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God is unbounded. God became flesh. While these two assertions are equally viable parts of Western Christian religious heritage, they stand in tension with one another. Fearful of reducing God's majesty with shallow anthropomorphisms, philosophy and religion affirm that God, as an eternal being, stands wholly apart from creation. Yet the legacy of the incarnation complicates this view of the incorporeal divine, affirming a very different image of God in physical embodiment. While for many today the idea of an embodied God seems simplisticaeven pedestrianaChristoph Markschies reveals that in antiquity, the educated and uneducated alike subscribed to this very idea. More surprisingly, the idea that God had a body was held by both polytheists and monotheists. Platonic misgivings about divine corporeality entered the church early on, but it was only with the advent of medieval scholasticism that the idea that God has a body became scandalous, an idea still lingering today. In God's Body Markschies traces the shape of the divine form in late antiquity. This exploration follows the development of ideas of God's corporeality in Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions. In antiquity, gods were often like humans, which proved to be important for philosophical reflection and for worship. Markschies considers how a cultic environment nurtured, and transformed, Jewish and Christian descriptions of the divine, as well as how philosophical debates over the connection of body and soul in humanity provided a conceptual framework for imagining God. Markschies probes the connections between this lively culture of religious practice and philosophical speculation and the christological formulations of the church to discover how the dichotomy of an incarnate God and a fleshless God came to be. By studying the religious and cultural past, Markschies reveals a Jewish and Christian heritage alien to modern sensibilities, as well as a God who is less alien to the human experience than much of Western thought has imagined. Since the almighty God who made all creation has also lived in that creation, the biblical idea of humankind as image of God should be taken seriously and not restricted to the conceptual world but rather applied to the whole person.
Evangelicalism has left its indelible mark on American history, politics, and culture. It is also true that currents of American populism and politics have shaped the nature and character of evangelicalism. This story of evangelicalism in America is thus riddled with paradox. Despite the fact that evangelicals, perhaps more than any other religious group, have benefited from the First Amendment and the separation of church and state, several prominent evangelical leaders over the past half century have tried to abrogate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. And despite evangelicalism's legacy of concern for the poor, for women, and for minorities, some contemporary evangelicals have repudiated their own heritage of compassion and sacrifice stemming from Jesus' command to love the least of these. In Evangelicalism in America Randall Balmer chronicles the history of evangelicalismaits origins and development as well as its diversity and contradictions. Within this lineage Balmer explores the social varieties and political implications of evangelicalism's inception as well as its present and paradoxical relationship with American culture and politics. Balmer debunks some of the cherished myths surrounding this distinctly American movement while also prophetically speaking about its future contributions to American life.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906a1945) remains one of the most enigmatic figures of the twentieth century. His life evokes fascination, eliciting attention from a wide and diverse audience. Bonhoeffer is rightly remembered as theologian and philosopher, ethicist and political thinker, wartime activist and resister, church leader and pastor, martyr and saint. These many sides to Bonhoeffer do not give due prominence to the aspect of his life that wove all the disparate parts into a coherent whole: Bonhoeffer as preacher. In Dietrich: Bonhoeffer and the Theology of a Preaching Life Michael Pasquarello traces the arc of Bonhoeffer's public career, demonstrating how, at every stage, Bonhoeffer focused upon preaching, both in terms of its ecclesial practice and the theology that gave it life. Pasquarello chronicles a period of preparationaBonhoeffer's study of Luther and Barth, his struggleto reconcile practical ministry with preaching, andhis discovery of preaching's ethic of resistance. Next Pasquarello describes Bonhoeffer's maturation as a preacherahis crafting a homiletic theology, as well as preaching's relationship to politics and public confession. Pasquarello follows Bonhoeffer's forced itinerancy until he became, ultimately, a preacher without any congregation at all. In the end, Bonhoeffer's life was his best sermon. Dietrich presents Bonhoeffer as an exemplar in the preaching tradition of the church. His exercise of theological and homiletical wisdom in particular times, places, and circumstancesaBerlin, Barcelona, Harlem, London, Finkenwaldeareveals the particular kind of intellectual, spiritual, and moral formation required for faithful, concrete witness to the gospel in the practice of proclamation, both then and now. Bonhoeffer's story as a pastor and teacher of preachers provides a historical example of how the integration of theology and ministry is the fruit of wisdom cultivated through a life of discipleship with others in prayer, study, scriptural meditation, and mutual service.
The Psalms, gritty and bold prayers of a people seeking to be obedient to a powerful and compassionate God, collectively illustrate what a real faith in the living God looks like. In Psalms as a Grammar for Faith: Prayer and Praise , W. H. Bellinger Jr. traces the way the Psalms exemplify and create a grammar for living a life of faith. Bellinger combines his years of study of the Psalms and his own theological sensibility to explore both the genre and shape of the Psalter. He focuses upon the themes of lament and of praise. Bellinger addresses the presence of enemies andtheprayers for vengeance throughout the Psalms, concluding that these lamentations exemplify a covenant theology of prayer.He then examines thepsalms of praisethatteach the art of worship. Various kinds of praise in the Psalter serve as examplesofadorationaproper ways to thank almighty God forthe goodness of life and for the divine mystery. Finally, Bellinger explores the five divisions of the Psalms, arguing for a powerful and intentional anthology initially connected to ancient Israel's encounter with defeat and exile. Bellinger concludes that the Psalter directs readers to use the psalms of lament and praise as models for life, depending on God's justice in times of anger, singingGod'spraise in times of thanksgiving, and always acknowledging God as Lord over hardships and blessings. Only in this way, he argues,can humans live the faith of the Psalmsaa faith defined by complete dependence on God.
This ninth volume in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible offers a theological exegesis of Numbers. This commentary, like each in the series, is designed to serve the church--through aid in preaching, teaching, study groups, and so forth--and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible. "The Brazos Theological Commentary exists to provide an accessible authority so that the preacher's application will be a ready bandage for all the hurts of life. The Brazos Commentary offers just the right level of light to make illuminating the word the joy it was meant to be."--Calvin Miller, author of A Hunger for the Holy and Loving God Up Close
This is an introduction to African Christian ethics for Christian colleges and Bible schools. The book is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the theory of ethics, while the second discusses practical issues. The issues are grouped into the following six sections: Socio-Political Issues, Financial Issues, Marriage Issues, Sexual Issues, Medical Issues, and Religious Issues. Each section begins with a brief general introduction, followed by the chapters dealing with specific issues in that area. Each chapter begins with an introduction, discusses traditional African thinking on the issue, presents an analysis of relevant biblical material, and concludes with some recommendations. There are questions at the end of each chapter for discussion or personal reflection, often asking students to reflect on how the discussion in the chapter applies to their ministry situation.
C.S. Lewis's famous work on the nature of love divides love into four categories: Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity. The first three are loves which come naturally to the human race. Charity, however, the Gift-love of God, is divine in its source and expression, and without the sweetening grace of this supernatural love, the natural loves become distorted and even dangerous.
In the late sixteenth century, after the Council of Trent and the Catholic Reformation, the confessional became a key means to improve morals and religious life - and, for the Catholic clergy of New Spain, a new avenue through which they might reach the consciences of Spaniards and improve their treatment of indigenous peoples. To this end, the bishops of the province of Mexico drafted a directorio in 1585 to guide the priesthood in fulfilling its duty according to current ecclesiastical ideals and social realities. That document, published here in English for the first time, offers an unrivaled view of the religious, social, and economic history of colonial Mexico. Though never widely circulated, the Directorio para confesores (Directory for Confessors) contains an encyclopedic description of life in Mexico three generations after the European invasion. In addition to summarizing sixteenth-century Spanish concerns in the provinces, the Directory offers insight into the Catholic Church's moral judgments on many aspects of colonial life. Translated by distinguished scholar Stafford Poole, the document embodies a remarkable knowledge of scripture and law and reflects the concerns of the Spanish crown and what was happening in New Spain. The Directory instructs its clergy audience in the proper methods to combat superstition among the Spaniards, helps them navigate the variety of business contracts used in Creole society at the time, and details the obligations of those in various social stations, from viceroys to tavern keepers. It also condemns the forced labor of native people under the repartimiento system, especially in the mines. Rendered in clear prose and illuminated with helpful introductory chapters by Poole and John F. Schwaller, extensive annotations, and a glossary of terms, this volume offers unparalleled insights into life and thought in sixteenth-century New Spain.
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