Theology and Apocalyptic at the 2014 AAR: Session One

joachim of fiore

Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic

AAR 2014 (San Diego, November 22nd – 25th)

 Is “Apocalyptic Dogmatics” Possible?

Saturday, November 23rd, 6:30-9:00


Gaslamp Room 2 at the Omni Hotel

Does an apocalyptic orientation in Christian life and thought subvert the very idea of dogmatic theology? If so, why and how? Or, might an apocalyptic orientation open up the possibility of doing dogmatic theology differently? If so, what impact would such orientation to apocalyptic have upon the shape, content, style and performance of dogmatics. Are there unexplored avenues and untapped resources that might contribute to such a project? Are there historical or current exemplars that might usefully guide it?

Our panellists and respondent will variously explore such questions to open up the conversation.

  • Derek Taylor (Duke University Divinity School): Theology as if Christ Speaks: Bonhoeffer’s Response to the Deafening Power of Dogmatics
  • Matt Burdette (University of Aberdeen): History is Altogether Unnecessary: Apocalyptic Theology and Robert Jenson’s Account of Divine Transcendence
  • Daniel Rhodes (Loyola University Chicago): Beyond Contemplation: The Possibility of Apocalyptic Political Orthodoxy
  • Christopher Holmes (University of Otago): Some First Principles of an Apocalyptic Dogmatics

Presiding: Philip G. Ziegler (University of Abderdeen)

Upcoming Sessions at the AAR/SBL: Friday Afternoon Workshop

Perspectives old, new, and apocalyptic on Paul, and the shape of dogmatic theology.

Douglas Harink, The King’s University College, Edmonton

M22-208Harink headshot
Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic
Friday – 1:30 PM-3:30 PM
Convention Center: CC 311

Once again this year we will begin our activities during the AAR/SBL with a workshop session on Friday afternoon.  In a change to the previously advertised programme, Doug Harink will be presenting a working paper exploring the implications of recent Pauline scholarship for dogmatics.  The paper will be followed by a time of open conversation concerning the questions and issues prompted by the paper.  You are all most welcome to attend. Here is an abstract of the paper:

  • Within Protestant theology the interpretation of Paul, and more specifically of the Letter to the Romans, has had a determinative influence on the shape of dogmatic and systematic theology. The contours of the theology of the “Lutheran” interpretation of Paul have provided the basic outline for presentations of Christian doctrine from Melanchthon, Calvin, and Lutheran and Calvinist scholasticism, up to the present day. In this paper I ask what the “New Perspective on Paul” has to contribute to the form and content of dogmatic/systematic theology, suggesting that it at least should cause us to place some themes at the heart of dogmatic theology that have previously been left on the fringe or outside of systems of doctrine. I conclude with an argument that an “apocalyptic” reading of Paul, and specifically Romans, has the capacity to take up, redefine, and discipline the contributions of both the “Lutheran” and “New Perspective” interpretations, while at the same time conceiving the shape of dogmatic theology differently. I am in conversation with the works of Stephen Westerholm, J. D. G. Dunn, J. Louis Martyn, Douglas Campbell, and Karl Barth.

Upcoming Sessions at the AAR/SBL 2013: Book Panel on ‘Outlaw Justice: The Messianic Politcs of Paul’

Once again this year we are glad to host a panel session to engage with the author of a recent book which touches on themes close to the heart of the work of our group.  We are very grateful to Ted Jennings (Chicago Theological Seminary) who will join us to discuss his most recent book, Outlaw Justice: The Messianic Politics of Paul (Standford University Press, 2013).  We hope to see you there!

Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic
Saturday – 6:30 PM-9:00 PM
Renaissance Harborplace-Kent 

Kaitlyn Dugan (Curator, Center for Barth Studies, Princeton Theological Seminary)

Beverly Gaventa, (Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Baylor University)

Arne Rasmusson (Professor of Systematic Theology, Gothenburg University, Sweden)

Gordon Zerbe (Professor of New Testament, Canadian Mennonite University)


Theodore Jennings (Professor of Biblical and Constructive Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary)


Joshua B. Davis, (Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology The General Theological Seminary, NYC)

Upcoming Sessions at the 2013 AAR/SBL: ‘One Church: Holy, Catholic and Apocalyptic’

We are pleased to announce that at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (Baltimore, MD, November 23-26, 2013) alongside our additional meetings we will host a Wildcard Session as part of the regularly scheduled conference.


Sunday, November 24th, 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Convention Center-342
Continuing the work of the ‘Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic’ group which has previously convened as an additional meeting in recent years, this session focuses upon the doctrine of the church as a particularly neuralgic point of contemporary Christian theology and explores various possibilities for drawing upon apocalyptic discourse and modes of thought to advance, re-frame and creatively shift current ecclesiological debates. Four invited panelists engage this task by asking, from varied perspectives and with differing concerns, about the ‘difference apocalyptic makes’ to contemporary theological understandings of the church’s witness and mission, its institutional forms, its sacramental life and practice, and the manner and horizon of its political engagements. What light might renewed attention to the apocalyptic character of the Christian gospel shed upon enduring questions of the unity, particularity, catholicity and historic continuity of Christian communities?
  • Dr Philip Ziegler (University of Aberdeen), Presiding
  • Dr. Joseph Mangina (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto):   If It’s a Symbol, To Hell With It: Apocalyptic and Transubstantiation
The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist demands consideration of the bodily character of God’s Selbstmitteilung. Christ’s self-gift in the Eucharist is the gift of his body. A good theology of real presence will uphold both the gift-aspect and the bodily-aspect. Setting the Eucharist in an explicitly apocalyptic frame of reference aids in this endeavour. Theologies of real presence often betray dualist assumptions, but if the Eucharist is apocalyptically given, such unhealthy dualisms can be overcome. Since Christ is the reality manifest in the Eucharist, the sacrament can be thought on analogy with the incarnation. George Hunsinger’s recent creative proposal for thinking about real presence has much to recommend it,but I argue that a more properly apocalyptic doctrine of real presence is in fact provided by transubstantiation, carefully understood, with its strong kinship to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Important ecumenical and ecclesiological consequences follow.
  • Dr. Susan Eastman (Duke University Divinity School):   One Church Holy and Apocalyptic?

Does appeal to apocalyptic trump ‘apostolic’ as a descriptor of the church? This paper explores the points of tension and of contact between descriptions of the church as apostolic and as apocalyptic. Insofar as ‘apostolic’ signals an overriding concern to protect the church’s identity through an institutionally protective and unbroken stream of tradition and leadership, apocalyptic descriptors of the church represent a profound interruption and disruption of such self-description. Insofar, however, as the meaning of ‘apostolic’ is drawn from the force of the Greek — ‘sent out’ — the church as apocalyptic must indeed be apostolic. In this sense, the word ‘apostolic’ conveys the church’s union with Christ in Christ’s redemptive incursion into human history existence without remainder and without exception.

  • Dr. Chris Huebner (Canadian Mennonite University): The Apocalyptic Body of Christ? Reflections on Yoder and Apocalyptic Theology
  The work of John Howard Yoder figures prominently among many of those who represent the so-called “apocalyptic turn” in recent theology. And yet among the many themes that are said to identify Yoder as a fellow apocalyptic thinker, one theme about which there seems to be comparative silence is his understanding of the body. This paper sets out to explore that silence. In doing so, it investigates two questions: first, Is Yoder’s understanding of the body in tension with other aspects of his work that might be characterized as more properly apocalyptic? Or, second, can we find in Yoder an account of the apocalyptic body that might serve to enrich recent discussions about apocalyptic theology?
  • Mr. Ry O. Siggelkow (PhD Candidate, Princeton Theological Seminary): The Transgression of the Integrity of the Church
Post-Yoderian political theology concentrates upon preserving the church’s distinctive public identity vis-à-vis modern political formations claiming that previous ways of thinking about the church’s relationship to politics owe too much to Troeltsch and the liberal Protestant establishment. Convinced that political theology has too often acquiesced to the norms of modern secular politics, such theology redirects Christian theological attention away from the modern nation-state and onto the church’s tradition and core practices. The church and its liturgy are not only the site for the formation of Christian virtue, but also in themselves and as such constitute Christian political action. Drawing on the work of Käsemann, MacKinnon, and Yoder I argue that this “turn to the church” in political theology can re-inscribe the very Constantinian logic it seeks to resist and suggest that an account of the church framed by an apocalyptic theologia crucis provides the necessary corrective.

James Cone Panel Session Papers now published

  For those of you who were unable to squeeze into the room last November in Chicago  to take in our panel discussion of Prof. James Cone’s most recent book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis Press) — as well as for those who were — I’m glad to announce that all the panelists’ remarks together with Prof. Cone’s response have just been published as a ‘Book Forum’ in the July 2013 issue of Theology Today.  

It’s a spirited and enlightening exchange that well repays reading!

Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic at the 2012 AAR/SBL in Chicago

II/ Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic—Session II (Sunday evening– details TBA)

‘Satan and all his Works’—Four papers on the ‘third agent’ in the apocalyptic drama of salvation

J. Louis Martyn has argued that we must recognize the importance of the “third actor” (besides God and humans) in the Christian redemptive and moral drama, namely, Satan, and/or the powers of Sin and Death, and/or the “principalities and powers.” While Martyn has recently refocused this issue for Pauline theology, it is also increasingly important in other strains of modern and contemporary theological reflection. These papers will variously explore the significance of the “third agent” in  contemporary theology and examine the contribution of that theme to Christian theology in an apocalyptic mode.

Papers offered by:

  • Trevor Eppehimer (Hood Theological Seminary):  ‘Domestic Insurgency or Foreign Invasion? John Milbank and J. Louis Martyn on Redemption and the “Third Actor”’
  •  Myles Werntz (Baylor University): ‘The Ubiquity of Christ and the Sites of Redemption:William Stringfellow and the Resistance to Death’
  •  Matt Croasmun (Yale University): ‘An Emergent Account of Sin in Romans 5-8 as the “Third Actor”: Emergence Theory as a Source for Contemporary Christian Theology’
  •  Scott Prather (University of Aberdeen): ‘Apocalyptic and Providential Power(s)’

Chair: Jodi Belcher (Duke Divinity School)

Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic at the 2012 AAR/SBL in Chicago

I/ Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic—Session I (6:30-9:00 in Conference Room 4C at the Hilton Chicago Hotel)

Session M17-403 in the AAR Programme Book

James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree—A Panel Discussion

With an eye to the themes of our working group, our three panelists will engage with James Cone’s most recent work, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis Press, 2011), reflecting particularly upon the theological and ethical questions it provokes. Prof. Cone will be present to reply.  The good folks at Orbis Press are kindly sponsoring this session.



Chair:  Nancy Duff (Princeton Theological Seminary)