As I’ve suggested in some earlier book sketches, I think Protestants like myself have a lot to gain by learning from the Eastern Orthodox Church. One of the ways I’ve grown the most by listening to the Orthodox voice is the way I think about salvation. The way I typically heard the story growing up made salvation a matter of alignment, like applying for membership in the right club, and then a lifetime’s work trying not to get kicked out. And salvation was taught this way because of our underlying theological assumptions. Now, I’m not saying this is completely wrong, but I do think there’s some serious gaps and even errors in that way of thinking.
Last week we faced a set of issues that seem to require us to think along the same lines. Is a deep, radical love compatible with an (albeit partially) socialized healthcare system? Is a deep, radical love compatible with a heritage haunted by racism and slavery? Is a deep, radical love compatible with embracing or excluding homosexual marriage—or indeed, homosexuals in the Church? I offer no answers here, and I’m not interested in hosting or sparking political debates. What I do suggest is that this book offers a great methodological starting-point for thinking through these questions. My suspicion is that, if we follow Jackson’s example of charitable thought, that our answers will resemble love in better and truer ways than they did before–no matter which side one lands on any given issue.
Addiction is a part of our modern worldviews. It is a concept we use to describe a relatively wide range of behavior. Certainly coffee “addiction” is nowhere near the same level as addiction to, say, meth. Often we use the term in a trivial kind of way to describe behavior that’s more along the lines of short-term obsession. One could say they are “addicted” to the show Grey’s Anatomy and, besides their obliviousness to the shame they should be feeling for saying such a thing, they could not really mean something along the lines of alcoholism.
This illustrates an important point that Paul Ramsey and other defenders of Christian violent resistance argue: the right thing to do changes when it’s not just me alone in the equation, but also our neighbor. We might be able to stomach turning our own cheek, but are we called to turn our neighbor’s cheek also? My last post was on a book about Christian nonviolence, in the spirit of fairness this book is a defense of violent resistance from a Christian perspective.
Anyone who enlists pacifism as a badge of honor in some pollyannaish sentiment of good will is an idiot. (Full disclosure: I had to look the proper way to spell pollyannaish.) At the same time, the caricature of Christian “pacifism” as weak-willed, emasculated hippy-religion is equally false. Anyone sincerely interested in investigating the various ways in which Christians conceive, argue for, and practice non-violence would do well to start here. I hope that people read this book (or my representation of it) with an open, generous, but critical eye.
Soren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985  Edited and Translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong What difference does belief in Jesus really make in our lives? Most of us would probably suspect, or hope, that it makes a great deal of difference. We might be tempted to construct hyperbolic…
There are a set of Christian writers, poets, theologians who I trust because they are a combination of depth, clarity, and an even-handedness that produces insight. Rowan Williams is among them. And yet one need only look at this man’s majestic eyebrows to know that he is going to bring some extraordinary wisdom. You don’t get eyebrows like that without wisdom.
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Presence and Thought: An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1988. Hans Urs von Balthasar, besides being in contention for most magisterial name ever, was a Swiss Catholic theologian in the 20th century. He is important for a lot of reasons, but primarily…