Thursday, March 18, 2010

Billy Abraham on campus...

We had Billy Abraham on campus at IWU today, speaking on John Wesley and the task of education. Many on the campus also read his new Aldersgate and Athens, particularly those in the honors college.

He's a spunky Irish Methodist who teaches at SMU (Perkins School of Theology). He was also a speaker at the Wesleyan Theological Society this year up against Richard Hays. Little known fact is that he went to Asbury before he did his doctorate at Oxford. Jerry Walls used his philosophy of religion textbook back when I was at Asbury.

I haven't built a label for him yet. He clearly doesn't like Barth. He definitely doesn't like Liberation Theology. He respects Plantinga but is clearly not a follower. He is more philosopher than theologian, I would say.

In any case, my two favorite concepts from him are:

1. Don't do any more dissertations on John Wesley. It's all been done. I agree that the level of Wesleyolatry that sometimes goes on out there is bizarre, IMO.

2. The Nicene Creed should be brought within the canon (by which he means the list of things to read as divinely appointed means of grace).

4 comments:

Logan Hoffman said...

Considering where I am right now, I'm curious about his reasons for not liking Barth. Can you elaborate a little?

Ken Schenck said...

He used an expression like "Barth does not go far enough." Perhaps if John Drury is out there he can help me. A couple of hints he said are perhaps that Barth does not incorporate the Fathers or the creeds into his system. He says the Trinity is the basis for his system but he does not properly ground it? He also said that Barth was incoherent.

Logan Hoffman said...

Huh. Barth seems much more Christocentric than Trinitarian, but I haven't read enough to make a proper judgment. I'd be interested to hear where he thinks Barth is incoherent, especially in relation to McCormack's reading of Barth.

Dr. Abraham certainly seems like an interesting guy, I hope I get to meet him at some point.

npmccallum said...

I have great affection for Abraham. He is, I think, greatly undervalued by (or unknown to) most. It is a great tragedy. Few also know that he was considered for President of Asbury. I'm not sure if that would have worked, but I dos suspect that he deserves such honors.

The thing I don't understand about him, however, is how he expects a Wesleyan/Methodist to implement his vision of canon. The English ecclesiology, of which Methodism/Wesleyanism is a part, revels in the great width of the theology taught under its banner. Adding to the canon is antithetical to this since it constricts permitted belief. Further, I don't quite understand, excepting this first issue, what mechanism any such body would use to do this. Methodists/Wesleyans don't really rule on doctrine, nor do they really believe that they have the authority to declare canon. For Wesleyans, this is in fact already enshrined in the book of discipline through a variety of things but quintessentially via open communion.