A Theologian’s Reflections on the Movie “Heaven Is for Real”

A Theologian's Reflections on the Movie "Heaven Is for Real" Either serendipitously or providentially, this coming week my Christian Theology class is studying personal, individual life after death—"heaven" and "hell." After that they/we will study corporate, cosmic eschatology—the future of creation. So, seeing that this week, before class, the movie version of the best-selling book Heaven Is for Real was being released, I asked my students to see it if possible and told them we will … [Read more...]

A Favorite Theologian Revisited: Emil Brunner (Review of Alister McGrath’s Book: Part Two)

A Favorite Theologian Revisited: Emil Brunner (Review of Alister McGrath's Book: Part Two) This is a continuation of a recent blog post about theologian Emil Brunner under the guise of being a review of Alister McGrath's recently published Emil Brunner: A Reappraisal (Wiley Blackwell, 2014). I mean that tongue-in-cheek because I'm aware, as you may be, that my interest in McGrath's book arises from my interest in and love for Emil Brunner's theology and I’m more interested in promoting that … [Read more...]

One Area Where John Piper and I Agree: Subsequence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I grew up Pentecostal and have now been Baptist for, oh, about forty years. The other day I was talking with students (mostly Baptists) about the doctrine and experience of the "second blessing" that grew out of the ministry of John Wesley. Wesley himself never equated entire sanctification ("Christian perfection") with Spirit baptism/infilling of the Holy Spirit, but he clearly did believe in a post-conversion experience of sanctification "in a moment" (preceded by a process and followed by a … [Read more...]

Some Emil Brunner Sayings (from Dogmatics, Vol. I)

Some Emil Brunner Sayings (Quotations Mainly from Dogmatics) These quotes are from Dogmatics I: The Christian Doctrine of God (London: Lutterworth, 1949): "The Dogmatic Theologian who does not find that his work drives him to pray frequently and urgently from his heart: 'God be merciful to me a sinner,' is scarcely fit for his job." (85) "Dogmatics does not consist in constructing a system of Biblical statements, but it is reflection upon revelation, on the basis of the religious … [Read more...]

Favorite Theologian Revisited: Emil Brunner (Review of Alister McGrath’s Book: Part One)

A Favorite Theologian Revisited: Emil Brunner (Review of Alister McGrath's Book: Part One) My heart leaped when I saw the announcement of Alister McGrath's new book Emil Brunner: A Reappraisal (Wiley Blackwell, 2014). Then my heart sank when I saw the price: $83.79 on Amazon! And it's only 246 pages. (The Kindle version is less expensive but still pricey and I knew I had to own the book in hardcover!) Still, I had to buy it. I couldn't even wait to find out if I could get a complimentary copy … [Read more...]

So What’s Left for Theology to Do? Some Musings about Theology’s Future

My previous post was about my perception that there is nothing new in theology; every idea has been proposed and explored. (Of course, I'm not counting totally crackpot ideas, but even those seem to be recycled.) Theology has always had four main tasks. The first two are critical. First, theology examines teachings labeled "Christian" to discern whether they are or aren't. Second, theology categorizes teachings/doctrines into levels of importance: essential, non-essential, opinion … [Read more...]

What’s New in Theology? (Some Musings about Novelty–Or Not)

What's New in Theology? (Some Musings about Novelty—Or Not) One of the curses of getting older and having been in a discipline or profession for many years is having "seen it all before." Sometimes, after about forty years studying and teaching theology, I feel the truth of that saying "Been there; done that; got the tee-shirt!" I'll never forget the day a few years ago when one of my favorite and brightest seminary students came to my office to give me a book. It was the newest and … [Read more...]

Christian Ethics and Capital Punishment: Some Thoughts about Reasons and Arguments

Some Thoughts on Christianity and Capital Punishment 1. The conversations among Christians (and of Christians to the state) become confused because issues are not properly disentangled from each other: * In a context of separation of church and state what does Christian ethics have to do with     the secular state? Can Christians dictate to the secular state Christian ethics when the       society is pluralistic? *Has God given a "sword" (divine right to punish offenders with … [Read more...]

Does God Change?

Does God Change? I don't remember when it happened, but I remember the shock I felt when I first encountered the idea that God cannot change—as an idea I was supposed to believe as an evangelical Christian. It was probably sometime during seminary, but it may have been before in some college religion class. I'm almost certain I never heard it growing up in my evangelical church—except as an expression of God's faithfulness to himself and to us (viz., that God cannot become someone other … [Read more...]

Good Books on the Holy Spirit?

This fall (2014) I will be teaching an elective seminar on the Holy Spirit. I want to make sure I am aware of the best books IN PRINT (that's very important) about the Holy Spirit from a broadly orthodox Christian perspective. What are your suggestions? What do you consider really good books of a theological nature about the Holy Spirit? Here are some conditions: one volume, in print, scholarly but not too technical (roughly seminary level), biblically and theologically based (not based on some … [Read more...]