Bultmann’s thought.

What was made really clear to me today was that a former (he may still presently read, I don’t know) blog reader of mine let me know that I was the one who introduced him to David Congdon (and the whole crowd and feeling that has developed around Congdon and his type of theology). I know that there are others out there who also were turned onto David because of me exposing them to him. When I would refer to David or Travis at my blog they both were on the way, and my reference to them had to do with Barth’s theology; not Bultmann’s! Be that as it may, Congdon, who surely is a very smart articulate guy, was attractive to these young impressionable theological minds; he hooked’m (not that he was intentionally attempting that).

If there is any lingering doubt about my relationship to Congdon’s theology (I mean I’ve been quoting from him recently here at the blog) in particular, let me be crystal clear: I think David has gone off the rails, and I, yes, repudiate his existentialist, apocalyptic, eschatological, deworldizing, dialectical, actualistic, radicalized-Butlmannian theology. David rejects the orthodox faith and if he becomes aware of this post will mock me referring even to the language of “orthodox” since he thinks that a cute little trifle from the premodern past. See, for Congdon, who cut his teeth on theology in its modern form (his first real exposure according to his own testimony was to devour Eberhard Jüngel when he started at PTS, and then ‘progress’ from there), his whole project is attenuated by an obsession to erase any sort of “metaphysical” component that the classical theisms offered the Christian through the centuries. For my money, this is actually the driving force behind David’s many theological decisions; it underlies what he is about in reduced form. As a result the Jesus of history is reduced to the kerygmatic reality as that is actualized in the soteriological experience of the saved. In other words, while David, along with Rudolph clearly affirms the reality of the historical personage known as Jesus Christ, this personage in a qualified way becomes a sort of husk wherein his reality is only given reality in the eschatological coming and actualization of his existence as that is located in the existential offering of the kerygma. Unfortunately this demetaphysicizing and radical subjectivizing of the Christ to the Christ-event allows David to arrive at the erroneous conclusions that Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave (instead he rises in the kerygma of faith), and as corollary that there will be no conscious afterlife for believers. In other words, David immanentizes the eschaton to the Christ-event as that is experienced and actualized in the kerygmatic reality.

Michael McClymond offers some good summary as he reviews David’s book The God Who Saves (2016):

Congdon states that his “starting point had to be the saving event itself rather than God, and this saving event had to be simultaneously objective and subjective, or rather it had to dispense with the distinction between objective and subjective altogether.” For Congdon, “the being of God as an isolated metaphysical entity in itself … does not exist.” What exists as a topic for theology is “the concrete being of God for us…which is deity as such.” Throughout The God Who Saves, a blurring of distinctions between objective reality and subjective experience generally works in favor of the latter. “Talk of God is always also talk of the human subject and her historical situation,” writes Congdon. He rejects any notion of an “essence” or “nature” (Greek phusis), whether the term is applied to God or to humanity. “With the exclusion of all worldviews goes the exclusion of all talk of permanent natures or essences in theology. ‘So-called “deity” can no more be interpreted as a phusis than humanity.’” He adds: “Theology is therefore necessarily and thoroughly actualistic … because the truth of the Christ-myth, which is the norm for both form and content, is itself an active occurrence and relation.”

In describing his own intellectual development, Congdon speaks of his conservative Protestant background, and “my complicated, often antagonistic, relationship with my evangelical heritage.” In adopting universalism, he acknowledges the influence of Robin Parry, though he says that “I never shared MacDonald’s particular view” of universalism. On Barth’s influence, he comments that “Barth taught me to see Christ’s save work as the actuality of salvation and not merely its possibility.” It was “initially quite a shock” for Congdon to encounter Bultmann’s 1959 essay—“Adam and Christ”—which repudiated Barth’s claim in Christ and Adam of a universal participation of all human beings in the humanity of Christ. Congdon explains: “The problem with universalism—as well as any notion of pretemporal election—is that it makes a judgment about the individual without regard for her particular historicity and is only, at best, indirectly related to personal existence. Reading Bultmann thus validated an instinct I had inherited from my evangelical upbringing.” He adds that “I would gradually internalize Bultmann’s insights into the historical nature of both God and appropriate talk of God.… The result was a deep internal tension—a tension between a Bultmannian methodological starting point and a Barthian soteriological conclusion.” Congdon is thus self-aware concerning the tensions within his own theology.

And further:

Congdon explains that his intent in writing The God Who Saves was “to develop a nonmetaphysical conception of the atoning work of Christ, which means that the ancient substance ontology is done away with entirely,” resulting in a “universalism without metaphysics.” The definition of metaphysics that Congdon uses is highly pejorative—“a mode of thinking that constrains rational inquiry from the outset with abstract, ahistorical presuppositions.” On this basis, Congdon sees it as useless, and indeed as mistaken or even harmful, to speak of God as “being” or “substance,” or to accept the ancient Christology that defined Jesus as “two natures” in “one person.” He comments on “the internal coherence of Chalcedonian christology.” Condgon’s theology seeks to make a clean sweep of metaphysics, while at the same time intending “to develop an account of participation” that “does not require recourse to a substantival ‘logic of assumption.’” Congdon rejects the idea of “human nature,” and for this reason his presuppositions will not allow for Christ to “assume” human nature or then to act in behalf of other human beings, in the way that was assumed by classical Christian thinkers. In cleansing the gospel from all vestiges of metaphysics, Congdon advocates a theological liberationism that he refers to as a “demetaphysicizing,” “detheorizing,” “deconstantinizing,” “deideologizing,” “desacramentalizing,” deinstitutionizing,” and “delegalizing” of Christianity.[1]

This is to just give the reader a feel for David’s theology; I think McClymond does a pretty good job summarizing the loci present in Congdon’s theology.

The bottom line that I am attempting to impress through this post is: that I am as far away from David’s theology these days as the whale is the elephant (and I mean that absolutely). You shouldn’t be turned onto David’s theology by reading anything I am promoting here at the blog; even if I constructively quote Congdon. I think David needs to repent and come back to the Gospel reality. He offers not just a heterodox Gospel, but a heretical Gospel. He is a fellow with the Westar Institute / Jesus Seminar, and has been for many years. He denigrates and literally mocks people on his Twitter handle who affirm the ‘orthodox-historic’ faith (the only way I know that is through my ghost-Twitter account). And he’s more than just a confused, smart, and erudite young theologian; he’s a dangerous teacher who is leading many young minds away from the orthodox Christ who is bodily-risen, and is coming again in like-manner that he left to physically establish a new heavens and earth in the eschaton. Clear? Good.

One more thing: I recognize that it’s a lost cause in calling back those I turned onto David years ago. But I would like to say I’m sorry for that, and sincerely wish I hadn’t. Does this sound melodramatic? Not to me. None of this is inconsequential when we think from eternity’s perspective. God doesn’t care about our little Twitter or Facebook or blog groups; there’s no source of ultimacy or “but” there in the finalization of things.

[1] Michael McClymond, Apocalypse Now: The Neo-Bultmannian Universalism of David Congdon’s The God Who Saves, accessed 08-29-2018.

 

On Being an ‘After Barth Blogger’: Sometimes It’s Better to Just Not Interact

Yes, I’ve had to deal personally with the realization that Karl Barth’s and Charlotte von Kirschbaum’s relationship was not right; adulterous even. But at the end of the day, after all is said and done, Barth set a trajectory for theological discourse that far exceeds himself. This is the way I have come to negotiate this whole situation; I live with a tension in this regard (and it upsets me that I have to live with this tension, but I will). But let’s be very clear about something: I have established myself—for good or ill— as a Barth, TF Torrance, After Barth theoblogger. Just as most Protestant Reformed are Thomists, Scotists, or on that spectrum somewhere; I as a Reformed blogger think, by and large, from the Barth trajectory (in all its various manifestations and emphases etc.). So, when you come on my blog, my Facebook, or any of my social media connection points and bad mouth Karl Barth, caricature his theology, and make wild assertions about his theology that don’t actually reflect his theology, then expect not to hang around long. In my last post someone named “Mike” engaged in the very type of behavior that I won’t stand for; I won’t attempt to be reasonable once this behavior starts; and if you persist you will be banned from my blog and all social media contacts. Here’s an example of what Mike wrote about Barth’s theology:

Perhaps this in and of itself is an argument against Barth’s unmediated “subjective actualisation” of salvation. It is simply not true that all are salvifically included, until they are salvifically included –> through the ministry of Word and Sacrament. The Church *is* a “telos” because the creation of a bride and its exaltation with her groom is the telos of Scripture and God’s purposes. Barth obscures this and relegates the Church to passive observer rather than living organ of God’s glory on earth.

And this:

But I have interacted with the quotes, by observing that Barth’s presupposition is a non-starter. Subjective actualisation of the gospel *is* necessary, and the Church is instrumental in applying this aspect of Christ’s work. There is not a single theological system in all of Christian reflection that has ever said that the subjective actualisation of the gospel is is already complete in Christ (and that it has no contingency on baptism, on the decision of faith etc.). The reason for that absence is that it’s a preposterous assertion; one that is so incredibly out of sync with Scripture as to render the subsequent argument irrelevant.

And most egregiously, this:

I understand ‘subjective actualisation’ all too well, couched within the false notion that my ‘no’ is contained in the ‘yes’ of Christ. Not only is that demonstrably unbiblical, but it allows Barth to imagine that his unrepentant adultery was enveloped by Christ’s ‘vicarious humanity’. Perhaps that’s precisely the context in which that theology arose – as a way self-justifying the unjustifiable with a pious-sounding but false Christology. No. I’d rather stick to a traditional christology and ecclesiology that doesn’t twist scripture to serve sexual sin.

These are all examples from one source, Mike, that represent the absurd. Folks like this want me to engage with them reasonably, and don’t understand why I end up getting ticked about such caricatures and outright liable in regard to Barth’s theology. Somehow I’m supposed to take any of this seriously, grant him (or anyone like him) this type of erroneous space, and then engage in winsome reasonable dialogue; not going to happen. When people automatically marginalize Barth’s theology, because they are committed say to a more “classical” approach, and then want to attempt to have a serious discussion, when many of Barth’s categories are informing my hermeneutic and potential for theological discourse, what are such people thinking?!

I am lifting this up because it is fresh, and I want to identify it as a caution for going forward. I don’t have a problem with people disagreeing with Barth’s theology, per se. But when that is used straightaway to discount his offering to the church then what’s the point of attempting to pursue any further dialogue (given who I am)? So Mike isn’t really allowed here anymore. He can read my blog, but no more commenting (it doesn’t even make sense to allow that; not for him or me or for anyone else who wants to take Mike’s approach with me).

A Lurker Reveal Post

This is a lurker reveal post. If you have been reading here or visiting here regularly for any time at all, and you see this post, let me know by simply saying “hi” in the comments (if you feel adventurous you can even say a little bit about yourself). I used to do posts like this every now and then in the past to give folks a chance to reveal themselves a bit; it also serves as an encouragement to me to let me know I’m not just writing posts for the ether alone. 😉

Some Things to Keep in Mind When You Read Here, and Comment

I haven’t written a post like this for a long time, I used to write posts like this pretty frequently; just to keep things clear about how I operate here at my personal blog. I’m a 42 year old full grown man, with a family, responsibilities, so on and so forth. I’ve been “full time” blogging since 2005, even through a terminal cancer (that for some Providential reason I lived through). I just want to
mosaicbobbymake clear why and how I blog, and the expectations I bring to it. I don’t blog to place myself under anyone’s “accountability”; I don’t blog to open myself up to personal attacks or opinions about who the reader perceives me to be, or thinks I should be; I don’t blog (necessarily) to make “friends” (or enemies); I don’t blog in order to figure out how to communicate so the masses can understand. I blog in order to learn, primarily. I will blog and write about whatever topic I want, whenever I want; that’s one of the points of having a personal blog. If you don’t like what I write, or the topics I choose to write on, then either don’t read them or at the least don’t tell me about it (I don’t care). Also one more thing, don’t be passive-aggressive in your comments. If you are going to take a run at me, and my ideas, then expect me to push back in kind. And if I do push back don’t default to some sort of passive posture, I don’t respect that at all.

That said, I’ve almost always left comments open, and do enjoy engaging in discourse and commenting. But with one caveat (again shaped by what I wrote above), I appreciate comments that engage materially with whatever I have written in a particular post. If you think something I wrote is not understandable, then ask me to clarify prior to launching into a critique of what I didn’t write, or what you THINK I wrote; I don’t respect that, and it “triggers” me. I’m generally a nice person, and I love Jesus, but I won’t be “pushed” around online (or in person), particularly on my blog.

For the moment I am going to turn on the comment moderation function here at the blog. I think that would be wise for me to do that, and not as cumbersome as it used to be; since people rarely comment on blogs anymore (they reserve that for FaceBook and Twitter it seems).

Love you.

House Keeping: I am no longer on FaceBook

Just a heads up for any of you who are friends with me on FaceBook. I just deactivated my account, and I am not sure, if ever, when I will return. I think I first started a FaceBook account in and around 2007, but I let it lay dormant until about 2008; even when I decided to start using my account my only intention was to use it for funneling my blog posts through, which I did. I made over a thousand contacts on FB, and have quite a bit of networking contacts as a result. Even so, in the final analysis, at least for the time being, I am exhausted by FB. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing what’s going on in other people’s lives, and not that I don’t enjoy sharing things with others; but honestly I feel like sometimes people have too much access into my life, almost in unhealthy ways. Beyond that, the real reason is because I spend way too much unproductive time just scanning FB; I can do more productive things with my life, including blogging. To me blogging is the better out-let, there’s enough space here to express meaningful thoughts, and the pace of things is slower and more controlled. I am sure some of my contacts on FB will probably think I unfriended them or blocked them or something, but of course that’s not the case. I only deactivated my account, I did not delete it; so when I feel like it I can reactivate it, and get right back at it again—although my intention is not to do that for awhile.

If you’re not friends with me on FB then this doesn’t affect you, but if you are now you know what happened. Expect more blog posts than I’ve been producing as of late. With the vacuum created by not being on FB, my blogging will once again be my primary online out-let for all things theological. I still do have a Twitter account open, but I’m not a fan of Twitter, really.

One more thing, if you’re friends with me on FB, and someone else asks you if you know what happened to me, could you let them know? And tell them to come visit me here. 🙂

Commenting “Policy”

Just a quick housekeeping note in regard to commenting here at The Evangelical Calvinist. I actually don’t get that many comments anymore (blogging has changed since I started 10 years ago), and typically anytime I do you all use great tone and are respectful even if you disagree with me on things. But I would like to be clear: This is my personal blog, it is where I think out loud, write to learn, and process various things. One thing that I won’t accept are comments that tell me, on my own blog, what I should or shouldn’t post and/or when I should or shouldn’t post on whatever topic we might be considering.

Somebody just told me via comment that I shouldn’t have posted that post that I did on Pray for Paris, Jean CauvinApparently they thought it was in bad taste, or maybe opportunistic or whatever. I can assure you that that post was not that. That post, for one thing was, for me, a way to process the tragedy that happened on November 13th, and also a way to maybe put up something encouraging and edifying from John Calvin (who just happened to be French). I thought his words were apropos, and even timely in regard to underscoring what prayer is and what it can and should accomplish for those who do pray. My commentary on that post was intended to set up that quote (from Calvin) and nothing else. I don’t think that what I wrote in that post was distasteful or too quick.

Anyway, I am going to post whatever I feel led, at the time, to post. If you see a title to a post and you don’t think you will like its contents, then don’t read it, nobody is forcing you to. I am thankful to have the readers that I do, and thankful, typically, for the type of feedback that I get. But I just want to be clear about what I am doing with this blog, and to emphasize that this is my blog; nobody is forcing you to read it, but I am grateful that you all do.

Thanks. Pax.

PS. If I receive comments that I think are outside the bounds of what I find acceptable I will delete those comments; I won’t be censored on my own blog. I have rarely ever done that in my 10 years of blogging.

The Evangelical Calvinist will stay with WordPress

After getting some good feedback, both here, and from someone else I respect, “offline,” I have decided to keep blogging right here at growrag.wordpress.com. I won’t be moving to Patheos, for a variety of reasons.

Thanks again for the good feedback. And don’t feel slighted if I didn’t go with your advice 🙂 .