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During a time of global conflict, the theological question of whether Muslims, Jews, and Christians worship the same God carries political baggage. Is the God of ISIS the same as the God of Israel? Do Sunni Muslims and Protestant Christians pray to the same Creator and Sustainer of the universe? In this Counterpoints volume, edited by Ronnie P. Campbell, Jr., and Christopher Gnanakan, five leading scholars present the main religious perspectives on this question, demonstrating how to think carefully about an issue where opinions differ and confusion abounds. They examine related subtopics such as the difference between God being referentially the same and essentially the same, what "the same" means when referring to God, the significance of the Trinity in this discussion, whether religious inclusivism is inferred by certain understandings of God's sameness, and the appropriateness of interfaith worship. The four main views, along with the scholars presenting them, are: All Worship the Same God: Religious Pluralist View (Wm. Andrew Schwartz and John B. Cobb, Jr.) All Worship the Same God: Referring to the Same God View (Francis J. Beckwith) Jews and Christians Worship the Same God: Shared Revelation View (Gerald R. McDermott) None Worship the Same God: Different Conceptions View (Jerry L. Walls) Additionally, essays by Joseph Cumming and David W. Shenk explore the implications of this question specifically for Christians wanting to minister among and build relationships with Muslims. Cumming stresses that finding common ground is key, while Shenk advocates for a respectful focus on differences. Insightful, gracious, and relevant, Do Christians, Muslims, and Jews Worship the Same God? sheds light on one of the most important theological issues of our day.
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."
500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his ideas to a church door - and the Reformation began. Or maybe it was a little more complicated than that. Nick Page brings his skills as an unlicensed historian to bear on this key period in European (and world) history in order to uncover everything you need to know about the Reformation - with a fair few bits you never wanted to know thrown in for good measure. Historians tell us that the Protestant Reformation laid the foundations for the Industrial Revolution, religious freedom, and all sorts of other Good Things. But what actually happened? Who were the winners and the losers, the ogres and the beauty queens of this key moment in church history? (spoiler: there weren't any beauty queens) In-depth research, historical analysis and cutting-edge guesswork combine to scintillating effect in this fast-moving examination of the strange and wonderful whirlwind that was church life in late medieval Europe. 'You were predestined to read this.' John Calvin
Many observers greeted the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as the most important religious event in the twentieth century. Its implementation and impact are still being felt in the Catholic Church, the wider Christian world, and beyond. One sea change that Vatican II brought concerned Roman Catholic attitudes towards Judaism, Islam, and other religions. Gerald O'Collins breaks fresh ground by examining in detail five documents from the Council which embodied a new mind set about other religious faiths and mandated changes that quickly led to international and national dialogues between the Catholic Church and the followers of non-Christian religions. The book also includes chapters on the insights that prepared the way for the re-thinking expressed by Vatican II, and on the follow-up to the Council's teaching found in the work of Pope John Paul II and Jacques Dupuis. O'Collins ably illustrates how the Council made a startling advance in official Catholic teaching about followers of other living faiths. Carefully researched, the book is written in the clear, accessible style that readers of previous works by O'Collins will recognize.
How the Light Gets In: Ethical Life I presents a systematic account of the teachings of the Christian faith to offer a vision, from a human, created, and limited perspective, of the ways all things might be understood from the divine perspective. It explores how Christian doctrine is lived, and the way in which beliefs are not simply cognitive sets of ideas but embodied cultural practices. Christians learn how to understand the contents of their faith, learn the language of the faith, through engagements that are simultaneously somatic, affective, imaginative, and intellectual. In the first of four volumes, Graham Ward examines the complex levels of these engagements through three historical developments in the systematic organization of doctrine: the Creeds, the Summa, and Protestant dogmatics. He outlines a methodology for exploring and practicing systematic theology that captures how the faith is lived in cultural, social, and embodied engagements. Ward then unpicks several fundamental theological concepts and how they are to be understood from the point of view of an engaged systematics: truth, revelation, judgement, discernment, proclamation, faith seeking understanding, and believing as it relates to and grounds the possibilities for faith. This groundbreaking work offers an interdisciplinary investigation through poetry, art, film, the Bible and theological discourse, analysing the human condition and theology as the deep dream for salvation. The final part relates theology as a lived and ongoing pedagogy concerned with individual and corporate formation to biological life, social life, and life in Christ. Here an approach to living theologically is sketched that is the primary focus for all four volumes: ethical life.
A spirituality based on love, not fear In the West, theology has almost always meant Christian theology--a hodgepodge of beliefs that are hard to make sense of. Why, for example, should an all-loving, merciful God have gotten mad at the human race because someone ate a piece of fruit six thousand years ago? And why would he send part of himself down to earth to be tortured to death? These beliefs, stated baldly, are nonsensical. Millions of people are realizing this and losing their faith. The time has come to reenvision Christian theology without contradictory teachings laced with fear. It is time for a theology of love and miracles. Richard Smoley reframes Christian theology using logical, consistent, and easy-to-understand teachings of unconditional love and forgiveness. He draws inspiration not only from the Bible, but also from Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, and from esoteric and mystical teachings, such as A Course in Miracles and the Sefer Yetzirah, the oldest known Kabbalistic text. He explains how the "fallen" state of the human condition, not one of sin but of oblivion, leads us to experience the world as flawed and problematic--not wholly evil, but not wholly good. Citing philosophical wisdom from Kant, Blake, Jung, and Gurdjieff, alongside cognitive science, Smoley reveals how it is not the world that is flawed, but the way we see the world. Sharing key teachings from A Course in Miracles, he shows that our fear-based mind-sets--often filled with anxiety, suffering, and shame--lead us to feel separated from God when, in fact, we are all extensions of a God of infinite love and light. Offering a path to help you regenerate from the "fallen" state and see the real spiritual world and loving God that lies behind it, the author provides ways for each of us to craft our own self-consistent theology. He also lays out a vision for the future of spirituality, a path for present-day religion to transform into something higher and more universal.
For more than twenty years, Maria Paula Acuna has claimed to see the Virgin Mary, once a month, at a place called Our Lady of the Rock in the Mojave Desert of California. Hundreds of men, women, and children follow her into the desert to watch her see what they cannot. While she sees and speaks with the Virgin, onlookers search the skies for signs from heaven, snapping photographs of the sun and sky. Not all of them are convinced that Maria Paula can see the Virgin, yet at each vision event they watch for subtle clues to Mary's presence, such as the unexpected scent of roses or a cloud in the shape of an angel. The visionary depends on her audience to witness and authenticate her visions, while observers rely on Maria Paula and the Virgin to create a sacred space and moment where they, too, can experience firsthand one of the oldest and most fundamental promises of Christianity: direct contact with the divine. Together, visionary and witnesses negotiate and enact their monthly liturgy of revelations. Our Lady of the Rock, which features text by Lisa M. Bitel and more than sixty photographs by Matt Gainer, shows readers what happens in the Mojave Desert each month and tells us how two thousand years of Christian revelatory tradition prepared Maria Paula and her followers to meet in the desert. Based on six years of observation and interviews, chapters analyze the rituals, iconographies, and physical environment of Our Lady of the Rock. Bitel and Gainer also provide vivid portraits of the pilgrims-who they are, where they come from, and how they practice the traditional Christian discernment of spirits and visions. Our Lady of the Rock follows three pilgrims as they return home with relics and proofs of visions where, out of Maria Paula's sight, they too have learned to see the Virgin. The book also documents the public response from the Catholic Church and popular news media to Maria Paula and other contemporary visionaries. Throughout, Our Lady of the Rock locates Maria Paula and her followers in the context of recent demographic and cultural shifts in the American Southwest, the astonishing increase in reported apparitions and miracles from around the world, the latest developments in communications and visual technologies, and the never-ending debate among academics, faith leaders, scientists, and citizen observers about sight, perception, reason, and belief.
God is good. 'Taste and see that the Lord is good,' the Psalmist writes (Psalm 34:8). And to those who called him good, Jesus said, 'No one is good - except God alone (Mark 10:18). Christopher Holmes explores the divine attribute of God's goodness by offering a theological interpretation of the Psalter and engaging with the church's rich theological tradition, especially Augustine and Aquinas. He contends that in the very depths of God's being, God is goodness itself, and goodness is preeminent in God's nature. Thus, he argues that God not only does good, as seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ, but that God is good such that the good that God does - and that God calls us to do - is anchored in the fullness of good that God is. Leading us in this journey through the Psalms and the church's tradition, Holmes helps us to understand what it means to make that simple affirmation: God is good.
Given the foundational importance of circumcision in the OT and its prevalence in numerous debates in the NT, it is surprising that so little detailed work has been done on establishing a biblical theology of circumcision. This lack is even more surprising given that circumcision forms the background for some of the most hotly contested writings of the apostle Paul. The biblical material on circumcision seems to present vastly different and even apparently contradictory pictures of what circumcision means. The two key biblical concepts of righteousness and faith are closely linked to circumcision in debates carried on in Paul's letters and the early church. Karl Deenick shows that these two concepts are central to both the NT understanding and the developing OT understanding of circumcision. They are held together by the unfolding promise of a blameless 'seed of Abraham' through whose sacrifice the promised righteousness will finally come - a righteousness which will be enjoyed by those who trust in God's promise. Physical circumcision signified the goal of walking blamelessly before Yahweh, but it also represented the hope that Yahweh would provide a blameless seed through whom he would bring about that blamelessness in those who were not blameless/righteous. Circumcision of the heart is the appropriation of that promise by faith. It is the willing allegiance to Yahweh and the trust that Yahweh both forgives and makes righteous through the promised seed of Abraham.
What is consciousness? Is the mind a machine? What makes us persons? What does it mean to aspire to human maturity? These are among the fundamental questions that Rowan Williams helps us to think about in this deeply engaging exploration of what it means to be human. The book ends with a brief but profound meditation on the person of Christ, inviting us to consider how, through him, 'our humanity in all its variety, in all its vulnerability, has been taken into the heart of the divine life'.
The Eucharist is at the heart of Christian worship and at the heart of the Eucharist are the curious phrases, 'This is my body' and 'This is my blood'. James M. Arcadi offers a constructive proposal for understanding Christ's presence in the Eucharist that draws on contemporary conceptual resources and is faithful to the history of interpretation. He locates his proposal along a spectrum of Eucharistic theories. Arcadi explores the motif of God's presence related to divine omnipresence and special presence in holy places, which undergirds a biblical-theological proposal concerning Christ's presence. Utilizing recent work in speech-act theory, Arcadi probes the acts of consecration and renaming in their biblical and liturgical contexts. A thorough examination of recent work in Christology leads to an action model of the Incarnation that borrows the notion of enabling externalism from philosophy of mind. These threads undergird a model of Christ's presence in the Eucharist.
This book articulates various evangelical views regarding the church's mission and provides a healthy, vigorous, and gracious debate on this controversial topic. In a helpful Counterpoints format, this volume demonstrates the unique theological frameworks, doctrinal convictions, and missiological conclusions that inform and distinguish the views: Soteriological Mission: Jonathan Leeman Participatory Mission: Christopher Wright Contextual Mission: John Franke Ecumenical-Political Mission: Peter Leithart Each of the four contributors is to answer the same key questions based on their biblical interpretations and theological convictions. What is your biblical-theological framework for mission? How does your definition of mission inform your understanding of the church's mission? How does the Mission of God and Kingdom of God relate to the mission of the church? What is the gospel? How does your view on the gospel inform the mission of the church? How do verbal proclamation of the gospel, discipleship, corporate worship, caring for the poor, social justice, restoring shalom, developing culture, and international missions fit into the church's mission? The interaction between the contributors will help readers get a clearer picture of where the differences lie and why different conclusions are drawn and provide a fresh starting point for discussion and debate of the church's mission.
Western society is in crisis, the result of our culture's embrace of naturalism and postmodernism. At the same time, the biblical worldview has been pushed to the margins. Christians have been strongly influenced by these trends, with the result that the personal lives of Christians often reflect the surrounding culture more than the way of Christ, and the church's transforming influence on society has waned. In Kingdom Triangle, J.P. Moreland issues a call to recapture the drama and power of kingdom living. He examines and provides a penetrating critique of these worldviews and shows how they have ushered in the current societal crisis. He then lays out a strategy for the Christian community to regain the potency of kingdom life and influence in the world. Drawing insights from the early church, he outlines three essential ingredients of this revolution: Recovery of the Christian mind Renovation of Christian spirituality Restoration of the power of the Holy Spirit He believes that evangelical Christianity can mature and lead the surrounding society out of the meaningless morass it finds itself in with humility and vision.
Pastors and leaders of the classical church interpreted the Bible theologically, believing Scripture as a whole witnessed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Modern interpreters of the Bible questioned this premise. But in recent decades, a critical mass of theologians and biblical scholars has begun to reassert the priority of a theological reading of Scripture. The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible enlists leading theologians to read and interpret Scripture for the twenty-first century. In this addition to the well-received series, Daniel Treier offers theological exegesis of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
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