May 16, 2019

Rod Dreher is not the only one to wonder about the meaning of reactions to Rachel Held Evans’ death. For Christianity Today to post an essay of critical appreciation only to remove it after fans sent lots of flack to the magazine’s editors suggests Evans’ reputation may have owed more celebrity than to a firm contribution within evangelical or mainline Protestantism. (For some background on these developments see this.) Even so, the outpouring of praise for Evans, clearly understandable in… Read more

May 14, 2019

Jemar Tisby has a new book out contending that the history of the church’s complicity in racism means evangelicals can no longer act as if they do not know about the problem. At the beginning he says his book is “about revealing racism.” “It pulls back the curtain on the ways American Christians have collaborated with racism for centuries” (15). By the end of the book he concludes: Countless Christians have ignored, obscured, or misunderstood this history. But the excuses… Read more

May 10, 2019

More people enter the conservation room about the ties between conservative Presbyterian theology and anti-semitism and white nationalism. Ivan Strenski, who teaches religion at UC Riverside, recently wrote: In their confidence of Christian success at displacing Jews from their role as Chosen People, the Earnest family’s Orthodox Presbyterians are not special. They line up predictably with a two millennia-long line of Christian apologists. This line of Christian theologians essentially shares the same view of the supersessionist course of salvation history… Read more

May 7, 2019

Some journalists who want to report on the connections between the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the shooting at the synagogue in Poway, California last weekend may be surprised to learn about this recommendation of J. Gresham Machen’s diatribe against theological liberalism by a Jewish American: We’ve spent quite a bit of time in recent years debating who’s a Jew, but we’ve neglected to ask the thornier question: namely, what is Judaism? It’s a question that belongs with theologians, a scholastic… Read more

May 6, 2019

If journalists want to dig deeper into the roots of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, they may come across an essay by J. Gresham Machen entitled, “The Relations between Jews and Christians” (originally delivered in 1924 to The Fellowship of Reconciliation): Against such tyranny, I do cherish some hope that Jews and Christians, Roman Catholics and Protestants, if they are lovers of liberty, may present a united front. I am for my part an inveterate propagandist; but the same right of… Read more

May 3, 2019

Terry Mattingly asks journalists to keep digging deeper into the “Calvinist” theology that may have informed the alleged shooter at the Poway, California synagogue last Saturday. One place for journalists to go is to the pastor at Escondido, OPC, who co-authored a book on covenant theology, a subject that bears directly on the relationship between Israel and the church in Christian teaching. Here is that part of that book on the difference between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants: Contrary to… Read more

May 1, 2019

I have a friend who is of Polish and Italian descent but his father is Italian-American so my friend has an Italian surname. But his mother, the Polish-American, was the cook in the home and she bought into Italian cuisine and made it her own. I suspect some people in South Philadelphia (the city’s Big Italy) might find Italian dishes made by a Polish-American suspect and even deficient. But in the world of mixing and combining and choosing identities that… Read more

April 24, 2019

There’s hope for fundamentalists to gain acceptance in the wider society. It turns out fundamentalism is a physical condition. Maybe not genetic but still something that cannot be helped: According to Dr. Grafman and his team, since religious fundamentalism involves a strict adherence to a rigid set of beliefs, cognitive flexibility and open-mindedness present a challenge for fundamentalists. As such, they predicted that participants with lesions to either the vmPFC or the dlPFC would score low on measures of cognitive… Read more

April 22, 2019

H. L. Mencken defined Puritanism as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy.” The new Puritanism seems to have it that “someone, somewhere, might be innocent.” Take the cases of Tiger Woods, Kate Smith, and Mike Pence. Woods won the Masters a week ago and his less than virtuous past (anyone remember #believeher?) did not prevent Bishop Robert Barron from both rooting for the golfer and then using Woods’ comeback to illustrate the power of redemption: “When Tiger… Read more

April 16, 2019

The fire in Paris and damage to Notre Dame is, it goes without saying, awful. The cathedral’s grandeur and intricate beauty will always be part of my first memories of Europe — I first visited in 1976 and Notre Dame means, for me, Paris. So I can well understand the feelings of loss that many are expressing around and on social media. But I am curious that so few of the remarks about the cathedral make any reference to Mary… Read more

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