February 27, 2018

From Roger Olson:

Now, to read a good book on this topic, R. Olson, The Journey of Modern Theology

SMcK: I would some additional elements. First, I see progressivism as a kind of eschatology and thus it packages some major elements of liberalism into a theory of progress. Perhaps, second, as important is this: Progressives tend toward centralization of power, both politically and theologically, though the latter is more nuanced than the former.

Once Roger posted on this and I posted too but then I asked UMC pastor, overall good-guy and died-in-the-wool progressive (but is a progressive so described?), Bo Sanders and he said this in response to Roger’s long-ago post that some progressives have taken over the term liberal:

My contention is that saying progressives are really just liberals who don’t like the ‘L’ word is like saying that athletes and baseball players are really just the same thing. While baseball players are athletes, not all athletes play baseball. It’s an inexact statement. They aren’t exactly the same thing.

There is as big a difference between liberal and progressive as there is between evangelical and emergent. There may be some overlap, but to equate the two is unhelpful.

Here is the most basic definition I can provide – it comes from John Cobb, the greatest living American theologian:

  • Liberal simply means that one’s experience is a valid location for doing theology. [SMcK: I’m not so sure it is accurate to locate liberalism in experience only. Liberalism is tied to Enlightenment and therefore liberalism is modernism, too. Which shifts its basis from experience.]
  • Progressives are liberal folks who have learned from Feminist, Liberation and Post-Colonial critiques. *  [SMcK: this didn’t do much for me then and even less now, but what follows is a bit better.] …

Liberal is simply a constellation of positions and answers to question that were established in the Enlightenment.

Liberal is a settled matter. It has accepted the basic inherited framework to be the as-is structure and conceded the basic ground-rules as given. [SMcK: I just don’t know how one could say it is “settled.” My read of liberal theology and liberal theories about society is that they shift. Still, yes, a response to Enlightenment.]

Progressive on the other hand is to question, to wrestle, and to push. Progressives don’t  necessarily think that all progress is good and certainly don’t think that history is inevitable. …

So even if you just want to say that progressives are aggressive liberals, that would be more accurate. [This is where I’d locate the eschatological element and the activist element. I’d also say that their aggression is connected to power, to how social forces are used to effect change — activism, voting, majority. It seems, too, that “aggressive liberal” proves Roger Olson’s point.]

Liberals concede the rules of game, they just want to pick the better of the provided options. Progressives question the as-is possibilities of the given structures. This causes progressive to engage in critical examination and to re-evaluate both the road ahead and the road that delivered us here.

Now to Roger’s list:

Gradually, however, in my experience (as a Christian theologian for almost forty years now), “progressive Christianity” has by-and-large become a replacement for what used to be called “liberal Protestantism” (although it can be found in some Catholic circles as well).

The first signal (of liberal Protestantism disguised as “progressive Christianity”) is a disinterest, especially among Christian leaders (of congregations, denominations, and organizations) in doctrine. That’s sometimes difficult to detect because progressive Christians (as I mean that here) often talk about doctrines but only as historical relics, not as living realities to be protected and defended (even if reinterpreted and translated for the sake of understanding).

The second signal is a distinct tendency to replace doctrines, in terms of importance for membership and leadership, with “kindness” and “inclusion” as well as “social justice”—usually for some newly discovered “oppressed group.” Included in this tendency is a complete abandonment of church discipline especially as that relates to doctrinal accountability and sexual behavior (except for what is illegal).

A third signal is a determination, however, slow and subtle, to accommodate to trends within academic culture—regardless of their fitness with Scripture and tradition. In other words, the so-called “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” shifts beyond being an equilateral to being one in which reason (defined as what the American academy and its movers and shakers consider reasonable and normal) and experience (defined as what the American academy its movers and shakers consider normal and acceptable) dominate Scripture and tradition. Something to listen for is this now common saying in progressive Christianity circles: “Who cares what Paul said? I follow Jesus.”

A fourth signal is an elevation of inclusiveness to a virtue bar none (or “par none”) within the church, denomination, and/or Christian organization. Of course, “inclusiveness” is never complete; persons perceived to be “discriminatory” in any manner (language, behavior, sentiment) are marginalized if not ostracized.

A fifth signal is the abandonment of the “language of Zion” by which I mean traditional Christian concepts such as “sin,” “repentance,” “salvation,” “return of Christ,” and, yes, “judgment of God.” These are replaced by concepts such as “Kingdom of God” or “city of God”—interpreted as a condition of social justice including inclusion of all people equally without judgment (except discriminatory or perceived intolerance).

A sixth signal is implicit universalism—a complete abandonment of any mention of hell—except perhaps as a code word for misery in this life usually described as oppression—both the oppressed and the oppressors are in a living “hell” from which they need deliverance through social transformation which often includes social engineering via politically correct language.

A seventh signal is the way in which the Bible is described—not as a supernaturally inspired and unique message from God, possessing final authority for faith and practice—but as “our sacred stories”—different in degree but not in kind from other great and inspiring writings.

An eighth signal is the complete abandonment of belief in the supernatural together with a strong emphasis on the immanence of God in all people. The “imago dei” gets reinterpreted as a presence of God in every human person. Together with this comes a tendency to horizontalize Christian recognition of God’s presence—as totally within historical movements for justice and completely within the “face of the other”—especially the weak, the vulnerable and the marginalized.

Finally, a ninth signal is the adoption of hostile language about groups of human beings who dare to defend traditional values. They are often lumped together with racists, bigots, oppressors, “fundamentalists,” and even “red necks” solely because they hold to traditional “family values” or express the opinion that too much is changing too fast in terms of what is acceptable within the church and society.

As in fundamentalism, within many progressive Christian circles an echo chamber develops. In this one, though, those “out of touch” with the latest trends in sociology, social work, education, journalism and the social sciences in general are effectively silenced. There develops a “fundamentalism of the left” that is not really inclusive at all.


September 9, 2017

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Image of an Illinois cornfield decorated into Cubs celebration!

My former school, North Park University, will have Robert George speaking on freedom of speech during culture wars. October 20, 7:30pm. His respondent will be Edith Humphrey. The lecture is in the Engaging Orthodoxy series. If you go, eat dinner at Tre Kronor (the best). For info, call Brad Nassif at 773-244-6213. I normally don’t advertise such events on this blog but this is a special event in our area.

Scott Stump on the new Wave at Iowa:

It’s the newest tradition in college football, and it’s already one of the best.

The University of Iowa unveiled a heartwarming scene in its season-opening win on Saturday when fans stood and waved to the children watching from the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital across the street from the stadium.

The sold-out crowd at Kinnick Stadium got up and did their cool new version of “the wave” at the end of the first quarter of the Hawkeyes’ 24-3 win over Wyoming, and the kids waved back from the top floor of the hospital.

It’s the latest initiative in the history of the partnership between the hospital and the football team at Iowa.

Since 2009, the team has had a “kid captain,” a current or former patient from the hospital who joins the players on the sidelines during each home game and gets a special jersey.

These are a.m.a.z.i.n.g! HT: :mic

Dogs can help:

Every day when I wake up to my sweet pups’ faces I wonder: How do people not have dogs? How do they handle stresses of everyday life without a pair of puppy dog eyes to gaze into as their heart melts?

And that’s not just me being mushy about my guys (even though they are pretty special!). While “dogs have been a part of peoples’ lives for thousands of years,” says Rebecca A. Johnson, Ph.D, director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at University of Missouri, they’ve evolved from working and living outside to living indoors as part of the family.

We didn’t let other working animals move into the house and sleep on our beds — why dogs?

“Over time the relationship has gotten closer and closer,” Johnson says. “Some would relate that to advancements in industrialization and technology. We live in a high-tech, low-touch world and people have a longing for a bond with nature.” Companion animals like dogs can be that bond.

And these bonds “help us to feel good,” she says. “When we see, touch, hear or talk to our companion animals,” beneficial neurohormones “are released and that induces a sense of goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness.” At the same time, the stress hormone cortisol is suppressed. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate can all decrease, leaving us more relaxed “and able to manage stress in ways that aren’t harmful to our health,” she explains.

Thinking clearly about “privilege”, by Jeffrey K. Mann:

First of all, “privilege” is a misnomer. Privilege has to do with special treatment. If one group faces discrimination, it does not necessarily mean another receives a particular privilege. If Gingers get picked on, it doesn’t mean the rest of us enjoy non-gingered privilege. What we are talking about are relative advantages, which are indeed real. Overuse of the word “privilege” turns people off; they are then less likely to stop and listen.

Opponents of privilege discussions must recognize, generally speaking, that life is easier in this country if you are born white, male and heterosexual. Denying this is an over-reaction. We must acknowledge that not everyone begins life with the same resources and benefits. Many face unfair hardships along the way – some are linked to race, gender, and religion.

Admitting that certain folks have relative advantages over others, however, does not make you a Lefty. I can admit the realities of my own unearned advantages without self-flagellating, liberal, white guilt.

Liberals who talk the most about “privilege,” however, need to recognize that they do not go far enough. There are numerous potential advantages that affect one’s chances in life. It is not just race and gender identity. Consider the enormous and disparate impact of wealth, attractiveness and intelligence. A man’s height is statistically significant when considering his potential for professional success; a person’s posture and weight also play a role.

And consider one of the most powerful unearned “privileges” that only some children enjoy: a two-parent home. …

When we multiply these variables with the fact that people hold multiple identity markers, we end up with a twisted web of relative advantages and disadvantages that no one can untangle through policy or decree. Who has it easier: an attractive girl brought up by a working-class Puerto Rican family in the Bronx or an autistic boy of Greek heritage raised in an upper-middle class, single-parent home in West Virginia?

Our social reality is a tremendously complex interrelationship of economics, education, religion, ethnicity, national origin, individual psychology, appearance and gender that play different roles in different times and in different places. Recognizing these identity markers – and the relative advantages they may carry – is important in creating a more just society. We may then work toward greater equality of opportunity by minimizing discrimination and favoritism, not adding to them. In the long run, that works to the advantage of us all. [HT: JS]

Tim Suttle’s pastoral approach to the Nashville Statement.

Book burning is about power and the logic of privileging one’s information.

But for Rebecca Knuth, author of Libricide: The Regime-Sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century and Burning Books and Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction, Qin and religious leaders like him are only a small part of the early book-burning equation. “A lot of ancient book burning was a function of conquest,” Knuth says. Just look at one of the most famous examples of burning, the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. The famed building had its contents and structure burned during multiple periods of political upheaval, including in 48 B.C. when Caesar chased Pompey to Egypt and when Caliph Omar invaded Alexandria in 640 A.D.

What changed everything was the printing press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. Not only were there suddenly far more books—there was also more knowledge. “With the printing press you had the huge rise of literacy and modern science and all these things,” Knuth says. “And some people in authoritarian regimes, in a way they want to turn back the effects of the printing press.”

According to Knuth, the motives behind book burning changed after the printing press helped bring about the Enlightenment era—though burning through the collateral damage of war continued to arise (just consider the destruction of the U.S. Library of Congress during the War of 1812 or all the libraries destroyed across Europe during World War II). People saw knowledge as a way to change themselves, and the world, and so it became a far more dangerous commodity, no longer controlled exclusively by the elite. What better way to reshape the balance of power and send a message at the same time than by burning books?

The unifying factor between all types of purposeful book-burners in the 20th century, Knuth says, is that the perpetrators feel like victims, even if they’re the ones in power. Perhaps the most infamous book burnings were those staged by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, who regularly employed language framing themselves as the victims of Jews. Similarly, when Mao Zedong took power in China and implemented the Cultural Revolution, any book that didn’t conform to party propaganda, like those promoting capitalism or other dangerous ideas, were destroyed. More recently, the Jaffna Public Library of Sri Lanka—home to nearly 100,000 rare books of Tamil history and literature—was burned by Sinhalese Buddhists. The Sinhalese felt their Buddhist beliefs were under threat by the Hinduism of Tamils, even though they outnumbered the Tamils.

Even when the knowledge itself isn’t prevented from reaching the public, the symbolic weight of burning books is heavy. “Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them as to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are,” wrote John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, in his 1644 book Areopagitica. “Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature… but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself—” an idea that continues to be espoused in modern culture, like in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. [HT: JS]

Roger Olson asks if it is “evangelical Calvinism” or “classic Arminianism.”

April 8, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 5.28.02 PMThis week has been consumed with the expansion of Northern Seminary — four sites (South Side, Lawndale, Lisle [moving from Lombard], and our wonderful Northern Live program) and adjustments and, well, there are more announcements to come. Stay tuned.

Roger Olson on Trump’s decision to bomb Syria:

So, my own conclusion as a Christian ethicist is that, should it turn out that the U.S. government is telling the truth (and not “alternative facts”) about its military intervention in Syria, it is justified—because necessary to protect weak, vulnerable and defenseless people–even if not righteous.

Now I can just hear some Christian pacifists saying “That’s Niebuhrian—pure and simple!” Well, not quite. Niebuhr sadly and notoriously neglected the church in his Christian realism. The church should not actively support or applaud any government’s violent aggressions. It should be an alternative community to the violence of the world. So what should the church’s response be to America’s violent and aggressive attack on Syria? Neither celebration nor condemnation but prayer and witness—prayer for peace and witness by example of how it is possible for people of extremely different kinds to live in peace with each other. But it should realize that violence is inescapable in this fallen, broken world and give spiritual aid and comfort to those Christians who must reluctantly use violence when necessary—to protect and defend the weak and helpless.

What say you?

Did Jesus celebrate a Seder? (No.) Should Christians? (No.) In my book Jesus and His Death I argued Jesus ate a meal during Passover week but it was not the Passover meal and the Seder is subsequent to the NT.

So this is a phenomenon that cannot be denied, but it is one that most Jews find particularly troubling.

The first reason is historical. The Seder ritual, as it is practiced today, did not exist at the time of Jesus. It was only fully developed by the rabbis in the years following the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., in other words, at least two generations after Jesus. Many assume that Jesus, at the Last Supper, conducted what we now know of as a traditional Passover Seder with the Pesakh (pascal) offering of the lamb, matza, bitter herbs, the telling of the tale of the Exodus from Egypt, and other rituals as found in the Jewish Passover Hagada. This is incorrect. To put it bluntly, Jesus certainly celebrated Passover, but neither he nor his disciples ever attended a Seder, any more than they drove a car or used a cell phone.

In the Last Supper, Jesus surely is making allusions to the Exodus, as does the Jewish Passover meal, but that event takes a back seat to his revealing himself as “the Passover lamb,” as the object of a new and revolutionary expression of faith. The Jewish Passover meal inaugurates the Jewish people into its history; it prepares them to fulfill the responsibilities of the mitzvot (commandments) given at Sinai. As such, it is an event designed for and limited to the Jewish people. Jesus of Nazareth, in the Last Supper, presents himself as the offering not just for all Israel, but for all of humanity. He is, in short, establishing a unique ritual. In our view, celebrating a Christian Seder to commemorate the Last Supper misses the point historically.

Alex Dobuzinskis on Bill O’Reilly:

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and his employer have made payouts totaling about $13 million to five women to settle claims of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

O’Reilly said in a statement that he has been unfairly targeted because of his public prominence.

“In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.” O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” the network’s biggest star, added, “I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”

Fox News declined to comment.

“While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility,” Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, the parent company of Fox News, said in a statement. “Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.”

The report follows heightened scrutiny of the workplace climate at Fox News, the top-rated cable news network and unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. Founding Chairman Roger Ailes left the company last year after sexual harassment allegations.

Aveneesh Pandey:

It is estimated that over 660 million people in the world still do not have access to clean and safe drinking water — a number that is only expected to rise in the coming decades as water supplies begin to run dry. According to the United Nations, by 2025, 14 percent of the world’s population will face water scarcity.

This is despite Earth being a “pale blue dot,” 70 percent of whose surface is covered in water.

The problem is that the water held in our planet’s oceans, which accounts for over 96 percent of all water on Earth, is not potable. So far, efforts to make it drinkable have been either inefficient, dauntingly expensive, or both.

Now, in a study published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a team of researchers from the University of Manchester have described a breakthrough that could open the door to the synthesis of an inexpensive desalination method — creation of a graphene oxide membrane that can be used as a sieve to remove salt from seawater.

“Realization of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology,” study co-author Rahul Nair said in a statement released Monday. “This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes.”

Although previous experiments have shown that graphene-based membranes are capable of filtering out small nanoparticles, organic molecules, large salts, until now, scientists had been unable to create membranes with pore size small enough to filter out sodium chloride.

Tiffany Bates, and this will be an option that will haunt American politics:

After four days of scrutinizing hearings and nearly a week of vociferous debate, the U.S. Senate has voted 54-45 to confirm Neil Gorsuch as an associate Supreme Court justice.

Gorsuch’s sterling credentials and demonstrated fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law should give all Americans confidence that he will be a fair and impartial justice.

Chief Justice John Roberts is set to swear him in early next week, and Gorsuch will take his seat immediately.

The ceremony will round out a uniquely transparent nomination process. President Donald Trump was clear about the type of justice he would appoint, even taking the unprecedented step of publishing a list of candidates from which he would choose.

He repeated his promise to appoint someone from the list throughout the campaign, often citing the fact that many Americans would vote for him because of the Supreme Court vacancy.

This turned out to be true. Polls show that the future makeup of the Supreme Court was a leading concern of the American people, and it was this promise—more than anything else—that convinced many to support him.

Trump fulfilled his promise by nominating Gorsuch, to acclaim from conservatives and even some fair-minded liberals.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to oppose the nomination to the bitter end—even though neither he nor any other Democrat opposed his nomination to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 11 years ago.

How many schools?

Chicago-area teenager has been accepted to 22 colleges, WLS reports.

Ariyana Davis, a senior at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, was also awarded $300,000 in scholarships.

“”It was a pretty amazing experience. I’ve made so many friends,” Davis said. “I’ve been friendly with so many teachers, and I’ve gotten a lot of support from the entire school.”

Davis, who plans to major in accounting, used just one college application to obtain admission and scholarships to the universities.

“I used the Common Black app, which is a website where students can apply to HBCUs where you can apply to up to 50 colleges,” Davis said.

According to the Common Black Application’s website, aspiring college students can apply to any number of 50 HBCUs at the same time for just $35. To date, more than 100,000 students from the U.S., Africa, South America and the Caribbean have completed the application, the website states.

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November 14, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 2.38.24 PMWho is the most influential American theologian of the 20th Century? In some circles the name Charles Hodge (Princeton) or BB Warfield would immediately be mentioned, though Hodge is a 19th Century theologian with a 20th Century influence. Others might say Walter Rauschenbusch, but in his book The Journey of Modern Theology, Roger Olson probably gets it right with this:

If asked to name America’s most influential twentieth-century Christian theologian virtually every historian and theologian would name Reinhold Niebuhr. He never regarded himself as a theologian and never earned a doctoral degree in theology. And yet, during his lifetime he was recognized as one of the leading American public intellectuals. A decade after his death n 1971 a leading theologian declared, “It is difficult to find a theologian in the twentieth century who has exerted more influence on a nation’s political life than has Reinhold Niebuhr.” … So influential was Niebuhr that his face graced the cover of Time magazine’s twenty-fifth anniversary issue (March 8,1948); the issue contained a lengthy article about the prophet of Christian realism.

Niebuhr has often been called America’s version of neo-orthodoxy but Niebuhr did not see himself that way because he thought the neo-orthodox made themselves irrelevant to social problems because they were obsessed with fighting liberal theology while formulating systematic theology — which is precisely the criticism Barth made of Bonhoeffer at times. Olson, however, thinks neo-orthodoxy is the right label or place to being seeing Niebuhr. Like the others, he fought liberal theology and was influenced by Kierkegaard.

So what is this Christian realism? Olson’s sketch includes includes discussions of the following:

1. Niebuhr rises to prominence as a Christian ethicist. Like Rauschenbusch, a pastorate confronting social and economic problems provoked a new kind of theological reflection and Olson says, “he began to favor a form of socialism as the only solution to the poverty and powerlessness of America’s wonders” (347). He himself did become disillusioned with the social gospel’s optimism and pacifism, but he was especially disillusioned with their weak views of human sinfulness and God’s transcendence. In short, the liberal theology of his Yale MDiv was inadequate for the task. His realism entailed a defense of going to war against National Socialism in Germany against liberalism’s much less, at times pacifists, stance.

Most liberal Protestant pastors of America condemned all wars as unjust, inclining toward pacifism by appeal to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. For them, the kingdom of God was a possibility within history, something Niebuhr came to deny as an illusion. Niebuhr wrestled with his liberal heritage in terms of the tension between the ideal and the real, a tension he found central to the biblical message. How do the realities of life in the present, tainted as they are by sin and evil, fit together with the ideal of the kingdom of God? Niebuhr found the liberal answer naive, ill-advised and unworkable in the face of the threat of totalitarianism. In its place he sought to bring the biblical gospel to bear on the specific situations in which he found himself and thereby to discover how to apply that gospel to Western civilization as a whole (349).

2. Niebuhr searches for a practical Christianity. He wanted to know how to address the contemporary real world with a Christian gospel. His focus was the public sector — the real political and common problems.

As a part of his social consciousness and prophetic criticism, Niebuhr engaged in a kind of Christian apologetics. He attempted to demonstrate the relevance of biblical Christianity to a society that had largely rejected the gospel, or, in his words, he was interested “in the defense and justification of the Christian faith in a secular society (350).

This is not proof of God or proof of resurrection apologetics, but the meaningfulness of Christianity to real world problems. In fact, he allowed a nonrationality to Christianity’s main concepts. He opposed naturalism and idealism with realism. What are they?

Naturalism is the belief that nature is all there is; it reduces humans to highly evolved animals. Idealism is the belief that humans have infinite potential because there is continuity between human mind or spirit and God or ultimate reality. It elevates humans to godlets (351).

So, he tirelessly attacked the two basic tenets of the modern faith of liberalism: the idea of progress and the idea of human perfectlbility (352).

Olson is right; liberals saw him as pessimistic.

Niebuhr saw the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus as a “counsel of perfection” and “something impossible to live perfectly in this fallen, sinful world” — and while no one thinks we can live it perfectly, the issue for Christian interpretation is whether or not we are called to live this way, and to live this way in community with one another. Any attempt, as has often been the case, to make Bonhoeffer Germany’s version of a Niebuhrian realist is shattered by comparing how these two examine the Sermon on the Mount.

3. Niebuhr develops a Christian anthropology. This is the core of Niebuhr’s theological ethics. Liberals made the problem education. So how did he view humans?

First, human persons are created and finite in both body and spirit. Second, humans are to be understood first and foremost from their standpoint in relation to God, that is, as created in God’s image, rather than in terms of their rational faculties or in relation to nature. In other words, the meaning of human life is in God, not self or world. Third, humans are sinners and because of sin they are to be loved but never trusted (353).

[Here is one of his great lines of thinking:] The fundamental nature of original sin, the sin that underlies our individual transgressions, is refusal of creatureliness: in other words, idolatry of self (354).

The issue then is not some flaw but responsible choice. And thus freedom and “responsibility” becomes a major theme in him.

4. Niebuhr defends Christian realism against liberal idealism. Like Barth, Niebuhr famously opposed liberal theology. Kingdom theology is at work here:

Furthermore, liberal theologians had thought that the kingdom of God, which Rauschenbusch had identified as society organized according to love, could be brought about by peaceful persuasion without conflict or coercion. Against this liberal idealism Niebuhr advocated Christian realism, the idea that sinful human beings cannot bring about God’s kingdom or even achieve anything perfect, but they can with God’s help approximate God’s kingdom in partial achievements of justice (356).

[His thesis, then, is this:] In An Interpretation of Christian Ethics Niebuhr set forth the thesis at the heart of Christian realism: “love may be the motive of social action [but] justice must be the instrument of love in a world in which self-interest is bound to defy the canons of love on every level.”… The grace of God makes love a possibility; the sinful condition makes it an impossibility (356).

The impossible possibility; Jesus offers an ethic impossible in our world. “The kingdom of God, the rule of perfect love, is an ideal that is always coming but never arriving, at least not by human social work. It is eschatological to the core—a future condition that pulls us toward itself and that qualifies all our partial accomplishments in social ethics…. We sinners need an impossible ideal to tell us we still have far to go” (358).

What we can achieve is justice or something close to it. So he was seeking for a third way: not socialism but restraint on free enterprise.

5. Niebuhr emphasizes God’s transcendence and the realism of Christian symbols. Niebuhr’s theology is not always easy to discern. He affirmed God’s transcendence and atonement, both symbols. Not quite like Bultmann’s concept of myth but approaching it.  Transcendence is seen in God over history, in Christ and in the kingdom as the impossible ideal. The cross, too, was a fundamental symbol. It reveals the profound truth about human realities. It is judgment on sin and the message of love and forgiveness.

September 26, 2014

Liberal theology emerged in the 19th Century and regularly drew response from the traditionalists, the orthodox or the conservative. Trials just prior to the 20th Century favored the conservatives but in the 2d and 3d decade of the 20th Century the liberals began to win. This story is told in Roger Olson, The Journey of Modern Theology. Conservatives “won” the well-known Scopes Trial but lost the public; J. Gresham Machen was tried by his own Presbyterian denomination for his opposition to liberals and was suspended from its ministry in 1935.

Roger Olson’s theme is that conservatives fought back in a “modern” way or as another form of modernity. In other words, in many ways the fundamentalist posture came by way of assuming modernity’s assumptions in order to speak against it.

Olson focuses on Charles Hodge (for a study of Hodge, see Paul Gutjahr). He taught more than 3000 students at Princeton and his 3 volume systematics was a major theological textbook or reference book for 20th Century’s pastors and professors. He was part of what is often called Old Princeton School Theology that, when it lost out at Princeton, moved to Westminster Theological Seminary. A. Alexander, C. Hodge, A.A. Hodge, and B.B. Warfield and then J.G. Machen. Hodge may have been its most influential theologian.

The theology at work here is often called fundamentalism, and is marked by maximal conservatism vs. maximal modernism (in liberal theology): orthodoxy morphed into the term fundamentalism and then later into neo-evangelicalism and then evangelicalism (Olson, p. 215). Original fundamentalism was not originally politically aligned (William Jennings Bryan was a progressive).

Olson: one cannot limit “modern” to “liberal” for it also includes “fundamentalism” since it too was a modern expression of theology. Hodge formed orthodox theology shaped by modernity’s themes and methods. Furthermore, he is modern in that he responded to and fought against modernity. In particular (see below), he wanted theology to be “scientific” et al..

1. Hodge constructs a modern form of Protestant orthodoxy. Olson’s paradigmatic quotation: during his time, Hodge said, “a new idea never originated in this seminary” (217). With the world changing, he wanted to hold firm. They not only abhorred liberalism but also revivalism.

2. Hodge became a success story: grew up there, went to school there, and established his career there. He edited The Princeton Review for forty years (name changes included). He wrote a famous devotional book called The Way of Life. He was well liked, gregarious, and did not tolerate ambiguity. He was famous as a polemicist. Deeply devout.

3. Hodge was influenced by Reformed scholasticism and confessionalism. He was not always aware of the difference between his inherited theology and what the Bible actually said. He inherited a highly rational and logical method from Reformed scholasticism, and he was influenced by Francis Turretin’s famous scholastic theology, though with more modesty in approach. One Hodge scholar calls his method “rational orthodoxy” or “supernatural rationalism” (224). Hodge did not like the term rationalism since it was devoid of revelation etc.. His confessionalism is the First and Second Helvetic Confessions.

4. Hodge was influenced by Scottish common sense realism. This is a rather common statement about Hodge, and some debate the extent of the influence.  He imbibed it without recognizing it. That is, a belief that the mind apprehends objective external realities naturally. As there is a self-authenticating nature to reality so there is one to revelation. E.g., in the common appeal to common human experience. That is, when he claims “all normal people” believe this (228).

5. Hodge set down a biblical foundationalist method. He did not separate facts from faith or between facts and values and he saw theology as factual. His Systematics begins with theology as having a scientific status because it follows a similar method of knowing: induction. The Bible is a “store house of facts” (230). This is a kind of Enlightenment approach to knowledge. Noll says the Princeton School can be “scientific postitivists” at times (231).

6. Hodge defended the Bible as the foundation for the science of theology. He opposed subjectivism by the objectivity of God’s Word. [This is still a very common claim.]

7. Hodge sought to reconcile theology and science. They listened to science within the bounds of theology and Bible. This remains a common feature among many evangelicals/fundamentalists. Here is Hodge: the Bible must “bow to the facts of science, but the facts of Scripture may never give way to mere theories of science” (237).  Olson says Hodge taught that theology must at times be reinterpreted to fit the facts of science. “the Bible should be interpreted under the guidance of the facts of science” (237).  E.g., “day” in Genesis 1 — since the world/universe is so old, cannot be 24 hour days and must be an indefinite period. But he thought there was no final conflict.

8. Hodge left a legacy that led to fundamentalism. (1) Hodge saw the Bible as a reservoir of facts; (2) he was largely non-comprehending of his own culture’s influences upon him; and (3) he lacked a historical consciousness about Bible and the development of theology.

February 18, 2013

This post is by Bo Sanders a self-confessed progressive who will sketch how he distinguishes progressive from liberal.

Questions: Who are the progressives? Who are the liberals? Do liberals see themselves as progressives?

Roger Olson caused some ripples last week when he posted “Why I am not a Liberal Christian”.  Then Scot McKnight went and took it even farther with “What is a Liberal Anyway”  and said: “Evangelicals have successfully made “liberal” a pejorative term. So today many liberals call themselves “progressives.”

My contention is that saying progressives are really just liberals who don’t like the ‘L’ word is like saying that athletes and baseball players are really just the same thing. While baseball players are athletes, not all athletes play baseball. It’s an inexact statement. They aren’t exactly the same thing.

There is as big a difference between liberal and progressive as there is between evangelical and emergent. There may be some overlap, but to equate the two is unhelpful.

Here is the most basic definition I can provide – it comes from John Cobb, the greatest living American theologian:

  • Liberal simply means that one’s experience is a valid location for doing theology.
  • Progressives are liberal folks who have learned from Feminist, Liberation and Post-Colonial critiques. *

We all read Roger Olson’s 6 point definition last week, but when it comes to liberals there is something more categorical that would be helpful for our current distinction. Liberal is simply a constellation of positions and answers to question that were established in the Enlightenment.

Liberal is a settled matter. It has accepted the basic inherited framework to be the as-is structure and conceded the basic ground-rules as given.

Progressive on the other hand is to question, to wrestle, and to push. Progressives don’t  necessarily think that all progress is good and certainly don’t think that history is inevitable.

Liberals are predictable -because the matter is settled. If one takes the basic considerations handed down from enlightenment concerns, liberals are just the other side of the coin from conservatives. Take any issue – miracles, Biblical authorship, other religions, etc. – you know exactly what you are going to get from both conservatives and liberals.

They have been doing this dance with each other for a long time. One takes the high road and the other takes the low. One makes a move right. The other secures the left. This is why they are both easy to pigeon hole and caricature.

Maybe an example would be helpful. Let’s take economics.

Capitalism is the default economic theory of the Western (liberal) society. While conservative and liberal Christians would believe different things within a capitalistic framework (tax brackets, incentives, government programs, and social involvement) what is not in question is capitalism itself. The system is both beneficial and unquestioned to both teams. Like Yankees and RedSox fans stress how much the dislike each other and the opposing team’s tactics, what is never in question is the goodness of baseball in the first place. That is assumed.

Progressives call the system into question and call out a different set of concerns. Issues of globalization, free trade, deregulation and disparity come in.

Liberals want a slightly nicer, kinder, more equitable, more accessible version of capitalism than conservatives do. Progressives question the whole enterprise and may go so far as to say that the ethical teachings of Jesus about how were are to treat other humans are incompatible with the workings of the capitalist machine.

We could do this with any number of issues. My only point is that progressives are not liberals shying away from the ‘L’ word because it has been made a pejorative.

So even if you just want to say that progressives are aggressive liberals, that would be more accurate.

Liberals concede the rules of game, they just want to pick the better of the provided options. Progressives question the as-is possibilities of the given structures. This causes progressive to engage in critical examination and to re-evaluate both the road ahead and the road that delivered us here.

*  He said this during a Homebrewed Christianity interview for episode 101.

February 11, 2013

Roger Olson speaks:

Roger lists paradigmatic theological liberals as Schleiermacher and Marcus Borg, I’d add Harvey Cox as another example.

One observation: over the years I’ve seen lots of evangelicals “drift” into liberalism. Quite often they refuse to admit they are liberals. What happens is that they absorb evangelicalism’s denunciation of liberals as non-Christians while simultaneously both embracing liberalism and thinking (and knowing) they have not left the Christian faith. Evangelicals have successfully made “liberal” a pejorative term. So today many liberals call themselves “progressives.” Is there any difference? What are the “marks” of a liberal?

What do I look for in trying to discern whether a person or group is really theologically liberal?

First, I look at their overall view of reality. Do they think the universe is open to God’s special activity in what might be called, however infelicitously, “miracles?” Do they believe in supernatural acts of God including especially the bodily resurrection of Jesus including the empty tomb? If not, I tend to think they are liberal theologically.

Second, I look at their approach to “doing theology.” How do they approach knowing God? Do they begin with and recognize the authority of special revelation? Or do they begin with and give norming authority to human experience, culture, science, philosophy, “the best of contemporary thought?” That is, do they “do” theology “from above” or “from below?” Insofar as they do theology “from below” I tend to think they are liberal theologically.

Third, I look at their Christology. Do they think Jesus was different from other “great souls” among us in kind or only in degree? Is their Christology truly incarnational, affirming the preexistence of the Word who become human as Jesus Christ, or is it functional only, affirming only that Jesus Christ represented God, was God’s “deputy and advocate” among men and women? Insofar as their Chistology is functional and not ontologically incarnational, trinitarian, I tend to think they are theologically liberal.

Fourth, I look at their view of Scripture. Do they believe the Bible is “inspired insofar as it is inspiring,” a wisdom-filled source of religious illumination and record of our “spiritual ancestors’” experiences of God? Or do they believe the Bible is supernaturally inspired such that in some sense God is its author—not necessarily meaning God dictated it or even verbally inspired it? Another way of putting that “test” is similar to the Christological one above: Is the Bible different only in degree from other great books of spiritual wisdom or in kind from them? Insofar as they view the Bible as different only in degree, I tend to think they are liberal theologically.

Fifth, I look at their view of salvation. Do they believe salvation is forgiveness and reconciliation with God as well as being made whole and holy by God’s grace alone or do they believe salvation is only a realization of human potential—individual or social—by spiritual enlightenment and moral endeavor? Insofar as they think the latter, I tend to think they are theologically liberal.

Sixth, I look at their view of the future. Do they believe in a real return of Jesus Christ, however conceived, to bring about a new world of righteousness? Or do they believe the “return of Christ” is a myth that expresses an existential experience and/or social transformation only? Insofar as they believe it is only a symbol, myth or metaphor, I tend to think they are liberal theologically.

The problem is that discerning whether someone is theologically liberal is not a black-and-white process. It’s not an “either-or.” Many people and groups are some kind of mixture, hybrid of conservative and liberal. But, in my book, anyway, a true liberal is one who for the most part leans toward the views I have labeled “liberal” above.

So what’s wrong with being liberal theologically in that way? I find it thin, ephemeral, light, profoundly unsatisfying. It seems to me barely different from being secular humanist. Sure, theological liberals (in the sense I have defined that type above) can be profoundly “spiritual,” but I don’t think they are profoundly Christian. Their commitment is greater to modern culture, the Zeitgeist of the Enlightenment, than to Christian sources. Their “Christianity” is barely recognizable if recognizable at all—compared with anything that was called “Christian” before the Enlightenment. Ultimately, I believe, theological liberalism robs Christianity of its distinctiveness, the “scandal of particularity,” its prophetic edge and makes it easy, respectable and dull.

November 10, 2012

Chicago Bears sports fans are still yacking about the amazing game played last Sunday by “Peanut” Tillman. His performance was perhaps the most influential game I’ve ever seen by a defender. Tillman and his wife are to have a new baby Monday …

A good reason to read blogs, and a good reason not to read blogs.

Daniel Siedell, asking “Who are you?” Father Rob asking about fishing.

Karen and the Yay You card.

Good story: “Today, as a functioning member of society who goes to work, creates Web pages, smiles at passersby and offers tea and toast to visitors, he survives with the help of a $202 monthly housing subsidy. But he still battles mental illness. Throughout our day together, he often stopped while talking to listen to all the noise in his mind. “I still hear the voices,” he explained. “It took me a while to accept them but not allow them to control me.” And then he rejoins the conversation.”

Announcement: Kruse Kronicle on Amazon Kindle. (How does this work, Michael?)

One of my favorite reads of the week.”The decision not to start world war three was not taken in the Kremlin or the White House, but in the sweltering control room of a submarine. The launch of the B-59’s nuclear torpedo required the consent of all three senior officers aboard. Arkhipov was alone in refusing permission. It is certain that Arkhipov’s reputation was a key factor in the control room debate. The previous year the young officer had exposed himself to severe radiation in order to save a submarine with an overheating reactor. That radiation dose eventually contributed to his death in 1998. So when we raise our glasses on 27 October we can only toast his memory. Thank you, Vasya.”

Ted on Don’t.

Only a recent European arrival can perceive American politics this simplistically: “Beyond that, the election involves a choice between a party – the Democrats – that has some commitment to the role of public authority as a positive good and another – the Republicans – in which the majority opinion is that public authority is a necessary evil to be kept to a minimum.  Another issue at stake is whether or not to vote for a party that thinks there is such a thing as society.  The GOP seems vehemently committed to the idea that the only ontological reality there is is the individual and the choices he or she make.  These choices are then aggregated via a market system and whatever is the outcome determines what should be done and what counts as true, good and beautiful.  This way of proceeding is taken to be part of nature and any attempt to interfere with it is seen as against the natural order to be condemned as ‘socialist’ or even ‘communist’.”

Patrick examines consumeristic impacts on the church. Roger examines a recent book on the proof of heaven.

Ben Witherington has a post by a friend on St Francis.

Meanderings in the News

Some scientific humility: “That there’s an amazing story of life’s evolution on Earth is a scientific certainty. The evidence is encoded in the nucleic acid sequences of every living organism ever discovered, and the history of life on this world is traceable back for literally billions of years. But the origin of the very first organism that could be called “alive” is very much still an open scientific question. Was the first living creature on Earth created on Earth? Was the material that it came from present on Earth since our planet’s formation, or was it carried here during our planet’s early bombardment by asteroids, comets and protoplanets? Or, did it perhaps originate elsewhere, on one of those spaceborne projectiles, and then seeded life on Earth?…  Life happened here on Earth and we have the history that we have; that’s a given. But until we discover complex life in other places or gain a significantly better understanding of how life originated on Earth in the first place, there is not enough evidence to state that the conditions found in the Solar System are preferred for creating complex life in the Universe. Yes, it’s a very neat find that 4% of the solar systems out there — based on what we’ve observed — have similar asteroid-belt structures to our own, and that’s worth sharing with the world. But going beyond that and stating that those 4% of cases have a better shot at promoting complex life is a reach that goes well-beyond what the science tells us.”

Father and daughter, President or not. (“You know what, Dad, Mom won’t let us watch TV on school nights. That’s not fair.”)

Speaking of parenting… see this about the Fairy Wren? “Mothers usually set about teaching their offspring the moment they’re born. But the females of one Australian bird can’t wait that long. Superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) mothers sing to their unhatched eggs to teach the embryo inside a ‘password’ — a single unique note — which the nestlings must later incorporate into their begging calls if they want to get fed. The trick allows fairy-wren parents to distinguish between their own offspring and those of the two cuckoo species that frequently invade their nests. The female birds also teach their mates the password.”

Powerful, sad, tragic, healing story.

Jay Sterling Silver and the “no duty” law: “The “no duty” rule can be traced to the spirit of rugged capitalist individualism, the Darwinist idea that the common good is advanced through the struggles of selfish individuals. But the law doesn’t just allow moral monsters to act with impunity. Social science suggests it exacerbates the problem. Experiments have long revealed the symbiosis of law and morality: being told that a behavior is illegal makes it also seem more immoral. One defense of the no-duty rule is that common law exists to prevent people from harming one another, not to compel people to help one another. But modestly impinging on the individual freedom to do nothing seems reasonable when a life hangs in the balance. Such a duty is common in Europe, where some countries have criminal penalties for violators. A sensible statute might read like this: “Any person who knows that another is in imminent danger, or has sustained serious physical harm, and who fails to render reasonable assistance shall be fined up to $5,000, imprisoned for up to three months, or both.” Civil liability could also be established, as in other countries. A duty to help would not require bystanders to endanger themselves or provide help beyond their abilities; it could simply require warning someone of imminent danger or calling 911. It wouldn’t bring back the two boys, but it would require us to accept our fundamental moral duty to help those in grave peril.” [One needs a Spartan education to know valor and courage as instincts.]

Top great men with mental disorders.

Fun video:

Will Sandy alter political discourse about global warming? “High-profile figures like Bloomberg, Cuomo and Clinton speaking candidly and practically about climate change suggests a change of pace among public officials. But will the dialogue on extreme weather and climate that has emerged in Sandy’s wake alter the national conversation (or lack thereof) on climate change? Or will that discussion recede with Sandy’s floodwaters and the week’s news cycle? … Warmer temperatures, which allowed the storm to carry more moisture, and higher sea level are likely to have amplified Sandy and its effects, said Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Pennsylvania State University. The 13-foot (4 meters) coastal surge, which includes both storm surge and high tide, in New York City’s Battery Park was the highest in at least two centuries. The higher sea level — a foot higher than when the city’s protective sea walls were built a century ago — can be attributed to climate change, Mann said. “Someone set the fire with meteorology, but climate change added the fuel,” Foley said.

Fatty foods, exercise and the brain.

Why questions moderate political beliefs: “We tend to think that liberals and conservatives are on opposite sides of the spectrum from each other and there’s no way we can get them to compromise, but this suggests that we can find ways of compromising,” Preston said. “It doesn’t mean people are going to completely change their attitudes, because these are based on pervasive beliefs and world views. But it does mean that you can get people to come together on issues where it’s really important or perhaps where compromise is necessary.”

Discovery: no methane on Mars. “NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has detected no methane in its first analyses of the Martian atmosphere — news that will doubtless disappoint those who hope to find life on the Red Planet. Living organisms produce more than 90 percent of the methane found in Earth’s atmosphere, so scientists are keen to see if Curiosity picks up any of the gas in Mars’ air. But the 1-ton rover has come up empty in the first atmospheric measurements taken with its Sample Analysis at Marsinstrument, or SAM, researchers announced today (Nov. 2).”

Kate Wong: “Archaeologists excavating a cave on the southern coast of South Africa have recovered remains of the oldest known projectile weapons. The tiny stone blades, which were probably affixed to wooden shafts for use as arrows, date to 71,000 years ago and represent a sophisticated technological tradition that endured for thousands of years. The discovery bears on an abiding question about when and how modern human cognition emerged, and suggests a way by which early modern Homo sapiensoutcompeted Neandertals to eventually become the last human species standing.”

Meanderings in Sports

Fun, fun, fun.

September 10, 2011

April’s very important telling of a story about redemption through suffering. And Josh writes to his boys.

Lise: the personal is political. K. Rex Butts sketches in some ideas about the banning of instrumental music in restorationist churches.

Many are asking this one: What to preach on 9/11? And here’s a second set of reflections by Allan. And this means stories, like these from Christine. And it also means perspective, like that of John Fea.

The best Bible texts now available online. (HT: AR)

Readers of this blog need to see this new blog at Brazos, which features a video interview with Christian Smith about his new book … and the blog has other things too! Tim Dalton helps us know the greatest theologians of the church. And John Stackhouse helps us understand evangelicalism, ruffling some feathers in process. And Roger Olson is “against Calvinism” — with nuances.

:mic on unexpected encounters. A pastor reflects on praying with your feet.

Ann Voskamp on the struggle to find time for prayer. Ted’s wondering. Rebecca Trotter dives into the women and submission debate.

On abortion (HT: JT), by Scott Klusendorf: “The case for elective abortion based on the alleged silence of Scripture is weak.  First, the Bible’s silence on abortion does not mean that its authors condoned the practice, but that prohibitions against it were largely unnecessary. The Hebrews of the Old Testament and Christians of the New were not likely to kill their offspring before birth. Second, we don’t need Scripture to expressly say elective abortion is wrong before we can know that it’s wrong. The Bible affirms that all humans have value because they bear God’s image. The facts of science make clear that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are unquestionably human. Hence, Biblical commands against the unjust taking of human life apply to the unborn as they do other human beings. Third, abortion advocates cannot account for basic human equality. If humans have value only because of some acquired property like self-awareness, it follows that since this acquired property comes in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees. Theologically, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely in their respective degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature made in the image of God.”

We were at this very site on Bunker Bay, and a young surfer began to talk to us about sharks and how to minimize risk. Sad story.

What is anarchism anyway?


March 26, 2011

We’re back in action with the Meanderings.

The controversy around Rob Bell’s book has calmed enough for us to begin a series on his book, and we will begin that series this Friday. We will patiently examine the major ideas/chps of his book.

But we are glad to resume Weekly Meanderings…  back in action is the word: “Monday was a nasty cold day.  Clouds, heavy as a cow’s teat, hung overhead, threatening to drench anyone at any moment. I put on some sweats and thought about going to the club to workout but then figured,  why bother? This is the sort of day Jesus would pick to bust the sky wide open and come on back. So I stripped the sheets from the bed because Mama taught me that if you are expecting company you’d better have clean linens. I’m not at all sure what Emily Post would say on this matter, but being southern and all, I think it’s only hospitable to ask Jesus to stay the night whenever he gets here. The distance between heaven and earth can seem so very great some days, I expect Jesus might be worn out when he arrives. Even if he can’t stay the night, he might appreciate a clean bed and a nap.”

A must-read from Mike Cope.

Adjustment Burea fan? Thomas Oord sees The Adjustment Bureau in terms of open theism: “There is so much more to this movie than what I’ve described here. And this description comes after my seeing Adjustment Bureau one time. I plan to see it several more. I’m sure that not everyone will like the conclusion of this movie. But for open theists, this flick comes as close as any in describing God’s flexible plans and creaturely freedom. No movie can do full justice to all of my views of God, of course. I mean, how does a filmmaker depict an omnipresent being!?! But The Adjustment Bureau goes a long way toward sorting out the complex issues of love, freedom, God, and the future.”

From Roger Olson: “Those who accused Bell of teaching universalism based on promotion of Love Wins jumped the gun and owe him an apology.  I won’t hold my breath.”

Vince Bacote, on pride and ambition: “What is it about the pursuit of our ambition, our legitimate and godly desires for success in vocation, that can become poisonous when it meets that admiration and recognition of others? I’m reminded of a conversation that I had with the late Stan Grenz at a conference in Nashville nearly a decade ago. I told Stan about my desire for an increase in public speaking opportunities as part of my vocational goals, and the first words out of his mouth were, “It’s seductive.” I was a bit stunned by this, because I thought he would give me some tips about how to accomplish my goals, yet the first words were a warning. As someone who did a lot of traveling and speaking, Stan was keenly aware of the pitfalls that ride along with those who travel the road of success. Stan never explicitly named the siren song with the sweetly dangerous tune, but my guess would be that he and John Piper had the same thing in mind: pride that can take root unnoticed and grow into a ravenous beast.”

Our friend, JR Woodward, did a series on Rob Bell. Rachel Held Evans, a 20something, ponders what’s becoming of evangelicalism.

Jim Martin has a wonderful post about 5 questions to ask before you quit, and before you move on, read the story of how he learned not to quit. Mike Glenn has a post we need to consider before we die. (Nice little serious subject on a Saturday AM.)

Nothing like a young professor’s enthusiasm about a course the first time teaching it. And nothing quite like a young pastor’s enthusiasm either, and an older pastor decided to offer some wisdom — and it’s good wisdom. Here an older — but not very old — professor comments on his new book.


Seton Hall University Law School’s “Faith, Law and Culture” series presents a lecture by Nicholas Wolterstorff on Thursday, March 31, at 4:30 p.m.  Registration is free:
Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale University. After concentrating on metaphysics at the beginning of his career (On Universals), he spent a good many years working primarily on aesthetics and philosophy of art (Works and Worlds of Art, and Art In Action). In more recent years, he has been concentrating on epistemology (John Locke and the Ethics of Belief, and the just published, Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology), on philosophy of religion (Divine Discourse, and, with Alvin Plantinga, Faith and Rationality), and political philosophy (Until Justice and Peace Embrace, and, with Robert Audi, Religion in the Public Square). He has been president of the American Philosophical Association (Central Division), and of the Society of Christian Philosophers. He regularly teaches lecture courses in philosophy of religion and aesthetics, and seminars in epistemology, hermeneutics, and philosophy of religion.
For more information, contact David Opderbeck (


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