The Religion-Gospel Dichotomy

TIm Keller Karl Barth gospel religion dichotomy

I've often resisted writing about this, because what can be written about Karl Barth's religion-Gospel dichotomy other than the obvious?Namely, that like all dichotomies based on semantics, it is inherently vacuous?Namely, that while it's already ridiculous to, in any but the most cursory way, lump together arguably the most profound, the most complex, the most variegated, the richest set of human experiences and cultural institutions under the label "religion", it is ridiculous-squared t … [Read more...]

How To Rebuild Your Life In One Simple Step


Dogmatic theology is a funny thing. I assume most people who even know what the phrase refers to think of it as, if not just boring, then certainly theoretical, abstract, and removed from the concerns of daily life. Nothing could be further from the truth.Take the venerable Patristic and Scholastic doctrine that God is not ens summum, but ipsum esse subsistens, not the highest kind of being there is, but the sheer act of "to be" itself. The mystery of existence is the most profound there is i … [Read more...]

Pope Francis Should Institute A Year of Confession


It's too bad that the great expression associated with the Holy Father, "the Pope of Mercy" (I believe John Allen coined it), has become polluted by the ecclesiastical politics surrounding the Synod of the Family. The Pope is absolutely right: what Christians need right now is an avalanche of mercy (which, as the Pope is well aware, is not the same thing as cheap grace).I'm prompted by his excellent decision to make today a worldwide day of confession to write about an idea that's been going … [Read more...]

The Death Penalty, The Catechism, The Living God


As you may have heard, America's national Catholic newspapers united in publishing anti-death penalty editorials. They were joined in this by Patheos Catholic.The excellent canon law blogger Edward Peters is not happy, both on form and substance. On substance, he notes correctly that Catholic doctrine always has, and still does, accept the death penalty in certain circumstances. He notes that the Catechism's stance that in the modern age there are practically almost no circumstances where … [Read more...]

Moral Realism Is A Thing


An op-ed in the New York Times fretting that Common Core is teaching kids that there are no moral facts has generated a bit of discussion. A Common Core poster says there are only "facts" (in the sense of "brute facts") and "opinions." My friend Noah Millman says that we shouldn't fret, and uses a second-grade moral example to illustrate his point. But in doing so he merely repeats the confusion that is being fretted about.Here is Noah's example: Eddie takes Billy’s cookie without pe … [Read more...]