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Scripture has brought us light in darkness, strength in weakness, comfort in sadness. It isn't difficult to endorse the Psalmist's experience that the words of God are 'more precious than gold... sweeter than honey'. So it's distressing to watch the Bible being dislodged from its position of authority, not only in our nation but also in the church. Here we focus on the urgent need to continue in, respond to, interpret and expound God's Word.
Those looking for a single resource that collects clear teachings on the most important doctrines of Christianity need look no further than Gregg Allison's 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith. This volume covers foundational doctrines of the nature and works of God, the Bible, God's created beings, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the church, and the end times. And each chapter features clear guidance for how to teach and apply the doctrine today. Pastors, Sunday school teachers, and lay students of theology will find this an indispensable resource for understanding and teaching Christian theology.
This commentary offers a concise, incisive view of Galatians, Paul's most polemical letter. Here, Paul is fighting for the spiritual life and loyalty of some of his hard-won converts. Taking advantage of a range of persuasive rhetorical approaches, his letter appears to bristle with anger at the interlopers and the anguish of spurned affection. In this commentary, Craig S. Keener mines insights from the ancient world to highlight Paul's persuasive tactics and how the Galatian Christians would have heard his intense yet profound message. In so doing, Keener also helps readers to confront Galatians afresh today, so they can hear more closely what Paul is and is not saying for the church universal. Drawing on a wide range of ancient Mediterranean sources to reconstruct the context of Galatians, Keener helps us to grasp the issues that Paul was addressing, the reasons that Paul wrote the letter, and its continuing relevance for contemporary audiences.
This volume offers a comprehensive overview of one of the four New Testament gospels and brings a unique approach to the genre of Bible commentary. Featuring distinct Jewish and Christian voices in respectful conversation, Amy-Jill Levine and Ben Witherington, III methodologically break new ground in exploring why scholars disagree on questions of history (what actually happened, what is authorial invention, how do we address different versions of the same account), literature (what does this story tell us about Jesus and Peter, Mary Magdalene and Judas, among other characters), and theology (what can we say about resurrection and divine justice, or about Jesus as the Messiah). They show how Luke has been used to create both tragedy and hope, as well as to promote sexism, anti-semitism, and religious intolerance, thereby raising important questions regarding ethically responsible interpretation. This volume will be essential reading for theologians, clergy, and anyone interested in biblical studies and Jewish/Christian dialogue.
In 1906, American humorist Mark Twain published a sixty-page essay entitled "What is man?" Consisting of an interminable dialogue between a senior citizen (who believes that man is just a machine) and a young man (who believes nothing in particular but is open to persuasion), it wasn't one of his finest books. But at least he tried. Authors since then seem to have avoided the subject like the plague, often tackling the respective roles of men and women in society but seldom asking deeper questions about what it means to be human. When the psalmist asked, "What is man?" (Psalm 8 v.4) he was, I think, seeking an altogether more profound answer. Avoidance of the subject is all the more strange because there has never been a time like our own when curiosity about human origins and destiny has been greater, or the answers on offer more hotly disputed. It's a safe bet that any attempt to give the "big picture" on the origin, nature and specialness of mankind will be contentious --which might explain why writers have generally fought shy of it.
Yet at heart it is the question most of us really do want answered, because the answer defines that precious thing we call our identity, both personally and as a race. The Psalmist did, of course, offer his own answer three millennia ago. Man, he claimed, was created by God for a clearly defined purpose -- to exercise dominion over planet earth and (by implication) to ultimately share something of the glory of the divine nature. The rest, as they say, is history, but it's not a happy tale. As Mark Twain says in another essay; "I can't help being disappointed with Adam and Eve." Not surprisingly, then, a large proportion of humanity today are looking for alternative solutions, accepting the challenge of the Psalmist's question without embracing the optimism of his answer.
In this book we are going to consider the alternative solutions on offer by considering what it means to be human against the backgrounds of cosmology (man's place in the universe), biology (man's place in the animal kingdom), and psychology (man's consciousness and mind). Finally, we return to the biblical context, arguing that the Psalmist got it right after all. Don't let the science-sounding stuff put you off. Like its popular prequel, "Who made God? Searching for a theory of everything," this book is written with a light touch in a reader-friendly and often humorous style. It is intended specifically for the non-expert, with homely verbal illustrations designed to explain and unpack the technicalities for the lay-person. As Dr. Paul Copan (Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University) says, "Edgar Andrews has a way of making the profound accessible. His scholarship informs the reader about key questions of our time, offering wise guidance and illumination."
In this fascinating historical and cultural biography, Peter Stanford deconstructs that most vilified of Bible characters: Judas Iscariot, who famously betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Beginning with the gospel accounts, Stanford explores two thousand years of cultural and theological history to investigate how the very name Judas came to be synonymous with betrayal and, ultimately, human evil. But as the author points out, there has long been a counter-current of thought that suggests that Judas might in fact have been victim of a terrible injustice: central to Jesus' mission was his death and resurrection, and for there to have been a death, there had to be a betrayal. This thankless role fell to Judas; should we in fact be grateful to him for his role in the divine drama of salvation? "You'll have to decide," as Bob Dylan sang in the sixties, "Whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side." An essential but doomed character in the Passion narrative, and thus the entire story of Christianity, Judas and the betrayal he symbolizes continue to play out in much larger cultural histories, speaking as he does to our deepest fears about friendship, betrayal, and the problem of evil.
Tragedy is a genre for exploring loss and suffering, and this book traces the vital areas where tragedy has shaped and been a resource for Christian theology. There is a history to the relationship of theology and tragedy; tragic literature has explored areas of theological interest, and is present in the Bible and ongoing theological concerns. Christian theology has a long history of using what is at hand, and the genre of tragedy is no different. What are the merits and challenges of placing the central narrative of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ in tragic terms? This study examines important and shared concerns of theology and tragedy: sacrifice and war, rationality and order, historical contingency, blindness, guilt, and self-awareness. Theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Martin Luther King Jr., Simone Weil, and Boethius have explored tragedy as a theological resource. The historical relationship of theology and tragedy reveals that neither is monolithic, and both remain diverse and unstable areas of human thought. This fascinating book will be of keen interest to theologians, as well as scholars in the fields of literary studies and tragic theory.
The question of evil--its origins, its justification, its solution--has plagued humankind from the beginning. Every generation raises the question and struggles with the responses it is given. Questions about the nature of evil and how it is reconciled with the truth claims of Christianity are unavoidable; we need to be prepared to respond to such questions with great clarity and good faith. God and Evil compiles the best thinking on all angles on the question of evil, from some of the finest scholars in religion, philosophy and apologetics, including Gregory E. Ganssle and Yena Lee Bruce Little Garry DeWeese R. Douglas Geivett James Spiegel Jill Graper Hernandez Win Corduan David Beck With additional chapters addressing "issues in dialogue" such as hell and human origins, and a now-famous debate between evangelical philosopher William Lane Craig and atheist philosopher Michael Tooley, God and Evil provides critical engagement with recent arguments against faith and offers grounds for renewed confidence in the God who is "acquainted with grief."
Although God is making a comeback in our society, popular culture
still takes its orders from the Enlightenment, a movement that
denied faith a prominent role in society. Today, many are
questioning this elevation of reason over faith. How should
Christians respond to a secular world that continues to push faith
to the margins?
Essays explore how interpretations affect casuistry, and cover issues related to abortion, reproductive technologies, euthanasia, sexuality, race, gender, social justice, the environment, civil disobedience, capital punishment, and war.
Christos Yannaras is one of the most significant Orthodox theologians of recent times. The work of Yannaras is virtually synonymous with a turn or renaissance of Orthodox philosophy and theology, initially within Greece, but as the present volume confirms, well beyond it. His work engages not only with issues of philosophy and theology, but also takes in wider questions of culture and politics. With contributions from established and new scholars, the book is divided into three sections, which correspond to the main directions that Christos Yannaras has followed - philosophy, theology, and culture - and reflects on the ways in which Yannaras has engaged and influenced thought across these fields, in addition to themes including ecclesiology, tradition, identity, and ethics. This volume facilitates the dialogue between the thought of Yannaras, which is expressed locally yet is relevant globally, and Western Christian thinkers. It will be of great interest to scholars of Orthodox and Eastern Christian theology and philosophy, as well as theology more widely.
The captivating story of the world's favorite saint is now retold for a modern audience by one of the great novelists of our time. Perhaps more than any other figure in Christian history since Jesus Christ, Saint Francis of Assisi has captured our imagination, for his is a story of extreme self-sacrifice, of love to God and man. How could this wealthy, handsome youth cast away all the advantages that were his by birth and choose instead a career of poverty and humility? How could he attract members of all strata of society to his mission? And how, when his order became established throughout Europe, could he renounce great personal power and humbly continue his life's work? Here is Francis, from his twelfth-century boyhood to his life as a missionary roaming the very boundaries of the known world. Here too are the men and women who followed him--Bernard de Quintavalle, the rich businessman; Peter Cathanii, the lawyer; Brother Giles, the farmer's son; Lady Clare; and so many others--all drawn together by the personal magnetism and humble faith of their leader, all re-created by bestselling novelist Elizabeth Goudge against a rich medieval canvas.
God, Sexuality and the Self is a new venture in systematic theology. Sarah Coakley invites the reader to re-conceive the relation of sexual desire and the desire for God and - through the lens of prayer practice - to chart the intrinsic connection of this relation to a theology of the Trinity. The goal is to integrate the demanding ascetical undertaking of prayer with the recovery of lost and neglected materials from the tradition and thus to reanimate doctrinal reflection both imaginatively and spiritually. What emerges is a vision of human longing for the triune God which is both edgy and compelling: Coakley's theologie totale questions standard shibboleths on 'sexuality' and 'gender' and thereby suggests a way beyond current destructive impasses in the churches. The book is clearly and accessibly written and will be of great interest to all scholars and students of theology.
In recent years, martyrdom and political violence have been conflated in the public imagination. Ruben Rosario Rodriguez argues that martyr narratives deserve consideration as resources for resisting political violence in contemporary theological reflection. Underlying the three Abrahamic monotheistic traditions is a shared belief that God requires liberation for the oppressed, justice for the victims and, most demanding of all, love for the political enemy. Christian, Jewish and Muslim martyr narratives that condone political violence - whether terrorist or state-sponsored - are examined alongside each religion's canon, in order to evaluate how central or marginalized these discourses are within their respective traditions. Primarily a work of Christian theology in conversation with Judaism and Islam, this book aims to model religious pluralism and cooperation by retrieving distinctly Christian sources that nurture tolerance and facilitate coexistence, while respecting religious difference.
Thomas Aquinas is one of the foremost thinkers in Western
philosophy and Christian scholarship, recognized as a significant
voice in both theological discussions and secular philosophical
debates. Alongside a revival of interest in Thomism in philosophy,
scholars have realized its relevance when addressing certain
contemporary issues in bioethics. This book offers a rigorous
interpretation of Aquinas's metaphysics and ethical thought, and
highlights its significance to questions in bioethics.
A leading voice of progressive Christianity makes a powerful case for faith as a radical way of being in the world During his thirty-year career as a parish minister and professor, Robin Meyers has focused on renewing the church as an instrument of social change and personal transformation. In this provocative and passionate book, he explores the decline of the church as a community of believers and calls readers back to the church's roots as a community of resistance. Shifting the conversation about church renewal away from theological purity and marketing strategies that embrace cultural norms, and toward "embodied noncompliance" with the dominant culture, Meyers urges a return to the revolutionary spirit that marked Jesus's ministry. Framing his discussion around three poems by twentieth-century Polish poet Anna Kamienska, Meyers casts the nature of faith as a force that stands against anything and everything that engenders death and indignity. He calls for active-sometimes even subversive-defiance of the ego's temptations, of what he terms "the heresy of orthodoxy itself," and of an uncritical acceptance of militarism and capitalism. Each chapter is a poignant and urgent invitation to recover the Jesus Movement as a Beloved Community of Resistance.
This volume offers much-needed theological reflection on the phenomenon of conversion and transformation. Gordon Smith provides a robust evaluation that covers the broad range of thinking about conversion across Christian traditions and addresses global contexts. Smith contends that both in the church and in discussions about contemporary mission, the language of conversion inherited from revivalism is inadequate in helping to navigate the questions that shape how we do church, how we approach faith formation, how evangelism is integrated into congregational life, and how we witness to the faith in non-Christian environments. We must rethink the nature of the church in light of how people actually come to faith in Christ. After drawing on ancient and pre-revivalist wisdom on conversion, Smith delineates the contours of conversion and Christian initiation for today's church. He concludes by discussing the art of spiritual autobiography and what it means to be a congregation.
Karl Barth is widely regarded as the most important theologian of the twentieth century, and his observations about the church and its place in a modern world continue to engage religious scholars nearly fifty years after his death. This English translation of the Swiss-published Conversations is a three-volume collection featuring correspondence, articles, interviews, and other short-form writings by Barth from 1959-1962. Among them are dialogues with representatives of the Evangelical Community Movement (1959); conversations with prison chaplains and a question-and-answer session with the Conference of the World Student Christian Federation (1960); discussions with Methodist preachers, Zurich pastors, and Catholic students of theology (1961); press conferences in New York and Chicago (1962); and an interview at the United Nations (1962). Within these pages, scholars and students will find a comprehensive view into Barth's life and thinking about theology and its role in society today.
What are the implications of a client's image of God? Improve your confidence and your practice skills by enhancing your knowledge of how individuals are likely to perceive God, and of how those perceptions impact the way they function as human beings. Theologians have long speculated and theorized about how humans imagine God to be. This book merges theology with science, presenting empirical research focused on perceptions of God in a variety of populations living in community and mental health settings. Each chapter concludes with references that comprise an essential reading list, and the book is generously enhanced with tables that make data easy to access and understand. "Liberating Images of God" discusses the constriction and impoverishment of God images due to the traditional restrictions of God images to those that are male and personified. This chapter examines the potential for the client and counselor's co-creation of images of God which embrace the feminine as well as the masculine, the nurturer as well as the warrior, and the natural world in all its dimensions as well as the human world, to liberate, enrich, sustain, and transform the client's relationships with God and with him/herself. "Attachment, Well-Being, and Religious Participation Among People with Severe Mental Disorders" examines the relationship between attachment states of mind and religious participation among people diagnosed with severe mental illness. "Concepts of God and Therapeutic Alliance Among People with Severe Mental Disorders" explores the transferential aspects of God representation among severely mentally ill adults. It highlights research on the relationship between a patient's image of God and that patient's working relationship with his/her case manager, and discusses the implications for clinical practice of those findings. "The Subjective Experience of God" presents a theory about the psychological basis for the experience of God that argues that this experience is essentially a form of projection and as such is an internal event that does not exist independent of an individual's psyche. This chapter draws a distinction between faith in a particular belief namely, faith in the existence of a loving, omnipotent God and an attitude of faith, which is the basis for experiences of transcendence. "Relationship of Gender Role Identity and Attitudes" presents the results of a study in which nearly 300 Catholic attendees at three university Catholic centers completed the Bern Sex Role Inventory, the Attitudes Toward Women Scale, and the Perceptions of God Checklist. This chapter looks at images of God as masculine or feminine, and at the connection for people between the way they perceive God and the way they relate towards men and women. "Reflections on a Study in a Mental Hospital," brings you groundbreaking new research on perceptions of God in an inpatient population. This chapter examines the positive effects (as opposed to the negative effects previously portrayed by the psychological community) of religious belief and practice for residential care patients in a psychiatric hospital.
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