Dr Bruce McCormack

Dr Bruce McCormack
Dr Bruce McCormack
Dr Bruce McCormack

PhD, Dr. theol. h.c.

Chair in Modern Theology

Accepting PhDs

About

Biography

I am by training a historian of doctrine; by calling, a systematic theologian.  My specialized work lies in the field of modern German theology starting with Schleiermacher and Hegel (and their precursors) and continuing on through the "post-Barthians" (von Balthasar, Jüngel, Jenson, Moltmann, Pannenberg, Boff and Cone,et.al.).  My first book, Karl Barth's Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology (1995) earned for me the Karl Barth Prize (1998) and a ribbing about the title on the BBC comedy Rev.  I am currently at work on a mini-dogmatics consisting in three books on Christ, the Trinity, and atonement.  The first volume of that trilogy is in print and can be found at The Humility of the Eternal Son: Reformed Kenoticism and the Repair of Chalcedon (CUP, 2021).  As that volume demonstrates, I am a firm believer in the importance of integrating biblical exegesis into constructive work in theology, having taught eight courses at Princeton with New Testament colleagues.  A basic mastery of continental philosophies in the modern period is also essential.  My career spans now thirty-seven years.  The first four years were spent at New College, the University of Edinburgh where I was a Lecturer in Reformed Theology.  The next thirty-one years were spent at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ, where I served (most recently) as the Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology and Executive Director of the Seminary's Center for Barth Studies (founded in 1997).  In Aberdeen, I hold a Chair in Modern Theology - from which I look forward to even more collaborative work with colleagues in Europe most especially.

Qualifications

  • PhD History of Christian Doctrine 
    1989 - Princeton Theological Seminary 
  • Dr. theol. h.c. Theology 
    2004 - Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany 

External Memberships

American Academy of Religion

American Theological Society

Society for the Study of Theology (UK)

Honorary Professor at St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrew

 

Prizes and Awards

Karl Barth Prize (UEK, 1998 in Berlin)

Dr. theol. h.c. Friedrich Schiller Universität, Jena (2004).

Frederick Crosson Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Religion, University of Notre Dame (Spring 2018)

Senior Fellow, Alfried Krupp-Kolleg, University of Greifswald, Germany (academic year 2019/2020).

Research

Research Overview

I am currently writing a trilogy of books in the area of dogmatic and constructive theology treating (respectively) Christ, Trinity and atonement.  The first was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021 under the title The Humility of the Eternal Son: Reformed Kenoticism and the Repair of Chalcedon.  In that work, I elaborated a new Christological ontology which will now provide the basis for a reconsideration of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Divinity.


Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Divinity

Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Theology

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

The focus of my research lies now in the doctrine of the Trinity, the second volume of the above-mentioned trilogy.  The doctrine of the Trinity classically could never really come into its own.  It was grounded in and regulated by prior consideration of the essence of God (and possibly, God's attributes).  The question is not whether one should begin with the one God or the three persons (as was the case in the 1980s and thereafter).  Either is possible so long as decisions have not been made prior to treating the Trinity which control its construction.  Such was the case in patristic, medieval and Reformation theologies, wherein the idea of divine simplicity served as the regulative principle governing all that was said about God.  What was lost to view was that which is most basic to the Trinity, namely life.  I want to think the livingness of God in time and then, and on that basis, in eternity.  What is intended is a doctrine of the Trinity that is strictly grounded in Christology and Pneumatology.  Previous attempts to do this by Schleiermacher, Dorner and Barth, et.al. were a mixed success in that many of the outcomes fostered by classical theism were left in place, creating a tension with their highly innovative insights.  I aspire to a more consistent version of such a distinctively modern doctrine.

Past Research

I am, in the main, a specialist in the study of Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968).  As such, I have written dozens of articles and published one award-winning book, Karl Barth's Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology: Its Genesis and Development, 1909-1936.  But I have always left the teaching of Barth to others so that I might acquire greater mastery of the history of theology in the west generally, of the Reformed tradition from Zwingli and Calvin to the present, and of modern German theology.  And so my PhD seminars at Princeton covered topics like the following: the "Ritschlian School" (Albrecht Ritschl, Wilhelm Herrmann, and Ernst Troeltsch); Wolfhart Pannenberg's Systematic Theology, vols 1 and 2; Friedrich Schleiermacher's Glaubenslehre; Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, the Prima Pars; Paul Tillich's Systematic Theology, Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theo-Drama (vols. 3-5); God and Christ in the Theologies of Eberhard J┼źngel and Robert Jenson; and Nature and Grace in Modern Catholic and Protestant Theologies (with Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P.).  My Master's level courses focused mainly on doctrine themes and were anchored in the Reformed tradition and its confessions.  Some of this research has surfaced in my publications; not all.  But it does mean that I am prepared to supervise research more broadly than my publications might suggest.  In 2007, my work began to take a more constructive turn with the writing of three major lectureships in succession (the Torrance Lectures, 2007, St. Andrews); the Croall Lectures, 2011, Edinburgh; and the Kantzer Lectures, 201, Trinity Evangelical, Chicago).  These are in process of a root and branch revision, resulting in the triology of dogmatic and constructive works described elsewhere on this page.

Publications

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  • The Humility of the Eternal Son: Reformed Kenoticism and the Repair of Chalcedon

    McCormack, B.
    Cambridge University Press. 316 pages
    Books and Reports: Books