Articles

Dominus Mortis

Article by   September 2015
David J. Luy.  Dominus Mortis: Martin Luther on the Incorruptibility of God in Christ.  Fortress, 2014. 266 pp. $24.99/£24.99  Professor Luy's book has a mostly polemical scope: refuting an interpretation of Luther's Christology and deploring  a strain of systematics that... continue

Introducing Theological Eschatology

Article by   August 2015
Sometimes you can see a trend by noting the exception. In his well-regarded book How (Not) to Be Secular, the philosopher James K. A. Smith observes that the Reformation's celebration of the theological significance of the ordinary not only served as a remarkable element of lay renewal in Christianity but also was also "the camel's nose in the tent of enchantment -that somehow the Protestant Reformation opened the door to what would become, by a winding, contingent path, exclusive humanism" (p. 39). Throughout that book, Smith not only offers a brief and accessible genealogy for this trend toward an exclusive humanism but also prompts his readers to consider the need to think beyond the "immanent frame" and to keep in mind higher or greater ends. continue

The Fruit of the Spirit 4. Peace

Article by   August 2015
Even the best of us find it hard to think clearly about peace, because so much of our life is absorbed by conflict - conflict with ourselves, or with others, or with God. Discord is so constant a companion that we may come to think of it as our natural state, and of peace as, at best, a distant prospect, at worst, unattainable. Yet love of peace remains in us, sometimes dulled, at other times sharpened, by strife and unrest. 'Peace', says Augustine, 'is a good so great, that even in this earthly and mortal life, there is no word we hear with such pleasure, nothing we desire with such zest, or find to be more thoroughly gratifying.' In this mixed and ambiguous state, how may we come to know and enjoy peace? continue

Vainglory

Article by   August 2015
Rebecca Konyndyk Deyoung. Vainglory: The Forgotten Vice. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. 157 pp. $9.99/£8.99In her wonderful new book Vainglory: the Forgotten Vice, Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, builds on the important work that she began in... continue

Reading Backwards

Article by   August 2015
I had the pleasure of hearing much of the present book in its oral form as the Hulsean Lectures in Cambridge, which Professor Hays delivered in 2013-2014. Striking in both the lectures and now in the book is the boldness, within the current academic climate, with which Hays contends that the Old Testament is to be read as testimony to Christ. Illustrative of this is the quotation of John 5.46 on the front cover: 'If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.' This work, numbering only 109 pages of argument and a couple of dozen pages of endnotes, is offered as a promissory note of a larger volume expanding on the subject. continue

Race and the American Church 6: Lynching, Violence & White Supremacy

Article by   August 2015
Americans also supported a physical degradation of African Americans largely through the practice of illegal lynching, which was a heinous and unspeakably violent activity that also violated the rights to due process, guaranteed under the constitution, of African American citizens. Historian Ed Blum has written recently about the degradation of African American bodies over time in U.S. history over at the Journal of Southern Religion, where he reflected on Don Mathews' piece on southern religion and the spectacle of lynching. Dr. Don Mathews is one of the finest historians of southern religion in America and his Religion in the Old South is required reading for anyone in the field. Fifteen years ago, he wrote a piece called "The Southern Rite of Human Sacrifice", which was both brilliant and brave. It connected the religion of the South (Christianity), something meant to be transcendent, with something incredibly violent: human sacrifice through lynching. According to Mathews, not only were Christians in the South complicit in this practice, but the way they practiced their religion (in segregation and proclaiming that "whiteness" was good and Godly while "blackness" was evil) might have sparked and even buttressed the practice of lynching in the South continue

How Jeremiah leans on Deuteronomy

Article by   August 2015
What would Plato be without Socrates, or Timothy without Paul, or Luther without Augustine, or Foucault without Nietzsche, or Bob without Woody, or Elvis, The Beatles, and every hair-spritzed glam rocker to follow them without the blues riff? Ask this and you get a sense of the architectonic influence that the book of Deuteronomy has over the prophet Jeremiah. Unlike his Judahite predecessor Isaiah, Jeremiah drank deeply of the theological vintage of the book of Deuteronomy. That is not to say that Isaiah was not familiar with the ancient law book; his corpus of work is thick with Deuteronomic language and imagery: the holiness of God, concern for the disenfranchised, the synergy between personal holiness and cultic worship. But for Jeremiah, it is different. For him, Deuteronomy is an immovable force, a covenantal mass that holds a wholly central position around which his entire prophetic agenda satellites. continue

Luther on the Christian Life

Article by   August 2015
Carl R. Trueman. Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom. Theologians of the Christian Life. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. 224pp. $14.99/£11.99It is not immediately obvious to many Christians that Martin Luther has much that is interesting or helpful to say about... continue

Race and the American Church-Part VI-Sin, Slavery, Silence and 'Separate but Equal'

Article by   August 2015
Before reading this article, please consider reading through the first five pieces as this article is best understood in the context of the others and reading the first five articles will enhance your reading of this one as each article builds on the previous one. Article five focused on the institution of slavery and how race as a social construct affected American Christians from 1620-1860 as they justified the institution of slavery and the mistreatment of African people whom they viewed largely as a sub-human species. My friend and colleague Dr. Miles Smith has expounded on this idea in the minds of antebellum southern Christians through a recent post here. continue

Bible, Gender & Sexuality

Article by   July 2015
James V. Brownson, Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013. 312pp. $24.99/£15.99Revolutions don't happen overnight. They build. What we witnessed in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26 of this year - the... continue

SCOTUS: Too Much and Too Little

Article by   July 2015
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued the majority opinion in Obergefell et. al. v. Hodges, which consolidated four cases addressing the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage. Led by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the majority found state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Piggybacking off of the 14th amendment, the Supreme Court made sexual orientation a protected category, analogous to race, using cosmological language about the greater good that comes to all when homosexual sexual relationships are allowed to flourish under the invention of a new kind of marriage. Gay marriage is now the law of the land. This public policy change to the definition of marriage commands a redefinition of personhood continue

Presbyterians and the Political Theology of Race: Part 3 - Gospel Politics

Article by   July 2015
In his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" Martin Luther King, Jr., charged the "moderate white clergy" with failing to grasp the clear implications of the Gospel for the South's social institutions. "I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshippers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers say, 'Follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro is your brother.' ... In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, 'Those are social issues with which the gospel has no real concern,' and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely otherworldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular." continue

Traces of the Trinity

Article by   July 2015
Peter J. Leithart, Traces of the Trinity: Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2015. ix + 165 pp. $15.99/£10.99In this extraordinary book, Peter Leithart's starting point comes from New Testament revelation about God: namely,... continue

Planned Parenthood's Politics and the English Language

Article by   July 2015
In 1946, George Orwell wrote "Politics and the English Language," an essay in which he complains that people had begun to speak and write without clarity. Laziness is sometimes the culprit, but too often people use pretentious diction and meaningless words to intentionally hide the truth. Orwell wrote, "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible." The same seems true in our time as well. continue

The Fruit of the Spirit 3: Joy

Article by   July 2015
Christian joy is an element in the renewal of human life and affections which is purposed by God the Father, accomplished by God the Son and brought to completion by God the Holy Spirit. Followers of Christ are appointed and summoned to participate in this renewal, and to do so intelligently and actively, that is, with the knowledge of faith which derives from divine instruction and which issues in conversion of life. This participation requires understanding something of our created nature: its original form; its devastation by sin; its renovation and reestablishment; the afflictions and consolations which accompany its progress to completion; its future satisfaction in God. continue

Mississippi Praying

Article by   July 2015
Carolyn Renée Dupont, Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975. New York: New York University Press, 2013. 303 pages. $55.00 ($26.99 on Kindle).Carolyn Renée Dupont's Mississippi Praying, is a thoroughly stimulating analysis of the ways in which... continue

Race and the American Church - Part V

Article by   July 2015
One way to think about race as a social construct is how the Belgian government socially constructed race in Rwanda during European colonialism in the early nineteenth century. The Belgian's believed that taller, lighter skinned Rwandans (called Tutsis) with more European features, occupied a privileged position under Belgian Colonialism. Therefore, colonial power brokers made racial distinctions between Tutsis and Hutus a cultural and economic reality. The Hutus tended to be shorter than Tutsis and had darker skin. Thus the Belgian government created a social construct along racial lines that fomented racial division, hatred and eventually genocide among the people of Rwanda. Hutus and Tutsis were given identification cards and Tutsis in Rwanda enjoyed the best positions in society and the best jobs as a more privileged minority. continue

"Peace, Peace..." Beyond Personal Peace to Kingdom Peace

Article by   July 2015
I worry about many of us evangelicals, including many of us in the Reformed tradition. I fear we have tended to reduce the Gospel to a promise of personal peace and we are often tempted to limit sanctification to psychological wellbeing. I believe this is one reason we are often ill equipped to think well about issues of social justice and relational disputes. We think they matter, but they are not actually essential to the Christian life. It is not necessarily that we hate the poor, don't care about racism or sexism, or are ignorant of other social pains. But we struggle to make the strong connection between those issues and living out the Christian faith. continue

Playing God

Article by   July 2015
Andy Crouch. Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. IVP Books, 2013. 288pp. $19.99/£15.99Underneath the spiritual artifice and social media antics and tribal rhetoric, nearly every major conflict that preoccupies Christianity in America today concerns the relationship between power and... continue

Presbyterians and the Political Theology of Race: Part 2 [Old Testament Politics]

Article by   July 2015
In Part 1 of this series I observed that southern Presbyterian defenders of segregation emphasized the Old Testament as the authority for biblical norms regarding race over against the more New Testament oriented arguments of their opponents in the civil rights movement. The most prominent version of the southern Presbyterian argument was not the caricatured appeal to the mark of Cain, let alone to the curse of Ham, as we might like to imagine. It was much more sophisticated than that. It usually ran something like this: continue

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