A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Scriptures and Prayer for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Exodus 16:2-15

Epistle: Philippians 1:21-30

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16
God of miracles and of mercy, all creation sings your praise. Like the vineyard owner, your grace is extravagant and unexpected. Lead us to repentance and the acceptance of your grace, that we may witness to your love, which embraces both those we call friend and those we call stranger. Amen.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday at the Cinema: Odd College Mascots

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Beheading of Christians: An Orthodox Response

from Father John Parker in Soundings:
I am an unworthy man, unworthy to be called an Orthodox Christian, not to speak of the priesthood, and I write, admittedly, from the comfort of my Mount Pleasant, SC, home.  There is no Mount nearby, but it is, indeed, a pleasant seaside community on the East Coast of the United States.

As such, I ask myself: how to deal with ruthless, pitiless, pitiful souls who are so darkened that their life is spent taking the life of others-- and worse, thinking that they are doing this at the direction of and with the blessing of God himself, with eternal reward?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Character of God and the Nature of Scripture: Reading the Bible Incarnationally #3-- Inerrancy or Errancy-- Are Those the Only Options?

In the last post, I suggested that the doctrine of inerrancy imposes an unwarranted grid upon the biblical text that too often leads to a kind of hermeneutical gymnastics which distorts at worst, or at best misses the point of difficult biblical texts.

So, if inerrancy is not a good option in reading the Bible, do we then simply decide that the Bible is errant and therefore we can decide which texts are authoritative and which are to be discarded (to be decided by the intellectually enlightened, of course) as something bound to a previous time and place, and therefore not binding upon us in some way? I think Scot McKnight is correct when he writes,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Did John Calvin Believe in Free Will?

Matthew Barrett says yes, but it all depends upon how one defines it. He writes,
Doesn't Calvin's argument imply that man is coerced? Not at all, Calvin replies. Man sins willingly. Yes, it is out of necessity, but not out of compulsion. Such a distinction is one of Calvin's chief points in his treatise against Pighius, who argues that necessitas (necessity) implies coactio  (coercion).

However, as Paul Helm explains, for Calvin "it does not follow from the denial of free will that what a person chooses is the result of coercion." Coercion negates responsibility, but necessity is "consistent with being held responsible for the action, and being praised or blamed for it." Therefore, Calvin can affirm that man 'acts wickedly by will, not by compulsion.'"

Monday, September 15, 2014

Natural Theology-- the Light That Illuminates Reality

from Alister McGrath at biologos.org:
I want to talk about this whole idea of a theology of nature, or “natural theology,” both as a way of doing apologetics but also of engaging with some issues in science and religion. So, I predictably am going to begin with a quote from C.S. Lewis. Many of you will recognize this; it's a very well known quote. It comes from the end of his 1945 lecture, "Is Theology Poetry?" This is the final sentence in the lecture:
I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.
This quote articulates Lewis's mature vision of the explanatory capaciousness of the Christian faith. Lewis is saying is that whatever the Christian faith may be, one of the things it is, is a grid; a framework; a lens that allows us to see things more clearly, to see into the distance far more than would otherwise be the case.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Scriptures and Prayer for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Numbers 21:4b-9

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:18-24

Gospel: John 3:13-17
For the healing of the nations, O God, you raised up your Son on the wood of the cross and exalted him as the Lord of all creation. Grant that all who believe in him may have the gift of eternal life and share in the glory of your kingdom, where you live forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Racism and the Classroom

My friend and colleague at Ashland Theological Seminary, Dr. Mitzi Smith has written an important article on teaching about racism as a womanist biblical scholar. She writes,

As a biblical scholar teaching others to be responsible, critical, liberating readers of biblical texts, I affirm that no exegesis is without presuppositions, as Bultmann argued. The presuppositions that we bring to our analysis of texts are part of the matrix that is our social location. Our social location Smith is shot through with assumptions and judgments about race, class and gender. We live in a racialized world where we are asked to identify ourselves by socially constructed categories of racial distinction. Many of us live in segregated neighborhoods, attend segregated monochromatic schools with matching administrators and teachers, and worship in segregated churches.  How can we talk about biblical interpretation and not talk about race-- "the elephant" that is the room? To avoid critical discussions about race in biblical interpretation is to be complicit in a racialized status quo, for the end goal of biblical interpretation is contemporary significance. And what could be more significant to us than race and the oppressive houses that race built and maintains (churches, institutions, systems)?

 I offer a few brief recommendations.