Friday, January 11, 2013

My Book Idea's Outline as of 1/13, with Some Explanation

For those who perhaps do not know, this blog started out as a project to pick up the pieces of a book idea that I have struggled with for about a year.  Barth is a heavyweight and not without his flaws.  Every time I read him I am simultaneously inspired and frustrated.  Whenever I take a break from him, I find myself utilizing his conclusions (even the frustrating ones!) in some pastoral context - usually in preaching.

The following outline actually dates back several months, since the last season of life when I wrestled with the book project idea.  It is the product of an incomplete thought running up against the patient and friendly wisdom of Barth scholar Marty Folsom, an adjunct at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington.  (He may or may not want his name attached to this, but oh well.  Hopefully he's a forgiving chap.)

So here is my outline thus far.  If you are familiar with Barth, you might (but only might!) already see what I am doing with some of these chapter divisions...
1. The Resurrected Christ – Acts 1:1-11
2. The Apostles – Acts 1:12-26
3. The Outpouring of the Spirit – Acts 2:1-13
4. Scripture and Preaching as Witnesses to Jesus Christ – Acts 2:14-36
    A. Scripture
    B. Preaching
5. The Disruption of Pentecost upon Gender, Class, and Politics – Acts 2:17-21
6. Election and Predestination – Acts 2:22-32
7. Pentecost as Trinitarian Reality – Acts 2:33
8. The Real Response of Free Humanity – Acts 2:37-40
9. The Church as the Place of Revelation – Acts 2:41-47
10. Reflection: The Sacramentality of “Pentecostal Experience” and Some Necessary
Out of my afternoon spent with Marty many months ago, the idea to give the book an exegetical structure came into being.  Specifically, of course, the narrative/text over which the book would lay would be the Pentecost narrative.  In that way I would be in a better position to actually put Barth into dialog with Pentecostalism as I know it, allowing them to discuss a key text together.  Of course, the danger of working with scholars (a danger which Marty did not necessarily impose but which others who also displayed brief interest in the idea did) is that they generally want a rather exhaustive study done on the topic.  After talking with academics, putting Barth into dialog with Pentecostalism doesn't seem possible without having both a thorough historical and sociological comprehension of every stream of Pentecostalism worldwide and a complete understanding of German academic theology since the enlightenment, including why exactly Barth took the positions he did and which European philosophers lay the groundwork for his epistemology.  Needless to say, I could never produce that book, and if I did produce it the only way I would get anyone to read it would be to teach a seminary class and require all my students to buy it.

As a pastor in the trenches of ministry, I think it is important that my book (if God allows it to be written, and I get myself to write it) reflect 1. my own knowledge and experience, with all their limitations, and 2. the practicality of what I am talking about.  I want this book to be doable and honest, and to answer real pastoral and theological questions.

I will expound a bit more in the future on each of these particular topics/chapters, hopefully making it even clearer where my "Barthianism" and my Pentecostalism meet.


  1. Glad to see you exploring the intertwining of these great traditions, both are looking for a real knowledge of God in the present age that brings us into a participation with the Living God.I like your outline. Let it keep developing and you might be amazed what comes!

    Marty Folsom, PhD

    1. Thanks, Marty! I appreciate you checking in. I agree with what you say, that they are both traditions which are seeking a real knowledge of God. I was wondering, could an "organic" connection between Barth and Pentecostalism be found in the fact that they both do their theology as a protest against modernism?