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Word and Church: Essays in Christian Dogmatics

, 2001
ISBN: 9780567088185

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These essays in constructive Christian dogmatics treat a cluster of themes: the nature of Holy Scripture and its interpretations; the place of Jesus in modern intellectual culture, and in theological depiction of the nature of the church; and the inseparability of theological and moral reflection. An important series of essays from one of the world's leading contemporary theologians.

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“If the canon is a function of God’s communicative fellowship with an unruly church, if it is part of the history of judgement and mercy, then it cannot simply be a stabilizing factor, a legitimating authority. Rather, as the place where divine speech may be heard, it is—or ought to be—a knife at the church’s heart.” (Page 46)

“Crucially, however, it is divine, not human or churchly, use which has priority in determining the ontology of the canonical texts. In short: the texts of the canon are human communicative acts which are assumed into the economy of revelation and reconciliation.” (Page 31)

“Christian dogmatics, that delightful activity in which the church praises God by ordering its thinking towards the gospel of Christ.” (Page 1)

“My suggestion, then, is that, if the canon is not to be seen as (at best) an arbitrary or accidental factor in Christian religious history or (at worst) an instrument of political wickedness, it requires careful dogmatic articulation. At the very least, this will involve appeal to a variety of doctrinal materials: an account of revelation as the self-communicative presence of the triune God; an account of the mediation of that self-communication through creaturely forms and activities (‘means of grace’), including texts, which are annexed and sanctified by God; an account of the church, in particular, the doctrinal specification of the processes of ‘canonization’; and an account of the sanctified or faithful reader of the canon.” (Page 10)

“In sum: both the character of the Bible as self-interpreting and its perspicuity are confessions, faith’s depictions of the activity of God discerned in the church’s activity of reading the Bible. As descriptions of the Christian hermeneutical situation, they guide the church’s reading by portraying the field within which particular reading-acts of this particular text take place. This does not necessarily permit their use to prohibit in advance certain kinds of inquiry, but rather shows how they serve to indicate that what counts as a Christian reading of the Bible will include certain expectations of divine action as axiomatic and operative in acts of interpretation.” (Page 76)

Product Details

  • Title: Word and Church: Essays in Christian Dogmatics
  • Author: John Webster
  • Publisher: T&T Clark International
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Pages: 304
John Webster

John Webster (1955–2016) was a distinguished British theologian who was strongly influenced by Karl Barth and a member of the Anglican Communion. He began his career as chaplain and tutor St. John‘s College, Durham University and the became Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, following Rowan Williams. During his time at Oxford he also served as canon of Christ Church. In 2003, he became the Chair of Systematic Theology at King‘s College, University of Aberdeen.

Working with Colin Gunton, Webster cofounded the International Journal of Systematic Theology, and served as an editorial board member International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church and the Scottish Journal of Theology, and coedited the Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology.  He authored several other books including Confronted by Grace: Mediatations of a Theologian,  Karl Barth, Confessing God, Holiness, Word and Church, and Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason.

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Digital list price: $35.99
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