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The Fourth International Barth Symposium

The organizers of the Fourth International Karl Barth Symposium invite proposals for presentations. The symposium will take place at the Johannes a Lasco Library in Emden from May 9th to 12th, 2019.

The theme of the conference is:

“God-Shattered – God-Certain: The Relevance of Karl Barth’s Doctrine of God.” “Gotteserschütterung – Gottesgewissheit: Die Relevanz der Gotteslehre Karl Barths

This symposium will deal with Karl Barth’s doctrine of God. It is intended to aid our understanding and interpretation of Barth’s texts, but we also hope to discuss fruitful connections and the potential wider repercussions of his ideas. The overall goal is to ask for the present and future relevance of

Barth’s doctrine of God.

In addition to plenary lectures, there will be presentation panels in the afternoon. We are seeking proposals for short presentations (30 minutes max) as part of these panels.

Presentation panels will be devoted to these topics:

  1. Barth’s TheologicalRealism

(e.g., the question of analogy, gender issues, God and the gods, Barth’s notion of the lordless powers)

  1. Contextual Talk about God inProclamation

(e.g., Barth’s time in Safenwil, the churches and the Nazi state, Barth’s prison sermons)

  1. Barth’s Doctrine of God and “Postsecular”Society

(e.g., atheism, multi-religious society, Barth and Islam, subjectivity theory, Barth and Plantinga)

  1. Barth’s Doctrine of God andEthics

(e.g., the question of peace, Barth and Hauerwas, the foundations of ethics in the doctrine of God, the crisis of democracy)

We invite proposals dealing with these or similar subtopics. Junior scholars such as doctoral students are especially encouraged to submit proposals.

Proposals for presentations should not exceed 500 words. Besides the proposed topic, main arguments, and conclusions, please include your professional position, your most important relevant publication, and area(s) of academic work. Presentations can be delivered in English or German, but the conference will be held mainly in German.

Proposals should be submitted no later than July 1, 2018.

Please send your text to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Prof. Georg Plasger can also be reached at this email address with any further questions. A small committee will select the most suitable submissions and inform applicants in August 2018. Successful applicants will receive free registration, meals, lodging, and travel costs.

It is to the great credit of the Church of England that it has decided to publish in full the review by Lord Carlile into its procedures dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell. The Church cannot be accused of lack of transparency here! At the same time, the public reactions of the church leadership to the review will merit scrutiny. So far, the statements published today (15 December) come under the category of recognising that while “acting in good faith”, they should have done better and that lessons will be learnt. That is verging on blandness. In fact Lord Carlile’s review contains a damning catalogue of flawed practices and misjudgements which should be specifically addressed in the interests of integrity.

On Good Friday 2016, regarding the Bell case the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stated on BBC Radio Kent: “On the balance of probability, at this distance, it seemed clear to us after very thorough investigation that that was correct and so we paid compensation and gave a profound and deeply felt apology.” It is now patently clear from Lord Carlile’s report that, as the George Bell Group has always maintained, there was no “very thorough investigation” at all. This should now be clearly acknowledged by the church leadership.

Lord Carlile emphasises that it was not in his brief make a judgment on the truth or otherwise of the allegations against George Bell, but it is quite clear from his review that on several counts Bell’s name has suffered a grave miscarriage of justice. Child sexual abuse is a deeply serious matter, and one can only applaud the much more rigorous attention that safeguarding is now receiving in church circles. But no less important is the need to search for the truth in any such case, however difficult it may prove to be. Those of us who have been  concerned for the reputation of George Bell have not been making any special pleading on his behalf: one would hope that, in the best traditions of British justice, all accused and all claimants will be treated fairly regardless of who they are. But in Bell’s case it is sadly ironic that one who fought so tirelessly for victims of injustice while he was alive, should himself have been denied justice after his death.

Much has been made of the harm this case has brought to the Church of England. But George Bell was not just an outstanding Anglican. He is acknowledged and admired worldwide and in all Christian traditions as one of the greatest figures in the modern ecumenical movement. There are many beyond these shores and beyond the Anglican Communion who will welcome Lord Carlile’s findings, and who will now want to share in the responsibility of continuing to honour him, learn from him and to sing with as great a vigour as ever his hymn “Christ is the King! O friends rejoice”.

Keith Clements


PRESS RELEASE

GEORGE BELL GROUP STATEMENT ON LORD CARLILE’S REVIEW, 15 DECEMBER 2017

The George Bell Group, together with admirers of the Bishop worldwide, heartily welcomes Lord Carlile’s independent review of the process which led to the statement by the Church in October 2015 painting Bell as a paedophile. Lord Carlile deserves congratulations for producing such a comprehensive and authoritative report.

In his response to the report Archbishop Welby has chosen to emphasise that Lord Carlile has not sought to say whether George Bell was in fact responsible for the alleged assaults. That is not surprising, it was no part of Lord Carlile’s terms of reference from the Church to say whether Bell was innocent or not. But his devastating criticism of the Church’s process shows that Archbishop Welby was wrong in 2016 when he described the investigation as ‘very thorough’ and the finding of abuse as clearly correct on the balance of probabilities. A close reading of the detail of Lord Carlile’s report can only lead to the conclusion that he has thoroughly vindicated the reputation of man revered for his integrity across the Christian Church.

It is no wonder that the Church’s investigation has been compared by Lord Carlile tothe discredited police investigation of Lords Brittan and Bramall. The Safeguarding Group appear to have gone about their work looking for reason to doubt the veracity of the complainant. A proper investigation would have looked to see whether they could find independent corroboration of the complaint. That Bishop Bell had been dead for over half a century did not justify depriving him of the presumption of innocence or of due process. As Sir Richard Henriques pointed out in his report for the Metropolitan Police on historic sex offence investigations, the policy of believing victims shifts the burden of proof onto the suspect and ‘has and will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale’.

The misconceived approach of the Safeguarding Group, described by Lord Carlile as neither fair nor equitable, was aggravated by the failure of their investigation to reveal easily discoverable evidence:

 

·         They failed to speak to Bell’s domestic chaplain during two of the four relevant years, who lived with the Bells in the Bishop’s Palace. He could have explained to them precisely why the complainant’s account did not add up;

 

·         Nor did they speak to Bell’s biographer, the historian Professor Andrew Chandler, who has studied the layout of the Bishop’s Palace at the relevant time;

 

·         They did not interview former choristers of Chichester Cathedral who might be thought to have been aware if Bell had been a paedophile. Eleven of them wrote to the Times complaining that the Bishop had been smeared to suit a public relations need.

 

Lord Carlile’s report has now left the Church with many searching questions, including how best to remedy the many defects in the current Practice Guidance so as to ensure that such an injustice can never recur. But most important of all, the time has now come for the Church of England to redress, without hesitation or qualification, the immense damage done to the fine reputation of a man who served it for so long and with such courage and devotion. Those institutions which summarily removed Bell’s name from their titles should now fully restore it.

Archbishop Welby, who has said in his response to Lord Carlile that he realises that ‘a significant cloud’ is left over Bell’s name, should join with the Bishop of Chichester in removing that cloud. The Church deprived the Bishop of due process, they should not deprive him of the presumption of innocence. There is not just no fire, there is no smoke. We share Lord Carlile’s disappointment that the Church has rejected the protection of innocence as a clear and general principle.

As Bishop Bell said in a broadcast to the German people in December 1945, now engraved in the Bell Chapel at Christ Church in Oxford: ‘Without repentance and without forgiveness, there can be no regeneration.’

 

Life Together: Reflection and renewal in the style of Bonhoeffer's Finkenwalde Seminary

 
Part of the “Finkenwalde Experiment” at Freeborn Lutheran Church in partnership with The Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens and The International Bonhoeffer Society
 
Freeborn Lutheran Church and Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens Exit 215, Stanwood, WA
Rev. Dr. Mark Brocker, Faculty
Rev. Erik Samuelson, Chaplain
 
A retreat for lay and ordained Christian leaders based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s community practice at the Finkenwalde seminary, as outlined in “Life Together” and other writings from that period. The purpose of this experience at Freeborn Lutheran Church and Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens in Stanwood, WA is to engage a community in a week of “Life Together” for personal renewal, learning, spiritual and vocational discernment, and community formation, as a way to begin connecting Bonhoeffer’s insights and work to the challenges we face today.  
 
Registration is open and spaces are limited, scholarships are available
 

View Retreat Brochure

For more information visit: http://www.freebornchurch.org/life-together-retreat/

 

 
 

Speaking at Wolfgang Schaeuble's 75th birthday celebration, Merkel paid tribute to his 45 years as a member of parliament. Merkel, dressed in the conservatives' black and the FDP's yellow, paid tribute to Schaeuble as a European, a fighter for German unity, a passionate parliamentarian and an intellectual force who kept calm in hectic situations. 

But she also wished him time to spend with his family and try out new things, as she presented him with the complete works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian known for his opposition to the Nazis. "We wish you a good read, new insights, all the best and, in the name of the CDU and from me personally, dear Wolfgang Schaeuble, many heartfelt thanks," Merkel said.

Click here to read the full article.

Thank you to the people at Plough Quarterly Magazine, who gave permission for us to reprint a portion of this article. 


Bonhoeffer in China

Yu Jie: On October 8, 2010, it was announced that Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident writer, had been chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At the time, he was in prison serving an eleven-year sentence for inciting subversion (he remains a prisoner today). The authorities knew that Liu and I were good friends – we had known each other for twelve years and I was writing his biography. Immediately after the announcement, my wife Liu Min and I were placed under house arrest.

The ceremony to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu in absentia was on December 10. The day before this was the darkest of my life. Plainclothes agents of the secret police kidnapped me from my home, pulled a black hood over my head, and brought me to a detention room. For six hours they tortured me almost to death. They told me: “If our supervisor gives the order, we will dig a hole and bury you alive.” I was stripped of all my clothes and beaten badly as they took pictures. Then they forced my fingers backward one by one, saying that they would break the fingers I had used to write against the Communist Party. Eventually I lost consciousness.

The first hospital they brought me to refused to treat me. So they brought me to a more advanced hospital, where physicians told me that if the torture had continued another half hour I would not have survived.

Do you remember what you were thinking during the interrogation?

Before I lost consciousness I prayed to God in my heart. I clearly sensed his presence and felt the assurance: without the permission of God, not one hair of my head will fall. These words came to me as well: “Do not fear those who can kill the body, because they cannot kill the soul.” Those two promises of Jesus were my prayer.

After my kidnapping, my wife was still under house arrest. All phone lines and the internet were cut off, and for five days she had no way of finding out where I was. She was under such stress that she lost half her hair. Fortunately, by divine providence, we had sent our two-year-old son for a visit to his grandparents shortly before, so he was spared this experience.

After my arrest and torture, they tried to bribe me – they promised that if I would stop criticizing the regime they would provide a platform for me to write popular literature, and I would get rich.

Even after my release, the harassment and periods of house arrest continued. I could not go to church or attend Bible study; I was cut off from my Christian brothers and sisters. I looked in my son’s eyes and asked myself what kind of father I could be to him if we remained in China in this impossible situation. And so in January 2012 we came to the United States.

Awakening

You weren’t raised as a Christian. Were there influences in your childhood and youth that laid the groundwork for your conversion later?

I was born in the city of Chengdu in the province of Sichuan, a beautiful, mountainous region with a long history of resisting the imperial power in Beijing. So from the beginning of my life I drank in a dislike for centralized power.

My father is an engineer. His thinking and lifestyle were quite westernized, and even as a young boy he treated me as an equal. In a Confucian culture that emphasizes hierarchy, this was rare.

The moment of my political awakening came when I was sixteen and attending high school. I still remember hearing the news of the mass murder of students protesting on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. That day, June 4, 1989, marked a turning point for me – I began to realize the true nature of the Communist regime. I would never believe their lies again.

Three years later, I arrived in Beijing myself, as a student at Peking University, China’s oldest and most selective institute of higher learning. I studied there for eight years, earning a master’s degree. But far more important to me than my formal coursework were my independent studies in the library. Thanks to a friendly librarian who bent the rules, I had access to restricted books published in Taiwan. I read accounts of the campaign of civil disobedience against Taiwan’s authoritarian government in the 1970s and 80s, and learned how a pro-democracy movement can be successful. What especially impressed me was the prominent role that Taiwan’s churches played in this movement.

But you were still just a secular observer.

That’s right. In 1998, while still a graduate student, I published my first book, Fire and Ice, a collection of satirical essays criticizing Chinese society. Looking back, it amazes me that the book ever made it past the censors. But that was the year Bill Clinton visited China – the first US president to do so since the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese leadership wanted Western media to portray China as a free society. What better way than to allow publication of a book critical of the regime?

[ READ THE FULL ARTICLE ]

 

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