The latest thing in contemporary Christianity is “radical Christianity.” From the Christian bestseller lists to programs in megachurches, Christians are being told that Jesus was “radical” and that they should give up their “middle class” “mediocrity” and start helping the poor. But how is this different from just liberal mainline Protestantism? And isn’t just another form of works-righteousness? For all the talk of the “demands of the Gospel” (doesn’t that turn the Gospel into Law?), I don’t hear anything about the Gospel. That is, Christ on the Cross atoning for sinners. Some of these teachers are making valid criticisms of typical evangelicalism, it seems to me, but they are slipping into some of the same mistakes, just in a different key. And it also reaches for the spectacular, minimizing ordinary life, a serious “theology of glory” rejection of vocation. (After the jump, read an account from Christianity Today and give me your take on this.) [Read more…]
The NCAA basketball tournament is all set. You may fill out your brackets: 2013 NCAA Tournament Bracket – March Madness Tournament Brackets – ESPN. While a good part of America’s workplaces will be turned into gambling parlors, we will host a simpler pool: What two teams will play for the national championship, and which one will win? [Read more…]
John Gray, author of The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths, is a different kind of atheist. He is friendly to religion, thinks progress is a myth, and is skeptical of humanist ideals like freedom and knowledge.
This should remind us that just as there are different religions and different theologies within a religion, there are different sects of atheists: libertarian atheists, Marxist atheists, scientific determinist atheists, existentialist atheists, humanist atheists, Nietzschean atheists, etc., etc.
So when we meet an atheist, we should ask, “what kind of atheist are you?” Or, “what god do you not believe in?” We Christians might not believe in that kind of god either. In fact, the Romans persecuted Christians on the grounds that they were “atheists”; that is, they did not believe in the gods of the cultural pantheon. [Read more…]
The Washington Post has a front page story saying that the Second Amendment had always been construed to refer to a “collective” right to own firearms on the part of state militias until 2008 when the Supreme Court ruled that it refers to an “individual” right. This change in interpretation, the article contends, was because the NRA nefariously funded legal research that supported its novel position.
I think that argument is absurd. Read the gist of it after the jump. But then I’d like to discuss the “militia” part of the 2nd Amendment. Since the Constitution says that “a well regulated Militia [is] necessary to the security of a free State,” shouldn’t we have a well regulated militia, as opposed to a standing army? [Read more…]
The British theologian and apologist Alister McGrath has written a new biography of C. S. Lewis entitled C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. The Washington Post has given it a rave review written by Michael Dirda, a critic I’ve appreciated for a long time. I’m surprised but glad to see he is a C. S. Lewis fan.
Dirda praises Lewis’s scholarly writings on literary history–generally neglected by his fans but still highly respected in the academic world–and then summarizes McGrath’s take on Lewis. [Read more…]
Daniel Siedell, in the course of discussing the Russian film The Passion of Andrei Rublev (1966), about an icon maker who returns to his craft when he helps a child, makes some important connections between Lent and Vocation. (Notice too how Luther’s doctrine of vocation–with his focus on loving and serving the neighbor–is different from that of other theologies.)
Lent is an observance that reveals our weakness and failure in remarkable ways. Each year we vow to “keep” it better, each year we fail, often in unexpected ways—either in the mounting sense of pride we experience in our self-sufficiency, dedication, and discipline or in the despair that our failures somehow reveal God’s true assessment of us.
And so it is appropriate to consider vocation during this most sensitive time of the year, a time in which are reminded that we are unable to set aside those things that so easily ensnare us, like food, drink, Twitter, and sin. Lent reminds us that the Christian, as Martin Luther says, “lives not in himself, but in Christ and neighbor,” in Christ through faith and in the neighbor through love. Lent reminds us just how much we live in ourselves. And our work is one of the most explicit ways in which we do so. [Read more…]