Evangelical Theological Society — Some Concluding Thoughts on the 2012 Conference

I have arrived home, cialis sale and have mostly recovered from the travel lag (slept 16 hours on Sunday). Thankfully the trek home wasn’t nearly as stressful as the trip down to Milwaukee, malady with only a 90 minute delay for my flight departing from Denver to Regina. As a way to wrap-up my series on my experience at ETS, no rx I wanted to offer some final, not necessarily connected, reflections.

First, I am very glad I went. It had been eight years since my last ETS conference, and it really is an amazing experience. Downtown Milwaukee was delightful, and I found some great (cheap) restaurants to eat at (which when you go to conference isn’t always the easiest thing to find).

Second, being as introverted as I am, I didn’t meet as many people as I probably could have, but those few that I worked up the courage to introduce myself to, were amazingly gracious. I was happy to meet Leslie Keeney, Jennifer Ellison and Marc Cortez from the blogosphere. And while I didn’t actively meet too many people, I did enjoy playing a fantastic game of “spot the scholar”.

Third, over the last couple of years there has been discussion about the lack of women in attendance at ETS. Indeed, Leslie and I both blogged about encouraging women to attend this year’s ETS. From what I observed, there were more women in attendance at the paper presentations then I have seen in the past. There were only a few papers that I attended in which I was the only female, but more often than not there was at least a handful of us, and given that some of the presentations I went to often had no more than a dozen in attendance, that’s saying something.

Fourth, and most importantly, the decision to have paper presentations Friday afternoon was a very bad idea. Many (if not most) people had left by noon Friday to get down to Chicago for SBL/AAR. I felt sorry for those who were presenting. In fact one paper presentation I went to Friday afternoon had only 2 people in attendance. As well, two papers I had planned to go to were canceled because the presenters had to catch a train down to Chicago. Hopefully this is only an issue this year, as ETS and SBL were held in two different cities. Next year both conferences will be in Baltimore, so  those presenting on the last day won’t be as abandoned as they were this year. (Does anyone know why ETS was in Milwaukee and not in Chicago?)

Given that I’m on a student budget I probably won’t be able to attend next year’s conference, but I’m planning to attend again in 2014 (in San Diego). And while several people have suggested that I flip to SBL, I really do like ETS. Maybe I’ll be able to take in both at 2014, but I wouldn’t trade ETS for SBL, at least not any time soon.



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Evangelical Theological Society — Barth, Barth, Barth

Yesterday afternoon I spent three hours listening to papers on Introducing Karl Barth to Evangelicals. This session was built off of Michael Allen’s new Barth reader (which looks like a much needed replacement of the reader by Gollowitzer), try and each of the four presenters spent some time talking about benefits and hindrances of interacting with Barth from an evangelical perspective.

First up was Michael Allen himself. He spent some time talking about the current state of evangelical culture and how Barth can be helpful in addressing some of the theological issues that evangelicals are wrestling with. He started by saying that it’s important for evangelicals to be aware of how our presuppositions are so much different from the presuppositions of much of modern theology. Biblical scholars do a good job of checking their presuppositions, understanding the disconnect between 21st century readers and the original biblical authors, but for some reason theologians don’t apply that same caution and realization when they interact with more modern theology. In relation to Barth, what this means is that evangelicals often fail to grasp Barth’s theological setting which means we will fail to understand what he is about and what exactly he is doing. Indeed, “Most of us [evangelicals] read Barth as if he’s playing in the ETS world, and he’s not.” The other money quote from Michael Allen’s presentation: “Barth’s work serves as a bomb on the playground of theologians.”

Next up was Marc Cortez. His paper was titled, “An Evangelical and a Universalist Walk into a Bar” and looked at the question of whether or not Barth was a universalist, and how the supposed ambiguity about Barth’s universalism makes evangelicals uncomfortable. The short answer to the question of whether Barth was a universalist is, in the words of Barth himself, “I am not a universalist.” But, that said, there are still questions with his presentation of election and salvation. Dr. Cortez’s presentation was humourous and conversational. His section headings had titles like:
Four reasons to allow Barth to hang out with you in public and Three reasons to make Barth pick up the tab.

After a short intermission, we then had the last two papers by Matt Jenson on Barth and Ecclesiology, and Keith Johnson on Nature and Grace. These two papers were theologically dense, and I had to focus on listening and was unable to take notes during their presentations. I’m hoping to get copies of these two papers at some point so that I can spend time in deeper engagement and refection.

The big news from this panel session was that starting next year, there will be a specific session devoted to the theology of Karl Barth. This is an exciting development and I look forward to seeing the session grow.

ETS: The Final Plan

The ETS conference starts on Wednesday. I have scoured the program and I have come up with the final list of presentations I plan on attending. Here’s the plan:

Wednesday Morning:

  • Kevin Vanhoozer, viagra “Exegesis I know, sick and Theology I know, but who are you?”: Biblical Hermeneutics and the Theological Interpretation of Scripture.
  • Taylor Worley, “The Splendor of Holiness”: The Church as the Theatre of Divine Beauty.
  • Jason Scully, The Loving Soul: Basil the Great’s Biblical Conception of the Ascetical Life.
  • Susan Rieske, Yahweh the Sadist? An Examination of God’s “Delight” in Destroying Israel in Deuteronomy 28:63.

Wednesday Afternoon:

  •  James Gordon, Is it Possible and Desirable for Theologians to Speculate After Barth?
  • Micah Meek, The Role of the Anglican Puritan Pastor in the Moral Formation of the Church.
  • Stephen Presley, Intertextuality as Catechesis in the Early Church.
  • John Auxier, Technology and Sanctification.

Thursday Morning:

  •  William Webb, Corporate Solidarity: An (In)justic in Holy War.
  • Ashish Naidu, The Transformation of Fallen Creation: Cyril of Alexandria and John Chrysostom on the Sacramental Implications of Christ’s Baptism.
  • Francis Beckwith, The Case of After-Birth Abortion in the Journal of Medical Ethics: A Critique.
  • Brian Goard, Critical Realism in the Thought of Alister McGrath.

Thursday Afternoon:

  • Michael Allen, Introducing Karl Barth to Evangelicals: Challenges and Approaches.
  • Marc Cortez, Introducing Karl Barth to Evangelicals: Universalism as a Test Case.
  • Matt Jenson, Introducing Karl Barth to Evangelicals: Ecclesiology as a Test Case.
  • Keith Johnson, Introducing Karl Barth to Evangelicals: Nature and Grace as a Test Case.

Friday Afternoon:

  • David Cramer, Does (Church) Practice Make Perfect (Christians)? MacIntyre, Yoder, and the Moral Significance of the Sacraments.
  • Jordan Hillebert, The Mystery of Faith and the Mystical Theology of Henri de Lubac.
  • Randal Rauser, Is Penal Substitution too Provincial?
  • Timothy Erdel, The Great War, the “Good War,” and Their Challenges to Christian Pacifism.

Again, if you’re going to be at ETS I’d love to meet you. If you’re not going, feel free to check my blog daily for updates, and my twitter feed (@CWTheology).


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Preparing to Attend This Year’s ETS Conference

The program for the ETS annual meeting has arrived. It was like Christmas as I scanned each page trying decide which presentations to put on my list. Of course, treat I circled more presentations than I’m actually able to go to, buy but that’s half the fun! It never fails that there is more than one paper that I’ve circled that occurs in the exact same time slot. Oh how to choose?

Interestingly, viagra sale there are several presentations on Karl Barth this year, including an entire session of papers devoted to introducing Barth to evangelicals. The problem is that this session of 4 papers on Barth and evangelicals (including a paper by fellow blogger Marc Cortez) is at the exact same time as the panel discussion with N.T. Wright! GAWWWWWWW!

The other Barth presentations that are scattered throughout the rest of the conference include a paper on Barth and Natural Theology, Barth and John Owen on the Forgiveness of Sins, and a cryptically-title paper, “Is it Possible and Desirable for Theologians to Speculate after Barth?”

Also of interest, are several presentations on Henri de Lubac, and an entire session devoted to discussing the legacy of Catherine Clark Kroeger, who passed away last year.

Of course, I’ll have to take in the papers by Francis Beckwith, J. Daniel Hays, and Gene Haas. And there are several Patristic-related papers that look fascinating.

And then, at the back of the program are full page ads by the major publishing houses listing all the new titles that will be available at the conference. I’ve circled and starred so many interesting books! It’s a good thing that they will ship books ordered at ETS, otherwise my luggage would be seriously over the weight limit for the flight home.

My flight is booked, my hotel accommodations have been arranged, and my tentative list of what presentations I’ll attend has been started. I can’t wait for November!

See Also:

Encouraging Women to Attend this Year’s ETS Part 1

Encouraging Women to Attend this Year’s ETS Part 2

Encouraging Women to Attend this Year’s ETS Part 3

ETS Scholarship Announcement

I received an email announcement yesterday that the ETS has launched a scholarship to help student members attend this year’s ETS. Leslie ended up quicker on the draw than me, cialis and has posted the details over on her blog, search so I’m going to point y’all over to her blog to check out the details.

If you’re a full member of the ETS, I encourage you to nominate a student member for this scholarship opportunity.

See Also:

Encouraging Women to Attend This Year’s ETS Conference Part 1: My Experience with ETS

Encouraging Women to Attend this Year’s ETS Part Two: What to Expect at ETS

Encouraging Women to Attend This Year’s ETS Conference Part 3: Why ETS and Not Another Conference

The ETS Women’s Project Part 1: Why Women Shouldn’t Give Up on the ETS

The ETS Women’s Project Part 2: The Silent Constituency

Encouraging Women to Attend This Year’s ETS Conference Part 3: Why ETS and Not Another Conference

This is part of the ongoing project by me and Leslie Keeney to encourage more women to attend this year’s ETS conference. You can see our previous posts  here, illness here, prostate here, unhealthy and here.

As people hear about my plans to go to ETS this November, they almost all ask the same question, “Why ETS? Why not another conference?”

I have been to SBL. But it is very much about biblical studies, biblical languages, text criticism and the like. I am more theology-oriented so I found that there was a lot of SBL that was outside of my area of interest. I could go to AAR, but it tends to be too broad and too big. I could maybe one day go to the Karl Barth conference at Princeton, but I am not nearly Barthian enough, and it feels too niche. I should probably one day attend the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association, I just haven’t had the opportunity yet. (And weirdly enough it’s often cheaper to fly to ETS than it is to fly to the CETA meeting. I guess that’s the downside to living in Canada).

At ETS I am spoiled for choices, and more often than not, there are more sessions that I want to attend than I have time for.

The second question/statement I get quite a bit is, “I don’t know how you can sign their doctrinal statement.” Sometimes this is said innocently. Sometimes it’s said a little bit smugly, as if the person is really saying, “I’m too good and too smart to sign the doctrinal statement and you are beneath me for signing it.” Sometimes it’s said with genuine curiosity.

The doctrinal statement is signed every year when the annual dues are paid. It says:

The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

For most people who question this statement, they stumble on the “inerrant”. “Inerrancy” has become a hot topic in evangelicalism. Does the Bible have authority? What does this authority look like? Is Scripture without error? And if it is, how so? And this doctrinal statement, does not actually define “inerrant”. The ETS website points people to the Chicago Statement (1978) for more information. Some people have said that this doctrinal statement is too exclusive. Others point out that more and more of the signing members of ETS are those who hold to a very conservative understanding of inerrancy. Some people are fairly neutral on this statement, saying that because it specifies that Scripture is inerrant in the autographs, and we don’t have those original autographs, that it is a non-issue. We can and should wrestle with the textual variants and not be afraid of weighing the implications of the different textual issues.

Other people point out that though leading evangelicals sign the doctrinal statement, their theology does not seem to affirm the statement that they sign. Suzanne McCarthy, for example, is blogging through the Trinity sentence of the doctrinal statement, specifically the statement that the three persons of the Trinity are “equal in power and glory”. Suzanne doesn’t understand how those scholars who hold to eternal subordination of the Son can sign the doctrinal statement.

I personally like that the doctrinal statement is short and not over-involved. There is room to debate and discuss the “hows” of the doctrinal statement through the annual meetings and paper presentations. I was there when Clark Pinnock was brought up on charges of failing to uphold the doctrinal statement of inerrancy. But as was mentioned over and over at the meeting when the vote was taken, interpretations are not inerrant. There can be different interpretations of Scripture that may be less “right” than others, this does not necessarily mean that the person who holds the specific interpretation does not hold to the trustworthiness of Scripture.

Whatever else I am, I am an evangelical. And I’m not ashamed to say that, even though these days it’s cooler to disparage and mock evangelicals.
I am an evangelical who believes that it is important to explore theology and biblical studies from an evangelical perspective, and that evangelicalism has something to contribute to the world of academia. I have been a student member of the ETS for ten years (oh my where did that time go?) and one day I hope to be a full member, once my schooling is complete.

Now, it’s true that it’s been eight years since I was last at ETS. And just looking at the program guides over the last eight years, it is hard not to notice the conservative turn that the ETS membership is taking. There appears to be a growing contingent of presenters and attendees from SBTS which has caused some people concern. Who knows, maybe I’ll go to conference this year, and find that it’s not the same conference it was years ago. And that’s okay. But my guess, is that I’ll go, and rub elbows with people I agree with, and people I don’t. I’ll sit in on fantastic presentations, and probably sit in on a few not so stellar presentations. That has happened each time I’ve been to ETS. I will go and learn and be edified. I will go and be challenged. I will go and see what is currently “hot” in evangelical academia. I will go and spend a whole bunch of time checking out the tables and tables of books in the vendors’ hall. I will sit in on at least one or two sessions of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. And I will go and meet new people. I’m looking forward to meeting Leslie and other bloggers who I’ve gotten to know online.

And maybe one day I’ll have a conference budget that will allow me to attend all kinds of theological conferences without having to worry about the cost. Then I can go to ETS and to the Karl Barth conference, and to whatever other conferences strike my fancy. Ah the life and dreams of an academic!

Encouraging Women to Attend This Year’s ETS Conference Part 1: My Experience with ETS

Last year, view Mike Bird noted that the percentage of women attending the Evangelical Theological Society annual conference was really, check really low. He then went on to give five very good reasons for women to attend ETS.

Well, this year’s ETS conference is just around the corner, November 14-16 in Milwaukee. And, Leslie Keeney and I have decided to talk up the ETS in the hopes of encouraging more women to attend this year.

I thought I would start by giving you a brief look at my experience of going to the ETS conference. I have been a student member for eleven years. For me, it all started when ETS came to Toronto. I was in Bible College, and our Integrative Theology class was looking at the Doctrine of God. The professor, seeing the controversy swirling in academia, decided to devote the majority of the semester to Open Theism. Clark Pinnock came to our class, and very patiently and graciously answered all of our queries, concerns and even one outright confrontation. (When we told him he was wrong for stating in ‘The Most Moved Mover’ that God didn’t get angry at Moses, since Scripture specifically says “God got angry at Moses”, Dr. Pinnock openly admitted that he had made a mistake, and that he was hoping to have that error fixed in the next printing). And of course, the Toronto ETS conference was awash in Open Theism papers. So myself, and a few friends went. There we were lowly undergrads. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

It was awesome!

So many scholars!

So many ideas!

So many books! (Oh, if you need only one reason to go to ETS, the book vendors would be that one good reason!)

Were we in over our heads? Absolutely. We landed in one session where William Lane Craig was presenting on Molinism (middle knowledge). Oops. We didn’t understand hardly any of it. But later that day, the three of us ran into Dr. Craig and worked up the courage to ask him about his presentation. He graciously spent twenty minutes explaining Molinism in a way undergrads could understand.

I loved seeing the people behind the books I had been reading. It changes how you read their books. For example, I had liked Gregory Boyd’s writings before going to ETS, but after seeing him present, standing behind the podium in sneakers and utterly unable to stop moving for one second of his presentation, I liked his writings even more. I got to see the passion and energy that he pours into theology and now whenever I read anything by Dr. Boyd, I always picture him constantly moving as he works through his ideas.

That first conference made such an impression, that the next year, my friends and I van-pooled all the way down to Atlanta for the next year’s conference. And then the year after, I was brave and went to San Antonio all by myself.

That’s not to say that every scholar is energetic and fascinating. I quickly learned that sometimes the best writers are dull in person, and sometimes even, really bad at giving oral presentations of their ideas.

And even more eye-opening, not every Christian scholar acts like a Christian. I watched the Open Theism witch hunt spiral out of control. I sat in the general meeting when the entire membership voted on whether or not Clark Pinnock could truly be a member of the ETS. I watched popular, well-liked scholars act like school children who, when asked to play nicely with others, threatened instead to take their ball and go home. And I was shut down by one scholar when I worked up the courage to ask him a question about his book on being a good pastor. “It doesn’t matter, because you can’t be a pastor” was his response to my question.

But seeing the dark side of the ETS doesn’t dishearten me or discourage me from continuing to attend. Indeed, the only reason I haven’t been to ETS these last couple of years is due to finances.

In fact, seeing the dark side, seeing the human side, seeing the messiness of having scholars who hold different views on everything from inerrancy, to women in ministry, to the doctrine of election, encourages me to continue to attend. It is a microcosm of the Evangelical Church and Christianity in general. Life in the Church, life connected to other Christians is both messy and beautiful; it is both exciting and tense. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

So this fall I’m going to ETS. Stay tuned for my next post on the ETS where we’ll talk about all the neat sessions that you can attend (and no, being a woman does not mean you have to go the sessions on gender).

See also, Leslie Keeney’s first post: The ETS Women’s Project.

If I Was Going to ETS…

…here are some of the papers I’d love to attend:

W. Paul Franks (Tyndale University College) — “Original Sin as a Defeater for the Free Will Defense.”

William Lane Craig (Talbot) — “A Molinist Account of Providence: A Second Look”

Philip Stewart (Ludwig-Maximlans Universitat) — “The Moral Knowledge of the Virtues”

Charlie Trimm (Wheaton) —“YHWH the God of Chaos: The Anti-Chaoskampf in Exodus”

Ben Rhodes (King’s College) — “Karl Barth on Sanctification: Do We Grow in Holiness?”

Stephen K. Moroney (Malone University) — “Integrative Perspectives on Human Flourishing: Sin, troche the Imago Dei, and Positive Psychology”

Mark Bowald (Redeemer University College) — “On Metaphors and the Word of God: Prolegomena to a Rhetorical Dogmatics of Holy Scripture”

In other ETS related news, Michael Bird observes that only a handful of women are presenting at this years ETS:

I have just noticed that there are about 700 hundred papers being delivered at ETS this year and only eight of them will be delivered by women. What is more, I think I actually know half of the women presenters. Now maybe there are more, I looked up the index in the ETS book and some names like “Leslie” can be unisex, and I don’t know the gender of most Asian names. But even give or take a few, this would mean that women presenters make up only 1% of the papers at ETS. This is not satisfactory.

Read the rest of his post here.

Speaking of female presenters, if you’re going, be sure to check out “Psalm 24:4 and the Decalogue: A Mutually Illuminating Relationship?” This paper is being presented by fellow blogger Carmen Imes from the blog Seminary Mom.

For those of you who are going, what papers are you looking forward to?

Roger Nicole

Just read the news over at Justin Taylor’s blog that theologian Roger Nicole has passed away at the age of 95.

He was, sale by common consent, sovaldi sale a theological giant. But because he never wrote a book and didn’t travel the conference circuit, pharmacy many evangelicals have not heard of him, to our detriment. As Timothy George has written:
Roger Nicole is one of European Christianity’s greatest gifts to the American church. His role in the shaping of American evangelical theology in the latter half of the twentieth century was enormous and deserves to be better known.

2010 has been the year of great evangelicals passing on to glory: Clark Pinnock, Donald Bloesch, and Roger Nicole.

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

All around the blogsphere you can find reflections on the just concluded ETS conference. Next up: SBL. Yes, there I am jealous of those who went this year. But I am very glad for the various blog posts and reflections that are coming out of the presentations.

For example:
Check out Marc Cortez’s post: Synergism is not semi-Pelagianism, ask where he interacts with Tom Schreiner’s oft repeated assertion that monergism is the only biblical way to go.

Check out Mike Wittmer’s reflection on N.T. Wright at ETS. What I appreciated about this post is the fact that Mike brings out the character and behaviour of those involved in the conference. Too often we forget that these people are human, generic and that there are feelings, and humour and sarcasm and insults that are a vital part of the dialogue process at these conferences. I remember the first time attending the ETS in Toronto, coming face to face with some of the “giants” and being completely shocked that they were nothing like what I pictured in my head (which was a good thing).

Daniel Kirk is at SBL and has a post up about N.T. Wright and the IBR. He reflects that Wright’s presentation was nothing new to those who are Wright-fans, but was still well presented. As well, Kirk has a post about how to survive at SBL without being completely overwhelmed.

And I’m really hoping Scot Mcknight posts this paper to his blog at some point. At SBL he will be giving a paper on the theology of the KJV New Testament Translation.

See also, Collin Hansen’s summary of the three positions presented by Wright, Schreiner and Theilman in the post: A Justification Debate Long Overdue.

So while I am glad for the blog posts covering these conferences, I really really hope to attend next year. So prayers would be appreciated, in particular that the finances will come together so that I can attend. 2011– San Francisco, here I come!