Toward Theological Theology: Tracing the Methodological Principles of John Webster

This essay introduces John Webster’s approach to the work of theology by considering its formal principles and their relation to the material claims of the Christian faith. We pay particular attention to his inaugural lectures given at Wycliffe College in 1995, at Oxford University in 1997, and the University of St. Andrews in 2014, filling out the picture by considering a few other significant essays. In so doing we will sketch three phases of his methodological development, which are meant heuristically to note ways in which his principled approach has been further extended and elaborated over the last twenty years and to note ways in which there have been shifts or developments within his prolegomena (e.g., regarding the nature of Scripture and its properties). Hopefully such a critical introduction then makes possible thoughtful, contextual engagement with and conversation about various elements of his work.

The Impassible God Who “Cried”

Modern scholars charge that the traditional view of divine impassibility had been corrupted with Greek philosophy and thus strayed away from Scripture’s testimony of the true God. The attempt to construct a new theology of God has brought many scholars to embrace a vulnerable God. A God who is worth enough is a God who can suffer with human beings. Contrary to the opinion, an overview at the patristic theology of God and at the mediaeval theologian, including the Reformed ones, provides us with a proof that their understanding was not influenced by Greek philosophy per se but mainly based on the doctrine of creation: God is impassible but not unemotional.

The Problem of Repentance and Relapse as a Unifying Theme in the Book of the Twelve

This article builds on earlier studies highlighting repentance and return as unifying themes in the Book of the Twelve by developing a pattern of repentance and relapse that emerges from a reading of the Twelve. The recurring pattern of failed repentance explains why exile was necessary and why even the postexilic return to the land did not bring about Israel’s restoration. The hope that emerges in the Twelve is that Yahweh would act at a more distant time in the future to produce the repentance and spiritual transformation in his people that would bring about the blessings of repentance and full restoration.

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