Miroslav Volf and a Common Word Pt. 1

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Here at RTS Orlando we have the annual Kistemaker lecture series where we invite someone to come a speak on a certain topic. Last year it was G. K. Beale but this year we invited Miroslav Volf. He is one of the main Scholars at Yale and is well known for his works in Trinitarian theology and practical theology. Something I didn’t realize was his involvement in the Common Word paper that has been proposed as a common ground between Islam and Christianity. He essentially head up the Christian response to this and is the main proponent in the acceptance of it. Todays two lectures were on his justification and need for a document like this. I want to begin a small series of posts giving some of my notes and thoughts on this lecture series, especially because we have previously commented on this subject.

In this post I am going to write about the common ground he believes Christianity has with Islam:

1. God is One. There is no co-equal with God. He doesn’t have any true adversaries. In his transcendence all things are below Him.

2. God doesn’t have any associates. There is no one counseling God he is the all supreme One.

3. God is Love. He is ontologically love. He loves not because of us but because he is inherently loving. He loves us because of his nature not ours.

He then develops the two greatest commandments. The love of God and the Love of neighbor. Or another way to state it is that you love God by loving your neighbor although the love for the neighbor is different then the love of God. When we love our neighbor we are helping them. We are building them up. But with God we could never be benevolent towards Him. We can’t help Him or build Him up. So what is it to love God.

Islam: Submission or complete devotion.

Christianity: He takes Luther’s understanding of it that to love God is to receive all of God’s love through faith in Christ. It is not an active love but a passive love. (Which is essentially Piper’s view as well)

His viewpoint is that we do have a common ground in love of God and neighbor even though their are differences in the way these look.

These are just some basic notes from part of his lectures. Hopefully I will be able to post some more later. He also covered the specific nature of Christian love and also he answers some objections to the Yale response.

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3 responses to “Miroslav Volf and a Common Word Pt. 1

  1. Richter, I’m only asking cause I’m curious: but what does Dr. Frame have to say on all this. I’m curious as to what he makes of all this in light of VT and his stance on the kingdom. All that to say, I’m glad you guys had MV out to your school…what a way to expand the mind, ask hard questions, and be challenged by a brilliant guy.

  2. I haven’t talked to Frame yet about it but there is an overall feeling of disagreement with MV. Not a total disagreement with him though. Waltke brought up the fact that in MV’s theology he sets Love above all of God’s other attributes, where it needs to be seen in relation to His holiness. Frame would probably say something similar though I can’t be sure.

  3. its kinda like frame’s head being above all his other attributes…although connected. by the way, you’re teaching Heidelberg Catechism question #7 when you come to Paradox on the 30th…we usually give our dads 20 minutes, you get 25…and los is trying to set up stuff with the well also…if you want more teaching, you can have engage (our wed. nt. thing) as well…seriously J, i know its hard to get preaching opps at sem and I want you to use your gift.

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