July 12, 2018

You are my witnesses, the Lord tells Israel. You will be my witnesses, Jesus tells the apostles before His ascension. All Christians are witnesses, “martyrs” in the original sense of the word. All Christians are also called to be “martyrs” in the more developed sense: We are all called to witness to Jesus by your life and words, no matter what the cost, no matter what the threat or danger. Few of us will suffer martyrdom in this developed sense…. Read more

July 11, 2018

Brian Stanley (Christianity in the Twentieth Century) is aware that the “Bible is the fountainhead of all Christian traditions,” perennially central to the church’s life. But he suggests that “the twentieth century may have a better claim than any other to be labeled the century of the Bible” (9). He elaborates: “In the course of the century more peoples received the Scriptures in their own language than in any preceding century. As they did so, biblical narratives and the stories… Read more

July 10, 2018

Modern epistemology operates, Charles Taylor argues (A Secular Age); he covers some of the same ground in Retrieving Realism), within a “closed world system” (CWS). CWS describes the various “ways of restricting our grasp of things which are not recognized as such” (551). When one operates within a CWS, his “thinking is clouded or cramped by a powerful picture which prevents one seeing important aspects of reality.” For those within the system, the perspective seems natural and obvious. But that… Read more

July 9, 2018

The horsemen who are summoned by the living creatures in Revelation 6 are known as “horsemen of the Apocalypse.” This is what they are, technically, since they are horsemen and they appear in a book called “the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ.” But usually that phrase implies something more: these horsemen, who represent horrors like war, famine, and death, represent a series of signs that will occur just before the end of the world. When you see the horsemen ride out,… Read more

July 6, 2018

Andrzej Toczyski’s The “Geometrics” of the Rahab Story offers an insightful, multi-layered close reading of Joshua 2. His syntactical analysis of the chapter examines the features of the text that steer the reader’s involvement in the story. His aim is to show how Joshua has been and is a “vehicle of literary communication.” The book includes detailed discussions of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern readings of the chapter, as well as Toczyski’s own discussion. He devotes a section of his own reading to… Read more

July 5, 2018

David Goldman is a conservative and a patriot, and is not given to hyperbole. But he describes the current US attitude toward Chinas a “xenophobic” and “ugly,” and accuses fellow conservative Victor Davis Hanson of “crazy talk” about China. In response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, “Chinese officials are warning that they are prepared not only for trade war, but for financial, diplomatic and limited military confrontation with the United States, in response to American demands for fundamental changes… Read more

July 3, 2018

Haley Goranson Jacob’s Conformed to the Image of His Son is an exploration of Paul’s theology of glory. Jacob’s focus is on the meaning of the phrase in her title, drawn from Romans 8. She finds the several common interpretations of the phrase wanting: Conformity to the Son isn’t physical conformity to His resurrection body, not simply moral conformity, not merely sharing in His eschatological radiance, not sharing in His sufferings. Jacob instead develops and defends a “functional” understanding of the… Read more

July 2, 2018

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed, Charles Taylor argues, the development of the “nova.” At that time, “the alternatives open to unbelief are multiplied and enriched.” After World War II, these options are diffused to the whole of Western societies, and this produces a “super-nova” (A Secular Age, 377). These options arose out of the “cross pressure” that is inherent in Western culture after the Enlightenment. On the one hand, the notion of an impersonal, mathematical order to… Read more

June 28, 2018

In his contribution to The Future of Hope, John Milbank offers a description of postmodernity and suggests ways for the church to respond. Postmodernism may be a thing of the past; we’re supposed to be in post-postmodernity nowadays. Still, much of what Milbank describes is still with us, and some of it is more intensely with us than when Milbank wrote. In the “postmodern times in which we live, there is no longer any easy distinction to be made between… Read more

June 27, 2018

The Third Word assumes that we carry the Lord’s name. What it prohibits is bearing, carrying, or lifting that name “in vain” or “emptily.” The word can mean “false,” and bearing the name “falsely” is one of the sins that the Lord prohibits here. That does involve speech. This phrasing is used in various places in the Old Testament to describe false oaths. When we swear in the name of the Lord, we call the Lord as a witness to… Read more

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