Kevin Vanhoozer Posts
February 7, 2013 by Matthew Mason
Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology have just published an article of mine that originated as a paper for the SAET summer symposium in 2011. It’s an exploration of how Kevin Vanhoozer’s Drama of Doctrine helps us think about the importance of catechesis in the local church. SBET have graciously allowed me to post a pdf offprint of the article . It’s called Back to (Theo-drama) School: The Place of Catechesis in the Local Church, and is published in this issue of the journal.
The article doesn’t have an abstract, but if it did, this is roughly what it would say:
In contrast to earlier eras in Christian history, most notably the patristic period and the Reformation, the contemporary church suffers from a lack of serious catechesis. This article builds on Kevin Vanhoozer’s Drama of Doctrine to argue for the necessity of a recovery of catechesis if the church is to foster faithful discipleship. It argues that Vanhoozer’s theo-dramatic approach to doctrine could valuably shape the practice of catechesis, which should be regarded as training for the church’s fitting improvisatory participation in God’s drama of redemption. After considering the contemporary catechetical malaise, this article outlines a theo-dramatic catechesis that focuses on studying the script(ures) with wise performance as its goal. Throughout, it draws not only on The Drama of Doctrine, but also on the catechetical wisdom of previous generations of Christians, most notably Augustine and Zacharius Ursinus before concluding with a call for pastors to return to viewing themselves not only as preachers and leaders, but also as catechists.
June 10, 2011 by Jason Hood
(For part one click here.)
KV spoke of the importance of direct and indirect communication (Kierkegaard’s distinction): story, parable, proverb, and action are vital (and sometimes overlooked) tools for getting a message across. This prompts KV to ask if forms or genres of Scripture have authority, and if so, how? If they are not authoritative, we could simply download true facts abstracted from the Bible and be done with the tricky forms! (I also have in my notes the question, “Is Paul’s life canonical?” i.e., 1 Cor 4:8-17, but I cannot remember if that’s KV’s idea or my own reflection.)
The goal of theology is to form people of wisdom, not least so that theology and the life lived are not divorced. He gave the example of Philemon, where Paul foregoes command in order to facilitate a “fitting act that refreshes the heart,” as Vanhoozer interpreted it; or “prepared spontaneity,” in Paul Tripp’s wonderful phrase, brought out by Matthew Mason in his response paper. First Theology is about the gospel, but in a broad sense, larger than sin-defined needs–that’s milk, the beginning, but not the end.
Kevin’s recommendations included Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God; he urged us to pursue a trinitarian gospel-centeredness, so that our gospel accounts for and celebrates “Not just God for us, but God with us and in us.” This is just one example of KV’s consistent effort to overcome theory-praxis distinction, a theme that arose repeatedly inDrama and in our discussion. KV asks what it means to be biblical, and he very forcefully insists that it is not enough to have the right propositions in hand…we must follow those facts, “walk in the way,” exercising (and acting in) judgment: we are actors, not just spectators.
The theologian also has the task of cultivating not just the intellect, but intellectual virtues, and habits of the mind linked to those virtues. Humility, not hubris; honesty, justice, patience; an intellectual pursuit that is “less about me.” A high view of our own thoughts over time makes us closed-minded and pastorally disastrous. (JH note: How do we balance this with the pastor-theologian as “public intellectual” and “Big Picture Specialist”?!? I’d recommend John Dickson’s new book, Humilitas.)1 Comment
June 9, 2011 by Jason Hood
Or did SAET do Vanhoozer? I’m not sure, but Vanhoozer was present while we all did Ecclesial Theology. The Second Fellowship of the SAET met this week in Chicago. It was everything one would want: encouraging, challenging, course-correcting, vision-casting.
Kevin Vanhoozer was our special guest; Doug Sweeney, our regular Second Fellowship advisor, was also in attendance, and both brought the wisdom for us. Several of us gave papers that attempted to make Pumpkin Pie out of The Great Pumpkin, Vanhoozer’s Drama of Doctrine. KV interacted with our responses and spent time reflecting with us on what needs to happen in the theological-pastoral enterprise in which we are all engaged. A few soundbites faithfully (I hope) paraphrased:
“Theology is the study of reality. A theologian is a minister of reality.” Part of the theologian’s task is to challenge and cast down idolatrous counter-realities.
The task of the theologian is that of “public intellectual,” not necessarily in the global, CNN sense, but in the local sense. In a segmented world, pastor-theologians are the ones who can help make sense of the world as a whole. Local attempts to provide an answer to truly challenging questions, i.e., “What is a human being?” and thus make sense of the world cannot in fact do so.
The attempt to answer such questions can be made within the solar systems of economics, social media, medicine and science, politics, journalistic media, etc., and we can learn from such attempts. But wherever the attempt is made reductionism mars the end result. Theology alone gets to say, from a cosmic perspective, “God and reality are more than economics,” and theologians alone are the “Big Picture Specialists.”
“Theology and Christianity is not about getting God into my life, but about me getting into the life and story of God, who is restoring all things and renewing his image.“6 Comments
May 16, 2011 by Matthew Mason
SAET’s second fellowship meets in a few weeks to discuss various response papers to Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine. Having enjoyed the book immensely, I’m looking forward to hearing what my compatriots make of it. In the meantime, my review of Vanhoozer’s recent, and wonderful, doctrine of God, Remythologizing Theology, is now online on the Ecclesia Reformanda website.1 Comment
March 8, 2011 by Matthew Mason
What, then, does God communicate to the world? The short answer: God communicates himself (revelation) and a share in himself (redemption).
Consider the Psalmist’s request: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord” (Ps. 25:4). Moses made a similar request – “please show me now your ways” (Ex. 33:13) – and in response God proclaims his name (Ex. 33:19). We learn from another Psalm that God has “made know his ways [derakim] to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel” (Ps. 103:7. Interestingly, the “name” the Lord proclaims to Moses is also what the Psalmist cites as the content of God’s “ways”: “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6; cf. Ps. 103:8). The “ways” of God – God’s own being-in-action – are what God communicates. It only remains to connect these ways of God to what we have said about the circulation of God’s light, life, and love in his inner being.
The point of connection is Jesus Christ. For the one who identifies himself by saying “I am the way” (Jn. 14:6a) is also the one who is “full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14), a phrase that many commentators rightly see as an allusion to the hesed and emeth of Exodus 34:6. The Son alone reveals and makes accessible the Father : “No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6b). All God’s “ways” are thus summed up and clarified in him, the “way.” The Fourth Gospel also depicts Jesus as claiming to be the light and life of God. Remythologizing theology thus gives rise to a new metaphysics of the “I am” that is defined not by speculating on “the one who is” (the name “Yahweh”) but on “the one who does,” that is, the one who makes known his name and his ways. Jesus’ “I am” sayings thus become the basis of a properly christological metaphysic that focuses on the way in which the three persons communicate light and life to the world through the incarnate Son.
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship (Cambridge: CUP, 2010), 260.0 Comments
March 27, 2010 by Gerald Hiestand
Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer of Wheaton Graduate School has graciously agreed to serve as the Senior Theological Consultant for the SAET’s 2010/2011 Symposium schedule. We’ll be presenting papers on the theme of “Identity Formation in the Culture, Church and Scriptures.” We are thrilled to have Dr. Vanhoozer’s participation.
In related news, Vanhoozer has just released his (self-professed) first major work of theology, Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion and Authorship (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Vanhoozer describes his aim for the book:
For years I’ve felt that the doctrine of God was a relatively weak spot in evangelical theology. Then open theism happened and my suspicions were confirmed. One major aim, then, is to provide a retooling of classical theism that takes into account the concerns of open theists – in particular, the integrity of God’s loving relationship to the world – while simultaneously maintaining what I take to be the correct Reformed emphasis on divine sovereignty. Another aim is to scrutinize the oft-heard claim in contemporary theology that God’s love entails divine suffering.
The above excerpt is from an interview conducted by Guy Davies. See Davies’ site, The Exiled Preacher for the rest of the interview.
HT: Mike Bird0 Comments
October 18, 2009 by Gerald Hiestand
Michael Bird posted these ten theses from Kevin Vanhoozer’s paper entitled “Interpreting Scripture between the Rock of Biblical Studies and the Hard Place of Systematic Theology: The State of the Evangelical (Dis)union,” delivered at Gordon-Conwell for the Renewing the Evangelical Mission conference. These have been floating around the blogosphere, but they’re worth posting again here, particularly the closing observation he makes regarding pastor-theologians.
1. The nature and function of the Bible are insufficiently grasped unless and until we see the Bible as an element in the economy of triune discourse.
2. An appreciation of the theological nature of the Bible entails a rejection of a methodological atheism that treats the texts as having a “natural history” only.
3. The message of the Bible is “finally” about the loving power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), the definitive or final gospel Word of God that comes to brightest light in the word’s final form.
4. Because God acts in space-time (of Israel, Jesus Christ, and the church), theological interpretation requires thick descriptions that plumb the height and depth of history, not only its length.
5. Theological interpreters view the historical events recounted in Scripture as ingredients in a unified story ordered by an economy of triune providence.
6. The Old Testament testifies to the same drama of redemption as the New, hence the church rightly reads both Testaments together, two parts of a single authoritative script.
7. The Spirit who speaks with magisterial authority in the Scripture speaks with ministerial authority in church tradition.
8. In an era marked by the conflict of interpretations, there is good reason provisionally to acknowledge the superiority of catholic interpretation.
9. The end of biblical interpretation is not simply communication – the sharing of information – but communion, a sharing in the light, life, and love of God.
10. The church is that community where good habits of theological interpretation are best formed and where the fruit of these habits are best exhibited.
Vanhoozer goes on to write, “Seminary faculties need the courage to be evangelically Protestant for the sake of forming theological interpreters of Scripture able to preach and minister the word. The preacher is a “man on a wire,” whose sermons must walk the tightrope between Scripture and the contemporary situation. I believe that we should preparing our best students for this gospel ministry. The pastor-theologian, I submit, should be evangelicalism’s default public intellectual, with preaching the preferred public mode of theological interpretation of Scripture.”2 Comments