Rolling Jubilee: Proclaim Liberty Throughout all the Land


Ezra Klein describes a scene from the documentary The Queen of Versailles: David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, the largest time-share company in the world, is hosting a party. The party is in his huge mansion. But it’s not in his hugest mansion — the 90,000 square foot, still under-construction “Versailles” — which is, at that moment, falling into foreclosure because Siegel can’t keep up on the payments. Siegel, slumped in a ratty armchair, is regaling some friends with a tale … [Read more...]

Obama and the ‘social justice tradition’ of American Christianity

Image via The Niebuhr Society.

CNN's Jeff Blake writes about Barack Obama's faith, locating the president in the "social justice tradition" of American Christianity. "Yes," Scot McKnight writes, "the president fits there." But McKnight also notes that Obama's faith is shaped by the black church experience, and that is not quite the same thing as the white Social Gospel tradition of early 20th-century white liberal Protestants: A theology done from the oppressed and for the oppressed is not the same as a theology … [Read more...]

The meaning of human suffering is not The Meaning of Human Suffering

The Fifth Station: Fire Capt. Chris Fields cradles Baylee Almon on April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Charles Porter.

I started writing this a while back in response to a long, thoughtful, but ultimately misguided post at Bad Catholic on the problem of human suffering ("An Attempt to Explain Christianity to Atheists In a Manner That Might Not Freak Them Out"). Bad Catholic's post is a constructive bit of theologizing, pointing toward profound truths that I wholeheartedly agree with about the incarnation and the crucifixion. I'm totally down with all that Moltmann and Weil stuff. Amen. Preach it brother, as … [Read more...]

Theology & science fiction: A Calvinist dystopia


James McGrath points to Charlie Jane Anders terrifically fun IO9 article "Big Theological Questions That Science Fiction Should Answer." "Science fiction can say things about the nature of the universe, and the Divine, that plain old theological texts just can't," Anders writes, and then interviews five theologians (including McGrath) about topics they'd "like to see science fiction tackle." I am neither a theologian nor a science fiction writer, but these are two of my favorite things. … [Read more...]

Ninevites are not ‘God’s children’

"Jesus loves [some of] the little children, [some of] the children of the world ..."

I just watched the new documentary Hellbound, and I'll have more to say about that film later. For now, though, I just want to highlight one quote from the film. It was given voluntarily -- not captured on a hidden camera or misspoken in response to some ambush "gotcha" question. The quote comes from Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Mich., and a popular blogger at the Gospel Coalition. Filmmaker Kevin Miller asked DeYoung if God loves everyone. … [Read more...]

The evangelical-mainline shell-game

Photo by ForestWander via Wikimedia.

Ellen Painter Dollar extends an invitation to young evangelicals exhausted and frustrated by their community: While I am sympathetic to those who wish to bring reforms, of feminist and other natures, to the evangelical movement, I also want to remind those who are fed up with how women and their voices are welcomed (or not) in evangelical churches, publications, and conversations that there are many churches (that is, movements, denominations, and congregations) where women and other … [Read more...]

Calvinists, Arminians, atheists and other sub-categories of non-Sheilaism


"Does God Play Duck-Duck-Goose?" Richard Beck asks, critiquing the Calvinist doctrine of "double predestination." That's the idea that "before you were even born, God had predestined you to either go to heaven or go to hell." Beck notes that: Double predestination has been roundly criticized, even within Reformed circles. But many people do subscribe to the doctrine. Double predestination is deemed to be a crude bastardization of Reformed theology, but crude bastardizations tend to be pretty … [Read more...]

The Committee will see you now


This photograph of Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr and Henry Pitney Van Dusen (which I've seen credited to Gjon Mili of Time) seemed irresistible to me. Think you can do better. Well, I think you can. I'm sure of it. So here's the template, if you're tempted. … [Read more...]