Debating Reformed Eucharistic Theology

I’m pleased to announce that volume 2 of The Mercersburg Theology Study Series, edited by Linden J. DeBie and entitled Coena Mystica: Debating Reformed Eucharistic Theology, has just been published by Wipf and Stock Publishers.  You can read more about the Study Series, of which I am serving as General Editor, and which aims to print at least 13 volumes of the writings of Nevin, Schaff, and their colleagues over the next few years, at our website.

This is one of the most exciting volumes in the whole series, bringing to light material that has never been seen before by most scholars, let alone the general public, in an easily accessible form that enables comparison of two rival models of Reformed sacramentology.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here’s what some leading scholars and historians had to say:

These are essential documents pertaining to one of the most important theological debates in American history. They remain of great interest today for not only deepening how Reformed churches might understand the Lord’s Supper in accord with Calvin, but also for the possibility of Reformed ecumenical convergence with churches from which they have long been divided. . . . The editors have performed a great service to theology and the church. —George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary

This debate on the Lord’s Supper is by no means of narrow denominational interest only; for Hodge and Nevin represent doctrinal and sacramental views that are ardently defended to this day—not least in ecumenical discussions. We thus have here a welcome and instructive addition to what is already proving to be a useful series of carefully introduced and edited texts. —Alan P. F. Sell, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

No theological debate in nineteenth-century America displayed more erudition, logical acumen, and knowledge of European scholarship than the clash between Hodge and Nevin over the sacraments. The editors of this volume not only provide stunningly good introductions, but they also arrange the material in an ingenious way that deepens our insights into the issues and enables us to easily follow the discussion. —E. Brooks Holifield, Emory University

Too often in contemporary theology . . . the Eucharist is identified with its Zwinglian variant, according to which the sacrament is largely a spiritual memorial. In the nineteenth century, this view was championed by Charles Hodge, who eschewed the higher sacramentalism of Calvin. By contrast, his erstwhile student John Williamson Nevin attempted to restate the higher Calvinistic account of communion. The battle of journal articles that ensued, reprinted here for the first time since the nineteenth century, is a window into this debate. Oliver Crisp, Fuller Theological Seminary

Where the Action’s Happening

As my blogging hiatus drags on into its third week, I thought I would come out of hibernation briefly to tell anyone who might still be listening where they can find some very exciting stuff going on in blogdom.

First, one of my favorite sites, to which I’ve contributed on a number of occasions, The Calvinist International, has now built an all-new website, which is exceptionally cool-looking, and very much more navigable.  Prominently displayed on the homepage, you’ll find articles of enduring interest and significance highlighted, along with a well-organized and invaluable index of other  resources and blogs on the sidebar.  Plus, they’ve now started, in addition to their occasional ponderous essays, posting a regular stream of short notes and quotes from a wider range of contributors, which you will see in the Nota Bene section.

Second, another of my favorite sites, to which I also occasionally contribute, Mere Orthodoxy has also just finished a nice redesign.  It’s less sweeping, but it, like the Calvinist International, includes the addition of short snappy mini-posts, in a new section called “Mere-O Notes,” alongside their more substantive material.  With all this great new material filling the blogosphere, maybe I needn’t bother returning to blogging after all….

Third, the Junius Institute has recently been launched.  An outgrowth of the Post-Reformation Digital Library project, the Junius Institute represents a fantastic venture to bring the resources of the Reformation and early modern periods into the digital age.  I highly recommend that you check them out.

A Seven-Week Sabbatical

Having been informed by my supervisor that my Ph.D thesis is considerably closer to completion than I had deemed, I have resolved to throw caution, sanity, and blogging to the winds, and try to finish it by the 1st of June, the date at which I will be leaving these shores for good.

Accordingly, I will be spending the next seven weeks in an ascetic regimen, refusing to to indulge the urge to comment on matters of current debate and interest, or to compose ponderous essays on political or historical theology, as I frequently do here and elsewhere.  I may, and probably still will, post occasional quotes from my reading, and links to important things other people are writing, but don’t expect any substantial commentary again until June.  Indeed, if you do catch me blogging as before, you have my permission to chide me publicly for my irresponsibility.

I trust this silence won’t be too unbearable, and if you’re looking for good things to read in the meantime, just consult my Blogroll (or, better, go read the entirety of Hooker’s Lawes).

Till June, farewell!

Announcing “The Bible: Culture, Community, and Society”

I am pleased to be able to bring to your attention the publication of a new book by T&T Clark, entitled The Bible: Culture, Community, and Society.  Edited by Angus Paddison and Neil Messer, the volume offers perspectives from leading contemporary theologians on the how to understand Scriptural authority in modernity—in relation to community, to science, and to politics.  Contributors include such distinguished theologians as David Fergusson, Ellen Davis, Ben Quash, Gavin D’Costa, Andrew Bradstock, and last and almost certainly least, myself.

This is, I confess, a rather striking example of the problems of modern academic publishing. My paper that appears here, “Sola Scriptura and the Public Square: Richard Hooker and a Protestant Paradigm for Political Engagement,” was written nearly two years ago, and comprised a sort of condensed prospectus of what I hoped to accomplish in my Ph.D research, on which I had just set out.  As such, it seems amusingly naïve and over simplistic now, largely on-track in substance, to be sure, but lacking a good deal in precision.  Nonetheless, I’d be an idiot not to tell you that you ought to buy the book (or at least encourage your librarian to buy it)—even if not for my contribution, then certainly for the other fine thoughts on offer here (particularly Andrew Bradstock’s essay, “The Bible and Public Theology”), and for the lovely cover image.

Welcome to Sword and Ploughshare 2.0!

Well, here at last is the new and improved Sword and Ploughshare that I’ve been muttering about for the past couple weeks.  I hope you weren’t expecting too much, as, whatever talents I may have in the word-writing department, they are not matched by similar talents in either creativity and aesthetics, or web technology.  Quite the contrary.  Accordingly, there is much work yet to be done in terms of cleaning up the design, and no doubt I shall discover over the coming days several significant technical glitches.   However, this new platform does provide a great deal more flexibility and ease of use, so hopefully the growing pains will be worth it.

But, before saying more about what may yet be improved, I’ll say a few words about what *has* been improved.  

  • You’ll notice that the separate “About Me” and “What is the S&P?” pages have been combined—after all, who really needed to read whole separate explanations of both?  
  • The Writings page has been considerably overhauled, and although copies of old papers are no longer downloadable, I’m afraid, feel free to email me if you’d like to look at something.  
  • “Projects” has been replaced with a page specifically devoted to my main project, my Ph.D thesis work, since most all of the work I’m doing now ties in with that in some degree.  As that nears its end, and I branch out again, I may see about re-revamping that page.  
  • The Blogroll has been moved from a sidebar to a separate page of its own, has had its membership considerably modified, and now is annotated—that is, I try to give you some idea of why each of the links I’ve put there is there.
  • The Old Blog, I’m sorry to say, is gone.  As it contains material that’s up to 5 1/2 years old, much of which I would now want to say rather differently (or in a few cases, not at all), it seemed a bit needless to continue appending it.  For those really interested in digging up old dirt, you can still access it here.
  • The sidebars, as a whole, have been trimmed down considerably.  There was simply too much before.  In particular, the tag cloud is gone.  Tags still exist, and you can access them by clicking at the bottom of posts, or by using the search, but there were getting to be way too many of them for a sidebar.  I may still be adding a “Recent Posts” widget back into the sidebar, if I can figure out how, which I haven’t been able to yet.  
  • An exception to the general sidebar-trimming is the addition of my Twitter feed, since I have just joined Twitter this week.  We’ll see how that goes.  (Goodreads is gone, as i’ve been inactive there for six months, alas.  Hopefully not forever)
  • The categories have been rationalized somewhat.  Excess categories have been merged, and some have been renamed.  

Things that need work

  • The banner.  Yes, I know it’s big, and that depending on what size your browser window is, a lot of the image doesn’t show up.  I’ll be working on that, and maybe replacing it altogether.
  • The categories.  I’ve rationalized them, as I said, but there’s a good deal of work to be done in going back through old posts and reclassifying.  Once that’s done (a week or two), the Categories listing should at last be a genuinely useful tool for browsing this blog.
  • The subscribe button.  There’s no button to subscribe to the Comments feed at the moment; I shall try to rectify that.  I’m crossing my fingers that all those who subscribed at the old platform shall have their subscriptions carry over here without difficulty.  If not . . . well, that could be a problem.
  • Yes the books are too big on the Writings page.  That’s not because I’m super-vain, or trying to yell in your face to buy my books.  It’s just cuz I’m not tech-savvy.  I’ll be working on it.
  • Let me know if you’re running into other problems, as you try to use the site.  I’m sure there will be some.  Just comment on this post, or, if commenting is one of the things giving you trouble (it was glitchy at the old platform), then use the Contact Me form.

Thanks for following me. I hope you enjoy the new layout, and enjoy the exciting (read: controversial) upcoming posts I’ve had waiting on the back burner, which I can now bring to a boil