Theology and Speculation

Theology and SpeculationThe issue here is the legitimacy of speculation in theology. What is speculation? In this context, if not in all contexts, “speculation” is making truth claims without clear warrant—reasonable grounding in relevant data. In theology “relevant data” are revelation/Scripture, tradition, reason (logic) and experience. “Experience” is intersubjective experience, not private experience.Some years ago I came to the conclusion that much Christian theology, truth claims ma … [Read more...]

Calvinism and Evangelism

Calvinism and EvangelismOne of the misconceptions about Calvinism (here meaning belief in T.U.L.I.P. and the eternal decree deciding who will and who will not be saved) is that Calvinists cannot or will not do evangelism. Or, to put it more mildly, that Calvinism undermines evangelism.In all such cases we have to distinguish between two things: the descriptive and the prescriptive. Descriptively, American evangelical Calvinists do evangelism. Some of the greatest evangelists who have … [Read more...]

A Reformed Theologian’s Critique of Divine Determinism

A Reformed Theologian’s Critique of Divine DeterminismHearty thanks go to publishers Wipf & Stock for re-publishing theologian Emil Brunner’s three volume Dogmatics which was originally published in English by Lutterworth Press in England and subsequently by Westminster Press in America. At least a generation of theological students, including yours truly, read Brunner’s Dogmatics in seminary and found it refreshing and (to say the least) illuminating. In my opinion it is unfortunate that … [Read more...]

What I Mean When I Label Someone “Liberal,” “Fundamentalist,” or “Evangelical” (A Quick Course in Prototype Theory)

What I Mean When I Label Someone “Liberal,” “Fundamentalist,” or “Evangelical” (A Quick Course in Prototype Theory)It would be nice if we could just give up labels that libel. Too often, if not most often, these three labels are used to categorize people with the intention of pinning them down like dead butterflies to boards in a collection. Then we express shock if not dismay when they don’t stay pinned down and express some belief that doesn’t quite fit the category we’ve invented.I hav … [Read more...]

A Blast from the Theological Past That’s Still Relevant: Augustus Hopkins Strong’s “Ethical Monism” (“There is but one substance—God.”)

A Blast from the Theological Past That’s Still Relevant: Augustus Hopkins Strong’s “Ethical Monism” (“There is but one substance—God.”)I realize that this blog, like most, does not draw a large audience by delving into dusty, old theological issues. Unfortunately, most religious blog readers are interested only in “what’s happening now” including controversies, personalities, scandals and the latest “big ideas” (that usually turn out to be recycled ones from the past).However, some of my … [Read more...]

Is Privileging Belief in God Justified? The Controversies over AA, the Boy Scouts, and Similar God-Centered Organizations

Is Privileging Belief in God Justified? The Controversies over AA, the Boy Scouts and Similar God-Centered OrganizationsOver the years I have read many columns in newspapers complaining that atheists are unjustly discriminated against when they are excluded by non-church organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and the Boy Scouts. (Strangely I’ve never read such a complaint about Freemasonry which also requires belief in God.) Two specific cases: A few years ago a newspaper published a w … [Read more...]

Must You Believe in the Doctrine of the Trinity to Be a Christian?

Must You Believe in the Doctrine of the Trinity to Be a Christian? Perhaps the most surprising aspect of twentieth century Christian theology was the renaissance of the doctrine of the Trinity. Throughout the nineteenth century (and perhaps before) the doctrine had become dormant. Conservatives took it for granted, deists and liberals tended to deny it or at least put it on the shelf and ignore it. Conservatives thought everything that could be said about it had been said; all that … [Read more...]


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