The “War on Christmas” and Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Jeremy Bouma on 8 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,,.

near_christianityMy wife and I visited our local Costco this weekend to get a good deal on a vacuum, only to be greeted by rows of fake LED-lighted Christmas trees, a life-size nutcracker, and a giant wire reindeer. Apparently the Christmas season began October 1st this year! Which makes Anthony Le Donne’s new book especially timely.

In Near Christianity, Le Donne offers us an important primer on Jewish-Christian dialogue. He takes us to the borders of the faith to help us understand and sympathize with those who remain “near Christianity.” Perhaps there’s no better time to consider this nearness than the season from Black Friday to Christmas Day.

In a chapter highlighting the dynamics at work between Christians and religious minorities during Advent, Le Donne asks us to consider…

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5 Reasons to Ask “Is the Reformation Finished?”

Jeremy Bouma on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,,,.

Reformation: From the latin reformatio; “the enterprise of repairing an inadequate state of affairs by returning to an earlier expression of faith.” (18)

9780310527930Next year, on October 31, 2017, many will celebrate the monumental five-hundred-year anniversary of when an unsuspecting monk posted a list of grievances on the door of a nondescript church in Germany—launching what would become known as the Protestant Reformation.

But is such a repairing enterprise finished; is the Reformation over?

Theologian Gregg Allison and pastor Chris Castaldo have set out to answer that question in their new book The Unfinished Reformation. It is a brief, clear guide to the key points of unity and divergence between Protestants and Catholics today. They write to encourage fruitful conversation about the…

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Four Lessons Learned From Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Jeremy Bouma on 9 months ago.

near_christianityIn his brilliant primer on the Christian faith, C.S. Lewis set out to distill the essence of Christianity down to its mereness. His celebrated apologetic, Mere Christianity, was an outsider’s guide to the inside of the faith.

But what about Christianity’s nearness? What does the Christian faith look like from the borders, near the periphery of the faith? That’s what Anthony Le Donne sets out to answer in his new book Near Christianity. It examine “ancient, storied, tragic, and often misunderstood borders—the complicated and shifting borders shared by Jews and Christians.” (17)

Le Donne maps a number of seemingly peripheral topics—the so-called “war on Christmas,” Christian complicity in violence,  anti-Judaism and philo-judaism—revealing how they are more central to Christianity than we may…

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Did Jesus Claim to Be God? Muslims Say “No”

Jeremy Bouma on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

ngb1In No God but One: Allah or Jesus?, Nabeel Qureshi investigates the evidence for Islam and Christianity as a former Muslim. One of the most important parts to his investigation is his engagement with the widest point of divergence between the two religions: the person of Jesus.

“At no point is the schism between Christian and Islamic theologies broader than on the person of Jesus” (213) Qureshi reveals.

Answering his question about not only Jesus’ divinity, but his claim to be God, was a crucial one for his journey from seeking Allah to finding Jesus. “All other differences between Muslims and Christians were secondary to me, far less important than this most significant matter.” (213)

Below we explore this surprising claim by Muslims, that Jesus never claimed to be God,…

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Do You Know These 7 Differences Between the Bible and Quran?

Jeremy Bouma on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

ngb1Nearly every religion has their sacred text. But not every text is equal in nature, composition, transmission, and use. Nabeel Qureshi makes that incredibly clear in his highly anticipated book investigating the evidence for Islam and Christianity, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?.

In a thought-provoking, revealing comparison between the Quran and the Bible, Qureshi exposes seven important differences between these sacred texts. “Both scriptures are considered holy to their people, certainly, but their uses are different, their histories are different, and indeed, their very natures are understood differently.” (104)

1) The Quran Is the Jewel of Islam

In 2011, the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor incited violence, even though a few years prior the US Government incinerated a…

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How Do Islam and Christianity Define Our Problem and Solution?

Jeremy Bouma on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

ngb1Earlier this year my family moved to a diverse neighborhood in the suburbs of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The next day, we discovered we moved next to a Muslim family. Perhaps you would have done what I did: prayed for opportunities to show them Christ’s love; and wondered how to navigate a conversation about the differences of our faith if a door opened. Thankfully, we have a new book to guide those conversations.

In No God but One, the highly anticipated follow-up book to his New York Times bestselling spiritual memoir Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi addresses the most important questions at the interface of Islam and Christianity: How do the two religions differ? Can we be confident that either are true? And most important, is the truth worth dying for?

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Should Christians Defend Jesus’ Virgin Birth?

Jeremy Bouma on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

9780310520924_image“The notion that Jesus was born to a young Galilean girl who was still a virgin has proven to be one of the most objectionable and mocked beliefs of the Christian faith” (99), Michael Bird contends in his new book What Christians Ought to Believe.

Even a Christian pastor once suggested that it should make no difference to our faith if archaeologists found definitive, biological, DNA proof that Jesus had an earthly father named Larry.

“And yet,” Bird continues, “there it is right in front of us, right there in the Apostles’ Creed, to be confessed by Christians as part of our holy faith.” (99)

What are we to make of this stanza from our creed: “[Jesus] was conceived by the power of the Holy…

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5 Things I Learned About Kierkegaard’s Work from Stephen Backhouse

Jeremy Bouma on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

9780310520887_image“Whatever your take on modern life, there are two things that can be said about [Søren] Kierkegaard: his influence on our various modes of thought is widespread, and the exact nature of that influence is difficult to articulate.” (12)

Part of the task in Stephen Backhouse’s new biography on this enigmatic figure, Kierkegaard: A Single Life, is to make sense of this influence. He accomplishes this magically through a nearly-one-hundred page overview of his works. He also does so by chronicling his work through vivid portraits of his major life moments.

Through prose so compelling it often reads like a novel, I learned five things about the style and substance of Kierkegaard’s work and influence.

1) His Work Marinated

A striking aspect of Kierkegaard’s work is that much of it sat…

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5 Things I Learned About Kierkegaard’s Life from Stephen Backhouse

Jeremy Bouma on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

9780310520887_imageI hate to admit it, but not only did I skimp on Kierkegaard during my ThM in historical theology, Robert Bretall’s anthology of Kierkegaard’s works about did me in. Thankfully, I’m not alone in my struggle to grasp and appreciate the man and his ideas.

In his new book Kierkegaard: A Single Life Stephen Backhouse says, “It is not just theologians who find the influence of Kierkegaard hovering behind much of their work, only to find the life and thought of the man himself hard to get to know” (11)

Backhouse was spurred to write this book after a learned friend said the Kierkegaard he met in a book on his life and thought “seemed dense, distant, and unappealing.” (11) So he wanted to introduce this towering cultural influence in prose so compelling…

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Who Has God Made You to Be? Visually Explore a Theology of Vocation

Jeremy Bouma on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

9780310520436_2How do you discover who God has made you to be, what gifts and skills he’s given you, and what responsibilities he’s entrusted to you?

Tim Challies and Josh Byers are here to help.

In their new book Visual Theology, they plumb the depths of a theology of vocation in a way that’s both engaging and informative to help believers live out “whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” (1 Corinthians 7:17)

Below we’ve briefly engaged their four aspects of vocation to provide insight into our probing questions about calling. Here’s what you’ll discover:

What we do is closely related to who we are. And as a Christian, you are responsible to give all of who…

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Karl Barth on Mind, Body, and a Christological Anthropology

Jeremy Bouma on 11 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

9780310516415What does it mean to be human?

Two theories have generally explained our ontological construction: one argues we are dually composed of separate “body” and “soul” pieces; the other says the person is strictly a material unity. Theologians of all stripes have offered similar theories, yet one stands above the fold given his decidedly christological orientation.

“Few thinkers in the history of the church have pursued a christological anthropology with greater rigor than displayed in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics,” Marc Cortez explains in his new book Christological Anthropology in Historical Perspective. “Barth demonstrates how this christological orientation reshapes how we understand specific issues like relationality, ontology, and temporality.” (141)

In his approach to the body/mind relationship, Barth argued they “can only be rightly understood from…

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What Does it Mean to “Believe”? Here are 5 Aspects of Christian Faith

Jeremy Bouma on 11 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

9780310520924_image“I believe…”

That’s how one of the most important creeds of Christ’s Church begins. And it’s no surprise that it does. Because as Michael Bird explains in his new book What Christians Ought to Believe, not only is “the Christian life a story of faith: of coming to faith, of keeping the faith, and of finishing the faith.” (43) Life itself is a life of faith:

Faith, believe, trust and hope—whatever you like—these emerge from a deeply human experience full of dualities; experiences of life and loss, fidelity and failures, joy and grief, as well as trust and betrayal…The reality is that faith is an inalienable feature of human existence. (44)

What this opening salvo of our cornerstone creed is inviting those who recite…

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