Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category


Out of Ur posted a hilarious spin on the Chuck Norris craze (or should that be a hilarious round-house kick???) in relation to the ever prolific writing pastor-theologian N. T. Wright (thanks for pointing me to this Marc).

Here are a few of the highlights:

For too long, Chuck Norris has been the benchmark for superhuman acts of power and justice. We’re setting that right.

From Wright fans John Raines, Kevin Emmert, Drew Dyck, and Paul Pastor comes this list of adoration for everyone’s favorite bishop-scholar-warrior-guru.

You call it idolatry. We call it reality. POW!

Keep kicking, Tommy-gun!

1. N. T. Wright doesn’t parse nouns. They decline themselves before him.

2. When James Dunn came up with the New Perspective, it was already old to N. T. Wright.

(for the rest of the twelve they came up with see HERE)

And here are a few of my own:

Just for fun what would you add?

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If only Barth had finished his Church Dogmatics we would actually have this developing pneumatology.

συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life

From Frank Macchia’s FB page:

A cautious but affirming response to Pentecostalism:

Barth“One could never have enough of Pentecost. This has to do with the Holy Spirit. For this reason, a little Pentecostalism — also again as salt of the earth (cf. Matt. 5:13)– cannot hurt any of us… It is quite necessary that someone draw attention to the fact that we all need the Holy Spirit. When one does that, and then something from Pentecost becomes visible again, how can we say something against it? There is nothing that can be said against it.”

– Karl Barth

(Busch, ed., Gasamtausgabe, Gesprache 1964-68, 430-32)

Someone responded:

A Barthian scholar and friend noted to me that Barth always left room for the surprising work of God, but did so only ‘out of the corner of his eye.’ Maybe that’s what he meant by ‘a little Pentecostalism.’

To which Macchia replied:


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A welcome volume on the development of Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics with an eye toward the interrelations with Karl Barth. This will add to the glaring lacuna of Barth and Bonhoeffer’s dialectical relationship.

For Christ and His Kingdom

Michael P. DeJonge, Bonhoeffer’s Theological Formation: Berlin, Barth, & Protestant Theology. Oxford UP, 2012. vii–158 pp.

Oxford UP | Amazon9780199639786

There is clearly  no shortage of writings on Bonhoeffer and his thinking. Another volume of the 16-volume Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works was just released a few weeks ago. In 2012 Bonhoeffer was the focus of the Wheaton Theology Conference (video can be found here; published essays can be found here), and a basic search on Amazon reveals a growing number of monographs, collection of essays, a new forthcoming reader and even a new biography. In contrast, books on the relationship between Bonhoeffer and Barth have been limited. One of the few is Pangritz’s Karl Barth in der Theologie Deitrich Bonhoeffers: eine notwendige Klarstellung (ALektor Verlag, 1989), later translated into English in an expanded and revised edition as Karl Barth in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Eerdmans, 2000).

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Bonhoeffer the AssassinThere is newly published volume by Baker Academic that is worth checking out for those interested in the theology and life of Bonhoeffer and particularly how he steered the waters of his pacifist declarations (found most clearly in his 1937 Discipleship) and his involvement with the Abwehr‘s conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.

Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony G. Siegrist, and Daniel P. Umbel’s contribution to Bonhoeffer studies looks to be promising: Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking (Baker Academic 2013). HERE  is the news release and HERE is a brief excerpt.

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Last week for the chapel service where I teach, we sang a song that struck me as both funny and actually quite profound. And not in the way one might imagine.

As it turned out this particular song (“Follow You”) was not what was funny or profound, but the manner in which it was written (more appropriately MIS-written) for the projector so that we could sing along. This version of the song was written without a comma. And so one part of it read:

I’ll meet the needs for the poor and needy God

I’ll follow you into the world

The missing comma makes it say something not intended–“the poor and needy God”–by the original author (or so I might suppose), but the theological claim of such a lyric is deeply profound (or at least it felt so after I recovered from laughing at the missing comma and how it changed the statement).

The theological difference of a comma or its lack can make a world of difference. One might ask how “the needs for the poor and needy God” is even true theologically speaking? Well, it is the point of the incarnation that God Himself has condescended to take on humanity “emptying himself” of His divine prerogative for our sake. And it is in the service of the “least of these” that we are actually serving the Lord Jesus.

I believe theologian Jürgen Moltmann might be proud of the misread lyric ‘the poor and needy God’ (see his The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ As the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology, SCM Press, London, 1973). It is this God that is our God. It is this God that we encounter in the Lord Jesus–“the poor and needy God”–born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, descended to the grave, and has been raised, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. This is God in Christ. This is our God (even if it was not the original intent of the song).

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You read that right…Der Führer has something to say about N. T. Wright on the issue of justification. Who knew he was such a fan of Piper’s. 🙂

My own critical engagement with N. T. Wright on the issue of justification is not nearly so funny. But I enjoyed writing it.

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Well, I can’t say I’ve been a faithful contributor to this blog. I’ll do my part today, but I’m afraid it’ll be by returning to an old chestnut: Christian universalism. I’m not as obsessed with the subject as I have been in the past and am quite happy living with some of the Bible’s internal tensions on the subject, but every now and then questions arise which get me thinking again. Forgive me if I’ve brought this up before.

A common response to the universalist position is the question of justice. Will justice be done if, for example, the unrepentant rapist-murderer is saved anyway? I understand the question and it makes a great deal of sense to me. But…

A number of questions come to mind in response:

We always couch this question of justice in terms of the worst case scenario from our perspective: rapists, murderers, Hitlers, Stalins, etc. Does the question have the same gravitas if we were to ask “Will justice be done if that unrepentant and somewhat misguided twenty-something who’s otherwise a pretty good person is saved anyway?”

Someone might say that the question isn’t fair, because we’re weighing justice in human terms rather that God’s terms, that to us there’s a huge difference between Hitler and a misguided young man with a penchant for partying, but that to God both people are in rebellion against him and deserving of death.

I get this, but it is this very point that seems to be a problem no matter which way you approach it. We’re all in one way or another judging things in some finite, human sense of justice. On the one hand, there are those who might say, “Why does the misguided youth get the same punishment as the rapist-murderer? It seems highly unbalanced. Unjust, even!” On the other hand are those who might say, “Well, why should Hitler get off scott-free with no effort or will of his own? He should pay for his crimes! It’s not fair! Unjust, even!” It seems to me that both concerns make a great deal of sense from a human level.

But again, they’re both approaching it from the human perspective. But the fact is that the Cross doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from a human perspective either. How is justice served by the cross of Christ covering the sins of a person simply because they repented? The fact is, repentance was an option for Hitler, same for the rapist-murderer. Is justice done if they repent? Is it just that they are saved simply by turning to Jesus?

We accept this fact (however theoretical it may be in any one case, whether Hitler’s or the rapist-murderer’s), because justice was in one way or another done on the cross. That, it seems to me, is the locus of justice in God’s terms, even if it largely remains a seemingly irrational mystery.

And I think this changes the game a bit in this discussion. We really don’t have a crystal clear picture of the whole scope of the effect of the work of life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God’s justice never makes sense from the worldly, human perspective, whether for the pagan or the believer. Does it make sense that the cross deals with my rebellion? Not really. Certainly not in any comprehensive, concrete sense. But I accept it as truth in faith. Would it make any less sense for the cross to deal with the rebellion of an unrepentant person? I’m not sure. We can talk about shutting ourselves out of heaven or inside hell (a la C. S. Lewis) — I get that. But it seems to me that this is never really at the root of this discussion, but merely another convenient “out” (and anyway, that approach raises other questions).

I’m not saying that this is an argument in favour of Christian universalism. But I think it does say something against the pat “Well, justice has to be done” response to the question of Christian universalism.

(In my brain, and perhaps yours too, a whole host of other questions are raised by this. But I won’t go there today.)

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