Friday, December 10, 2010

Pr. Fisk and "Worldview Everlasting"

I should be bugged by his mannerisms.

I should be irritated by the presentation.

I should be bothered by the polo shirts.

I am, honestly, uncomfortable with his youth-pastorish hair.

But the Church is and ought to be a big house, one which allows for a variety of gifts and personalities, sanctifying them both for fitting use. I am glad that I didn't allow my cynical first impressions to stand. Despite the foregoing pseudo-objections, there is a level on which Pastor Fisk and I can connect quite readily, however, and I would not have discovered this had I clicked away in derision.

Honestly, his shtick is kind of growing on me. He's genuinely funny, but not insincere, and his mastery of both history and theology is impressive. I realize that I probably pick up on a lot of things that irritate me about a person when nothing about them impresses me favorably. Yet most of the former things fail to irritate me if more substantive virtues and commonalities eventually make themselves known. Such was the case here, though I am humbled to admit that I form such snap (mis)judgments far too often.

Anyway, I've said little of the actual material or content of this video, but I really don't need to. In the following clip, Pr. Fisk elaborates on the crux of the theological difference between Lutheran and Reformed doctrine using the classic Calvinist rubric of "TULIP" as a point of reference.




  1. *I* think Pastor Fisk is brilliant. His videos were waaay too fast-paced for me at the beginning, with the pictures and random jumps flying everywhere, but his theology is rock solid and he's very real. Also like that he's engaging the world as it is, not as we'd like it to be (i.e., video blog, responding to viewers, etc.).

  2. He's certainly smart and entertaining, but the short of it is that he's boxing shadows for at least half of this video. The Calvinists who make reason magisterial to Scripture are just as problematic to Calvinists as they are to Lutherans, and they are only the mirror image of Lutherans who use paradox and a "ministerial" view of reason as an excuse for sloppy theology.

  3. Hey Marty! Nice to hear from you.

    I would not argue that this video makes mincemeat out of Calvinist arguments, or that it is in any way dispositive of the debate. I would, however, say that it makes several valid points: Reformed churches (forgive me for this broad stroke) seem to espy more coherence and consistency in Scripture than is really there. By their better lights, the theologians of Augsburg have read the Scriptures Christologically, as Christ himself instructed when he revealed Himself to his disciples on the Road to Emmaus: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself"[St. Luke 24.27]. In my experience this is not so with the many and various churches which fall into the category of Reformed; rather a chronological hermeneutic seems to reign supreme. I don't have anything chapter and verse from Reformed symbols on hand to back that up at the moment, but I am convinced that this is one of the foremost problems with Reformed doctrine. A Christological hermeneutic may resolve in a paradox, but I'll take that (I do take it) over the theodicy which Calvinism creates/is.

    And yes, there are a lot of crappy Lutheran theologians out there who do exactly what you allege; also, a startling antinomianism in the lackadaisical middle of the Church of the Augsburg Confession.

    So, my friend, what the hell are you up to, besides wrecking Baptist stereotypes, drinking too much and hiding jellybeans in your navel?

  4. I'm hanging in there. I moved back to MI a year and a half ago to help out my family when dad took a turn for the worse, ended up getting married with a son and another on the way. At the moment, I'm just working tech support again and biding my time.

    Hope you're doing well--what are you up to now?

    In response to your response, I have a few thoughts (not neccesarily disagreements)--1st, make no mistake, my back is not up against a wall and I've got no stake in the reformed tradition beyond the fact that I think it's better. I know that that probably sounds like false humility and pride in the tradition wrapped up in one sentence, but I think you know me well enough to understand that I'm just trying to call the kettle 'black'--we all think that we're right, after all.

    2nd, you are not wrong about the 'broad stroke' that you use to paint reformed churches, but to compare the most mediocre of the Reformed tradition with the 'better lights' of the Lutheran tradition is unfair at best (and intellectual slight of hand at worst--not that this is what you are doing, mind you).

    3rd, regarding theological systems and theodicy--your reaction against them is good and when you're speaking in broad strokes about the average 5-pointer and various theologians within the reformed tradition, you're probably right. However, as with any other tradition, there are sub-traditions and sub-cultures within the broader Reformed tradition, and I'd argue that this criticism of systematizing theology and falling back on a certian type of theodicy is just as alive and well within the Reformed Tradition as it is from outside.

    4th--I don't really want to respond to this, but I'd like clarification on what you mean by 'chronological hermeneutic' vs 'Christological hermeneutic'. I mean, I understand the terms and I know what I would say about them, but I want to make sure I am actually hearing what you are saying about them.

    All this being said, don't get me wrong--I do think there are very real differences between the Reformed and Lutheran traditions, and I agree that how you handle 'paradox' is a big part of the difference. The reformed tradition is fine with mystery and paradox if they are located where scripture seems to locate them and we're cynical of paradox and mystery if they are not explicitly labeled a mystery by the revelation of God (and I'll grant right off the bat that this assumes a certain hermenutic when trying to determine what is and is not 'explicitly' labeled a mystery by God's word, but that's just the way it is no matter what tradition you're in).

    Anyway, enough of my rambling on your blog. I am curious to hear your response to chronological vs. christological hermenutic.

  5. Hey Marty,

    I'll get to your question on chronological vs. christological hermeneutics in a longer post. Thanks for pressing me on this; some others have as well, so I'm going to take my time.

    In the meantime, tell me what you think of this post. The author is an English Lutheran convert from Reformed Anglicanism. It's a discussion of the differences between Lutheran and Reformed sacramental theology, and I'd like to hear your opinions on it.

  6. Hey Trent--those posts are pretty decent and fair. I'd quibble about the bit about the Reformed thinking the argument is about mechanics while the Lutherans worry about the 'is-ness' of the Supper, but that observation might have something to it. Honestly, if you really want my take on it (which is not going to be identical with the standard reformed evangelical view, but is definitely within that vein), then I'll also have to also write a longer post of my own, so I'll probably post it on my blog when I get a chance to finish it up.

  7. Trent--my answer is posted:

    I know it's not really complete, but at least it's a start to that angle of the conversation.