Flotsam and jetsam (12/1)


Good Reads

  • Are the Divine Persons Persons? One of the key points throughout this essay is that dogmatic formulations have to be seen in continuity with the biblical presentation of the Trinity. Scripture is the touchstone of orthodoxy, because it is only in the economy that the ontological relations of the Persons are revealed. If the revelation doesn’t actually reveal, we are left with no idea of the character of God. (Peter Leithart)
  • The Dangerous Task of Expository Preaching: Just think about the ridiculous nature of preaching for a moment. People take an hour or so out of their week to listen to an oral presentation from an ancient book that contains documents that are over 2,000 years old. Now, why would one subject themselves to such torment? (Church Leaders)
  • Is Atheism a Specifically Western Phenomenon? The dichotomy is not western/non-Western. It is Abrahamic/non-Abrahamic. It is a rebellion against the monotheistic faiths that originated in the Middle East–Judaism, Christianity, Islam. It makes much less sense in a non-monotheistic environment. (Peter Berger)

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Wheaton College papers at ETS/AAR/SBL (2014)

Hand with agreement reaches out from heap of papersIt’s that time of year again when a rather insane number of Bible and theology profs from around the world all converge on the same place. This time, San Diego! If you’d like to see what my colleagues are up to this year, here’s a complete rundown of papers being presented by Wheaton College faculty and doctoral students at this year’s conferences.

(Update: I’ve added a few that I missed a few the first time around.)


Jordan Barrett, ”Revisiting Augustine on Divine Simplicity: The Significance of his Context, Scripture, and Theology”

Dan Block, ”Book Review Session: For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship” Dan will talk about his book for the first 40 minutes and the remaining time will be a review

Dan Block, ”A Place for My Name: The Role of Zion in the Mosaic Vision of Worship”

Paul Cable, ”Imitatio Christianorum: Ecclesiology, Ethics, and the Imitation of Believers in Philippians”

Susanne Calhoun, ”Ecclesiology: Theologians 2″

Marc Cortez, ”The Insanity of Systematic Theology: A Review of Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology”

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/17)

work cited

Good Reads

  • Reason and the Republic of Opinion: the ideal of “clear and intelligent thought,” stripped of its condescension and its indifference to the non-rational dimensions of human life, deserves to be defended. We need not be a nation of intellectuals, but we must not be a nation of idiots. (New Republic)
  • The Rise of the Dones: At Group’s recent Future of the Church conference, sociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best. (Holy Soup)
  • Wonder and the Ends of Inquiry: Modern popularizations of science make much of wonder—but expressions of that passion are notably absent in professional publications. This love-hate relationship between wonder and science started with science itself. (The Point)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/14)

trex nativity

Good Reads

  • Latin America Is Losing Its Catholic Identity: A sweeping new survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, finds that 69 percent of Latin American adults say they are Catholic, down from an estimated 90 percent for much of the 20th century. The decline appears to have accelerated recently: Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they were raised Catholic, meaning there has been a 15-percentage-point drop-off in one generation. (New York Times)
  • Gay debate challenges traditional definitions of ‘evangelical’: Growing cultural acceptance of homosexuality is leading many Christians to reconsider their historic opposition. As intractable as the debate itself can be, American evangelicals nonetheless are experiencing lively conflicts over maintaining boundaries. What can you believe about gays and still call yourself an evangelical? And who gets to decide? (Religion News Service)
  • Don’t Waste Your Two Most Productive Hours: One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like social media). If we could salvage those precious hours, most of us would be much more successful in accomplishing what we truly want. (New York Mag)

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The World’s Most Contagious Falsehood Debunked

Okay, I totally thought the goldfish one was true. And I just learned the one about the vikings horns a few months ago. So I’m catching up, albeit rather slowly!

Check out the rest of these 52 common misconceptions. I’m sure the evolution one is likely to annoy some people, but the rest are fun. (Click to embiggen.)

misconceptions (550x1203)dd

Flotsam and jetsam (11/12)


Good Reads

  • Majoring in Fear: Our fear has become a pathological condition, a desperate need to bring the future under control. And we seek therapy from colleges and universities, the therapy of cumulative achievement along clearly marked pathways to success. (First Things)
  • Can Money Buy You Happiness? It’s True to Some Extent. But Chances Are You’re not Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck. (Wall Street Journal)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/10)

sleeping on couch

Good Reads

  • One-fifth of Americans share religious experience online: One in five Americans share their religious thoughts and experiences on social networks, and nearly half said they saw someone else post “something about their religious faith” on the Internet, according to a Pew Research Center study on religion and electronic media. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Technocracy Versus the Great Books: One of the great prejudices of our time is that direct information is king. But the great books offer another, more satisfying way to realize truth. (The Federalist)
  • A Muckraking Magazine Creates a Stir Among Evangelical Christians: The Jewish newspaper The Forward gleefully reports on the foibles of communal leaders, and Commonweal, run by lay Catholics, publishes work critical of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But evangelical Protestant journalism is generally more public relations than reporting; World stands out as an exception. (New York Times)
  • Discipleship in the “Age of Authenticity”: The church’s response must be to proclaim a gospel that comes from outside ourselves – no matter how countercultural this may seem. When people in our culture discover how exhausting it is to try to be “true to themselves,” when looking further and further inward eventually shows them they haven’t the resources to transform their own lives, the church must be ready to break in with good news that life change isn’t mustered up from within but granted through grace from without. (Trevin Wax)

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When Angels Dance: The Practical Value of “Impractical” Questions

angel pinWhen people want to harp on the impractical nature of theology, there’s one “go to” analogy that shows up more than any other: the medieval debate about how many angels can dance on the point of a needle.

After all, could there be a better example of theological time wasting? Who really cares? Even if we knew the answer, would it help us feed starving children? Would we be better prepared to share the gospel? Would it accomplish anything useful?

I won’t debate that theologians are sometimes be guilty of wasting time on unimportant matters. But this question may not illustrate what we think. Rather than showing how impractical theology can be, it may be a better illustration of something I talked about in a related post. Theology seeks to help us understand a complex universe created by an infinitely mysterious God. That means it sometimes pursues odd questions, but those often come with unanticipated benefits.

This is the beginning of my latest post over at Christianity.com. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Flotsam and jetsam (11/3)

mine fewer

Good Reads

  • Is Gospel Amnesia Creating a Third Great Schism? Unlike the last two, though, the split hasn’t resulted in a clear line between new denominations and old ones, but runs right through the various churches of the West. On one side stand those who affirm a broadly supernaturalist Christian orthodoxy embodied in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. And on the other, you find those who can at best recite the creeds with their fingers crossed. (Christianity Today)
  • Are You a Good Parent? It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? It seems to me that often the people who think they are great parents aren’t, and the parents who are doing a great job (even if imperfect) tend to feel their weakness the most acutely. (Julian Freeman)

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Flotsam and jetsam (10/30)


Good Reads

  • A Catholic church schism under Pope Francis isn’t out of the question: Until this weekend, I had largely believed in the liberal narrative which holds that Pope Francis’s reforms of the Catholic church are unstoppable. But the conservative backlash has been so fierce and so far-reaching that for the first time a split looks a real, if distant, possibility. (The Guardian)

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