Extracurricular Activities 6.27.15 — Racial Heresy, Hengel’s ‘Crucifixion,’ and Book of Mormon History
Among Christians, the word heresy must be used with care and precision. Not every doctrinal error is a heresy, though all doctrinal error is to be avoided. A heresy is the denial or corruption of a Christian doctrine that is central to the faith and essential to the gospel. The late theologian Harold O. J. Brown defined heresy as a doctrinal error “so important that those who believe it, who the church calls heretics, must be considered to have abandoned the faith.”
Today, we just recognize and condemn another heresy that has reared its ugly head in recent days, and murderously so. The killing of nine worshippers gathered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina is a hideous demonstration of the deadly power of this heresy. The…
Extracurricular Activities 6.20.15 — Charleston, Endangered Biblical Studies, and Scared New Atheists
A horrible tragedy occurred earlier this week, when a young white male walked into Emanuel A.M.E. church in historic Charleston, South Carolina, and killed nine congregation members. Unfortunately, many common responses to the massacre threaten to undermine efforts to seek real, substantive justice.
This week the nation reels over the murder of praying Christians in an historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. At the same time, one of the issues hurting many is the Confederate Battle Flag flying at full-mast from the South Carolina Capitol grounds even in the aftermath of this racist act of violence on innocent people. This raises the question of what we as Christians ought to think about the Confederate…
Extracurricular Activities 6.13.15 — Old Testament Trinity, Atheism Theology, & Waning Denominations
A few months ago I gave a lecture for Torrey Honors Instituteundergrads on discerning the Trinity in the Old Testament, sharing some ideas about how to succeed at that hermeneutical task. I consider it a difficult task because I don’t think the doctrine of the Trinity was revealed before the coming of the incarnate Son and the outpoured Spirit, and I take a fairly Augustinian line on the theophanies of the old covenant (i.e. not trinitophanies –here, help yourself to a non-word for a non-thing). But I do believe that, given the revelation of the trinitarian persons through their being sent in the new covenant, they can be retroactively discerned in the text of the Old Testament.
Extracurricular Activities 6.6.15 —American Baptists, 1 Enoch, and Stage Two Exile
The malestrom — the ways in which the fall impacts the male of the human species, causing man to lose himself, his identity and purpose as a man, and above all to lose sight of God’s original vision for his sons — poses one of the most serious historic challenges to the gospel.
Does the gospel have anything better to offer men than a kinder, gentler patriarchy? Is the gospel able to fill the manhood void with an indestructible identity and calling that cover the entire cultural spectrum and the complete lifespan of a man’s life — no matter how long or how short that may be or how his story plays out?
Extracurricular Activities 5.30.15 — American & Australian Christianity, Dante, and Virtual Reality
We hear a lot these days about America being “post-Christian.” This sort of language has accelerated in recent weeks, with the Pew Center survey demonstrating a spike in the numbers of Americans who claim no religious affiliation. I’ve discussed the survey elsewhere, and have addressed the larger trends for years, but what about this language of a post-Christian America? Is this true?
I was in Australia recently, on a bit of a tour, working with several schools and organizations, including Christian Media Australia, Ridley College, St. Phillips York Street Anglican, Mentone Baptist Church, The Geneva Push, Moore Theological College, and
Extracurricular Activities 5.23.15 — NT Hymns, The Nones, & Locating Heaven
As illustrated in the recent articles I’ve reported on in earlier postings, scholars continue to approach the question of “hymns/odes” in the NT in what I regard as a curious fashion. They often first turn to “pagan” examples of hymns and formulate characteristics of Greek “pagan” hymns and poetry as a basis then for assessing putative hymnic material in the NT. This I find open to questions for a few reasons, and I’d think a more inductive approach more sensible.
I spent the first half of last week at a seminar at an Ivy League divinity school, where a friend and I gave a presentation on ministry and media. I had resolved before speaking that I would refer…
Extracurricular Activities 5.16.15 — Pew Religious Research, Stetzer Responds, & Enns on Adam
Starting today and running through July 17 there is an open call for papers for the 2016 Los Angeles Theology Conference. The conference this year (to be held in mid January at Fuller Seminary) has the title “The Voice of God in the Text of Scripture,” and our plenary speakers will be William Abraham, John Goldingay, Richard Hays, Amy Plantinga Pauw, and Daniel Treier.
Those five speakers already guarantee a worthwhile conference, but as in previous years, Oliver Crisp and I are hoping to select nine more presentations to enrich the schedule even more.
As the call says, we are seeking “theologically constructive accounts of Scripture, describing how God is said to speak by means of the…
Extracurricular Activities 5.9.15 — Brooks’s Soul, Pope’s Book Recommendation, & John’s Ending
David Brooks wants you to be in a Bible study. You’ll get more out of it than you would at a dinner party, he says, if you find places where you can talk about pain and suffering. In preparation for his new book, “The Road to Character,” the New York Times columnist read many religious authors, including early Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo. “I now consider Augustine the smartest human being I’ve ever encountered in any form,” he says. Brooks, who is Jewish, has admiration for many Christian authors, but he also explains how he struggles with theological tensions with Christianity. This interview has been edited for length.
A recent journal article offers a new reason for reconsidering…
Extracurricular Activities 5.2.15 — Supreme Court Arguments, Jesus and Cynics, & Syrian Christians
This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether the U.S. Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. It was an historic day. While no side can predict how the Court will rule, all evidence suggests the justices remain deeply divided on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Below are the top ten most important questions that Supreme Court justices asked lawyers from each side of the cae. We’ve provided brief answers to these questions in hopes of helping Christians think through marriage’s importance to the common good. [Note: These questions are summarized and not exact quotations from the justices.]
Michael Lindsay, the president of Gordon College, spoke this morning to…
Extracurricular Activities 4.24.15 — Joseph Typology, Pope Francis, & George Whitfield
“It sure seems that the story of Joseph is a typological foreshadowing of the life of Jesus,” mused Peter Leithart recently, and I have to agree. It sure seems so! Leithart went on, in his post, to describe the kind of mental abstraction required to read the Joseph story that way; a “Proppian structural move that captures a common morphology” [had to look up “Proppian!“]
There’s a reason Leithart needed to spend some time theorizing about how to make the case. The peculiar and stubborn fact is that the New Testament never invokes the Joseph story as something fulfilled or figured out in the life of Jesus. So preachers who want to make Christological hay with Joseph have to do it on their own, without explicit scriptural warrant.
Extracurricular Activities 4.18.15 — Exodus Evidence, Jefferson’s Jesus, and Clinton’s Faith
Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article (by Joshua Berman) suggesting the biblical exodus might have its root in an historical event. This isn’t exactly new, but what interested me was the primary reason given— the biblical text seems to be appropriating some Ramesses II propaganda (discovered early in the 20th century) to make a theological point.
Berman writes, “Both written accounts, hieroglpyhic in the case of the Kadesh inscriptions, Hebrew in the case of Exous chapters 14-15, follow a similar plot, sometimes line for line, and feature a sequence of motifs seen nowhere else in battle accounts of the ancient Near East.”
He then gives the following examples:
I recently had opportunity to…
Extracurricular Activities 4.11.15 — Economic Discrimination, Conversion, & Jesus’ Sabbath Rest
Why should big businesses like Apple, Angie’s List, or Salesforce be able to discriminate against an entire state like Indiana, while Christian small-business owners cannot likewise decide who they want to do business with? If Apple can boycott Indiana, why can’t evangelicals boycott same-sex weddings?
Recently, many friends have shared a blog Bake for them two. The post seems to have struck a chord with folks from across the theological and political spectrum. According to the blog’s homepage, it has garnered over 300,000 views since April 1. The author, Jessica Kantrowitz, admits that she does not consider gay marriage immoral, but aims her words at Christians whose understanding conforms to orthodox biblical teaching on the subject. Invoking primarily…