The Return of the King (Part 6)
This post is the conclusion to a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | The Long Pause (Part 3) | It Is Time (Part 4) | The Already and Not Yet (Part 5) The image above is a fresco from Etrurio, Italy. Painted during the Renaissance and later covered up, this tremendous piece of art was discovered at a winery and restored only a few
Of Rob Bell and Dolphins
Former preacher and megachurch pastor, Rob Bell, is impressed by dolphins. In a recent interview with Lewis Howes, Rob waxed philosophical about the natural ability of dolphins to just be dolphins, to bypass the frazzled attention spans and psychological reflexivity which characterize so much of human life as we know it. “Most of the time when I surf,” Rob explained, “there are dolphins. Like this morning. And a dolphin goes by, ‘I’m a dolphin.’ It’s
Free Speech Round Table: The Quiet Courage of Free Expression
Nobody likes free speech. This may seem incongruous or even controversial in a theological roundtable dedicated to weighing the relative merits and Christian response to issues of free speech, but I am convinced that it is true. Free speech guarantees that you will hear something you don’t like, or even that deeply offends and troubles you. You have to listen to mean people tell lies, sometimes about things you believe in. And despite this, I
Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (Part 2)
In the first part of this two part series on Psalm 46, I suggested that there are three strata of imagery in the psalm. The ‘city of God’ is a lush garden, providing for those inside her walls sustenance and shelter, calm and quiet, against all the wilds of life outside her walls. The city of God is, furthermore, protected against the judgement of God. The purging of evil involves God’s de-creative acts; yet for
The Refrain of the Kingdom
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-3 NRSV). In music, a refrain is
A Brave New Post-Secular World
In my final semester of law school, I had the opportunity to take a unique interdisciplinary class—“Law, Environment, and Religion: A Communion of Subjects”—taught through the law, forestry, and divinity schools. There’s a great deal I could say about this course, but one thing in particular stands out in hindsight: the way my classmates responded to its content. Almost to a person, they agreed that the course provided a uniquely valuable opportunity to discuss their
Eschatological “Angeloid”: Sarah Coakley, Gregory of Nyssa, and On the Making of Man, Pt. 2
In this series, we are going to examine St. Gregory of Nyssa’s theology of gender in his work, On the Making of Man, and how the Anglican theologian, Sarah Coakley, is seeking to utilize his theology for her own project. If one were to follow Coakley’s engagement with Gregory, reading her academic articles and not just her books, they would see that her views of him have shifted and evolved over time. In all of
St. Clement of Rome: Gender and the Kingdom Come
“Let us wait, therefore, hour by hour for the kingdom of God with love and righteousness, since we do not know the day of God’s appearing. For the Lord himself, when he was asked by someone when his kingdom was going to come, said: ‘When two shall be one, and the outside like the inside, and the male with the female, neither male nor female.’ Now ‘the two are one’ when we speak the truth
Evangelical Apocalypse Anxiety
With Donald Trump in the White House, a right-leaning Supreme Court restored to full strength, majorities in both chambers of Congress, and an overwhelming advantage in statehouses across the country, American political power is firmly in the hands of Republicans. This “revenge of the Right” has left some sociologists wondering why, despite having gained such a decisive upper hand politically, so many American evangelicals perceive themselves as threatened. This isn’t a new question, and religious
Women and the Priesthood: Viewing Tradition and Scripture in Light of the Eschaton
“Tradition is not static but dynamic, not stifling but liberating. Orthodoxy is a tool, not an end…I sometimes feel that a traditionalist means one who is effectively ignorant of the tradition in its richness and complexity but who clings, neurotically and fiercely, to the conventions of several decades past.”1 “Conventionality and orthodoxy are completely different matters, and that many who boast the name of Catholic would be surprised and shocked at what the tradition actually
Do Liberals and Conservatives Follow the Same Christ?
Our churches preach three different Christs: two with no center and one with no edges. Out of this difference arises our political divide. Is reconciliation possible?
The Resurrection and Nietzsche’s Wager
Your view of the afterlife affects how you live now. That’s something we can learn from Nietzsche. So, do you believe in heaven, or the resurrection?
The Sermon on the Mount and Christian Ethics
Questions of an ethical nature dominate headlines, classrooms, and pulpits across the world. In an era where formulations of morality often spring from what “feels right” rather than any sort of foundational principles, many commentators have rightly noted the necessity of carefully considered ethics.1 For contemporary Christians, ethical thought remains clouded by ongoing disagreements about from where our moral systems arise and how authoritative those sources are in a technologically advanced world of complexity and
“Fear Not,” Or, How I Learned to Love the Book of Revelation
By Blake Hartung The last book of the Bible, the Revelation (or Apocalypse) of John, has been a consistent source of mystery and bewilderment for Christians since its composition in the last decade of the first century. This is of course, shouldn’t be too surprising; we are, after all, talking about the book that has given us such bizarre tableaux as a pregnant woman clothed in the sun pursued by a dragon, four colorful horsemen,
Round Table: Eschatology
Human beings have long been interested in discerning what the future holds. Throughout recorded human history, people have sought to understand “the End” and what that event entails. Some worldviews adopt an attitude of pessimism regarding the end of the things, theorizing the utter destruction of planet earth by nature or humanity. Other perspectives take a more positive approach, trusting that the ills of the world will be remedied before life ceases on planet earth.
Unique Characteristics of Eastern Orthodox Spirituality (Part II)
Having discussed these differences between Eastern and Western forms of spirituality in general terms in my last post, let us turn now to some of the defining characteristics in Eastern Christian spirituality. I think you will recognize all or most of them, although this is not a complete listing of all the characteristics! Deification / Theosis What lies at the foundation of Eastern Christian spirituality? Its essential theological foundation is the idea of deification or
Sects Positions: Jehovah’s Witnesses and the End of the World
What practices, beliefs, and people qualify as Christian? How broad is the umbrella of Christianity? How might orthodox Christians learn from, even submit to, the wisdom of deviant “Christian” traditions? Within a new series of articles, what I’m calling “Sects Positions,” I’m going to examine these questions while looking at the beliefs of the fringes of Christianity, groups that many would not consider true Christians. In particular, I will be engaging with the Jehovah’s Witnesses
Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All?
1 Timothy 2:1–4: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Peter 3:8–9: “But do not ignore
Reflections on Suffering (Part One)
Why do we suffer? This is a question which, unfortunately, we all must ask at some point in our lives. The 2011-2012 academic year was a year in which this question took on a special relevance in my own life, first in a theology class devoted to wrestling with this question and then in my own life with the illness and death of my Grandfather. Life is painful when the lessons of the classroom become