rss_2.0Theology and Religion FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Theology and Religion and Religion Feed in a Pre-Christian Mode: Boethius, , , and<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In this essay, I compare and contrast how Boethius (in <italic>Consolation of Philosophy</italic>), the author of <italic>Beowulf</italic>, J. R. R. Tolkien (in <italic>The Lord of the Rings</italic>), and C. S. Lewis (in <italic>Till We Have Faces</italic>) found ways to integrate their Christian theological and philosophical beliefs into a work that is set in a time and place that possesses the general revelation of creation, conscience, reason, and desire, but lacks the special revelation of Christ and the Bible. I begin by using Lewis’s own analysis of the <italic>Consolation</italic> in his <italic>Discarded Image</italic> to discuss what it means for a Christian author to write in a pre-Christian mode. I find a model for such writing in Ecclesiastes, and discuss how Boethius, while confining himself to the pagan wisdom of Greece and Rome, points the way from philosophical consolation to theological transformation. I then use Tolkien’s ‘<italic>Beowulf</italic>: The Monsters and the Critics’ to unpack the distinction between the author’s Christian faith and the purely pagan consolation he offers to his characters, and locate that dynamic in the epic itself. Next, I explore how Tolkien, in imitation of <italic>Beowulf</italic>, balances a deep sense of loss and fatalism with an intimation of a higher providence guiding all. Finally, I show how Lewis, in imitation of Boethius, finds in the pagan world of his novel seeds of a greater revelation to come.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-19T00:00:00.000+00:00Insights of C. S. Lewis Concerning Faith, Doubt, Pride, Corrupted Love, and Dying to Oneself in<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In <italic>Till We Have Faces</italic> (<italic>TWHF</italic>), C. S. Lewis combines his passion for pagan mythology with his knack for communicating Christian truths via story, powerfully illustrating a number of theological and moral positions that are prominent in many of his other writings. This article examines two major themes in <italic>TWHF</italic> that are also emphasized heavily within Lewis’s prose: (1) maintaining faith (which is examined from various angles) in the face of various emotionally-driven temptations to doubt; and (2) recognizing that pride prevents us from knowing God and corrupts the love we have for others into a jealous hatred. The article uncovers a variety of ways that Lewis masterfully paints a picture via the characters and the story of <italic>TWHF</italic> that exemplifies religious and ethical insights within these two themes.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-19T00:00:00.000+00:00Self-Knowledge, Who God Is, and a Cure for our Deepest Shame: A Few Reflections on<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p><italic>Till We Have Faces</italic> is a retelling of the Cupid/Psyche myth with a few twists, namely, a nonstandard narrator and the inability of Psyche’s sister, Orual, to see the palace. Both innovations lead the reader to understand better the dynamics at play in Orual’s effort to disrupt Psyche’s life with her husband/god. The inability to see, on Orual’s part, at first suggests that the nature of the story is primarily epistemological. What is it that can be reasonably known or inferred? Digging deeper, however, reveals that the epistemic elements are actually penultimate, and that instead the book bolsters an ethically robust epistemology. Who we are deeply affects what we can see. Before Orual could apprehend the nature of the gods, she had to be brutally honest about who she herself was. A victim of abuse who was constantly shamed for reasons beyond her control, she is a sympathetic character in several ways, but she gradually moves from being victim to victimizer, treating others as means to ends, and, in the case of Psyche, ‘loving’ her in a way that was more hate than love. Self-knowledge was needed for Orual to apprehend the truth. She comes to realize her treatment of Bardia, Batta, Redival, and especially Psyche was not as pure and altruistic as she had thought. She had to come to terms with the ugliness within herself, and her penchant for consuming others, before she could hope to see the beauty and love of the gods for what they were.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-19T00:00:00.000+00:00The Mystery of Grace: A Theological Reading of C. S. Lewis’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p><italic>Till We Have Faces</italic> is profitably read at three levels: for its surface story, as a crime drama, and as an exploration of the theological mystery of grace. By transposing the myth of Psyche into the mystery genre, Lewis prepares the reader for Orual’s unreliability as a narrator and lures the reader into the novel’s theological depths. Part Two of the novel contains a series of visionary labors which Lewis borrows from Lucius Apuleius but recasts as feats achieved jointly by Orual and Psyche. The theological reading in this article finds textual support for rereading Part One of the novel as depicting Orual, by grace, unknowingly performing Psyche’s labors. Read thusly, the novel is a working out of Lewis’s belief that God can change the past—that grace can reach back into our histories and retell our story. By ascribing to the mutability of the past, Lewis sidesteps the dispute among various branches of Christianity over whether prevenient grace (the grace that pursues us prior to conversion) is both irresistible and salvific. An examination of four sources of grace in Orual’s life (love of beauty, love of wisdom, religious practice, and bereavement) reveals that what would have been common grace in her life becomes salvific as it leads to her redemption. This exposition also shows the novel’s indebtedness to the many classical Greek sources to which Lewis alludes within it, as well as its affinity with some of the ideas of Simone Weil.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-19T00:00:00.000+00:00Sehnsucht as Signpost: The Autobiographical Impulse of C. S. Lewis<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>For half a century, readers of C. S. Lewis had only two problematic and at times obscure spiritual autobiographies (<italic>The Pilgrim’s Regress</italic> and <italic>Surprised by Joy</italic>) to use in attempts to understand Lewis’s journey to faith through what he called Joy, Sehnsucht, or longing. Both books, though important and full of key insights, in some ways hid more than they revealed. Recent discoveries, however, have widened the arc of autobiography. Lewis’s landmark pre-Christian account of his conversion to theism, ‘Early Prose Joy’, published in 2013, monumentally widened and deepened our understanding of Lewis’s spiritual journey to faith. And the fragmentary poem ‘I Will Write Down the Portion that I Understand’ also adds significant insight, at least into Lewis’s composition process of grappling with conversion. Insightful recent scholarship by Alister McGrath suggests widening the scope of what we consider spiritual autobiography in Lewis to include <italic>A Grief Observed</italic>; this idea opens the door to a broader view of how autobiography functions both in Lewis’s compositional life and in the categorization of his writings. This essay accepts that invitation, finding clear autobiographical efforts to capture the role of Joy in Lewis’s early poetry, including <italic>Dymer</italic>, and in his late novel <italic>Till We Have Faces</italic>. That last book, written with soon-to-be-wife Joy Davidman, serves crucially to change the focus of Lewis’s spiritual autobiographies from Joy to love. By thus expanding and exploring Lewis’s autobiographical arc, this essay brings to light an almost teleological understanding of love and the central theme of Lewis’s life and work.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-19T00:00:00.000+00:00Reflecting Christ in Life and Art: The Divine Dance of Self-Giving in C. S. Lewis’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This essay examines how C. S. Lewis, in <italic>Till We Have Faces</italic>, illustrates the Christian’s journey of sanctification through the pre-Christian story of his main character, Orual. She must gain two ‘faces’ in this process that correspond to the two books she writes. First, she must gain the face of self-knowledge through humility. The key components to this face are her memory and the act of writing of her first book, which together create a mirror to reflect her sin back to her. Second, Orual must gain the face of transformation through divine agape love. The humility she learned from her first face now allows her to enter what Lewis describes as the dance of self-giving, which is a crucial element to the second face of transformation in its mortification of Orual’s sin and selfishness. In the second face, Orual gains access to an ‘actual language’ that transcends merely verbal words and involves worshipping the god with her whole being, as do we in being transformed to reflect Christ more clearly. Orual’s writing is a form of this ‘actual language’, and her second book that shares her personal encounter with the god of the mountain reflects to others the beauty of the divine. Similarly, Christians should reflect Jesus with their lives and their art, which are inextricably intertwined because a life lived for Him is the highest form of artwork they can create.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-19T00:00:00.000+00:00Pagans and Theologians: An Examination of the Use of Christian Sources in Niels Hemmingsen’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>At the conclusion of his <italic>De lege naturae apodictica methodus</italic>, a treatise on the law of nature, how it is grasped by the human mind, and how it coheres with the Decalogue, Niels Hemmingsen claims to have eschewed the use of theological sources in his argument, claiming instead to have demonstrated ‘how far reason is able to progress without the prophetic and apostolic word’. Yet the reader of the treatise will notice several citations of theologians alongside those of pagan poets and philosophers. This essay demonstrates that there is less here than meets the eye, that is, that Hemmingsen quotes theologians only to buttress what one can know from natural reason or the classical tradition, even when he is discussing God, and thus he does not violate his own stated principle.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-09T00:00:00.000+00:00‘Vestiges of the Divine Light’: Girolamo Zanchi, Richard Hooker, and a Reformed Thomistic Natural Law Theory<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article assesses Jerome Zanchi’s (1560-90) theory of natural law in relation to that of Richard Hooker’s (1554-1600) by arguing three theses. First, Zanchi’s view of natural law is generally Thomistic, but he expands upon it in a manner similar to his contemporaries, thereby providing further evidence against the increasingly discredited narrative of a Protestant voluntarism dominating early Reformed scholastic thought. Second, Zanchi’s commitment to the Reformed doctrine of total depravity does not represent as drastic a departure from Thomas as might first appear. Third, Hooker’s disagreement with Zanchi on this last point does not, as often argued, result from his own diluted commitment to total depravity, but denotes a more coherent and elegant way of reaching the same Reformed Thomistic synthesis. The historical record suggests that Hooker’s approach proved more influential than Zanchi’s.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-09T00:00:00.000+00:00‘All Things Are Lawful’: Adiaphora, Permissive Natural Law, Christian Freedom, and Defending the English Reformation<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Adiaphora (‘indifferent matters’) and permissive natural law both conceptually pointed towards an arena of liberty in which the individual remained free to take up (or not) particular courses of action. In the Reformation debates over the external regulation of Christian freedom for the maintenance of peace and order, these two concepts became freighted with political significance; but they also in turn shaped attitudes over when and where obedience was due in relation to the civic regulation of liberty. Tudor apologetics deployed both ideas in order to defend the English Reformation, especially the claim of the royal supremacy to have due authority to regulate ecclesiastical affairs in indifferent matters, limiting Christian freedom and requiring obedience. By situating these debates within the context of the conceptual development of adiaphora and permissive natural law from their original philosophical roots through to the Reformation, this article establishes the genealogy of claims that defined such apologetics. After surveying the seemingly intractable dilemmas in the thought of Thomas Starkey and John Whitgift over why obedience to lay ecclesiastical supremacy was due, this article considers the radical return to the permissive natural law traditions of the medieval period in the Elizabethan conformist thought of Richard Hooker. In this return, Hooker supplanted divine permissions and scriptural principles as the guide for the proper regulation of indifferent matters with an appeal to the light of reason as the divine instrument through which binding human laws are made to govern society and limit freedom for the public good, even in the life of the national church.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-09T00:00:00.000+00:00John Calvin on the Intersection of Natural, Roman, and Mosaic Law<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Although there are many studies on John Calvin’s teaching on natural law, the relation between natural law and Roman law has received relatively less attention. This essay examines the relation between natural law and Roman law in Calvin’s exegetical writing on the Mosaic law. I argue that Calvin regarded Roman law as an exemplary, albeit imperfect, witness to the natural law, and he used Roman law to aid in his interpretation of the Mosaic law. Since he assumed that Roman law embodies principles of natural law, Calvin drew on Roman law as an aid in order to distinguish natural from positive law within the Mosaic law. He also broadened the scope of commandments in the second table of the Decalogue by comparison with natural and Roman law. Yet although Calvin drew many continuities between Mosaic and Roman laws, he remained critical of the Roman system due to various failings in comparison with Scripture and principles of natural law.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-09T00:00:00.000+00:00The Aristotelian Conception of Natural Law and Its Reception in Early Protestant Commentaries on the<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The Protestant reception both of Aristotle and of the concept of natural law have been the object of renewed attention. The present article aims at a cross-fertilization of these two recoveries: did a specifically Aristotelian approach to natural law (among other important sources) play a significant role in classical Protestant thought? The article answers this question by means of a review of the Protestant commentaries on Aristotle’s natural law-passage in <italic>Nicomachean Ethics</italic> V, 7. Reformation and post-Reformation scholars sometimes offered original readings of this text, but above all they cultivated the various approaches to the passage that had been developed during the medieval period.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-09T00:00:00.000+00:00‘According to Right Law’: John Jewel’s Use of the in His Defense of the Elizabethan Church<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In his <italic>Apology of the Church of England</italic> as well as many of his other works, John Jewel defended the orthodoxy of the Elizabethan Church on the basis of the following criteria: Scripture, the first four general councils, the writings of the Church Fathers, and the example of the primitive church.<sup>1</sup> By emphasizing these authorities, the bishop of Salisbury also sought to impeach the Roman Church’s claim to orthodoxy by arguing that doctrines and practices which developed subsequently to the early church as defined by these criteria contradict them, thereby nullifying its charge of heresy against Protestants while simultaneously indicting the papacy itself as heretical. A question that emerges from studying Jewel’s prodigious polemical works concerns the source of this means of determining orthodoxy. Answering this question requires a close analysis of the apologist’s use of sources. This article will attempt to answer this question by arguing that this criteria for defining orthodoxy derived mainly from canon law tradition that is confirmed specifically by Gratian’s <italic>Decretum</italic>. This thesis maintains that Jewel’s criteria constituted a form of the <italic>ius antiqua</italic> with which he attacked the <italic>ius novum</italic> that provided the authoritative basis for papal supremacy, and in so doing, sought to vindicate the Elizabethan Church’s place in ancient catholic tradition.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-09T00:00:00.000+00:00The Role of Nature in New England Puritan Theology: The Case of Samuel Willard<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article discusses the role of nature in the theological system of New England minister Samuel Willard (1640-1707). I focus specifically on his account of theological anthropology, the relationship of nature and grace, and the moral (or natural) law, and show how each relates to his views on civil government and civil law. Willard affirmed the natural law, natural religion, and natural worship, and he acknowledged and respected pagan civic virtue and grounded civil order and social relations in nature. Willard’s theological articulations are substantively the same as those found among the ‘Reformed orthodox’ theologians of 17th century Europe, which provides evidence for the thesis that Reformed orthodoxy was a transatlantic movement. His reliance on nature also corrects scholarship on the New England Puritans, which often assumes that they rejected the Christian natural law tradition.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-05-09T00:00:00.000+00:00The Universal Tradition and the Clear Meaning of Scripture: Benjamin Keach’s Understanding of the Trinity<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Leading Particular Baptist theologian Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) came to prominence just as an antitrinitarian theology native to England gained a stronghold. What had previously been deemed off-limits by the Establishment became a commonplace by the end of the seventeenth century based on a strict biblicism that eschewed the extra-biblical language of trinitarian orthodoxy. As one who considered himself a strong biblicist, Keach deftly maneuvered his theological writings between what he saw as two extremes: the one that refused to consider any language that moved beyond the mere words of scripture, represented by many of his General Baptist contemporaries and the other that over-emphasized the role of tradition with no eye toward biblical truth, represented by the Roman Catholics. Keach’s explication of trinitarianism demonstrated that these two extremes did not have to be seen as competing with each other. Instead, the correct understanding of the Bible included ‘the just and necessary consequences’ that could be deduced from Scripture, and the ‘universal tradition’ aided the pastor theologian in ascertaining the truth. The result, for Keach and his audience, was an ancient view of trinitarianism that offered a way of peace between the the two extremes vying for the public ear in the late seventeenth century.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-04-26T00:00:00.000+00:00‘Three Subsistences … One Substance’: the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Second London Confession<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article examines the doctrine of the Trinity taught in the Second London Confession of Faith of 1677. It begins by examining a trinitarian controversy among the Particular Baptists of England in the mid-seventeenth century. After outlining the doctrinal deviations of Thomas Collier, the article proceeds to describe some of the responses to Collier from the Particular Baptist community. In many ways the Second London Confession can be seen as a response to Collier. The article also explores the theology of Hercules Collins, a signatory of the Second London Confession, in contrast to the doctrinal deviations of Collier. The article shows that the Particular Baptists continued in the orthodox Christian tradition of the Apostles, Nicene, and Chalcedonian Creeds. They adopted the Reformed confessional language of the Westminster Confession of 1646 and the Savoy Declaration of 1658 while at the same time not fearing to adjust the language in accordance with their orthodox commitments.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-04-26T00:00:00.000+00:00The Salters’ Hall Controversy: Heresy, Subscription, or Both?<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The Salters’ Hall controversy (1719) was a watershed event in the history of English Dissent. Some historians have interpreted the controversy as an early sign of the theological demise of the English General Baptists and the English Presbyterians. Conversely, the controversy has also been used to demonstrate the theological steadfastness of the English Particular Baptists and Congregationalist in the eighteenth century. Yet some of the earliest accounts of the Salters’ Hall controversy maintain that the controversy was not about the doctrine of the Trinity, but rather the requirement of subscription to extrabiblical words and phrases. This was the view of the revered divine Edmund Calamy, who refused to be involved in the controversy, even at the potential expense of his reputation. Edward Wallin, a Particular Baptist subscriber at Salters’ Hall, held a similar view of the controversy. While some historians acknowledge these accounts, they seem to ultimately doubt their truthfulness. This hesitancy is likely due, in part, to the fact that there were a few anti-Trinitarians among the nonsubscribers at Salters’ Hall. Furthermore, the English General Baptists and the English Presbyterians did deviate from theological orthodoxy later in the century. However, those who question the motives of the Non-subscribers at Salters’ Hall fail to take into account a theologically orthodox, nonsubscribing tradition among the English General Baptists and the English Presbyterians found in the writings of Thomas Grantham and Richard Baxter. In sum, one’s orthodoxy at Salters’ Hall cannot be determined solely on the basis of one’s view of subscription.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-04-26T00:00:00.000+00:00John Gill (1697-1771) and the Eternally Begotten Word of God<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The Baptist pastor John Gill (1697-1771) believed the doctrine of eternal generation was vital to the Christian faith. While he firmly held to the doctrine of eternal generation, counting it as indispensable for grounding distinctions between the persons within the Godhead, he denied that the divine essence is communicated in generation. Generation, for Gill, entailed only the begetting of persons, and spoke to the ordering and personal relations between the Trinitarian Persons. As the second Person, the Son is from the Father, but as God, he is of himself. This understanding of eternal generation flowed from Gill’s commitment to the aseity of all the divine Persons. According to Gill, each of the divine Persons fully possesses the essence without any communication of essence and without respect to their ordered subsistence. Each person equally, fully, and eternally partakes of the divine essence of himself. Gill’s affirmation of eternal generation was strengthened and elaborated by his understanding of the Son as the divine Word. Gill’s understanding of the Son as the divine Word incorporated the analogy of the mind, which was further understood by other Scriptural images and was further apprehended by the Son’s identification as Wisdom. Gill understood these analogies and names as mutually defining for understanding the nature of the Son of God. The central theological implications of this divine name, namely, the Son’s deity, eternality, and distinct personality, were all based on Gill’s reading of Scripture, most notably in the Gospel of John.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-04-26T00:00:00.000+00:00‘Not the Same God’: Alexander Carson (1776-1844) and the Ulster Trinitarian Controversy<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The impact of the Salters’ Hall Synod went beyond its immediate context in England and spread throughout the British Isles and into Ireland. Ulster Presbyterianism was wracked with debate over confessional subscriptionism and Unitarianism. Two key interlocutors in this debate were the Unitarian theologian William Hamilton Drummond and his orthodox counterpart, Alexander Carson. This essay traces the debate with a particular emphasis on their use of Scottish Common Sense philosophy as a way into or out of heterodox views of the Trinity.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-04-26T00:00:00.000+00:00A Forgotten Debate? Trinitarianism & the Particular Baptists<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article sets the stage for the essays in this issue of <italic>Perichoresis</italic> on the Trinitarianism of the Particular Baptists in the British Isles and Ireland between the 1640s and 1840s. It argues that this Trinitarianism is part of a larger debate about the Trinity that has been greatly forgotten in the scholarly history of this doctrine. It also touches on the way that Baptist theologians like John Gill were critical to the preservation of Trinitarian witness among this Christian community.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-04-26T00:00:00.000+00:00Book Reviews / Buchrezensionen: Mikhail Seleznev, William R.G. Loader and Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr (eds.), , WUNT 459, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2021, 470 S., ISBN: 978-3-16-160104-0