Articles

Beauty Embodied

Article by   February 2016
A striking literary maxim can confound us because it is both horribly wrong and wonderfully right. "Beauty will save the world." Oh yes (sarcasm), Renoir's Girl with a Watering Can will stay the machete of a thick-bearded Muslim extremist, and Brahms' Requiem will blunt the needles of heroin addicts: horribly wrong. But salvific beauty does not have to stay machetes. It can be subtle, cracking the shell of the commonplace that surrounds the human soul and flooding it with light. And if Renoir and Brahms can do that much, if Rilke's rhymes can make a hairline fracture and Rodin's Eve a pinhole, perhaps that is all we need: so, wonderfully right. And in tracing the theological roots of Dostoyevsky's maxim, I came to find just how profound it is. continue

The Lost Word, and the Lost World

Article by   February 2016
In 2009, John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, challenged the evangelical world with the publication of his The Lost World of Genesis One. He argued that contrary to a traditional, literal reading of Genesis, essential clues to understanding the first chapter of Genesis were found in ancient Near Eastern literary and cultural contexts: "the key... is to be found in the literature from the rest of the ancient world." Claiming that Genesis 1 was written in a way shaped by ancient Near Eastern temple inauguration, Walton argued that the text spoke of God ordaining functions for creation as his temple, rather than describing creation's material origins. According to Walton, Genesis simply does not address material origins, aside from the first verse. This "long lost understanding" of the Genesis text, Walton argued, helpfully removed obstacles to a rapprochement between contemporary mainstream scientific interpretations of the past and the Christian faith. continue

Meet the New American Dream

Article by   January 2016
Meet the New American Dream, Same as the Old American Dream: Thoughts after seeing JoyMovies are more than entertainment, date night venues, or after (during) work escapes. At their best, they are something closer to lay theology or therapy even.... continue

How Should We Then Defend?

Article by   January 2016
I suspect that 2015, from a Christian perspective, will go down in history as one of the darkest and gloomiest centuries of human history. The cavalier destruction of human life, in the name of religion, is on the rise worldwide. No matter how much we protest that terrorists will not change our way of life, gun sales are rising sharply, as more and more people wonder whether shopping at a mall, or going to a movie, or having a Christmas party, will be the occasion for another random act of violence. continue

Infant Baptism and the Promise of Grace

Article by   January 2016
In considering the differences between those who support and those who oppose the baptism of infants, focusing too narrowly upon the need for faith in the recipients of the rite can be misleading, for among Reformed Christians this necessity is granted on both sides of the debate. No less than for those who baptize only on the basis of a candidate's sincere personal confession of their faith, those who baptize infants hold that faith is required for the realization of its intended meaning. The differences between the stances generally lie less in this principle than in contrary understandings of the character of faith and of what and how baptism means. continue

In Defence of War

Article by   January 2016
Nigel Biggar, In Defence of War. Oxford University Press, 2013. 361 pp. HB $55.00. PB $30.00In this book, Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology and Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at... continue

WHAT IF: Duns Scotus had not been a Theologian?

Article by   January 2016
What if Duns Scotus had never written theology? According to John Milbank, Christendom would have been spared much of its own self-imposed fragmentation, and Europe would have avoided the worst of the ravages of industrial capitalism, objectifying scientism, and cultural nihilism. This is the narrative thread that weaves through Milbank's Beyond Secular Order, much in the way a similar claim formed the main thesis of his ground-breaking book, Theology and Social Theology (Blackwell, 1991). continue

Conformity to Jesus as the Paradigm for Christian Ethics 3

Article by   January 2016
In his second essay on the imitation of Christ Herman Bavinck wrestles with a very old problem. He points out that the New Testament was written by and for Christians who came from the underside of society - the poor, the weak, and the oppressed. As a result, its emphasis falls on the virtues and practices that are appropriate for people in such circumstances, such as patience, forgiveness, and obedience. The question is, how are Christians to work out the imitation of Christ in contexts of power, authority, and influence? If the New Testament's version of a Christian ethic is a classic example of an "ethics from below," how are we to implement it when we need an "ethics from above"? Here Bavinck points to the fact that the New Testament itself contains the principles for such an ethic, and suggests that Christians must get to the hard work of using those principles to translate the way of Christ into a way of life appropriate for our own circumstances. continue

The Incarnation of God

Article by   December 2015
Marcus Johnson and John Clark. The Incarnation of God: The Mystery of the Gospel as the Foundation of Evangelical Theology. Crossway, 2015. 256 pp.Marcus Johnson and John Clark's The Incarnation of God is a much-needed and well-conceived treatment of the... continue

Conformity to Jesus Part 2: Death and Resurrection With Christ

Article by   December 2015
In Part 1 of this series I highlighted the prominent attention the New Testament gives to the call to Christians to imitate Christ. I introduced this theme as the first step in defending my thesis that the central paradigm for the Christian life (i.e., Christian ethics) in the New Testament is union with and conformity to Jesus Christ, in whom all of God's purposes for creation are fulfilled. Here in Part 2 I want to argue that the imitation of Christ should be understood as the practical outworking of the Christian's obligation to be conformed to Jesus' death and resurrection. continue

2015 End of Year Review of Books

Article by   December 2015
As we inch towards the end of 2015, I thought it might be helpful for some of our contributors and a few of our frequent guest writers to offer some reflections on books they've especially enjoyed this year. I trust you'll find the nominations fascinating and the glosses instructive, too ~ Editor Rosaria Butterfield Favorite devotional: Knowing Christ, by Mark Jones. In Puritan style, its intertwining of Christology and devotion makes it my favorite book to recommend continue

The End of Christmas

Article by   December 2015
One Christmas season our family went to see the "Christmas Spectacular" at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was an enjoyable show, in spite of all the secular trappings and symbols that have come to characterize Christmas. The most fascinating part of the program, however, comes at the end. For some reason, I had never heard of this scene. It was completely unexpected. At the end of all the standard, secular Christmas fare, men dressed as shepherds began to emerge on the stage; others dressed as "wise men" led their camels into the scene. The scene was focused on a man and a woman, both dressed in first century middle eastern garb, looking down onto a manger, with a baby in it. Every person coming onto the stage merged together to bow down to this child. Then, a man with an appropriately deep voice, narrated the following sermon excerpt entitled, "One Solitary Life": continue

Life Under Compulsion

Article by   December 2015
Anthony Esolen. Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child. Delaware: ISI Books, 2015. 224 pages. $27.95Ever since Edison recorded sound, each new generation of parents has voiced the same complaint: why do my kids listen... continue

Conformity to Jesus as the Paradigm for Christian Ethics (part 1)

Article by   December 2015
One of the strengths of the Heidelberg Catechism is that its emphasis is Christocentric from start to finish. From its wildly popular first answer - "That I am not my own, but belong - body and soul, in life and in death - to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ" - to its sensible explanation of what it means to be a Christian - that "I am a member of Christ and so I share in his anointing" - to its pastoral teaching regarding "what is basic to our prayer - the childlike awe and trust that God through Christ has become our Father" - it maintains its powerful emphasis on the believer's union with Jesus as the essence of the Gospel. continue

The Fruit of the Spirit 5: Patience

Article by   November 2015
As he unfolds the ways in which the Spirit renews and animates our lives, the apostle has spoken of love of God and our fellows, the fountain of the other virtues; of joy, the pleasure which believers take in the presence of the good things which are promised to us in our new condition; and of peace, the settled state which accompanies life well-ordered in relation to God and to others. Yet in our present state, this side of the heavenly consummation of God's entire remaking of us, love, joy and peace are never unmixed; even as they begin to provide the shape of our lives, we find them opposed by the persistence of sin and disorder in ourselves and in all that surrounds us. continue

Immigration and the moral status of borders

Article by   November 2015
In debates about immigration a crucial issue is the moral and political status of borders. Do we think borders are good or bad, a necessary evil or a moral necessity? My contention is that those who argue for open borders undervalue a sense of place and the integrity of nations like Britain and Australia as political communities; but those who argue for closed borders overvalue the likes of Britain and Australia as political communities. Instead, I will suggest we need a way of valuing our particular political communities in relation to other nations, and ultimately in relation to God, and that such a framework will enable us to make appropriate decisions about how to respect and value existing citizens and fulfil our duty of care to the refugee and vulnerable stranger from outside our borders. continue

Paul & the Gift

Article by   November 2015
John M.G. Barclay, Paul and the Gift. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015. 672 pages. $70.00/£45.99Perhaps the most impressive feature of John Barclay's important new book, Paul & the Gift, is the elegant simplicity and integrity of its central thesis. Indeed, at... continue

The World in the Church 4: Lawless World: Lawless Church?

Article by   November 2015
My first article began with the observation that Satan ambitiously aims to attack the church at the very points that are intended by God for its defence. He seeks to bring the world into the church through its elders, and at the heart of its public worship. Having considered the problems of distractedness, the desire to appear normal, and hostility to religion, in this final article I turn to reflect on how a worldly lawlessness may have infected the church. We live in a lawless age. The modern and post-modern turn inward that I mentioned in my last article is also a turn away from external moral responsibility and any kind of external moral regulation of the self's desires continue

Swimming in the Glorious Deep Blue Sea

Article by   November 2015
Over the past months, we have been looking at some specific, recent objections to a Covenantal (presuppositional) approach to apologetics. In this article, we reach the end of this series on "responses" to objections. There is one final objection to Covenantal apologetics that is offered and that needs to be addressed. In order to address it, it will be necessary to quote it at length. Under the title, "The Insufficiency of the Transcendental Argument," there are two primary objections. The first objection is this: Presuppositionalists do a good job in showing the need for some kind of transcendental move. However, their reasoning (or lack thereof) that the entire Christian theology is a necessary part of the transcendental condition leaves one unconvinced continue

Junius: The Mosaic Polity

Article by   November 2015
Franciscus Junius. The Mosaic Polity. Translated by Todd M. Rester. Edited by Andrew M. McGinnis. Sources in Early Modern Economics, Ethics, and Law. Grand Rapids: Christian's Library Press, 2015. $14.95Everybody knows that when the Protestant Reformers set out to clean... continue

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