God’s Free Necessity: One Way Jonathan Edwards is Like Sergei Bulgakov

I recently submitted an invited chapter for a book called, The Ecumenical Edwards. The following (slightly edited) excerpt observes how Jonathan Edwards’s thoughts about the will comport with Bulgakov’s view that freedom and necessity are united in God, particularly when it comes to the “decision” to create.   Continue reading “God’s Free Necessity: One Way Jonathan Edwards is Like Sergei Bulgakov”

Sophiology in Context

The following is an excerpt of an invited chapter on intersections between Edwards and Orthodoxy. It is still a bit of a rough draft. Be nice.

 

By Fr. Damian (St. Sophia mission), via Wikimedia Commons
By Fr. Damian (St. Sophia mission), via Wikimedia Commons

Sophiology is the child of Russia’s “Silver Age,” which one might think of as the 1960s of the late 1800s. It was a period of immense religious, philosophical, and artistic experimentation. Intellectual radicalism and political radicalism often go hand-in-hand, and Russia at the time was no exception. Conservative “slavophiles” were engaged in a kind of culture war with the more liberal “westernizers.” The former upheld the old traditions and Christian faith of Holy Russia. The latter wanted to remake their homeland in the image of secular Western Europe.[1] Because the church was effectively an arm of the state, radical intellectuals tended to see it as a backwards and corrupt institution (and rightly so). Vladimir Solovyov broke the mold, navigating between the Scylla of autocracy and the Charybdis of secularism by deploying the metaphor of Holy Wisdom – Sophia – to incorporate culture, and thus openness to its insights, into the stream of church tradition. This made Solovyov something of a radical slavophile; he critically incorporated western philosophy (especially German idealism) and western values (such as individual rights) into a political philosophy that was deeply informed by Russian Orthodox spirituality.[2]

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Jonathan Edwards is a Sophiologist (Part 2)

Jonathan Edwards (via Wikimedia Commons)
Jonathan Edwards (via Wikimedia Commons)

In my last post I briefly explained that I have been buried by an invited chapter for a book that takes an ecumenical approach to the theology of Jonathan Edwards.

This is Part 2 of what is at least a three-part series. I have been playing with my argument a bit. The information is all there. I could argue my point well over a beer. The struggle I have been having is putting it all on paper in a way that the reader can easily follow (especially if the reader does not know Edwards/Bulgakov well). I sometimes find that when I am trying to suss out an argument, putting it in blog form helps. So here you go. Snippets from my draft, abridged and somewhat edited Remember, draft! You will find silly typos. Be nice.

Continue reading “Jonathan Edwards is a Sophiologist (Part 2)”

Jonathan Edwards is a Sophiologist (Part 1, apparently)

The blog has taken a back seat over the past few weeks to an essay that’s kicking my butt that I’m working on. I’m making good progress and thanking God for generous editor extensions, but I find that in the thick of a complex academic argument, it can help to step back and explain to others, in plain speech, what I’m trying to say. A blogged a bit about this project a few months back when I noted the paucity of Orthodox interest in Jonathan Edwards. At the time, I was not ready to say out loud what my thesis was. Now I am. Are you ready?

Jonathan Edwards was a sophiologist.

Continue reading “Jonathan Edwards is a Sophiologist (Part 1, apparently)”

Writing on Edwards with ADD: A Brief Update

Jonathan Edwards (via Wikimedia Commons)
Jonathan Edwards (via Wikimedia Commons)

About three years ago, I was diagnosed with ADD. This explains pretty much my entire childhood and most of my adult life (it also explains why I tend to insert a lot of parenthetical remarks into everything I write). I have an essay on Jonathan Edwards that I need to submit to the editor in a few days, and I have been experimenting with a new, ADD-friendly, way to write my paper.

I have used Scrivener for a while, but I do not think I have used it in quite the way it was intended. Scrivener is word processing software that is built for big projects, particularly those which tend to be written in bits and pieces, but I have used it mostly as a standard word processor. I would outline my basic argument, move a couple of things around, and then export immediately into Pages (because Word sucks) and start formally drafting. Continue reading “Writing on Edwards with ADD: A Brief Update”

Apologies for my Silence

My goal when I started blogging was to write two posts per week. I think it is safe to say that I have not met that goal lately. We have been a bit short staffed at work, and I have been putting in long hours both in the office and at home just to keep up. I have also had to resign myself to the fact that, when keeping up is your goal, perfection cannot be. So the past month has been the month where I have been learning to be content with what is possible.

I am painfully aware of the fact that I have not met my goal with turning my dissertation into my book. I have to remind myself that this is not because of laziness. Rather, the opposite! It owes to the fact that, as my psychiatrist put it, I “tend to greatly overestimate my own capacities.” I have a hard time saying “No” to good opportunities.

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Balancing Public and Academic Theology

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I received a call the other day, inviting me to participate in a panel on public theology in March. I said I would think about it. There was a time, not too long ago, when I would have said a resounding “Yes!” to that opportunity. But the past few months made me keenly aware of my tendency to overcommit. I still have several projects on my plate before I can really move on to other things. I have an essay on Bulgakov and Edwards, a review of McGuckin, possibly a proposal for the Sophia conference, and two courses to design. I am committed to my life as an academic theologian and a public theologian. Blogging reminds me who I am writing for. Essays help keep my work from getting “fluffy.” The trick is balancing my two roles. Here is my plan. Continue reading “Balancing Public and Academic Theology”