- Halden posts some great thoughts about ecumenical dialog, particularly with Anabaptist traditions, and a kind of naive theological “give and take” that often shapes such dialog.
- Don Carson’s series on “The God Who Is There” is now available for download in both audio and video formats. According to the website, “The series is geared toward “seekers” and articulates Christianity in a way that causes hearers either to reject or embrace the gospel. It’s one thing to know the Bible’s storyline, but it’s another to know one’s role in God’s ongoing story of redemption.”
- Joe Lunceford discusses what he thinks are some key ways that “fundamentalists” distort scripture when discussing gender roles.
- Mike Bird discusses the way that justification by faith undercuts racism. (That, by the way, would have been a much better title than his “Justification by faith and racism.” I sure hope we’re not justified by racism.)
- Scott Bailey points out that you can download a .pdf of Emmanuel Tov’s Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts found in the Judean Desert (STDJ 54; Leiden: Brill, 2004) here.
- This year’s Booker prize longlist has been announced.
- And, if you want to understand more about the WikiLeaks controversy, Jon Stewart offers his usual trenchant analysis.
- ERB offers its picks for Top 10 Books of the First Half of the Year. And Patheos has asked several professors and authors to list the books that have changed their life. (HT Parchment and Pen)
- Richard Beck asks if there’s a difference between “conversation” and “discussion.” Specifically, he’s questioning whether you should call it a conversation if you have no intention of changing your position.
- Liberty University has released a statement summarizing its conclusions regarding the Ergun Caner affair. Apparently they’ve determined that they he did make “factual statements that are self-contradictory.” In other words, it sounds like they’re saying that they don’t think he lied, but they do think he was pretty careless with the truth. So, they’ve demoted him, but he will stay on as a professor
- Phil Sumpter is continuing his discussion of biblical scholarship by offering a exegesis of the plague narratives as an example of how faith and scholarship might be held together.
- What do you think the following claim: “Among the healthy and growing churches in America today, they have already gone multi-site, are planning on going multi-site or are thinking about it, said a church strategist”? It would seem that the converse would imply that if you’re not multi-site and not thinking about it, you are clearly a growing and healthy church. If you thought otherwise, then I’m sorry to disillusion you.
- And, in a startling discovery, it has now been confirmed that the iPhone 4 will shatter if you drop it…into a blender.
According to Tillich, the task of theology is to correlate the great questions of any age with the answers provided by the Christian faith. I recently ran across an article at the Guardian that exemplified this approach. According to the author,
Theology is at its best when it works in a triangular relationship with scripture, creation and culture, continuously asking how the texts and traditions of the Christian faith are to be interpreted in the light of the questions of our time.
Bonhoeffer takes a very different approach and offers and important warning about the danger of trying to engage the world through the questions people are asking. There is a role for this, but it has the undeniable drawback of making theological dialog entirely self-centered and limiting the Gospel only to the questions that people are actually asking, or that you can convince them they should be asking. As Bonhoeffer says here, God then becomes the deus ex machina who rescues us by addressing our felt needs.
God is being increasingly pushed out of a world that has come of age…and…since Kant he has been releaged to a realm beyond the world of experience. Theology has…accommodated itself to the development by restricting God to the so-called ultimate questions as a deus ex machina; that means that he becomes the answer to life’s problems, and the solution of its needs and conflicts. So if anyone has no such difficulties, or if he refuses to go into these things, to allow others to pity him, then either he cannot be open to God; or else he must be shown that he is, in fact, deeply involved in such problems, needs, and conflicts, without admitting or knowing it. If that can be done – and existentialist philosophy and psychotherapy have worked out some quite ingenious methods in that direction – then this man can now be claimed for God, and methodism can celebrate its triumph. But if he cannot be brought to see and admit that his hapiness is really an evil, his health sickness, and his vigour despair, the theologian is at his wits’ end. It’s a case of having to do either with a hardened sinner of a particularly ugly type, or with a man of ‘bourgeois complacency’, and the one is as far from salvation as the other.
Bonhoeffer concludes this section by arguing that we shouldn’t make our own questions, frustrations, and brokenness the focus of our theological engagement with the world.
You see, that is the attitude that I am contending against. When Jesus blessed sinners, they were real sinners, but Jesus did not make everyone a sinner first. He called them away from their sin, not into their sin. (Letters & Papers from Prison, p. 341)
Instead, we should call people to focus on Jesus himself. In this way we will point people to the one who is not deus ex machina, but just deus.