Who is an evangelical theologian?  Recently there has been much debate about this.  I have heard influential evangelical theologians declare most emphatically that Clark Pinnock (for example) was not an evangelical.  (One publicly declared he was not even a Christian!)  Recently some have questioned whether Brian McLaren is an evangelical.  I know for a fact my own evangelical credentials have been questioned.  As I mentioned earlier here, Carl Henry told me he did not consider Donald Bloesch an evangelical theologian… Read more

Recently the Vatican silenced El Salvadoran liberation theologian Jon Sobrino (as it has others such as Leonardo Boff in the past).  One reason made public is that priests are not supposed to participate in politics.  I can certainly understand such a policy in terms of clergy not campaigning or running for public office.  (The Vatican earlier forced Father John Drinan to resign from the U.S. Congress because of this policy.)  As an advocate of separation of church and state this… Read more

At least one commenter here has accused me of having liberal theological ideas.  Let me say clearly that’s rubbish.  If you are going to accuse someone of having “liberal theology” be sure to mention specific ideas.  Then we have something to talk about.  Merely to cast the epithet without being specific is meaningless.  Today “liberal” can mean almost anything in Christian theology. I’ve been asked “When did you become liberal and begin accepting women’s ordination and women ministers?”  Ha!  That’s… Read more

In his very readable book Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport (2004) Fuller Seminary president Richard M0uw describes limited atonement as his “shelf doctrine.”  In other words, it’s a doctrine he believes in but doesn’t quite know what to do with.  Occasionally he takes it down, dusts it off and thinks about it.  He believes in it, but not enthusiastically. Well, that’s how I interpret what he says. I won’t put words in Mouw’s mouth, but I think in most cases… Read more

Some here and elsewhere have tossed around the word “cult” as if it were not a dangerous label to slap on others.  The fact of the matter is that today it is dangerous.  Calling a group a “cult” is like putting a target on them.  It used to be the case that “cult” designated any seriously aberrant religious group in terms of beliefs.  Thus, in the distant past, evangelical Christians calling certain other religious movements and sects “cults” meant only that… Read more

What is “deconstruction,” anyway?  Well, I’ve been reading a lot about that and it turns out it’s not at all what I had been told.  It’s not “destruction” but rather has a positive agenda–to expose idols for what they are and help institutions and movements (etc.) improve themselves by becoming more open, more just and more flexible. A basic presupposition of deconstruction is that all ideologies are idols because they usurp the place of God (for Christian deconstructionists) and/or claim… Read more

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time with Seventh-day Adventist theologians and students.  Most of the stereotypes I was given about them have been blown away.  That process really began years ago as I followed Walter Martin’s journey from calling them a cult to saying (much to the chagrin of many of his followers) they are not.  I agreed with him then–almost 40 years ago.  In the meantime I have gotten to know some Adventists and interviewed some of… Read more

Just for the record I want to explain as clearly as possible why I am opposing a certain kind of Calvinism and what that Calvinism is that I am opposing. For many years I had no particular bone to pick with Calvinism.  I required my students to read Calvin (as I still do) and Calvinist theologians and invited Calvinists into my classes to explain their theology (as I still do).  Some of my relatives are Calvinists as have been many… Read more

Sometime next year (hopefully) Zondervan will publish a “four views” book on evangelicalism.  Four evangelical theologians will attempt to define “evangelical” and “evangelicalism.”  Among them will be yours truly and Al Mohler.  Each of the authors will write a chapter followed by responses from the other three.  I will make the undisputable point that evangelicalism is a movement and not an organization and therefore cannot have boundaries.  Talk of evangelical boundaries is simply nonsensical.  An organization has boundaries; a movement… Read more

There is no absolute definition of fundamentalism that fits every considered case like a litmus test.  Like many other religious labels “fundamentalism” is an essentially contested concept and an indexical one (i.e., meaning depends on a context).  Historically, however, American Christian fundamentalism is a movement that has undergone two major transitions that have changed its character.  In the beginning (late 19th and early 20th centuries) “fundamentalism” was simply a transdenominational, conservative Protestant attempt to reassert traditional Protestant orthodoxy against the… Read more

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