Tag: theology

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“Scouting the other team” is imperative in sports. It is not enough for you to be excellent in athletics, you must understand what makes the opposing team excellent. Coaches assess the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent. Players spend hours watching videos of other competitors. Spending time in the “tape room” means that a player […]

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Autonomy vs. Aseity

 

During my Ph.D. dissertation defense, a question was raised about my use of the term “aseity” and its application to my research. Believing The Personal Eternal Triune Creator to be the source and sustenance of all things, I used the theological word that means God is self-sufficient and independent; in short, He does not need us.

The applied principle of God’s separate status is imperative in a Hebraic-Christian view of social order. Often human governments and social rules have sought to argue for human autonomy, we, being a law unto ourselves (“auto” = self, “nomos” = law). Humans, left to themselves, will seek independence and self-sufficiency instead of seeing the beneficence to all people by dependence on Divine Directives. A few observations of both autonomy and aseity follow.

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Perennials are flowers that grow back every year. Once planted, the flowers can continue to bloom from one spring to another. The word “perennial” signifies what the flower does, coming back each year. In history the word perennial means “evergreen, continual, or lasting.” I have taken the definition upon myself to identify who I am […]

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@vthek entitled a recent post about an enormous cruise ship set to sail in January 2024, “Someone Built My Personal Hell.” The title reminded me of a low stakes fun quasi-theological conversation some Christian friends and I have had for several years: Will we all experience heaven in the same way? Is there a “my personal […]

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On May 9th, @arizonapatriot published a post entitled, “What If Slavery Isn’t Wrong?”. At the end of the post, he wrote: This is a new thought for me, and I’m still considering it.  I’d appreciate your input, particularly from those of you who are Christian believers. Preview Open

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Returning to Church

 

The End of a Personal Era

We went to church Sunday morning. It actually looks very much like this one, except smaller.

It’s kind of a big deal. Ever since my husband and I decided to trade places putting him in the mode of Mr. Mom at home with our daughter while I go out and almost ruin my life chasing corporate fame and fortune, I’ve felt like a fish out of water at church. Shortly after the switch in roles, we adopted a baby born to a Guatemalan immigrant who’d been raped multiple times on the journey from her home country to the Texas border. The baby had had her own rocky journey, defying the threat of abortion through her protective and frightened mother, and then emerging quite strong albeit missing most of her brain’s left hemisphere.

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In April, 1989 the Chinese Communist Party crushed the student uprising in Tiananmen Square. One of the most iconic pictures to come out of that revolt was the figure of a solitary man, briefcase in hand, standing in front of a military tank. If you would like to see that picture look up my friend […]

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“Don’t You Want to be on The Right Side of History?!” Such a warning is given to anyone who would dare stand in the way of current cultural narratives. The story being told could be political, sexual, racial, or social. But be assured, whatever the objective, some group thinks they know what is best now, […]

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I wanted to share this meditation on Christmas sent to me in a church e-mail. If you’re just here for a quick browse, I’ve put in bold the Christmas part. The Gift of Gifts (Taken from The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.) Preview Open

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It was interesting to find this article in The Atlantic. While I appreciate the evenhandedness of the magazine to explore a full range of ideas, my thoughts were not about “Left” or “Right” but about a universal principle. The study here referenced “a shared psychological core.” As a theologian I would call this “our shared […]

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Christians and Jews should not think in the same manner as agnostics. There will always be much to explore and to discover. But some answers have been given to us. Sacred scripture and apostolic tradition bear witness to received truths, general or particular, from which research and reason can proceed in confidence.  Hadley Arkes explains […]

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Holy Thou Art

 

What does it mean for something to be holy? I think it means that a thing or person directs us to God or expresses His presence. Holiness is connected with pious awe. 

What artistic works seem holy to you? Which are the most peculiarly holy — holy in some unusual and perhaps less obvious sense? Is there some work of sculpture or architecture, painting or music, oration or literature that draws you closer to God in a way your associates don’t fully share? 

Knowledge by Faith

 

My newest academic article is out in Evangelical Quarterly: “Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen and Yet Have Known By Faith: Knowledge, Faith, and Sight in the New Testament.” Ricochet saw the earliest version of this article in this old post. In an early draft of the article I began, by way of illustration, with a familiar New Testament way of teaching—a story:

At the time of the initial composition of this paragraph, I am between jobs. Technically, I am unemployed. I worked for four years as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Forman Christian College in Pakistan before my name was found on a document in the possession of a local terrorist organization. So my family and I spent the past academic year—the fifth at FC College—packing and looking for a new job. Shortly after we returned to Texas I was blessed with a job offer at Hong Kong Baptist University—another liberal arts university in Asia with a Christian heritage. HKBU, thankfully, allowed me the option of a contract beginning in January of 2018. It is now August of 2017, and my wife and I have a few months to sort through our footlockers, our crate from Pakistan, and our storage unit—and repack for moving to Hong Kong! I prefer to think of this time as a sabbatical rather than unemployment—an opportunity to do some reading, some writing on Augustine, and some writing on other projects such as this one. I’m not worried about my family’s financial situation because we’re not likely to go into debt, because I think future income is more important than how much money I have now, and because my future salary is going to be a raise as compared to my last job.

Book Review: Protestants, by Alec Ryrie

 

I have read and recommended many books to friends, acquaintances, and strangers over the years, but I have done so selectively, carefully choosing what I recommend and to whom I recommend it.  I have found few books, aside from dictionaries and Douglas Adams, that I would urge on others almost without condition.  I have added one to that list: Protestants: The Radicals Who Made The Modern World, by Alec Ryrie.  

The Protestant Reformation made and remade what we consider to be modern Western Civilization, and regardless of what your faith is (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist), Protestantism has affected it for good or ill, even if you live half a world away from the epicenters of its origins in Europe.  Regardless of whether you are even a Christian, you live in a world where Protestant Christianity has shaped, and even governed the way entire nations have thought and acted.  If the 20th Century was the American Century, and the 19th Century was the British, then both were also the Protestant Centuries, for the very identities of those nations were inextricably bound up with Protestantism, both in their greatest triumphs and darkest sins.  Alec Ryrie, a devout Anglican himself, presents the history of Protestant thought, denominations, and life in a single narrative volume that spans the past 500 years.  It is his love letter to his faith, but told fairly and written with honesty and humor, and as such, it is an invaluable window into seeing the state of the modern world, and the origins and workings out of much of what we assume to be true.

Protestants are fighters and lovers.  They will argue with anyone about almost anything.  Some of these arguments are abstruse, others brutally practical. If we look at the great ideological battles of the past half-millennium – for and against toleration, slavery, imperialism, fascism, or Communism – we will find Protestant Christians on both sides…. But Protestants are also lovers.  From the beginning, a love affair with God has been at the heart of their faith.  Like all long love affairs, it has gone through many phases, from early passion through companionable marriage and sometimes strained coexistence, to rekindled ardour.” (pages 1-2)

The Atheist and the Acorn

 

This starts with a joke. Not a particularly good one, but perhaps the novelty will save the humor. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it told.

An atheist is arguing with a priest as they walk through a grove of trees. “How can you believe in a God who created such a disordered universe? Look at these mighty oak trees. See the tiny acorns they produce. And yet the massive pumpkin grows on a feeble vine. If I had designed the world that situation would be corrected, let me tell you.”

The Last Supper and Defiant Desires

 

In his homily today, Father Joseph Mary of EWTN noted that at Christ’s last supper only Judas the betrayer addresses Jesus as “Rabbi” — Teacher. The other apostles address Jesus as Lord.

It’s an amazing moment. Was Judas the Iscariot not with them in the boat when Christ calmed the storm and walked on water? How many miraculous healings, exorcisms, and resuscitations did Judas witness?

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Today, Christians recall a man who was born blind but was given sight by Jesus the Christ. Jesus says that it is not for the man’s own particular sins nor for the sins of his family that he was born blind. He was blind so that in being healed the Lord’s goodness can be recognized, […]

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“Now, more than ever…”  I hate that phrase. But here it is apt. In an era bombarded by absurdities that make reality almost impossible to satirize, we are especially able to understand the value of experience. When daily news, attitudes, and behaviors venture beyond what one could have believed possible only a decade or two […]

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