An Education in Freedom: Theology for the Liberal Arts

Insofar as the liberal arts provide an education in freedom, my task as a theologian is to relate our endeavours to the freedom of God. Divine freedom is not only expressed in the immanent life of the Trinity, but in God’s acts of creation and incarnation. These acts reveal not merely freedom from external constraint but freedom for the world. I teach the liberty revealed in Jesus Christ as the basis for our learning to be free.…
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A Vital Network of Theologians

A review of Michael Mawson and Philip Ziegler (eds), Christ, Church and World: New Studies in Bonhoeffer’s Theology and Ethics (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), featured in The Expository Times 129, 4 (January 2018).

The University of Aberdeen hosted several leading voices in Bonhoeffer studies over the course of 2014-15. The series of presentations, which took place under the editors’ direction with the support of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, provided the material for this rich collection of essays oriented around four main themes: Christology, hamartiology, ecclesiology, and Christian-Jewish relations.

Philip Ziegler’s eloquent essay shows that Bonhoeffer’s Ethics is largely meta-ethical insofar as it seeks to ‘map the moral terrain’ within which reflection, decision, and action take place. He traces Bonhoeffer’s refusal of appeals to mere humanity or ‘the creature as such’ in favour of theologically locating human beings as either ‘in Adam’ or ‘in Christ’ (pp.101-4). Such ‘cartography’ is complemented by essays that deploy Bonhoeffer’s thought for areas of contemporary interest: Michael Mawson deftly recovers Bonhoeffer’s account of embodied creatureliness as a promising resource for disability theology, while Christiane Tietz skillfully employs Bonhoeffer’s Christology to challenge dominant assumptions about a common ‘religious’ consciousness or a predictable ‘natural’ order on which ethics are based.…
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Recovering Luther on the ‘Institutions’ of the Living Word

A review of The Promise of Martin Luther’s Political Theology: Freeing Luther from the Modern Political Narrative
by Michael Laffin (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), the early form of material submitted to The Expository Times.

Critical genealogies of modernity have brought an excessive set of charges against Martin Luther. Luther allegedly holds a dualistic ‘doctrine of the two kingdoms’, which entails an autonomous political sphere given to authoritarianism; he construes the relation of divine and human agencies competitively, emphasising the ‘passivity’ of the latter while dismissing the possibility of ‘pagan virtue’; his thought is in thrall to nominalism and voluntarism, joint causes of contemporary social fragmentation. For many political philosophers and theologians, such contestable theses have become the received wisdom; nails hardly seem needed to post them.

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© David Robinson, 2018