[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Simplicity in Scripture

Fred Sanders on 8 months ago.

Our current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

Moses from Getty german manuscript                 Moses in danger of being distracted by the manifold manifestations of God.

The unity of God is a basic datum of Scripture, and it is something easily unpacked in terms like uniqueness, singularity, and indivisibility. But the doctrine of divine simplicity seems to take a further step. Though it is a doctrine classically confessed by pro-Nicene theologies East and West, simplicity is a much more particular claim. Denying composition in God,…

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

Jeremy Bouma on 8 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 8 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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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Divine Simplicity

Steven J. Duby on 8 months ago. Tagged under ,.

Initial-D--The-Trinity

Our current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

A mainstay of catholic Christian teaching, the doctrine of divine simplicity has recently become a much debated topic in contemporary dogmatics and philosophical theology. Despite its historical importance and constructive fecundity, it is still often misunderstood today and merits careful attention as the relevant literature continues to grow. For many, simplicity remains, in the words of Alvin Plantinga, a “dark saying indeed,”[1] so in this post I aim to offer a brief dogmatic description of divine simplicity and to suggest some of the ways…

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How Do Islam and Christianity Define Our Problem and Solution?

Jeremy Bouma on 8 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 9 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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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Ineffability in Scripture

Fred Sanders on 9 months ago.

psalm 40 from st albans psalter.jpgOur current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see this first post.

It seems odd that the doctrine of divine ineffability should be found among the crucial presuppositions of trinitarian theology. To confess God’s ineffability is to confess that God exceeds, eludes, and finally escapes our statements about him. That confession would seem to be a conversation stopper, or at least an objection preemptive enough to shame any lecturer into quietly filing away his or her notes for a learned discourse on the Trinity. Clever philosophers of religion have even observed that…

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

Jeremy Bouma on 9 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 9 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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What is Historical Theology?

ZA Blog on 9 months ago.

whatishistoricaltheologyWhat is historical theology?

Historical theology is the discipline that studies the interpretation of Scripture and the theological formulation of the church in the past.

In other words, it asks: how has the church in the past interpreted the Bible? How has the church formulated and expressed its theology?

So, think of historical theology as wisdom from the past. It is wisdom about what constitutes the valid interpretation of the Bible and what constitutes sound theology. It’s the theological tradition that guides us.

This is fairly straightforward definition. But it raises some important questions, such as:

What is tradition? How does wisdom from the past relate to the authority of Scripture? If Scripture is primary, then how does tradition guide…

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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Entryways and Ineffability (Part 2)

Michael Allen on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,.

640px-HomiliesOfGregoryNazianzusCod6GregoryOfNazianzusAndPaupers-640x417

Our current series, Pro-Nicene Theology, offers doctrinal and exegetical entries to the key tenets of basic Trinitarian orthodoxy as developed in the early centuries of the church. For introduction to the series, see the first part of this post.

Our entryway to this series should begin where Gregory Nazianzus started his theological orations on God and Christ.[1] In Oration 27, Gregory does not cut right to the issue of deity or number, of unity or essence. Rather, he introduces this cycle of theological homilies by attending to fundamental matters of divine self-revelation and, correspondingly, of human knowledge of the true God. He observes that theology, the knowledge of God, is the greatest need for everyone, for all need…

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[Common Places] Pro-Nicene Theology: Entryways and Ineffability (Part 1)

Michael Allen on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

CPThe doctrine of the Trinity serves as the fundamental lodestar of all Christian belief, the shining center of all Christian truth and the focal point of every instance of our trust and hope. God is. More particularly, God—the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit—is, and in, through, and to this one are all things. What light is shed upon life and being, then, flows forth from this fiery being. It must be admitted, however, that the Trinity has overwhelmed due to the power of its beam. Its very brilliance is the source of its difficulty. Theologians from Anselm to Sonderegger have reminded us that the divine mystery is not owing to a lack of revelation but a preponderance of it. This the hymn-writer attested so…

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