The LORD Who Listens

A Dogmatic Inquiry into God as Hearer

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In The LORD Who Listens, Charles C. Helmer IV draws on Holy Scripture and the theology of Karl Barth to offer a theological intepretation of God's hearing. Prioritizing this neglected biblical theme, Helmer develops a theological grammar for speaking of God's hearing that maintains a strong creator-creature distinction and then proceeds to demonstrate the profound implications God's hearing has for the doctrines of anthropology, Christology and, thus, for understandings of the gospel.

In contrast to passibilist-liberationist strategies, God's hearing is argued to furnish existentially and theologically superior resources for those who cry out to be heard by God.

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Charles C. Helmer IV, Ph.D. (2021), Durham University, is a campus minister at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.
At the heart of Christian theology is the claim that God speaks, yet the Bible also describes God as listening to the speech of others. Charles Helmer’s The Lord Who Listens redresses the relative neglect by theologians of God’s hearing, rightly arguing that the way we conceive God’s hearing speaks volumes about God’s nature and works. The result is an impressive dogmatic account of God’s listening as active, not passive – a work in time that corresponds to an eternal divine perfection. In an evil age where many feel their cries and voices go unheard, Helmer’s claim that faith in Christ, the Always-Heard Word, guarantees a divine hearing proves to be a dignifying grace and a game-changing consolation. - Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

This is a superb book. Helmer digs into a seemingly simple idea – the scriptural claim that God hears God's creatures – and shows us just how deep and rich a resource it is. He ranges widely, but always with the same clarity and incisive intelligence, always in lively dialogue with others, and always alert to the implications for Christian life. This is how systematic theology should be done. - Mike Higton, Professor of Theology and Ministry, Durham University.

In The Lord Who Listens Helmer develops a creative, persuasive and multi-layered account of an unaccountably neglected theological theme – God as hearer – and shows how it yields profound new insights into familiar scriptural texts and theological loci. The book is informed by deep understanding both theologically and pastorally, and deserves a wide readership. - Rachel Muers, Professor of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.

Chad Helmer breaks important new ground in this dogmatic treatment of God’s hearing. Divine speech and action have been extensively explored by modern theologians, but not the significance of divine hearing. In this disciplined, careful and conscientious book, Helmer draws on sources ranging from Genesis, the Psalms and the Book of Job to Karl Barth, Thomas Aquinas and Alistair McFadyen to develop a theology of divine hearing which is both deeply traditional and genuinely original. -Karen Kilby, Bede Professor of Catholic Theology, Durham University.

This is an impressive piece of sustained systematic examination and constructive articulation in relation to the generally underdeveloped theme of God’s hearing. - Paul D. Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University.

Contents
Acknowledgements

Introduction

Part 1: An Interpretation of God’s Hearing


1 Scripture: An Auscultation of Hearing
 1.1 Abraham and the Covenant: An Interpretive Framework
 1.2 Hearing in the Psalms
 1.3 New Testament Continuities and Transformations
 1.4 Conclusion

2 Karl Barth and the Promise of God’s Hearing
 2.1 Creation and Covenant: The Place of God’s Hearing
 2.2 The Priority of Divine Agency in Human Speaking and Divine Hearing
 2.3 Confidence in the God Who Hears
 2.4 Hearing and God’s Constancy
 2.5 Conclusion

Part 2: A Constructive Proposal for God’s Hearing


3 Creation: A Theological Grammar
 3.1 God’s Radical Ontological Alterity and Infinite Proximity
 3.2 God as Hearer in Being and Act
 3.3 God’s Hearing—an Utterly Gratuitous and Perfect Gift of Love
 3.4 Conclusion

4 Anthropology: Being Heard into Hearing Beings
 4.1 Human Social Formation
 4.2 Formed by the Hearing of Others
 4.3 Malformed by Silence
 4.4 God’s Hearing and Human Becoming
 4.5 Conclusion

5 Christology: The Triumph of the Always-Heard Word
 5.1 Incarnation
 5.2 Death
 5.3 Resurrection
 5.4 Ascension
 5.5 Conclusion

Conclusion: “O That I Had One to Hear Me!”
Bibliography
Index of Subjects
Theologians, post-graduate, graduate and advanced undergraduate students, theologically-trained pastors, Barth scholars, those interested in "classical theism", responses to liberation theology, or the integration of social science with theology.
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