Thursday, 29 January 2009

Beware! Theologians.

Andrew Barry quotes Eta Linnemann:

It is only at the cost of a considerable independent divergence from God's word that a theologian's achievement wins renown in the current setting. The person who takes every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5) and loyally subordinates his thinking to God's revelation constructs no such theology. That person also no longer faces pressure to make a name for himself. For him it is enough if the Lord says to him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

-Eta Linnemann, Biblical Criticism on Trial (Grand Rapids: Kregel; 2001) , 117. The bold font is part of the original.

That's a good word. The more famous the theologian, the more careful you ought to be. Heard their name? Then watch out! Not because fame is a bad thing in itself, but because in this area of study, and in the current climate, they most likely got famous by committing crimes against what God actually says. Strange days indeed.


Anonymous said...

Good ol' Eta Linnemann! She knows what she's talking about, having been a student of Bultmann and a famous professor of New Testament exegesis herself. Her Habilitation thesis (sort of second PhD in the German system) "Gleichnisse Jesu" ("Parables of Jesus") received seven(!!!) editions and was translated into several languages (there were also at least two editions of the English translation). In the early 1980s she became a Christian, revoked everything what she had written before her conversion and forbade any further editions of her earlier works. Since then she writes one book after another on the failures of historical-critical exegesis. All her former German colleagues call her mad, of course.


Anonymous said...

Correction: "Gleichnisse Jesu" wasn't Linnemann's second but her first PhD thesis (Doktorarbeit). How many published PhD thesis do you know which received seven editions??


Luke said...

I like very much what you've said Gordon. NT Wright would be a good example of the more famous he is the dodgy some parts of theology get. However would Carson, Driscoll, Grudem and Piper be exceptions to your rule?

Andrew Barry said...

I put up another post about Eta Linnemann on my blog.

Alex - I'm interested in what you say. She was a bit like Paul in that whatever was to her gain (and reputation) she now considered as nothing compared to knowing Christ.

Anonymous said...


Yes she is really a radical. No surprise with this personal history. I met her more than ten years ago when she gave a talk at the CU equivalent in Leipzig/GER.

Interesting that she doesn't mention the revocation of her earlier works in her testimony you link to. But I recall exactly that she said this in Leipzig. There she also talked about her addiction to television before she got converted, an impressive confession by a theology professor.

Things in Germany are certainly not quite the same any more as in Bultmann's era. But historical-critical exegesis is still predominant at the German theology faculties. With the same devastating effects on the students Linnemann describes. I could cry when I read her testimony because I know many who have lost their faith during their time of studying theology, and only very few of those who survived did this without any major damages.


David McKay said...

How about modifying it to famous in the academy, or famous in the secular media?

I don't think your quartet fit into these categories, Luke.