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Showing posts from February, 2018

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

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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

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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"

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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

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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?

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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…