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Showing posts from 2018

New Review: Undomesticated Dissent by Curtis W. Freeman

The Christian Century has published my review of Undomesticated Dissent: Democracy and the Public Virtue of Religious Nonconformity by Curtis W. Freeman. This superb study of the religious and political dissent in radical English Protestantism ends with a constructive proposal about how this heritage continues to inform protest movements, for the good of the commonwealth, today. Here's a teaser:

In the 1580s, religious dissenter Henry Barrow languished in London’s Fleet Street prison, taunted by Anglican divine Lancelot Andrewes for his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the spiritual headship of King James I. Across the pond and the centuries, Baptist farmer-preacher Clarence Jordan endured derision and threats in the rigidly segregated rural Georgia community where he founded Koinonia Farm, an experiment in Christian communal living.

What thread ties these two together? Ac­cording to Curtis Freeman, both Barrow and Jordan stand in a living stream of faithful religious dissenters who…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

*maniacal cackle*

Ok, ok. So it’s been nearly three months since the last link post. One of the things that university professors rarely see is just how much administrative work happens over the summer. Even if things haven’t been as hectic, I’d say that I’ve been pretty much as busy this summer as I was over the past academic year.

Anywho, there has been a trickle of DET – and DET-related – happenings this summer, and this post will catch you up. Does this mean that you can expect an immediate uptick in activity?

I’m not making any promises.

Before we get to the links proper, I want to highlight two things in particular.

First, Kim Fabricius died over the summer. Ben Myers has written a nice reflection on Kim’s life. Kim was like a playfully cranky and ridiculously insightful uncle for my generation of theology bloggers, and I was privileged to meet him once (in company with David C…

Preaching the Scandal: Romero on Agrarian Reform

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Lately, I've become increasingly engrossed with the life and legacy of Óscar Romero (1917-1980), the martyred Archbishop of San Salvador soon to be beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. I am finding this material both inspiring and challenging, and am moved to ponder what this recognition means for the history of Christianity in the Americas -- indeed, for the Christian churches worldwide. In that vein, I've been ruminating on a short volume of excerpts from Romero's diary entries and homilies, which were broadcast from the archdiocesan radio station and served as a life-line of prophetic critique, journalism, and resistance in the months leading up to the civil war in El Salvador.

The Scandal of Redemption: When God Liberates the Poor, Saves Sinners, and Heals Nations, By Oscar Romero (edited by Carolyn Kurtz) (Walden, NY: Plough Publishing House, 2018).

This highly portable volume is more devotional and hagiographical than academic -- not that there's anything wrong…

Brief Book Note: Froese & Bader’s “America’s Four Gods”

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Here's a book that was on my shelf for about three years before I finally read it. It was one of those situations where I’d wanted to read it but didn’t really have a reason until I needed to put together some lecture material for a new class on Christianity and politics. So I read it, and I was glad that I did.


Paul Froese & Christopher Bader, America’s Four Gods: What We Say About God—& What That Says About Us (Oxford, 2010).

This book isn’t especially dense, but it is very interesting and sheds fresh light on how religion and politics interact in the United States. It’s geared especially toward analyzing Christian God-talk, although the other Abrahamic traditions would fit more generally, but that accounts for the bulk of the US population. It also has interesting findings with regard to folks who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” or as belonging to no religious tradition (i.e., the “nones”), or as agnostic. Basically, those folks tend to fall unde…

Brief Book Note: Jane Dawson’s “John Knox”

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I’ve been interested in Knox for a while. There’s a set of framed woodcuts in my office: Luther in the middle, flanked by Calvin and Knox. And I recently read a book about him.


Jane Dawson, John Knox (Yale, 2016).

I read a bit about Knox a few years back. At the time I was finishing my theology class with a unit on the Scot’s Confession, and I put together some lectures on its background – and that included Knox. Come to think of it, I wrote a review of one of the books that I read at the time: Rosalind K. Marshall, John Knox (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000). I enjoyed that book but it isn’t really a scholarly source and ever since I’ve been waiting for a proper, scholarly, thickly footnoted critical biography of Knox from an academic historian.

Suffice it to say that I was very excited when Dawson’s book came out, even if it has taken me a couple years to read it.

Now, I’m not a professional reformation scholar, but I do play one on TV…or in my undergraduate classroom. When it comes do…

Dialectical Theology Q & A

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For those of you who don’t know this, students are awesome. I’ve been blessed to have had some really good ones during my years as a professor. And it’s always bittersweet when they graduate.

Stop it. I’m not crying. You are.

Anyway, some of said students did me the great honor of reading my book on Gollwitzer and then, as if that wasn’t enough, they emailed me with a bunch of questions for me to clarify about dialectical theology. And because they asked such good questions, I secured their permission to reproduce them here along with my answers.

So here you go.


Their text is plain font while my interspersions are bolded.


Is there a main goal of dialectical theology? To speak as responsibly as possible about God. In your book you talk about how all theology is contextual. How God becomes an object of human knowledge through faith. You tie it to liberation theology. It is clear that we shouldn't objectify God. But is the goal to prove we can't understand God fully? Prove is …

Brief Book Note: James Cone’s “Martin & Malcolm & America”

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I haven’t been reading as much as I used to, what with this administrative appointment, but I’m still reading and I still want to share something about what I’m reading with you all, gentle readers. However, I don’t have time to write up a proper review that could go into the “What Am I Reading?” series, so I’ve decided to write up a few shorter “Brief Book Notes.” Here’s the first one. (And yes, some of my students may have got me going with bitmojis...)


James H. Cone, Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare (Orbis, 2012).

Sadly, my education was incredibly light on the African American experience, much less black theology, so I knew very little about Malcolm X and not much more about Martin Luther King, Jr. before I read this book. I did know, however, that James Cone (now, sadly, of blessed memory) would steer me right, having read a number of his books previously to my great benefit. And he didn’t disappoint.

In addition to simply learning a great deal about bo…

Join Me at Homebrewed Christianity’s Theology Beer Camp!

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I’ve been long overdue posting about this. Many of you have, perhaps, already picked up on this news by seeing the odd tweet here or there, listening to my most recent appearance on the Homebrewed Christianity podcast, or – maybe it’s a bit old fashioned at this point - by browsing the relevant website. But here it is in plain English:

I’m going to camp: Homebrewed Christianity’s Theology Beer Camp!



I’m super excited to join Tripp Fuller, Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, and others at the camp to enjoy good brews, conversation, and theology nerd fun. I know Tripp’s angling to get me to sing karaoke, but I’m not making any promises…

Tripp also assures me that there will be excellent custom brews to enjoy. I’m much more of a whiskey man than a beer man, myself, but Tripp has promised to put together a tasting menu for me to induct me into his world of hoppy delight.

What’s that? What will I be talking about at Homebrewed Christianity’s Theology Beer Camp? I’m glad you asked!

I don’t know.

A…

"Helmut Gollwitzer: Forgotten Left-Wing Barthian" – Video of my AAR / KBSNA Presentation Now Online

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Some folks around Twitter have noticed that the most recent issue of the Karl Barth Society of North America newsletter contains extensive notes from my presentation to the society at the meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Boston in 2017. I’ve been sitting on video of that presentation since then, but didn’t want to publish it until the notes appeared in the KBSNA newsletter. But now you can view the video and hear me present the paper as if you were in the room (which a number of Tweeps were), growly voice and all.


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Latest Updates on “Our God Loves Justice” (#OGLJ)

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Just because DET has been unnaturally quiet for a while doesn’t mean that I haven’t been up to other of my usual tricks or that there hasn’t been stuff happening. Quite the contrary, in fact. And this post will get you back up to speed on my book, Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Golwitzer.



I present the following in no particular order:

One: I appeared on Liam Miller’s podcast – “Love, Rinse, Repeat” – to talk about Gollwitzer, and the true socialism of the kingdom of God.



Two: I joined Dean Dettloff and Matt Bernico on The Magnificast. Click here to listen!

Three: I returned for another appearance on the Homebrewed Christianity podcast. Click here to listen! See you at theology beer camp?

Four: #OGLJ was “briefly noted” by The Presbyterian Outlook.

Five: Stephen Waldron reviewed #OGLJ for Reading Religion, an online publication from the AAR.

Six: David Roberts included #OGLJ in his list of “things I’ve read recently that you should read too.”

Seven: I discussed Gollwitz…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

*chuckles*

More like “The Past Five Months in the Theoblogosphere.”

What happened? I couldn’t even tell you at this point. My intrepid associate editor, Scott Jackson, and I simply ran out of steam. Or hit a brick wall of other work. Or whatever mental picture you prefer. At this point I’m trying to come to grips with the reality that it’s unlikely we’ll be able to mount a regular posting schedule again, perhaps ever. Time will tell.

So DET is not over, but it has become and will continue to be more of an ad hoc thing.

That said, I still have a bunch of links to share. But before the links I want to highlight one of the highlights of my activities on the interwebs during the aforementioned five months – namely, Juan Torres’s interview of David Congdon and me. I commend it to you, if you haven’t seen it yet, as an excellent place to begin if you want to get a peek behind the McMakenian…

Responding to Hunsicker concerning Gollwitzer and “Our God Loves Justice”

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Many thanks to David Hunsicker, whom I have known low these many years, for his recent blog review of my book on Helmut Gollwitzer: Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer.



Hunsicker spends a great deal of time laying out the shape of the book, so be sure to head on over if you’re looking for a precis of the work that will whet your appetite and drive you to your favorite bookseller in search of a copy. I would like to respond briefly to two of Hunsicker’s three concluding thoughts. (Folks are, of course, welcome to make connections between Golli and Yoder – it’s just that I’m not particularly interested in that conversation.)

Hunsicker’s second and third points derive from a fundamental failure to grasp the dialectical theological concept of paradoxical identity, which I have written about at some length in various places. TL:DR = the divine is wholly other than the human (paradox), but they are nonobjectifiably identical in – and only in – the event of encounte…

Not as Children of Death: Stroupe on the Resurrection

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Death, according to Nibs Stroupe, casts a heavy screen over our vision, beclouding not only our view of the surrounding world, but also hiding from us our true identity as beloved children of God. In a sermon on the encounter in the garden between the Risen Jesus and Mary of Magdala (John 20:1-18), Stroupe interprets resurrection as "recognition."

Deeper Waters: Sermons for a New Vision, By Nibs Stroupe (edited by Collin Cornell) (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017).

Mary is the only individual mentioned in all four Gospel accounts of the resurrection, and in the passage from John, she is the first witness to meet the risen Lord. The church, as Stroupe notes, has often been embarrassed to name women as primary witnesses to the resurrection. (If even the Apostle Paul neglects to mention Mary and other women in is paradigmatic resurrection keryma -- I Cor. 15 -- it is hardly surprising that later interpreters would stumble over this fact as well. And check out Luke 24:1-12 for …

So, You Want To Read Helmut Gollwitzer?

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This is a post that I have needed to write for a long time. I’ve put off writing it until now, however, because I’ve been carrying on an argument with myself about what the best way to organize it would be. I’ve spent a lot of time with Gollwitzer over the past half a dozen years or so, and it’s hard to boil down everything I want to say about Gollwitzer into some clear, straightforward advice.

Of course, if you want the long version, you can always read my book: Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer (Fortress, 2017). It just so happens that this is the best secondary source on Gollwitzer available in English so, you know, it’s a must read. But don’t take my word on it. Heath Carter agrees, as the photo below shows:


Anyway, back to the task at hand. You, gentle reader, want to read Helmut Gollwitzer. Perhaps you’ve already read my book and are now ready to dive into Golli himself and get a first hand picture. Maybe you want to form some of your own opinions by …

Demonic Possession is Not the New Normal:
More from Nibs Stroupe

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The story of Jesus liberating the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 8:26-39 and parallels) has long bedeviled modern interpreters (stop groaning at the pun, please, gentle readers). A New Testament scholar as esteemed as E.P. Sanders once had to admit he wasn't quite sure what to make of this story (see his The Historical Figure of Jesus). Is this vignette simply a case of ancient superstition, or might it have something to say to us directly today?

Deeper Waters: Sermons for a New Vision, By Nibs Stroupe (edited by Collin Cornell) (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017).

Nibs Stroupe, a Presbyterian preacher from Georgia, has some perceptive insights here. (For some background on Stroupe, see my previous post.) Like many other Western readers today, he reflectively recoils from exorcism stories, yet he invites us to take a closer look at the multiple assaults of death-dealing powers that afflict human beings. He invites us to shift our focus away from metaphysical speculation on the demons in …

What Am I Reading? Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

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It’s been a long time since I’ve done a post giving you, gentle readers, a peek into a book that I’ve been reading. In fact, the last time I did so was back in May of 2017 (index of book reviews here). But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading: I have been. And I’ve been reading some interesting and thought-provoking stuff, including the book that I want to highlight for you today.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016).


This book taught me a great deal about the black American experience, about the history of the struggle for black liberation, about the important role played by black urban rebellions of the 1960s and the successes of the Civil Rights movement, about how electoral politics has failed black America and castrated the hard-won gains of that earlier generation, about how “colorblindness” coincides with victim blaming and how it dovetails with the legitimization role played by the black elite, and about …