John Betz

John Betz is Professor of Systematic Theology at University of Notre Dame, and holds degrees from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. from University of Virginia. In addition to articles in journals such as Modern Theology and the Journal of the History of Ideas, his publications include a monograph on Johann Georg Hamann entitled After Enlightenment (Blackwell, 2009) and a translation, in collaboration with David Bentley Hart, of the 1962 edition of Erich Przywara’s Analogia Entis (Eerdmans, 2014). He is currently working on a monograph on Przywara as part of a larger project to recover the relevance of early twentieth-century Christian metaphysics to theology today.

MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 35

Glorious Abasement: John Betz on the Prophetic Critique of J. G. Hamann

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Theologian John Betz discusses the eighteenth-century philosopher and translator, Johann Georg Hamann, a critic and contemporary of Immanuel Kant and other prominent figures of the German Enlightenment. Hamann, even from the beginnings of the Enlightenment, saw and argued that the project of modernity would lead to its own destruction. He anticipates, then, the postmodern critics of his future. Hamann argued that reason could not, by itself in a pure form, give a complete account of reality because pure reason is a fiction. Reason is always embedded within a historical culture and language that one cannot detach oneself from. Hamann avoids the nihilism of modern postmodern critics by focusing on the revelatory character of language and history in which God creates, reveals, and condescends to a humanity through His Word, and therefore humanity and humanity's pursuit of truth is contingent on His Word in special and general revelation in creation and history. Throughout the interview, Betz describes the centrality of condescension, or the humility of God, to Hamann's understanding of the ways God has acted for and loved his people and his creation. In the loving humility of God in his condescension is revealed the pride of foolish man in his quest for independent truth. $6


Volume 96

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Guests on Volume 96: David A. Smith, on the beginnings of the National Endowment for the Arts and the capacity of the arts in a democracy for combatting atomistic individualism; Kiku Adatto, on how images, words, and ideas interact in a visually saturated culture and on how the image of a person's face in a photograph has the capacity for intimate representation of inner personhood; Elvin T. Lim, on how presidential speeches have been dumbed down for decades and why presidents like it; David Naugle, on the deeper meaning of happiness, the disordering effects of sin, and the reordering of love made possible in our redemption; Richard Stivers, on the technologizing of all of life; and John Betz, on the critique of the Enlightenment offered by Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788), and why it still matters to us.