Dr Ramachandra, prophetically again, about how science undermines itself these days, by becoming a servant of Big Business.
Kelly Flanagan on digital detox. NOT A SAFE POST! 🙂
In case you wondered what Fr Rohr thinks about the Cross (I know my dear friend Eugen Matei does). This spells it out a bit.
My precious virtual friend Vinoth Ramachandra, the IFES Secretary for Dialogue & Social Engagement, wrote today in an email:
The American (Eastern Orthodox) theologian David Bentley Hart raises some thought-provoking questions about the American church that if raised by others would immediately be brushed aside as symptomatic of “anti-Americanism”. In an article (“The Angels of Sacré-Coeur”) first published in 2011, Hart writes:
“It is very much an open and troubling question whether American religiosity has the resources to help sustain a culture as a culture- whether, that is, it can create a meaningful future, or whether it can only prepare for the end times. Is the American religious temperament so apocalyptic as to be incapable of culture in any but the most local and ephemeral sense? Does it know of any city other than Babylon the Great or the New Jerusalem? For all the moral will it engenders in persons and communities, can it cultivate the kind of moral intelligence necessary to live in eternity and in historical time simultaneously, without contradiction?”
And he ends with the sober judgment: “European Christendom has at least left a singularly presentable corpse behind. If the American religion were to evaporate tomorrow, it would leave behind little more than the brutal banality of late modernity.”
Harsh words, perhaps, but they stem from a passion to see the Lordship of Christ embracing and permeating every area of the church’s life and engagement with the world. The apostle Paul too used harsh language in denouncing the way the face of Christ was distorted by both false teaching and behaviour inconsistent with the Gospel.
American Christian Fundamentalism (ACF) has made deep inroads into churches all over the world since the Second World War, and its influence has been magnified with the rise of satellite TV and the Internet. I have often said that, with the decline of old-style European theological liberalism, ACF poses a far bigger threat to the global church than Islamist fundamentalism. Why? Because the biggest threats arise not from those who can only kill the body but from those who kill our souls in the name of religion.
Here are four reasons, among others, for my concern:
Franciscans never believed that “blood atonement” was required for God to love us. We believed that Christ was Plan A from the very beginning (Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, John 1:1-18). Christ wasn’t a Plan B after the first humans sinned, which is the way most people seem to understand the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Great Mystery of Incarnation could not be a mere mop-up exercise, a problem-solving technique, or dependent on human beings messing up. The Incarnation was not motivated by a problem but by love.
Did God intend no meaning or purpose for creation during the first 13.8 billion years? Did the sun, moon, and galaxies have no divine significance? The fish, the birds, the animals were just waiting for humans to appear? Was there no Divine Blueprint (“Logos”) from the beginning? This thinking reveals the hubris of the human species and our tendency to anthropomorphize the whole story around ourselves.Read More »
Note: See how similar is the Franciscan view of salvation as a nonviolent process to the Orthodox view, and how radically diferent from the juridical emphasis that dominates mainline Catholicand almost all Protestant and Evangelical atonement theories (based on the view of an angry God – as opposed to a loving one, who had to punish his Son in order to be able to, again, reluctanty, love his human creatures).
In the thirteenth century, the Franciscans and the Dominicans invariably took opposing positions in the great debates in the universities of Paris, Cologne, Bologna, and Oxford. Both opinions usually passed the tests of orthodoxy, although one was preferred. The Franciscans often ended up presenting the minority position. Like the United States’ Supreme Court, the Church could have both a majority and a minority opinion, and the minority position was not kicked out! It was just not taught in most seminaries. However, it was taught in some Franciscan formation centers, and I was a lucky recipient of this “alternative orthodoxy” at Duns Scotus College in Michigan from 1962-1966.
I share this background to illustrate that my understanding of the atonement theory is not heretical or new, but has quite traditional and orthodox foundations, beginning with many theologians in the Patristic period.
Source: Reading Wars – Philip Yancey
Don’t you love the always candid Philip Yancey? I really do.
This is an article everybody should read. Please find below a few excerpts:
‘ I used to read three books a week. One year I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare’s plays (OK, due to interruptions it actually took me two years). Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. But I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work.
The internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around. When I read an online article from The Atlantic or The New Yorker, after a few paragraphs I glance over at the slide bar to judge the article’s length. My mind strays, and I find myself clicking on the sidebars and the underlined links. Soon I’m over at CNN.com reading Donald Trump’s latest Tweets and details of the latest terrorist attack, or perhaps checking tomorrow’s weather.’
‘Neuroscientists have an explanation for this phenomenon. When we learn something quick and new, we get a dopamine rush; functional-MRI brain scans show the brain’s pleasure centers lighting up. In a famous experiment, rats keep pressing a lever to get that dopamine rush, choosing it over food or sex. In humans, emails also satisfy that pleasure center, as do Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat.
Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows analyzes the phenomenon, and its subtitle says it all: “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” Carr spells out that most Americans, and young people especially, are showing a precipitous decline in the amount of time spent reading. He says, “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” A 2016 Nielsen report calculates that the average American devotes more than ten hours per day to consuming media—including radio, TV, and all electronic devices. That constitutes 65 percent of waking hours, leaving little time for the much harder work of focused concentration on reading.’
‘I’ve concluded that a commitment to reading is an ongoing battle, somewhat like the battle against the seduction of internet pornography. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish. Christians especially need that sheltering space, for quiet meditation is one of the most important spiritual disciplines.’
‘Boredom, say the researchers, is when creativity happens. A wandering mind wanders into new, unexpected places. When I retire to the mountains and unplug for a few days, something magical takes place. I’ll go to bed puzzling over a roadblock in my writing, and the next morning wake up with the solution crystal-clear—something that never happens when I spend my spare time cruising social media and the internet.
I find that poetry helps. You can’t zoom through poetry; it forces you to slow down, think, concentrate, relish words and phrases. I now try to begin each day with a selection from George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, or R. S. Thomas.
For deep reading, I’m searching for an hour a day when mental energy is at a peak, not a scrap of time salvaged from other tasks. I put on headphones and listen to soothing music, shutting out distractions.’
‘We’re engaged in a war, and technology wields the heavy weapons. Rod Dreher published a bestseller called The Benedict Option, in which he urged people of faith to retreat behind monastic walls as the Benedictines did—after all, they preserved literacy and culture during one of the darkest eras of human history. I don’t completely agree with Dreher, though I’m convinced that the preservation of reading will require something akin to the Benedict option.
I’m still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me.’
Arthur Brown on fear & faith, a constant topic of conversation for Christians living in the Middle East.
Liviu Horvath s-a aapucat iarasi sa sape prin teologie si nu iarta nimic.
Da-i ‘nainte, prietene, ca inapoi e jale.
In celebration of grandfathers.
I just love Peeter Enns and I fully agree with him o his view of apologetics.
‘We are the apologetic, and that is much harder than crafting arguments.’ I could not say that better. Thanks, Peter Enns.
Sousie Lahoud of hospitality as a Christian virtue in the age of terror
This is very interesting.
So, here is, according to Joshua Forte, What I (an INFP type) Desperately Wish I’d Stop Doing, Based On My Myers-Briggs Personality Type:
Acting like your dark, brooding thoughts make you superior to other people because you’re deeper and more complex than they are.
Lord, have mercy! 🙂
Here is some solid biblical teaching on a topic that continues to divide evangelicalism, mostly because of ignorance, patriarchy and ‘holy’ misogyny.
Something worth pondering. I am sure you are not guity of this, but I am, so this is promarily for me.
Awakening is a call we find in all religious traditions.
Did you ever receive this call? And, if you did, how di you respond to it, if, indeed, you did respond?
Martin Accad presents in this blog post 3 possible response to persecution. The first, revenge, is incompatible with Christ’s gospel of love. The second, self-victimization and demonization of others, equally incompatible with the Christian vision, seems to be the preferred option of many conservative American Christians.
The third option, active forgiveness and reconciliaation is the only option that fully represents the vision of the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Christ. May we all choose this path, by God’s grace.
By Martin Accad
The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary has just completed its fourteenth Middle East Conference/Consultation, organized by its Institute of Middle East Studies, the highlights of which were presented last week through our blog. Under the overarching concept of “disorienting times,” we explored the four themes of “Persecution and Suffering,” “Emigration,” “Hopelessness and Despair,” and “Minoritization.” The four themes were well integrated and tied together through a specific logical framework: The persecution that the MENA church has suffered historically has driven it to a sense that its status as minority was not simply a matter of numbers, but that it has been subjected to a process of subjugation which we referred to as “minoritization.” This process, which has led many to despair and to a general sense of hopelessness, continues to drive many to the search for new hope through emigration.
The bombing of two churches in Egypt on…
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In case you wondered about women theologians.
This is effective cure for theological misogyny.
Last year on Twitter, someone wrote to me “there are no women on my theology bookshelf. Who should I read?”.
I followed up with a blog list, and was pleased to discover that without even looking up from my screen I could easily think of well over a hundred female theologians, ecclesiastical historians, biblical scholars, sociologists of religion, and others who figure on the theological landscape. More names appeared when I actually looked at my own bookshelf.
Replies flooded in through the comments, adding many more names of women authors – both academic and devotional, theoretical and practical, in every area of the theological landscape. Now the academic year is about to begin again, one or two people have mentioned the post again as a resource – so, incomplete though it is, here is the updated blog post with names added from the comments section.
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The arrival of the Romanian kitty Tiger in the house of the McArdeleanu clan in Glasgow
Here is an Orthodox author who agrees on my evaluation that Dreher (an Orthodox himself) misreads Benedict in his defetist approach to the American ‘cultural wars’ madness.
By Kathryn Kraft
When she stood up from the little stool on which she had been perched throughout our interview, I saw that she was indeed pregnant. I’d guess about seven months. But, I thought, she already had seven children, a sunken eye, and a lost home!
I wondered if she wanted this baby or if her husband wanted this baby or if she was unfamiliar with the concept of contraception. My mind wandered to my London existence, where the norm is to choose if and when to become pregnant and where few people have more than three kids. And in London we can access free prenatal, neonatal and paediatric care, assistance with childcare and then free primary education.
This woman had none of these things, and the contrast between her existence and mine somehow to me summarised so well the stark reality of her story and that of her…
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Adonis Vidu’s writing project continues. Exciting.
One of the biggest surprises of my research into the doctrine of inseparable operations (DIO) was the discovery of the doctrine of divine missions (DDM). Augustine is the first theologian (I may be wrong here) that unpacks the metaphysics of DDM. After him, DDM becomes replete in the West. It still remains an important locus of Catholic theology.
What makes DDM special? While other traditions also talk about the missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the West DDM has become almost an integrating motif. It is carefully correlated with a theistic metaphysics. That means that it interprets the scriptural language of the sending of the Son and the Holy Spirit by bringing to bear the theology of divine attributes (simplicity, immutability, omnipresence, divine unity, etc.). DDM has thus come to dogmatically anchor reflection on Christology, pneumatology, soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology.
The following are the essential elements of DDM:
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Cu Socrate, desspre intelepciune matrimoniala.
Today, I will spend a few hours with a group of young friends, discussing MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
This is an amazing document. Plase watch or read, if you have never done it. See below the PDF text.
An Orthodox case for the use of inclusive language in the translation of the CReed. Remarkable.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. (Isa. 1:17)
As we meet this month in Bethlehem in occupied Palestine, we are still suffering from 100 years of injustice and oppression that were inflicted on the Palestinian people beginning with the unjust and unlawful Balfour declaration, intensified through the Nakba and the influx of refugees, followed by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza and the fragmentation of our people and our land through policies of isolation and confiscation of land, and the building of Jewish-only settlements and the Apartheid Wall.
We are still suffering because of one political declaration from a Western Empire, based on a twisted theological premise. Even some churches and few Christian leaders supported the establishment of the colonial state in our land, and totally ignored – even dehumanized – the nation, our people that had already existed here for centuries and paid the price for atrocities committed in Europe.
Hundred years later with thousands of lives lost, towns and villages razed from the face of the earth – though not our memory –, millions of refugees, thousands of homes demolished and continued incarceration of prisoners, our Nakba goes on.Read More »
Australian Biblical scholar Michael Bird writes on the defetist so-called ‘Benedict Option’ vs the (active resistance) ‘Thessalonian Strategy’, as a way of engaging the militant anti-Christian atmosphere in Australia.
If I had to chose between the two, I would certainly opt for Bird’s suggestion. Dreher’s (falsely) monastic soluton was tried by the fundamentalists in the tweentieth centurry and it utterly failed).
Yet, I would like to offer and extra suggestion, based on the same first century that gave birth to the Thessalonian approach and on my experience as a persecuted Christian for 35 years beehind the Iron Courtain.
What about a ‘Calvary Strategy’, one based on happily carrying the cross and willfully accepting persecution as a normal part of the faitful walk with Christ?
Dyo, cu un indemn de a vedea Chariots of Fire.Asa sa facem. Chiar daca l-am mai vazut (de vreo citeva ori). 🙂
Unul dintre cele mai bune filme creștine făcute vreodată de către oameni care nu se pretind a fi neapărat creștini – ba, dimpotrivă, aș zice, stau departe de lumea credinței tradiționale – este, fără îndoială, Chariots of Fire (1981). Protagoniștii sunt doi alergători în curse de viteză, cu șanse și pretenții la câștigarea unei medalii olimpice: un evreu care trage tare de această șansă ca de singurul resort care l-ar mai putea propulsa spre un anume sens al existenței și un creștin, confruntat și acesta cu o profundă dilemă existențială legată de destinul său și de felul în care L-ar putea sluji mai bine pe Dumnezeu.
Eric Liddell dorește să urmeze calea misionariatului, știe că este chemat să vestească Evanghelia în Orientul îndepărtat. În același timp, constată că Dumnezeu l-a făcut iute de picior și, în plus, simte o imensă plăcere în alerga. O bună parte din film reflectă căutarea…
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How much are the poor, who were at the core of Christ’s gospel, a concern for us as followers of Christ? I guess ‘not enough’ would be a fair answer.
By Rupen Das*
A 2009 study by Tomas Rees on the relationship between poverty and religiousness found that personal insecurity (due to stressful situations, such as poverty) was an important determinant of religiosity. The poor tend to be more religious.
I find the faith of the poor both intriguing and challenging. Intriguing – because I wonder why the poor would turn to God and Christ? Challenging – because they want to know the reality of God made possible in Christ – not a message or a theological proposition. I would have imagined that they would be angry at God, and blame Him for their circumstances – for their poverty and the injustices they face. Why would they ask God (or anyone for that matter) for forgiveness, when it would seem that they have been the ones who have been sinned against? From my perspective, it seemed that God has…
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Here is a great interview by Jonathan Merritt with Rob Bell on his latest book, on the Bible.