Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Helm on Warfield

Here's an interesting article - interesting for me, at least, because I read a lot of Warfield's stuff for a dissertation this year. Interesting, too, because I'm thinking about all this stuff again having indulged myself in the big KB for a couple of months.

Here are some general thoughts:

Why do current Reformed thinkers insist on defining Christ's humanity in terms of our own humanity? I think we need to start defining humanity in terms of divinity, while retaining the creature/creator distinction. So, most talk of divine impassibility seems silly to me, if, as I suspect, the definitions of human and divine nature are skewed from the outset by extra-biblical concepts.

Helm refers to a lecture by Carl Trueman, and he mentions John Murray's criticism of Warfield. I think this criticism is fascinating. It fascinated me when I came across it, because I'd always assumed that Warfield and Murray were singing from the same psalm book. I believe that Warfield tried to do as much justice as he could to Philippians 2 within a strict confessional christology (Chalcedon). I'm not sure Murray really understood Philippians 2, hence his criticism of Warfield. Warfield's exegesis of John 3:16 also pushes the edges of his Reformed orthodoxy - Warfield was an eschatological universalist - he believed that God really did love the world - the world is, however, defined eschatologically.

If I have a problem with the Chalcedon formula, can I reformulate my christology without denying the Christian faith? It strikes me that Chalcedon is actually a problem for faithful Bible readers - they've got to read the Bible with a Chalcedonian lens, otherwise they are anathema.

Finally, Shedd has some interesting ideas on divine impassibility. While claiming to retain the doctrine of impassibility, he writes about the 'inward suffering' of God in the work of atonement. Shedd also puts some emphasis on the unity of God at this point, something that I rarely read much about in contemporary (evangelical) discussion.

One of my current professors, Bruce McCormack, is really forcing me to think about all this kind of stuff. His class on the atonement is probably my first proper course in dogmatics. His articles in Justification in Perspective, and, The Glory of the Atonement, are really useful - but, then again, I've heard him teach these ideas in class - that makes a huge difference to your understanding as you read them from the page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Imteresting to read about how your studies are progressing. I reviewed a book called 'Justification' (edited by Mark Husbands & Daniel J Treier) for Rutherford Journal & Ministry'. I don't know if the review's been published yet. Bruce McCormack contributed an article to it - 'What's at stake in current debates over justification?' You've been studying Karl Barth. I have quite a bit on Barth in my book, 'The Problem of Polarization: An Approach based on the Writings of G C Berkouwer'. This book is in the Princeton Library. I found it there when I was at PTs in 2002 for a couple of weeks. I've looked up Helm's article on Warfield & will look at it more closely later. I met Paul Helm at a Rutherford House Conference a good number of years ago. I'll be visiting your mother & the Collins Court folk on Friday for a Christmas service.
Have a Happy Christmas & New Year.