In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant claims that he had to deny knowledge to make room for faith through his critical philosophy. In this work, Kant sets out to challenge the metaphysicians who fail to critique pure reason and whose dogmatism he believes wars against morality (Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, in Kant Selections, ed. Lewis White Beck, The Great Philosophers series {New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988}, pp. 103-104). It is not any kind of faith… Read more

A few weeks ago, I was discussing the themes of Occident and Orient, Edward W. Said’s classic study on Orientalism, as well as colonialism, post-colonialism and globalization with a group of friends. A couple of my African colleagues encouraged me to repost the substance of the following entry from my blog at consumingjesus.org. I had made use of this entry titled “Avatar Revisited at Out of Ur” during our discussion. The post that reappears here is a response to a question concerning an article I wrote for Out of Ur regarding Pastor Mark… Read more

Is it okay to privatize public beaches? I listened attentively to NPR the other night to an account of how California is fighting with a billionaire who is trying to halt the public’s access to a remarkable and remote beach. Prior to the billionaire’s purchase of the property, people were coming to Martins Beach for decades. According to California law, all beaches are public from the high-tide mark to the ocean. Martins Beach is hidden from the highway and is… Read more

Conservatives and liberals have often debated whether Jesus is the substitute for our sin or the one who is our representative, identifying with us in our sinful condition. I believe it is not a matter of either/or, but both/and. Jesus alone could bear the burden of taking upon himself the weight of God’s judgment for our sin; none of us can bear the burden for our own broken and sinful condition, let alone the entire world. We would be consumed… Read more

What liturgy shapes your church—a sacred liturgy or a secular one? In asking this question, I call to mind a conversation years ago with a noted Lutheran theologian. We were talking about consumerism and secularism. He remarked in terse terms: “Secularism will either empty the church or secularize the church.” Here is what I believe this theologian had in mind. Churches that retained their traditional Christian symbolism and liturgy have often lost consumers to churches that celebrate such things as Super Bowl Sunday. Both forms… Read more

How moral is religion? Not very—to put it lightly, if one’s perspective parallels Christopher Hitchens’ stance in God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Organized religion has certainly received its fair or unfair share of criticisms since the Enlightenment period. Some Enlightenment thinkers wrote of the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages filled with superstition and oppression, themes brought home in the movie, The Name of the Rose. While the church and state’s alignment in the Holy Roman Empire was certainly not always holy… Read more

There are many things that money can buy, but can it buy justice? I thought of this question as I was reading What Money Can’t Buy: the Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel. When we think that something can be bought and sold, we end up treating it like a commodity. We must guard against turning justice into a commodity: we cannot buy justice or pay for it; the only way to guard against turning justice into a… Read more

Casual sex can refer to one night stands and non-relational sex, where there are no strings attached. How often do people approach God in similarly casual ways? Biblical prophets write of how God’s people often play the harlot (See Ezekiel 16, for example). The problem becomes so bad that God tells Hosea to take for himself a prostitute as a wife. Their marriage involving her various adulteries and Hosea’s faithfulness in the midst of her infidelities symbolizes God’s relationship with… Read more

I originally posted this piece on February 1st, 2012. In preparing to teach on the subject of Trinitarian communion and its import for ecclesiology this semester,  I reflected upon these themes again and considered them pertinent in the present context. There is a great deal of talk about production and consumption in American society today. Such talk is found inside the American church as well. In fact, a noted pastor has called on men to be real men by moving from being consumers to being producers. Whether we… Read more

Is religion a private affair best kept to very quiet times in prayer closets, or should religion and the imperatives of the gospel impact every sphere of life in a public way? In my reading of Immanuel Kant’s “What Is Enlightenment?” he privatizes religion, or at least the church. The scholar of religion is to stick to the script and not critique religious symbols in his or her private duties, which entails his work as an ordained minister of the… Read more

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