CETA program – Congress 2010

Canadian Evangelical Theological Association

Annual Meeting

Concordia University, Montréal
May 30, 2010

Location: Henry F. Hall Building
1455 Boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest

(identified as building “H” on the Concordia campus map)
Room: H 429-00

Note: The CETA programme is posted here for the convenience of CTS members and others interested in attending these presentations. Complete information is available from the CETA website. Please remember to register for CETA through the Congress website.

UPDATE: added abstracts (May 7)

8:30-9:00 – Welcome and Corporate Worship

9:00-9:45 – Rev. Frank Emanuel (Saint Paul University)
Is there a Missional Bridge that can Unite Evangelicals? Exploring the Need for Clarity in Evangelical Terminology

Abstract: Many evangelicals today use the term missional to describe the way they understand their churches. It should follow that having a common language would help evangelicals understand each other and find ways to work together by identifying common goals. Yet, the opposite is too often the case. Language that could be used to bring evangelicals together is often the crux of what divides them. Consider that some missional advocates accuse other evangelical traditions of being attractional, another equally ambiguous term, to suggest that the missional position is the only correct way of being evangelical. Still other evangelicals apply the term missional in ways that do not reflect or acknowledge the growing body of literature from what is being called the Missional church movement. This confusion of terms is not a new problem for evangelicals. Distinctions in terminology often create a tension that many practitioners prefer to avoid entirely. I will look at several of the ways that the term missional is being employed by contemporary evangelicals. I will compare this with the work on the missional concept made by members of the Gospel and Our Culture Network. I will identify ways in which the term missional can be both a hindrance and proponent of evangelical cooperation.

9:45-10:30 – Timothy Nyhof (University of Winnipeg)
Christ and the Powers! An Intersection in the Dutch Reformed – Anabaptist Dialogue

Abstract: John Howard Yoder and Richard Mouw have compellingly argued that the divisions between Anabaptist and Reformed theological thought are not as polarized as has often been suggested. They contend that the differences that emanate from these communities should be viewed as intra-family quarrels that arise from different degrees of emphasis on commonalties. When viewed from this dialogical perspective, it is not surprising that John Howard Yoder found a great deal of agreement with the Dutch Reformed Theologian Hendrikus Berkhof’s Christ and the Powers. Yoder quoted extensively from Berkhof in his own influential publication, The Politics of Jesus. And while this is an encouraging area of Anabaptist-Reformed theological dialogue, there has not been an extensive evaluations of this work by Berkhof other than John Howard Yoder’s own interpretative read and his appropriation of some aspects of the work. This paper is therefore an attempt to provide a theological overview of Berkhof’s Christ and the Powers and place it within the context of Berkhof’s early career and his unique position within Dutch Reformed evangelical circles in the Netherlands. Since Yoder undertook the daunting task of introducing this work to a North American lay audience, a portion of this paper will discuss his efforts to ensure its publication in English. As well some commentary will be provided which will hint at the congruencies between Yoder and Berkhof’s and by extension the opportunities for Anabaptist and Reformed dialogue.

10:30-10:45 – Coffee Break

10:45-11:30 – Justin Klassen (Austin College)
Persuasion or Resolve? Contemporary Theology and the Paradox of Christian Hope

Abstract: Radical Orthodoxy is convinced that while reality is not within our control, it is trustworthy since ultimately its mystery is rooted in love and peace. Thus Radical Orthodox theology argues that construals of reality as manageable and objective are not genuine discoveries of reason but the result of individuals’ resistance to entering into the mystery of creation on its own terms. Moreover, Radical Orthodoxy observes that within the space of these construals faith cannot be understood as the capacity to abide uncertainty while nonetheless affirming the goodness of God. In judging that the mysteries of temporality are not resolved as much as obscured by such objectifications of existence, Radical Orthodoxy follows Kierkegaard. Where Kierkegaard and Radical Orthodoxy part ways concerns their divergent understandings of how a genuine, existential Christian faith moves through life. At odds with Kierkegaard’s iconoclasm, Radical Orthodoxy construes the continuance of faith as a matter of rhetorical persuasion. And yet recently John Milbank has argued that the Kierkegaardian “paradox” is perfectly compatible with Radical Orthodoxy’s synthesis of eros and agape. This paper will challenge Milbank’s assertion by arguing that Kierkegaard’s account of love implies a mode of expectancy that must be “unauthenticated” by rhetoric, and that only this eschewal of persuasion in favor of hope’s inexplicable resolve provides adequate resistance to the subject’s despairing desire for an objective “identity.” In this regard I will ultimately suggest that Kierkegaard offers much that can help in addressing Radical Orthodoxy’s own most central concerns.

11:30-12:15 – David Ney (Wycliffe College)
The Divine Identity of Jesus and the Nature of Christian Scripture

Abstract: One of the most well known proposals concerning Old Testament interpretation forged in recent years is Richard Hayes’ Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. For Hayes, the New Testament offers a blueprint for the contemporary appropriation of the Hebrew Scriptures. According to Christopher Seitz, the most problematic implication of Hayes’ proposal is that it mutes the authoritative voice of the Old Testament by funneling its meaning through the New Testament. One of the apparent strengths of Hayes’ proposal is that it is able to account for the Christological readings of the Church Fathers as appropriations of Pauline exegesis. The current essay, however, argues that the Fathers do not read the Old Testament Christologically because they believe it must be made subject to the New Testament. Rather, they believe that both the Old and New Testaments are to be made subject to the regula fidei. Focusing on the work of Irenaeus, I argue, first, that the regula fidei is a theological framework that functions as a rule for Scriptural interpretation. Second, I argue that the purpose of the rule is to conform Scriptural interpretations to a Christology of Divine identity. Third, I argue that their identification of the Jesus of the New Testament with the Lord of the Old Testament compels the Fathers to uphold the Old and New Testaments as equal partners. It is no coincidence that underlying the increasingly prevalent sentiment that the Old Testament is irrelevant for contemporary Christianity is the conviction that the Old Testament presents a God of wrath and law, a God that has little in common with the New Testament Jesus of love and grace.

12:15-1:30 – Lunch

1:30-2:30 – Key Note Address: Rev. Dr. John A. Vissers, Principal of the Presbyterian College at McGill University and the First President of CETA
“What Might Canadian Evangelical Theologians Learn From Karl Barth’s Appreciative Use of Herman Bavinck’s “Reformed Dogmatics”?”

2:30 – 2:45 – Coffee Break

2:45-3:30 – Randall Nolan (Briercrest College and Seminary)
Connected Understanding, Education, and Theology

Abstract: It has become something of a commonplace to make note of the revolutionary consequences in history of the introduction of technological tools and to suggest that the internet, especially through phenomena like social networking, is having a similar impact. In reference to education, mobile devices such as cellular telephones and internet affordances (social media) like blogs and YouTube allow learners not only to be widely connected with others, but also to be creators, not just consumers of knowledge. Participation in already-existing social settings (communities) requires internalization of each community’s rules and roles; in a rapidly changing world, however, where everyone is a novice, learners can also participate in the creation/externalization (construction) of knowledge in networks of interaction. One of the most interesting developments in this area is scholarship around Activity Theory, particularly as outlined by theorists like Yrjö Engeström. His idea of “expansive learning” and his modification of Vygotsky’s thought to bring together subject, object, and community with tools, rules, and division of labour (roles) makes for an intriguing theological study. Important conversation points for theology include the notions of knowledge as constructed, connected ways of knowing, a “social epistemology,” analogy as method, and participation in—rather than mastery or ownership of—the object of study. This paper will bring together these themes in the context of theology’s engagement with culture.

3:30-4:15 – Aaron Perry (Centennial Road Standard Church)
Leading from the Ear: A Sketch of the Phenomenological Role of Listening to Scripture in Shaping the Church into a Leading Community

Abstract: Insights from philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, leadership expert Otto Scharmer, and Eugene Peterson allow me to sketch how listening to Scripture can form a people reflective of Scripture’s coming reality. I will argue that generative listening makes the listener present to the coming reality of Scripture and thereby allows the emerging future of Scripture into the listener in a transformative manner. My sketch will flow along these lines. First, Nancy argues that listening allows the other into the listener. Truth, because it is transitory, must be listened to. Listening is straining towards meaning as sound echoes within the self. As a result, meaning comes from without and from within. This is not to privilege speaking over writing in a dualistic error because listening is a physical activity of something from outside entering the self. Second, Eugene Peterson’s suggestion that believers ought to “eat” Scripture has similar phenomenological traits as listening: both describe a certain presence of Scripture in its object of address. Listening to Scripture takes Scripture into the hearer. Third, Otto Scharmer describes generative listening as listening to the emerging field. One accesses this coming future by connecting to its Source in a place of Co-Presence which is this deep listening. Co-presencing enables the upward swing of Scharmer’s U diagram of the emerging future because it is the necessary space in which the listener may begin to answer the question of identity and purpose from the emerging future. Insights from these three fields begin to show us how listening to Scripture can be formative because Scripture describes a coming reality of the presence of Jesus as universal Christ that may be taken into the listener in such a manner in which identity, purpose, and eschatological work may be discerned. In living into this work and identity corporately, the church becomes a leading community.

4:15-4:45 – Business Meeting