Category Archives: John Webster

“The encouragement of good theology” by John Webster

“The encouragement of good theology requires that certain interventions be made in order to promote certain practices and achieve certain ends.

Thus, for example, I shall argue that among the most important practices which need to be cultivated – especially at the present time– are textual practices, habits of reading.

There can be few things more necessary for the renewal of Christian theology than the promotion of awed reading of classical Christian texts, scriptural and other, precisely because a good deal of modern Christian thought has adopted habits of mind which have led to disenchantment with the biblical canon and the traditions of paraphrase and commentary by which the culture of Christian faith has often been sustained.

Such practices of reading and interpretation, and the educational and political strategies which surround them, are central to the task of creating the conditions for the nurture of Christian theology.

Fostering the practice of Christian theology will involve the cultivation of persons with specific habits of mind and soul. It will involve “culture” in the sense of formation.

To put the matter in its simplest and yet most challenging form; being a Christian theologian/ involves the struggle to become a certain kind of person, one shaped by the culture of Christian faith.

But once again, this is not some sort of unproblematic, passive socialization into a world of already achieved meanings and roles. It is above all a matter of interrogation by the gospel, out of which the theologian seeks to make his or her own certain dispositions and habits, filling them out in disciplined speech and action.

Such seeking is painful; as a form of conversion it involves the strange mixture of resistance and love which is near the heart of real dealings with the God who slays us in order to make us alive.

Good theological practice depends on good theologians; and good theologians are— among other things— those formed by graces which are the troubling, eschatological gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

—John Webster, The Culture of Theology, Eds. Ivor J. Davidson and Alden C. McCray (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 45-46.

2 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Jesus Christ, John Webster, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Reading, Sanctification, The Church, The Gospel, Wisdom, Worship, Writing

“The unstoppable miracle of God’s mercy” by John Webster

“Before it is proposition or oath of allegiance, the confession of the church is a cry of acknowledgement of the unstoppable miracle of God’s mercy.

Confession is the event in which the speech of the church is arrested, grasped and transfigured by the self-giving presence of God.

To confess is to cry out in acknowledgement of the sheer gratuity of what the gospel declares, that in and as the man Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s glory is the glory of His self-giving, His radiant generosity.

Very simply, to confess is to indicate ‘the glory of Christ’ (2 Cor. 8:23).”

–John Webster, “Confession and Confessions,” in Confessing God: Essays in Christian Dogmatics II (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 71.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Confession, Jesus Christ, John Webster, Joy, Mercy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Church, The Gospel

“Christian faith emerges out of the shock of the gospel” by John Webster

“Christian faith, and therefore Christian theology, emerges out of the shock of the gospel.

Christian faith, and therefore Christian theology, takes its rise in the comprehensive interruption of all things in Jesus Christ, for He, Jesus Christ, now present in the power of the Holy Spirit, is the great catastrophe of human life and history.

In Him, all things are faced by the One who absolutely dislocates and no less absolutely reorders. To this regenerative event, this abolition and re-creation, Christian faith, and therefore Christian theology, offers perplexed and delighted testimony.

That perplexity and delight– that sense of being at one and the same time overwhelmed and consumed yet remade and reestablished– are at the heart of the church, or as we might call it, Christian culture.

Christian culture is the assembly of forms and practices which seeks somehow to inhabit the world which is brought into being by the staggering good news of Jesus Christ, the world of new creation.

‘Behold,’ says the enthroned One in the climactic scene of the Apocalypse, ‘I make all things new’ (Rev. 21:5).

Christian theology is an activity in a culture which reaches out toward that miracle, sharing that culture’s astonishing new life.”

–John Webster, “Culture: The Shape of Theological Practice,” The Culture of Theology, Eds. Ivor J. Davidson and Alden C. McCray (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 43.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Communion with God, Doctrine of God, Faith, Jesus Christ, John Webster, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel