Here’s Alan Hirsch explaining why he thinks that the church has to be both missional and incarnational.
- iMonk has begun what looks like a very interesting series on spiritual formation. They started with a reflection on J.I. Packer’s Knowing God and followed up today with some comments on what “spiritual formation” means.
- Richard Beck uses some principles from statistical analysis to comment on the two kinds of errors we can make when saying who is/isn’t going to hell, and which kind he thinks we should lean toward.
- Brian Fulthorp has had an interesting discussion on confusing interpretation of the Bible with the Bible itself.
- James McGrath reviews Dale Allison’s forthcoming book, Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History. He also points out the new Big Tent Christianity ebook.
- NYT had an interesting article last week, “Fibbing with Numbers,” discussing Charles Seife’s Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception.
- Here’s a slide show from HuffPo explaining how unnecessary quotations marks are infecting the nation.
- And, here’s a slideshow of 23 impressive science fiction LEGO creations. Some people have a lot of time on their hands.
I’ve been out of town for a while, so I haven’t posted many links in the last couple of days. Here are some of the more interesting ones, just in case you missed them.
- Phillip Clayton discusses “Big Tent Christianity” (aka emerging church).
- Sheffield Biblical Studies has started a new blog. (HT)
- William Black discusses the Trinity in evangelical and Orthodox thought.
- The most recent 9Marks ejournal focuses on Hell: Remembering the Awful Reality.
- Brian offered a nice roundup of links on the controversy between Al Mohler and BioLogos.
- Michael Patton deals with the professional weaker Christian.
- Nick explains (again) why he thinks perichoresis has nothing to do with dancing.
- James McGrath offers a nice set of links dealing with online scholarship.
- And, here’s a reading list for new science fictions readers.
- iMonk has a great piece on why he’s never read Brian McLaren. The discussion that follows is somewhat interesting as people weigh in on whether he should.
- Brian LePort has an interesting post on the issue of Glossolalia in Public.
- Joe Carter comments on gimmicky preaching.
- Carl Trueman comments on the virtues of wasting time.
- Kevin DeYoung is working his way through a 3-part series on the “Ministry of Rebuke” (part 1 and part 2).
- Tim Challies follows up yesterday’s post on 5 Reasons that Books are Better than E-Books with a somewhat lackluster post on 5 Reasons that E-Books are Better than Books.
- CT interviews Anne Rice about her recent decision to leave the church and just be a “Christ follower.”
- And, for your Wednesday morning enjoyment, here’s a zombie apocalypse quiz that tries to determine how likely it is that you will survive the day of zombie judgment.
- iMonk has begun an interesting series on three key streams in the new evangelical coalition: the ancient-future movement, the emerging/emergent movement, and the revival of Calvinism. (Sadly, I don’t seem to fit particularly well into any of these. does that mean that I’m not part of the new coalition?) And, they started things off with an initial post on the emerging/emergent movement.
- Roger Olson discusses what it means to be a “postconservative” evangelical.
- James K.A. Smith and Russell Moore both offers some reflections on the passing of Clark Pinnock.
- Shawn Young discusses the future of contemporary Christian music.
- Huffpo discusses the important role that Moses has played in the American conscience.
- Here’s an interesting article from Salon.com arguing that the hubbub surrounding ground zero mosque can be traced back to the efforts of conservative blogger Pamela Geller.
- And, apparently there’s a chance that Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo was based on a real person.
In an interesting video interview, Scot McKnight tries to pin Brian McLaren down and get him to just say what he believes about several key issues. As McKnight points out, a frustrating theological ambiguity pervades most of McLaren’s writing: “Some of us detect a provocative ambiguity while others wonder if there is not deliberate refusal to clarify your views.” So, he tries to get McLaren to offer clear responses to the following three questions (the questions are a bit longer, but I pared them down to their main point):
- Why not just come out and tell people what you believe?
- Are you really orthodox?
- Are you a universalist?
McLaren’s answer to the first question was his best answer. He thinks people find the ambiguity frustrating because they are heresy hunters and just want to see if he agrees with their checklist of theological truths. This is unfortunately true much of the time. And, he points out that ambiguity and misdirection can be powerful literary devices, and can cause people to think more deeply about issues than a straightforward presentation would. Of course, this doesn’t explain why he can’t seem to be clear no matter what he’s writing, but it was a good point nonetheless.
His second answer was frustratingly evasive. He affirms the “faith” of the early church (e.g. their attitude of dependence, humility, worship), but rejects “the Greco-Roman narrative,” which he thinks repeatedly (though not necessarily) leads to oppression and violence. He sees himself as exploring ways of articulating Christianity in new cultural contexts by exploring alternative theological narratives in the tradition of Patrick, Francis of Assisi, the Anabaptists, the social Gospel movement, and the liberation/feminist theologians. But, he offers absolutely no help in understanding the content of these other narratives and how they relate to the content of the Greco-Roman narrative. Presumably he wouldn’t continue to use Chalcedonian language to describe the incarnation. Fine. What language would he use? And how does the conceptual framework inherent in that language relate to the conceptual framework operating at Chalcedon? He still doesn’t say.
His answer to the third question was just annoying. He basically rejects the question. He affirms that there is an afterlife, but he argues that the question presumes an us/them and in/out mentality that he rejects. And, he contends that the Bible is far more concerned about God’s will being done on earth than on whether people go to hell. And, I’d actually agree with him on both of these points. But, none of that means that the question doesn’t make sense (which he claims). If we are alive now and if we will be alive in the future (whatever this future life looks like), then it is perfectly legitimate to ask about the nature of that existence. And, even though people going to Hell is not a dominant theme in the Bible, it is a theme. McLaren basically just uses some shifty language to dodge the question…again.
So, despite McKnight’s attempts to pin him down, McLaren continues to dodge important questions. I agree with him completely that people should not focus on these theological issues to the neglect of the important social problems that he mentions. But, this should not be an either/or. You can engage a broken world with mercy and compassion, while still speaking clearly about what you believe. At least I think I can. Apparently McLaren can’t.
Here’s the whole interview.