August 30, 2018

President Trump started calling his Attorney General Jeff Sessions “beleaguered” months ago. Now it’s actually true. Trump made it true. Republican leaders are plotting with Trump to replace Sessions after the mid-term elections. Jerry Falwell, Jr., has raised questions about the sincerity of Sessions’s commitment to Trump’s agenda. “He’s not on the President’s team,” Falwell says. Sessions, a long-time Alabama Senator, can’t depend on support back home any more. The Alabama Congressional delegation has stopped defending him. Trump and everyone… Read more

August 29, 2018

News reports of the recent revelations about the sex scandals in the Catholic church still claim that the crisis is about “pedophilia.” It’s not, as Philip Jenkins pointed out more than twenty years ago (Pedophiles and Priests). The alliterative “pedophile priests” is rhetorically punchy but, Jenkins argued, misleading: “Both the words in question are open to controversy because they place a special construction upon the behavior: taken as a whole, the term makes the problem more serious, more dangerous, and… Read more

August 28, 2018

My wife recently hung a small painting in the master bathroom. I bought the painting some years ago during a trip to Florida. In slightly impressionistic style, it depicts a rowboat tied to a dilapidated dock. Behind the boat the sea stretches out until it meets the graying sky. When I walk down the steps into my basement, a close-up photo of a tiger’s face greets me, taken by one of my adult children. The tiger keeps a close eye… Read more

August 27, 2018

“The First Amendment’s religious liberty provisions make no sense except on the supposition that God exists – that such a thing as religious truth exists and that the commands of true religious faith are real and superior to the commands of civil society.” This is the thesis of a 2013 article in the Pepperdine Law Review article by University of St. Thomas law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen. The existence of God is the only plausible foundation for a doctrine of religious… Read more

August 23, 2018

Adam S. Miller begins his editorial introduction to Fleeing the Garden (vii-ix) by observing the confusions that surround the terms “literal” and “figurative” in biblical interpretation: “the word literal often just functions as shorthand for the claim that the text refers to something real. In such cases, the word is used without regard to how something is referenced—the designation of how a text refers being the kind of work the word literal is meant to do—and instead is used to… Read more

August 22, 2018

In her introduction to Ratzinger’s Faith, Tracey Rowland contrasts the emphases of John Paul II and those of Benedict XVI with regard to what each called the “culture of death.” Though neither is a dualist, John Paul focused more on the destruction of bodies while Benedict called attention to the destruction of souls: “John Paul II was focused on practices which completely destroy the human body or at least undermine its dignity through a severance of the good from the… Read more

August 21, 2018

One of the students at the recent Theopolis course on covenant epistemology nailed the theme of the week. It was a week-long re-initiation into childhood, led by an authoritative guide in childlikeness, Esther Meek. Covenant epistemology calls us to be childlike in our unfeigned delight in the world, childlike in our trust in reality, childlike in our vulnerability to what the world brings our way, childlike in our willingness to risk a venture of knowing, childlike in responsiveness, childlike in… Read more

August 20, 2018

Look at the birds. Look at the lilies. Jesus meant what He said: Look, actually look. Look in order to address anxiety about food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities of life. When you look at the birds, you realize that God provides food. When you look at the lilies, you know that God will dress you in glory. Jesus encourages a lesser-to-greater movement of reasoning: If God feeds birds and clothes grass, which are of little value, then He will… Read more

August 16, 2018

Some highlights from this past week’s Theopolis course on “covenant epistemology,” taught by Esther Meek. 1) Using the journey of the Magi as a paradigm of knowing, Esther described knowledge as a venture or adventure, a pilgrimage toward a gift. That is a lovely description that nicely captures much of Esther’s covenant epistemology. It captures the excitement of discovery; the social character of the enterprise of knowing; the fact that knowing involves movement and growth. Unlike many epistemologies, Esther’s focuses… Read more

August 16, 2018

What Esther Meeks calls the “defective epistemic default” of modernity infects and paralyzes biblical interpretation. In this default, knowledge is defined as information. This can only produce puzzlement about the details of the Bible. They aren’t symbols; they aren’t clues; they text isn’t pregnant with meaning. The details are there as mere bits of information. Why, for instance, are we told that Goliath had a bronze helmet and scale armor and bronze greaves on his legs? Why are we told… Read more

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