Confessions of an ex-liberal theologian

Thomas C. Oden is a prominent theologian who formerly was a major practitioner of liberal, modernist theology.  But then, after reading the Church Fathers, he did an about face, turning to orthodox, historical Christianity.  He tells his story in A Change of Heart:  A Personal and Theological Memoir.

This is the most stimulating and illuminating book that I have read in a long time, giving an inside look at the construction of liberal theology, explaining what happened to mainstream Protestantism, and describing in novelistic detail how a prominent scholar came back to an authentic Christian faith.

Reading this book, published a couple of years ago, was an especially strange experience for me because Oden’s background and mine are so similar!  Though he is 20 years older than I am, our experiences have been so similar or at least parallel that reading about them is like reading about my own life.  [Read more…]

The magnitude of human sin

One of my most formative memories is when I was ten years old and the Holocaust administrator Adolf Eichmann was on trial.  The four TV channels covered his trial, as he sat smirking behind a screen of bullet proof glass, and showed a number of documentaries about the Nazi genocide.  Those black and white television images of piles and piles of human bodies, along with the accounts of what happened in the death camps, shook me to my core.  My parents let me watch it, and I’m glad they did.  It showed me in a way I have never forgotten the magnitude of human sin.

The memories came back because Elie Wiesel, the Auschwitz survivor and chronicler of the Nazi genocide, died at the age of 87. [Read more…]

Two kinds of masculinity

Imagine my surprise and my pride in seeing my cousin’s daughter quoted by David Brooks in the New York Times.  Lorien Foote is a Civil War historian at Texas A&M.  She is utterly brilliant and a true expert in her field.  (When she visited us in Virginia, we took a drive through Loudon County, during which time she explained what happened during the war at nearly every turn of the road.)

Anyway, she wrote a much-acclaimed book called The Gentlemen and the Roughs:  Violence, Honor, and Manhood in the Union Army (New York University Press).   David Brooks uses it as a jump-off point to criticize Donald Trump’s treatment of women.  But her book has far more applications than that. [Read more…]

Sample from my new book on vocation

The Acton Institute has put together a sample from my new book Working for Our Neighbor:  A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.  It doesn’t include the new things I get into in this particular publication–much of what is excerpted here is developed in more detail in God at Work–but this gives a summary of Luther’s neighbor-centered ethic and the purpose of every vocation (namely, to love and serve our neighbors). [Read more…]

More on my new book on vocation

Again, I have just published a third book on vocation:   Working for Our Neighbor: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.
I thought I should give you the publisher’s description and some of the blurbs to give you a better idea of what it goes into. [Read more…]

My new book on vocation is out

I have a new book on vocation that has just come out: Working for Our Neighbor: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.

The Acton Institute is interested, among other things, in the interplay between faith, work, and economics.  Towards that end, the think tank has been publishing a series of books looking at those issues from the perspective of various religious traditions.  Acton has published “primers,” really monographs (short books), from the Reformed, Wesleyan, Baptist, and Pentecostal point of view.  They needed someone to write a Lutheran primer on the subject, so they asked me.

Lutheran theology and spirituality has a great deal to say about such things, centering in the doctrine of vocation, which I have been writing about (see this and this).  In researching and writing this book, I got into some other facets of vocation that I hadn’t explored before.   [Read more…]


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