April 13, 2024

The Political Meaning of Christianity: Power & State Several readers and I are here discussing the book The Political Meaning of Christianity by Glenn Tinder (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991). Those who are reading the book, and have read the pages I’m commenting on, are welcome to comment and question. Others are welcome to question. Two sections of Chapter Three being discussed here are “Power” and “The State and Its Justification” (pp. 133-149). (Chapter Three is “Liberty.”) Predictably, Tinder argues that true, authentic... Read more

April 12, 2024

What Is (Christian) Folk Religion? Folk religion is an anthropological category also used in the sociology of religion. It is religion done, believed, practiced, by the people, not the scholars. Every religion has its own form of folk religion. However, folk religions share some common features. Here I am writing specifically about American Christian folk religion, but the features I identify overlap with other folk religions. Folk religion thrives on comfort and other feelings (e.g., excitement) to the neglect, even... Read more

April 10, 2024

What Does “The Blood of Jesus” Mean? Recently there has been some public criticism of Christian “talk” about “the blood,” the “blood of Jesus,” especially. Of course, there’s nothing new about that. Even many Christians shy away, or more, from talking or singing about the blood of Jesus. Famous and influential Protestant preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick spoke about “slaughterhouse religion” and rejected talk about “the blood.” More recently, a leading and influential Womanist theologian has declared that we don’t need... Read more

April 7, 2024

The Meaning of Christianity: Liberty and Tolerance Under discussion here are two small portions of The Meaning of Christianity (by Glenn Tinder) in Chapter Three. They are “Liberty and Community” and “Tolerance” (pp. 116-133). In a nutshell, Tinder argues, surprisingly perhaps (to some) that true Christianity, as opposed to much historical, empirical “Christianity,” promotes liberty and tolerance. Tinder explicitly distinguishes between much historical Christianity and true Christianity, as I have here. People who cannot think abstractly will necessarily struggle with... Read more

April 6, 2024

What Is a “Resurrection Body?” We are not a week away (past) Easter Sunday. And I am musing (not pontificating) about the meaning of “resurrection body.” Christian belief that the tomb of Christ was empty, emptied by God, and that Christ’s body was changed, not left to rot or merely resuscitated, calls for explanation. However, all Christians admit it is a mystery to our minds, incapable of complete explanation. Might it be the case that part of our perplexity about... Read more

April 4, 2024

Should Homosexuality Be Criminal? About Uganda According to many news reports a court in Uganda has upheld that nation’s harsh criminal penalties for homosexuality, including capital punishment for “aggravated homosexuality” (whatever that means). Now the laws will go to Uganda’s Supreme Court for review. Observers expect that court will uphold most, of not all, of the laws criminalizing homosexuality. As a Christian theologian and ethicist (I held an endowed chair in Christian ethics at Baylor University and taught Christian theology... Read more

April 2, 2024

Is “Evil” Science Fiction? I have watched several episodes of a new television show called “Evil.” It’s based on a Spanish TV show called “The Envoys.” Both are about a team of investigators hired by the Catholic Church to investigate claimed miracles and demon possessions. Early on I detected that the maker of the show knows something about the subject. I looked him up. He graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, an evangelical Christian liberal arts college with... Read more

March 30, 2024

Are All Saved People Christians? Are All Christians Saved? I’ve written about these questions before, but I discern there may be a benefit in going over them again. Learning how to make subtle distinctions is a very important part of mental-intellectual acuity. Most conservative Christians I know assume that “Christian” and “saved” are synonyms. But they aren’t. “Saved” refers here to the condition of being in a right relationship with God. Yes, of course, the word can mean other and... Read more

March 26, 2024

Empirical Christianity versus Real Christianity I rarely devote a whole blog essay to answering one question asked by a blog friend. But in this case I have been thinking a lot about the question recently asked by one of my most faithful and, to me, most interesting interlocutors. In a recent blog post I mentioned “empirical Christianity.” An astute reader asked me for a definition of that. As is often the case, I failed to answer adequately and that has... Read more

March 24, 2024

The Political Meaning of Christianity: Chapter Two: The Individual and Prophetic Hope and Chapter Three: The Question of Liberty (pp. 80-116) In the chapter section Tinder calls “The Individual and Prophetic Hope” he discusses the community and the individual with special attention to the church and the individual. However, he also comes to the paradox of the individual Christian and the secular world. Clearly, Tinder holds to the model of “Christ and Culture in Tension” as spelled out in H.... Read more

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