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Some Observations On The ‘Eternal Functional Subordination’ Debate

June 10, 2016

The Theology Internets this week are buzzing with a new breakout of an issue that isn’t really new at all: arguments for so-called “eternal functional subordination” (EFS) in the life of the Trinity, advocated by people such as Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem and vocally opposed by theologians across the spectrum as dangerously speculative at best, and outright heretical at worst.  (Participants in the conversation this week include Carl Trueman, Liam Goligher, Scot McKnightDenny Burk, Ware, Grudem, and many others.)  There are many, many threads to pull here — related to Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381), the eternal generation of the Son, social models of the Trinity, interpretations of 1 Cor. 11:3, gender relations and so-called “complementarianism,” etc.

The claim under debate is essentially this: There is within the life of God (and not strictly in the economy) an eternal relationship, or structure, of authority and submission.  The Son shares the essence of God the Father and so is not ontologically subordinate to the Father, but the Son is functionally so.

It’s interesting to see this debate taking place in the fast-moving and very public blogosphere, and also to see it involve a number of the principals of the EFS case.  In the past I’ve written a little bit about the tragic invocation of Karl Barth on this topic (with some specific observations about Ware’s methodology, which I’ll summarize below).  But rather than leaping into the deep end of this debate, or attempting to write something approaching anywhere close to comprehensive here, I’ll simply register a handful of observations that I hope make some contribution to clarity.  (My apologies for the length of this piece — it is not for the faint of heart.)

They pertain primarily to the history of Christian doctrine, and to the methods by which theologians studiously pursue their inquiry into the life of God.

~ ~ ~

(1) As proponents of EFS suggest, there is a great deal of historical precedent for the notion of an “order” or taxis within the life of the Trinity.  It is a mistake, however, to understand such analysis in terms of the subordination of the Son to the Father, or the authority of the Father over the Son.  In the absence of the key distinction between “ontological” and “functional” subordination (to which I will return below) the fathers of the church would recognize such an interpretation of taxis as Subordinationist (that is, as the heresy condemned by the church).

What, then, is the language of “order” and taxis doing?  Historically it speaks not to hierarchy, rank, or authority-submission structures, but to the divine processions.  The Son is begotten by the Father.  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (and the Son).  The Father is unbegotten, having life in Himself and proceeding from none other.  These are the relations of generation and procession; these alone distinguish the persons from one another in the inner life of God, and these are what the orthodox tradition mean when it refers to “ordering” in the Trinity.  The Son is from the Father.

Thomas Aquinas says that there is an “order” in God, and this is an “order according to origin, without priority” (Summa Theologica I q.42 a.3).  That leads me to my next point.

~ ~ ~

(2) Extending this line a bit further: a relation of origination does not entail submission, or difference in rank or authority.  The Son’s being the one who is “begotten” does not, for the orthodox tradition, entail any form of subordination to the one who “begot” Him.  These descriptors of how Father, Son, and Spirit are related to one another, and how the latter two proceed from the Father, are simply expressions of their (eternal) relations.  But these relations, Thomas continues, are persons who together subsist in the one divine nature; therefore the order that exists in the Trinity cannot entail the priority (we might say “authority”) of one person over another:

Neither on the part of the nature, nor on the part the relations, can one person be prior to another, not even in the order of nature and reason. (Ibid)

John of Damascus also says:

All the qualities the Father has are the Son’s, save that the Father is unbegotten, and this exception involves no difference in essence nor dignity, but only a different mode of coming into existence. (Expositio Fidei I.8, emphasis mine)

The Father has no “superiority” in any way, John continues, “save causation.”

With respect to the economy, then, the fathers concluded that it is fitting that the Son is the one to be sent into the world to take on flesh, while the Father is the one who sends.  Here the divine missions reflect, or correspond to, the Trinitarian relations.  But the temporal obedience of the Son to the Father is not the result of a hierarchy innate to the Trinity, but of his free, self-giving obedience (cf. Phil. 2:5-8).

~ ~ ~

(3) In the economy there is plenty of space to speak of the Son’s submission to the Father (according to the Son’s humanity).  The New Testament is full of this — e.g. John 5:19, Luke 22:42.  In the economy this is fully the result of the Son’s free self-submission, which the NT calls “obedience” (Heb. 5:7-8).

While this is not much of a point of dispute in the EFS debate, it is worth stating before we continue further.  What is at issue is the claim that this submission is present in the immanent Trinity, as well.  But Thomas clarifies:

Christ is subject to the Father not simply [in Himself] but in His human nature, even if this qualification is not added; and yet it is better to add this qualification in order to avoid the error of Arius, who held the Son to be less than the Father. (ST III q.20 a.1)

~ ~ ~

(4) An historical critique: It is coherent to claim that the Son’s subordination to the Father is strictly “functional,” while maintaining their ontological equality and identity of essence.  This requires some working out, and it is certainly an innovation to press this beyond the economy and into the inner life of God.  For this argument to be successful it need not secure itself in the creedal tradition (acknowledging that it is new); but it does bear the burden of demonstrating full sympathy and coherence with the creeds, lest the proponents of EFS declare a willingness to abandon historic Christian orthodoxy.

I certainly don’t think that is what they want to do. What Grudem, Ware, et al have done thus far is to maintain that EFS is not an innovation but instead a fairly straight-forward reading of Nicene orthodoxy with respect to the dynamic of authority and submission.  (I detect even a hint of surprise that anyone — but perhaps the most militant anti-complementarians — would find this reading of the tradition to be heterodox.)  But the historians among us are clear on this point of consistency with the Nicene position: it just isn’t there.  The only path forward is to do the historical work to prove the historians wrong (which I believe cannot be done) or to acknowledge that EFS is an innovation.  The best case that could be made is for its continuity with the fathers.

~ ~ ~

(5) A theological critique: If the idea of the Son’s “functional” subordination to the Father is at least potentially coherent (only needing some better historical work to show how it can also remain orthodox), pressing this “functional” subordination into eternity seems to be incoherent.  There are a variety of reasons for this, not the least of which is the doctrine of divine simplicity (see Aquinas, ST I q.3): God is not made up of parts nor does God “have” attributes that are not identical with God’s nature (let alone the three persons having attributes different from one another).  According to the medievals God simply is each of God’s attributes — love, mercy, justice, etc.

If this is the case, in the immanent Trinity the Son cannot have an attribute of subordination (or “submissiveness,” if you like), while the Father has the different attribute of superiority (or “authority”).  Consider that same quotation from John of Damascus again: “All the qualities the Father has are the Son’s, save that the Father is unbegotten.”  The only difference between the divine persons is in their relations of origin, and the authority-submission architecture does not simply interpret these relations — it complicates it, adding certain personal characteristics that are derived from the divine relations (e.g. what we think “sonship” entails).  Divine simplicity does not permit this in eternity (that is, in the inner life of God), but only in the economy.

In God’s eternal repose God simply is.  God enjoys the fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit in their mutual love and self-giving.  To speak of God’s life in eternity is not to speak of God’s activities (or “functions”) but necessarily to speak of the divine being itself.  Thus there is a crucial consequence for adding the qualifier “eternal” to the EFS position: “eternal” means that you are already talking about divine ontology, and so the important adjective “functional” is unwound and we are left with mere Subordinationism.  Logically — if one grants the traditional metaphysics of the ancient and medieval churches — we can have either “eternal subordination” or “functional subordination,” but “eternal functional subordination” is a contradiction in terms.

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(6) A methodological critique:  Where does this idea of an “authority-submission structure” within the Trinity come from?  Ware, for one, is clear about the path of his logic:

As Son, the Son is always the Son of the Father and is so eternally. As Son of the Father, he is under the authority of his Father and seeks in all he does to act as the Agent of the Father’s will, working and doing all that the Father has purposed and designed for his Son to accomplish.

(Source, emphasis in original.  See further Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance [Crossway, 2005].)

It is the Bible’s identification of these two divine persons as “Father” and “Son” that Ware takes as his starting point for reasoning through the nature of their relationship.  Human fathers have authority over sons; in a right and godly relationship human sons submit to the authority of their fathers.

From the fact that they are revealed in terms of the father-son relation, Ware extrapolates that God the Father and God the Son have a relationship which corresponds to this human relationship.  By using these names Scripture suggests that they relate as human fathers and sons properly do; the language is implicitly revelatory in this way.  For some readers this may seem a perfectly fine way of reasoning.  For now I’ll table the full demolition (which ought to make reference to Sallie McFague’s work on language and predication) and just mark it with a label: natural theology.  The EFS mode of reasoning is what Barth decried as human projection misidentified with divine revelation.  Ware takes a human cultural construct and, mistaking it for revelation, reads it upward into the life of God by means of an analogia entis.

When he in turn derives from this divine relation a proscription for human gender relations, the circle is complete and the exercise in natural theology is made infinitely more egregious. Ware first reads the authority-submission structure from creaturely existence into the life of God; then he reads it back out again from God to human creatures — only now switching from the parent-child relation to male-female relations.  The procedure is entirely self-referential, a theological systole and diastole: Ware has derived from his doctrine of God exactly what he put into it.

~ ~ ~

Coda and Caveat.  This turned out longer than I meant it to be, but let me conclude with a significant caveat.  All of the analysis above presumes a traditional metaphysic for speaking of God’s essence, persons, and relations.  I presuppose all of this for the sake of discussion because, to a person, it is presupposed by all participants in the debate that I have read so far.

There are, however, other ways of thinking through the nature of God and God’s triune identity.  One example is found in the work of Karl Barth, which I explore a bit in an essay published in Advancing Trinitarian Theology.  The short of it is that when Barth speaks of God the Son’s obedience to the Father even in the inner life of God, Barth means something completely different by it.

The Act of Confessing

June 2, 2016
Council of Chalcedon

In the act of confession, says theologian John Webster, “the church binds itself to the gospel” (119). Our confessional documents and creeds are intimately tied to this act, he says, but it would be a mistake to confuse these formal products of the church’s confession for the act of confession itself.  Thus “the creed is a good servant but a bad master: it assists, but cannot replace, the act of confession” (120).  To hold to one’s confession as “an achieved formula” risks quenching the Holy Spirit, who is living and active in the churches, and going one’s own way.

The essay is “Confession and Confessions,” published in the really excellent 2001 volume Nicene Christianity (ed. Christopher R. Seitz).  Here Webster models the sort of approach to theological inquiry that he was so good at, and in fact which marked all of his work: where lesser theologians might take a given topic and jump straight into the doctrine, its history, its biblical basis, and its functioning in the contemporary church (all good questions to pursue, mind you!) John tarries, pondering the topic on a more fundamental level and lingering on its relationship to the triune God and God’s gracious communion with God’s creatures.

Nicene Christianity (Seitz)So here, for example, instead of leaping to “What do we confess?” and “How do we confess?” and “What does confession do for our churches?” Webster has begun with the question: What is the act of confession in the economy of God’s self-giving?

This act can be expanded in three directions, Webster says:

(1) The act of confession originates in revelation (121).  Confessing is of course a human act, but it is one which takes its start (and therefore its content and its direction) from a prior act of God.  This act is “God’s communicative self-presence, the gracious and saving self-communication of God the Lord.”  And it is generative not only of the church’s confession, but of its very life.  And because this self-communicating of God is a movement, and because it is on-going, it is “a gift that cannot be converted into a possession” – as if Christians might now hear and take up and objectify the One whom it confesses.

(2) The act of confession is a responsive, not a spontaneous, act (122).  It is the church’s obedience to God the Lord, who has graciously addressed it and summoned it to listen and to speak.  This act therefore must be rooted in God’s triune life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, born not from the church’s creative speech about God but from the Father, the Son, and the Spirit’s dealings with creatures.  In this sense confessions are not even reducible to human speech that is uttered in response to grace; God makes the church’s confession and gives it as a gift, and the church trusts God to accomplish and bring to completion its own act of confessing.

(3) The act of confession is an episode in the conflict between God and sin that is at the center of the drama of salvation (122).  It does not stand apart from the drama of salvation.  The encounter between God and creatures is not just any encounter, but one in which God is confronting sin – sin, which is in part “the refusal to confess.”  And so the church’s confession of God is, more precisely, confession of the God who saves; and confession is itself an act of repentance.  It is rebellion against the disorder of the world, a joining in with God’s radical overturning of evil.


Perhaps most significant
in Webster’s theological account of confession is the conviction that confession is the mode in which the church exists, rather than the production of documents and doctrinal codes.  The church “does not convert the drama of redemption into a set of propositions to be policed” (130).  And so our creeds are binding, in a sense; but theologically we must acknowledge that this authority comes neither from the creed as an artifact nor from the church and its power to bind and loose, but from the God who is the object of its testimony.  The authority of the creed is not self-standing, separable from its own submission to the Word of God.  The creed “has the authority of the herald, not the magistrate” (130).

In sum, says Webster, “creeds bind because, and only because, the gospel binds.”  Any other sort of untethered propositionalism merely mistakes the structures of human reasoning – even if it be biblical reasoning – for the genuine article of God’s activity in the world.

Confession is finally a spiritual act, an act of worship, the result of God’s having “invaded and annexed” human life.  To remain a living act of confessing the church’s confession should be characterized by “astonished and chastened hearing of the Word and by grateful and afflicted witness” (121).  That is a tightly-packed and deeply beautiful statement, and a charge to our churches today: its confession of Jesus Christ and his gospel is born out of gratitude (Calvin), witnessing to the act of God on its behalf (Barth), but in so doing ever remaining astonished, chastened in its speech and afflicted out of its self-comfort.  To confess the gospel is to be drawn – forced – outside of one’s self.

There is no self-confidence here.  There is no self-righteousness.  There is only joyful bewilderment, a public acknowledgement of the miracle that God has had mercy on me, a sinner.

John Webster on God’s Sustaining Presence

May 31, 2016

While John’s new essay volumes The Domain of the Word and God Without Measure are grabbing attention from theologians (and rightly so), another new volume of Prof. Webster’s work has recently arrived that you might not know about: last year Lexham Press published Confronted By Grace: Meditations of a Theologian.  This is a collection of 26 sermons from his career, most during the time he served as canon of Christ Church cathedral in Oxford.

On the day that I learned of his passing I found myself holed up reading these sermons, searching for some source of comfort.  John’s words of course pointed me to God and no one else as the source of our comfort.  As he said in the sermon titled “He Who Comforts:”

In this matter of true human comfort, we enter a sphere in which God alone is competent.  No mere human being can announce comfort of this kind; no one can take it upon himself or herself to declare what Isaiah declares.  God alone may do this, because God alone is savior, and therefore comforter.  With this announcement we’re placed in the middle of God’s work of salvation.  We listen to an announcement that the human situation has been entirely changed – not modified or gingered up or temporarily cheered, but re-made, re-created.  Salvation and its comfort are in the hands of God alone; all we may do in comforting is, as Isaiah does, testify to the miracle of God’s mercy. (p. 42)

God is the source of all our comfort, the one who provides relief and vindication, and who on the basis of this relief and vindication gives us the command, “Comfort, comfort my people …” (Isaiah 40:1).

As those who weep and mourn you and I are drawn by our frailty into God’s presence.  As those who are afflicted we seek comfort, and this seeking brings us inexorably to the true Comforter.  In God’s presence, John says in another sermon (this one on Psalm 121 – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?”), we are sustained.  God is the one who attends to us in our affliction, who will lift up your head:

God does not sleep through the misery of the world; God will shade us in the heats of the day; God will watch us as we journey; God will keep us.  It’s simple enough.  But to get to those affirmations, we have to climb over a lot of rubble inside ourselves.  We have to learn what is extraordinarily hard for us to learn: not to listen to our fears; not to be tossed around by whatever comes across our path; not to give credence to the lies that God has fallen asleep or just given up protecting us.

Those things take a lifetime to learn for most of us, because learning them involves overcoming some of our most basic drives and desires and foolishness.  But it’s only as we learn those things that we begin to live with a measure of Christian composure.  Christian composure is a very particular thing, however.  It’s an equanimity that is given to us, which we don’t make up from our own resources.  It’s given to us as we make our confession of the lordship of God, as we learn how to praise God, how to trust the gospel, how to see all things int he light of God’s mercy, how to keep our hearts by God’s promises. (p. 147)

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

 The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.

 The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time on and forevermore.

Psalm 121:5-8, NRSV

Reading John B. Webster (1955-2016)

May 31, 2016

Series Introduction

By now most readers of this blog will be aware of the sudden passing of Prof. John Webster on May 25, 2016.  John was a mentor and a friend to all four of us who contribute to Out of Bounds (all of us having been supervised by him during our doctoral studies in Aberdeen), and so far we have chosen to deal with our grief privately.

What we would like to do here on the blog in the weeks and months to come, though, is to share John’s work and his theological insights with you.  Some readers may be intimately familiar with his oeuvre; others may have come across his work from time to time; and still others may be brand new to his theological project – one that unfortunately must remain unfinished.  John had a dozen or so books published (including three brand new essay collections on God and God’s Word) and countless essays, stretching from Eberhard Jüngel and Karl Barth to the doctrine of Scripture, ecclesiology, the idea of sanctification, and most especially the doctrine of the Triune God as the fountainhead of all theological thought.

Watch for an on-going series of posts in this blog’s future, and please share in the comments about how John’s work has impacted you.  One idea for the future is for us to host an online reading group through one of John’s books.  If that is of interest to you please post below.  (In the meantime the folks at Mere Orthodoxy are currently talking about a group read-through of Holiness [Eerdmans, 2003].)

Together we continue to engage John’s ideas, to give them a wide hearing, to give thanks for his decades of ministering the gospel, and to remember together that it is only by the grace of God that each of us has the privilege of being a working theologian on the earth for still one more day.

Continue: Posts About John Webster

Going Paperback: Karl Barth’s Christology

March 10, 2016

Karl Barth and the Incarnation (Book)We’ve known each other long enough now that you shouldn’t be surprised to know that I have no qualms whatsoever about shameless shilling for my book.  I’ve been forced to hold back since it was first published a little over a year ago, thanks to the price tag putting the book out of reach of the average reader.

Well, those days are over.

Karl Barth and the Incarnation hits paperback this month, and you can pre-order it now on Amazon for under $30 bucks.

The book puts the twentieth-century Swiss Reformed theologian in dialogue with the classical tradition with respect to the doctrine of the incarnation.  Chapter 1 traces the development of the doctrine of Christ’s person from the fourth century to the eighth century and beyond (with particular attention given to Athanasius, Cyril, and John of Damascus), suggesting that the tradition has rendered a Christology that in places stands in tension with itself.  Four problems in particular are diagnosed with respect to God’s immutability, impassibility, kenosis, and identity.

Chapter 2 surveys Barth’s response to this so-called “Logos Christology” of the ancient and medieval church, with a focus on his lectures at Göttingen and Münster in the 1920s, and Volume I of the Church Dogmatics (published in the early 1930s).  Chapter 3 then examines the Christology of CD Volume IV, drawing out several thematic pairs that help us to understand what Barth was doing in his Christology – and why this ended up being so foundational to his theological project taken as a whole. (Those pairs are covenant and election, time and eternity, the divine and human essences, and humiliation and exaltation.)

The fourth chapter takes up the somewhat controverted question of whether Barth’s understanding of Christ’s person – which is in many respects creative and distinctly modern – qualifies as orthodox or “Chalcedonian.” I affirm that it most certainly is, and along the way explore Barth’s vital understanding of the nature of confessions, ecclesial authority, and metaphysical language.

Chapter 5 puts all these pieces together by returning to the four problems identified in Chapter 1, bringing the christological themes from Chapter 3 to bear on the topics of divine immutability, impassibility, kenosis, and the identity of the incarnate Christ.  The book advocates, finally, that Barth’s Christology is a rich and rewarding help to Christians seeking to think critically yet faithfully about the person of Christ in the modern world.  Along the way it carefully engages a number of ongoing controversies within Barth studies.

I do hope you’ll give the book a look now that it isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg!

Book Review: Sanctified by Grace

January 25, 2016

When I was finishing seminary and513r3mwtg8l-_sx332_bo1204203200_ applying for Phd programs in systematic theology, I had several fellow students and a few professors express surprise that I would want to pursue that particular field. Others at my seminary considering going on to doctoral work were mostly interested in either biblical studies or ethics, excited about getting the church to face either the hard historical facts behind the biblical text or the hard moral requirements our faith makes of us. The conceptual study of doctrine seemed to them “rationalistic”, detached and irrelevant. I had one pastor acquaintance who really didn’t know anything about my theological leanings tell me I like systematic theology because I want to “chop the Bible up into little bits.” Clearly a certain brand of systematic theology, the kind given to an encyclopedic style and proof-texting method, had come to define the whole field for most of the people around me.

I had, thankfully, been exposed to theologies of far greater substance than this, ones centered especially around the being, character and work of God and imbued with a deep appreciation for the history of Christian doctrine, a holistic integration of conceptual and moral dimensions, and a penetrating critique of modern and postmodern biblical hermeneutics. Taking classes at Fuller Seminary from Ray Anderson and Jeannine Graham exposed me to the work of Karl Barth, T. F. Torrance and John Webster. That trio of influences has changed my theology, faith and life forever and led me to Aberdeen to study with John Webster. There I encountered a community of theological study and spiritual life that offered a profound demonstration of what systematic theology can be. I am forever grateful for that experience.

kent-eilers4_web_300_375

Rev. Dr. Kent Eilers

I am also grateful to Kent Eilers and Kyle Strobel for compiling and editing this book, Sanctified by Grace: A Theology of the Christian Life. Both having done their Phds in Aberdeen, the book they have produced offers an excellent introduction to the kind of theology I’m talking about, featuring a good smattering of theologians who either presently teach at Aberdeen or did when we were there – John Webster, Don Wood, Tom Greggs and Phil Ziegler – but also a host of others from across the US and UK who represent the best of the field and demonstrate the rich benefit it has to offer the church today.

One of the great strengths of this book that the editors set out in the preface and introduction is the rejection of any dichotomy between theological reflection and Christian practice, between the intellectual and the moral, between doctrine and life. That is signified in the title: not just our initial justification but the whole scope of our lived faith needs to be understood by reference to the being, character and gracious work of the triune God.

kyle20strobel_full

Dr. Kyle Strobel

The first essay of the book, “The Triune God” by Fred Sanders, is an excellent example. You couldn’t find a doctrine seen as more abstract and irrelevant by most Christians than the Trinity, but Sanders skillfully demonstrates how an understanding of God’s eternal triune life and the connection between its eternal “processions” and the saving “missions” of God the Son and God the Spirit in time is the key to understanding what salvation really means for the Christian: adoption into God’s life.

And the hits keep on coming. Suzanne McDonald’s essay on “The Electing God” is another example of a doctrine most Christians avoid like the plague being used as an entryway to understanding the peculiar power and beauty of the triune God revealed in scripture. Ian McFarland’s “The Saving God” is another highlight, relating a richly biblically informed understanding of God to a proper understanding of Christian salvation and vice versa.

Another great value of this book is its accessibility and usability. The chapters are fairly bite sized, most running about 15 pages or less, organized around the chief doctrines of Christian faith and practice so that each chapter offers a succinct and well written introduction to the topic, current debates and relevance to lived faith. I’ve already tagged several essays for use in undergraduate and seminary classes I teach. My hope, however, is that this book might find readers outside the academy in the church, where a revived interest in theological reflection is most needed. Lay readers would likely be somewhat challenged by many of these essays, but only to their great benefit. In a time when the church growth movement has produced consumer congregations tolerant of only the easiest encouragements, a deep doctrinal book is always a hard sell, especially one that threatens to stretch our vocabulary and make us ponder the reality of God without immediate “action steps”. But a book like this could be perfect for church reading groups led by energetic seminarians. The impact on the life and culture in such churches would be invaluable. 

Wherever this book finds its readership, Eilers and Strobel have done the church and theological academy a great service in bringing together this outstanding group of theologians together. This book is a solid demonstration of unique benefit systematic theology has to offer and the freshness of the current state of the field.

The 2016 L.A. Theology Conference: ‘The Voice of God in the Text of Scripture’

January 13, 2016

Between you and me, the West Coast doesn’t have a whole lot of exciting events that fall into the category of theology conferences — at least for those of us who specialize in doctrine, its history, and its ongoing relevance to the church. That’s why I get so excited for the annual Los Angeles Theology Conference, which is now in its fourth year.

This year’s even takes place on the campus of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California at the end of this week (January 14 and 15). Five plenary speakers and a batch of concurrent session papers will fill two days on the topic of Scripture and/as divine speech.

This year’s plenary speakers include Stephen Fowl (Loyola), John Goldingay (Fuller), Amy Plantinga-Pauw (Louisville), William Abraham (SMU), and Daniel Treier (Wheaton).  But I’m especially interested to hear a paper from my Out of Bounds colleague Dr. Adam Nigh, whose paper is titled “Hearing the Text: Scripture and Preaching as Sacramental Pair.”

The conference is co-sponsored by Fuller Seminary, Biola University (which hosts in alternate years), the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola, and Zondervan Publishers, which kicks out a book with around nine of the conference papers every fall.

Those who aren’t able to attend this year but are interested should put the LATC on their calendar for next January, when the theme will be Dogmatics.

Shored Fragments

Theology in the Far Country

Resident Theology

Theology in the Far Country

Storied Theology

Telling the story of the story-bound God

KYRIE ELEISON

Theology in the Far Country

The Fire and the Rose

Theology in the Far Country

Inhabitatio Dei

Jealous is the night when the Morning comes

Faith and Theology

Theology in the Far Country

DET

Theology in the Far Country

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