Showing posts from 2018

Not as Children of Death: Stroupe on the Resurrection

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?

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

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

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 …

10 (More!) Reasons You Should Assign "Our God Loves Justice" in Your Class

That's right, gentle readers, it's the post that you've all been waiting for! Now, I grant that you might not have known that you were waiting for this post. But ever since my original post on 10 Reasons You Should Assign Our God Loves Justice in Your Class, I know that your deep subconscious has been tormented by the question: WILL HE GIVE US 10 MORE REASONS?!?!?!

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you had nightmares in which you were tormented by a desire, or a fear, or an existential threat that lurked just out of your vision and stalked you in the proverbial night. And, of course, then came the post where you learned that there is a Free Study Guide for Our God Loves Justice. How you were able to stand the suspense, the interminable waiting in uncertainly, I'll never know. But you did!

I'm here with good news in answer to your inquiry of ultimate concern: YES, YES HE (I mean, I *ahem*) WILL!!!

And here it is!

Like I said in the first post, I think Gollwitz…

Beating the Devil Down in Georgia: On Reading Deeper Waters by Nibs Stroupe

Gibson "Nibs" Stroupe has no need for speculative demonologies: The beloved Atlanta Presbyterian pastor has met the demonic face-to-face, both in his own life and in the spiritual, social, and racial tumult that continues to roil the United States. He has seen the devil not so much in encountering little girls levitating above their beds, quoting Latin in screechy, ethereal voices, but rather in the fallen principalities and powers of racism, sexism, militarism, and homophobia -- those social, political, economic, and psychological forces that incarnate the power of death and with whom each of us is complicit. More importantly, though, the Arkansas native, raised in the 1950s as an avid segregationist, met not only personal and structural evil, he also was enveloped and transformed by the redeeming and liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ, and from this conversion emerged a prophetic ministry of reconciliation and healing. Stroupe has wrestled with the deep existential irony th…

"Jesus was a failure" - an anonymous missive on the possibility of faith in the modern world

Note from the editor: Gentle readers, some of you may be old enough to remember what a transom is. For those of you who are not, it is a window above a door (pictured) that one could leave open--even while closing the door--to encourage air circulation inside a building back before the advent multi-million dollar HVAC systems. Editors used to occasionally enter their offices and glance at the floor to find that some authorial hopeful had pushed a manuscript over the transom. Well, the electronic version of such a thing happened to me with the below post. It was submitted anonymously for reasons that will become obvious when you read it. What we have here is an account of coming to a personal theological reckoning with dialectical theology. I have decided to publish it in accordance with the author's wishes in the hopes that it will encourage others of you who may be in similar situations. The author has greater facility with classical Greek than do I; I have discerned that this pi…

Free Study Guide for "Our God Loves Justice"

As you know, gentle readers, lately I've been bringing all my social media resources to bear in an effort to make the case for why my fellow theological and religious studies academics should assign my recent book--Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer (Fortress, 2017)--in their classes. All the same arguments hold true for pastors looking for resources for leader training and other pedagogical resources, and for anyone with a theological existence who is part of a theology reading group, etc. But I'm especially keen to get this work into the hands of theological students in the college, university, and seminary contexts because I believe it can help them come to a radically different understanding of the intersection between Christianity and politics than one usually finds in the United States today. As Shannon Smythe, who teaches theology at Seattle Pacific University and who has endorsed the book, puts it:
"This is a challenging and hopeful book t…

Mere Pragmatism is Cold Comfort for Theology: A Concluding(?) Unscientific Postscript on Kaufman

This past fall -- back in the halcyon days when I blogged regularly here! -- I explored, or (better) began to explore, the late Gordon Kaufman's conception of theology as "imaginative construction" in his stunning systematic work, In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology. (For evidence that my role at DET was once more than titular, you may see for yourself here).

Why would someone like me, who hangs out with dialectical theologians on Twitter by day and secretly reads neo-Calvinist websites at night (oops, didn't mean to share that bit), be intrigued by the work of a liberal Harvard theologian, whose commitments to pluralism, historicism, and cultural relativism push his theological conclusions into what some critics might deem to be post-Christian territory? My dirty secret is that I remain obsessed with theological method. But debates over formal method always are rooted in material concerns for what is heart of the gospel and, thus, the norm and impetus for th…

Reform, Yes! But What Sort?

I’ve long been a fan of Bernhard Lohse. His A Short History of Christian Doctrine, for instance, should be required reading for everyone. Yes, everyone. And I’ve read some of his Luther scholarship before as well. But only recently did I sit down to read through his Martin Luther: An Introduction to His Life and Work.

This book is incredibly well organized and reads in many ways like a digest of Luther research as it stood at the end of the 20th century. In other words, it is a wonderful resource.

One bit that I especially liked was Lohse’s description of the need for reform at the end of the Middle Ages. He situates this need especially within the German context, and that means he gives us more than hackneyed Protestant platitudes. He also include a very well-selected detail about Albert of Mainz to make his point.

So here is Lohse; italics are his and bold is mine.

At every diet of the German Empire the Gravamina nationis Germanicae—the list of abuses that the diet was asked to co…

10 Reasons You Should Assign "Our God Loves Justice" in Your Class

Any of you, gentle readers, who have been hanging around DET for even a few weeks are surely aware that I published a book toward the end of 2017 on Helmut Gollwitzer entitled, Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer (Fortress) (OGLJ). You also, no doubt, have noticed that I've been trying to get the word out to folks about this book in an effort to, well, introduce folks to Gollwitzer. The bottom line is that I think Gollwitzer has something important to say to those of us who come from the white Protestant theological tradition but have questions concerning how that tradition has become so nakedly aligned with political figures and policies of--let us say--questionable Christlike-ness.

It is also currently about the time of year when the thoughts of faculty turn to what they will be teaching in the upcoming Fall semester, and such thoughts necessarily include reflection on what books to require in their classes. I hope you don't mind if I make so bold as…

Faith Happens to Us: a sermon on John 1:35-39

So I was not around the last couple weeks. My family and I were on vacation in St. Louis where we got to spend a lot of time with family and our parents got to spend a lot of time with the kids, my parents got to meet my daughter, Oakley, for the first time. It was really wonderful And, you know, the last time my parents saw the kids, my son, Boston, was a newborn. So this was really the first time I was going to get to show them who I am as a parent, especially as a parent of two, one being a toddler.

This was kind of intimidating, but I was excited about it. I mean, I'm like... a responsible adult now. I've been living on my own for several years. I'm successfully keeping two humans alive. And my wife and I have both worked really hard at instilling good habits and manners in our kids thus far. I felt ready for this. However, my kids apparently had other plans. You know what, it's easier if I just give you some examples.

So one night we were over at my parents house …