1809 Chapters
Medium 9781442266445

Story Time in America

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Story Time in America1

Joel Biermann

It has become commonplace within Christian conversation that the Church in North America is facing increasingly stiff competition not only from other religions, but from worldviews or narratives that profess to be irreligious. Those committed to the project of apologetics are likely to concur and respond by mounting spirited campaigns to counter the threat. Others like the present writer affirm the ultimate supremacy of the Christian account of reality and see dubious outcomes when the attackers are engaged on their own turf. When all is said and done, Christianity has no competition. Nevertheless, simply from the standpoint of undertaking the Church’s mission with some degree of deliberation and effectiveness, there is value in surveying the contemporary narrative landscape and exploring the sort of life stories or worldviews or narratives that describe and drive people in North America.

To describe or even just to think about the narratives that are at work in the surrounding culture and to accomplish such a task in the space of a single essay is more than an ambitious undertaking, it is, it must be admitted, the errand of a madman. Which is to say, that this essay will not offer a general overview or assessment of the assortment of narratives at work today in the American context. Of course, it would be tempting to invest some time and thought considering some of the alternative narratives at work in the wider culture. It would be easy enough to craft a paper that recounts a quick trip around the “western-worldviews-buffet” and offers a spicy or, more probably, a rancid sample here or there. While there certainly remains a compelling attraction to following such a route, that exercise would, it seems likely, easily and speedily devolve into self-indulgence and tend merely to nurture the simmering sense of outrage and sanctimony all too typical among more conservative Christians as they survey the godlessness, wantonness, and arrogant decadence of our contemporary Western culture. It would be wonderful to serve up a sizzling diatribe against the theological naturalism described and refuted so cogently by Cornelius Hunter.2 And it would be gratifying to savor the penetrating arguments of Timothy Keller as he tackles some of Western culture’s most cherished and most inane ideas about God and religion.3 It would be a delight to share a healthy portion of N. T. Wright’s soaring refutation of those—Christian and non-Christian alike—who pine for an otherworldly, immaterial, pie-in-the-sky-in-the-sweet-bye-and-bye version of heaven.4 Obviously, though, this work has already been done, and it just may be that there are better things to consider in grappling with the reality of our current twenty-first-century Western context. To add to the critique does little to further our understanding of the culture around, and begins to seem a bit like piling-on.

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Medium 9780253011268

2 Theological Method and Religious Anthropology: Heschel among the Christians

Shai Held Indiana University Press ePub

THEOLOGICAL METHOD AND RELIGIOUS ANTHROPOLOGY: HESCHEL AMONG THE CHRISTIANS

What kind of theologian was Heschel? Since, like many Jewish thinkers, Heschel talks very little about theological method, it falls to us to piece together what he is doing. With his strong theocentric thrust, Heschel can at moments sound very much like his contemporary, the neo-Orthodox Protestant theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968). Consider, for example, Heschel’s insistence that “the Bible is primarily not man’s vision of God but God’s vision of man. The Bible is not man’s theology but God’s anthropology, dealing with man and what He asks of him.”1 In a strikingly similar vein, Barth declares that “it is not the right human thoughts about God which form the content of the Bible, but the right divine thoughts about men.”2 But Heschel’s theocentrism should not blind us to the fact that, in the tradition of modern liberal theology, he begins his theology not with divine revelation, but with human experience. He commences not by asking what it is that God has revealed, but rather, as we have seen, by asking what aspects of human nature and experience can render us receptive to revelation. Or, to put it somewhat differently, Heschel begins not already within the contents of revelation, but rather with anthropological prolegomena, with a “critical, transcendental inquiry into the possibility of . . . belief.”3 Although it most assuredly does not end there, Heschel’s theology begins in anthropology. In what follows, I bring Heschel into conversation with some of the major figures in twentieth-century Christian theology as a basis for exploring Heschel’s approach to the intertwined issues of theological method and theological anthropology.4

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Medium 9780253008022

6. From the Historical Jesus to a New Jewish Christology: Rethinking Jesus in Contemporary American Judaism

Shaul Magid Indiana University Press ePub

It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practice Judaism.

—Ignatius of Antioch, Magnesians 10:3

Jesus, ils entendent de tirer chex eux, ils ne veulent pas venire chez lui. Jews mean to draw Jesus to themselves, they do not want to come to him.

—Joseph Bonsirven, Les Juifs et Jesus

Contemporary Jews in America do not seem very interested in Jesus. Few rabbis today sermonize about Jesus from the pulpit and there are few courses about Jesus (or Christianity) in formal or informal Jewish education. Contemporary scholar of the New Testament Amy-Jill Levine correctly notes in passing, “If on the popular level we Jews are willing not only to acknowledge but also to take pride in the Jewishness of such generally non-observant Jews as Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, the Marxes (Karl and Groucho although Karl was baptized as a child), and Jerry Seinfeld, why not acknowledge the quite observant Jesus?…I have heard rabbis in Reform and Conservative synagogues cite Homer (both the Greek poet and Bart's father), Plato, the Buddha, Muhammad, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Llama, and even Madonna (the Kabbalah-besotted singer, not the mother of Jesus). At least Jesus is Jewish with regard to family, practice, and belief.”1

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Medium 9781442229105

PAUL AND ISRAEL: AN APOCALYPTIC READING

Ecclesia, Pro Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Douglas Harink

We are concerned with the new creation, and not with the sequence of cause and effect. In short, we are concerned with the Truth of God in Jesus Christ.

—Karl Barth2

The question of supersessionism in Paul is the question of what Paul says about Israel, primarily of course in Rom 9–11. Yet to go directly to those extremely contested chapters in an attempt to resolve the question of supersessionism or to discern Paul’s story of Israel may not be the most helpful tactic in addressing the issues. The purpose of this essay is to take a step back, at least initially, from the exegesis of specific texts in Rom 9–11, and to try to gain a better perspective on the question of supersessionism from a more comprehensive vantage point than focused exegesis of those chapters can supply. I will show how Paul’s theology of Israel is a theme within his overarching “apocalyptic” theological vision, and ask what such a reading might yield toward addressing the issue of supersessionism.

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Medium 9781614580164

26. Why Does God's Creation Include Death & Suffering?

Ken Ham Master Books ePub

26

Why Does Gods Creation Include Death & Suffering?

Tommy Mitchell

Why do bad things happen? Through the ages, human beings have sought to reconcile their understanding of an all-powerful, loving God with the seemingly endless suffering around them.

One prominent example of this struggle is the media mogul Ted Turner. Having lost his faith after his sister died of a painful disease, Turner claimed, I was taught that God was love and God was powerful, and I couldnt understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so.[1]

Is God responsible for human suffering? Is God cruel, capricious, and vindictive, or is He too weak to prevent suffering? If God truly is sovereign, how can He let someone He loves suffer?

A World of Misery and Death

Each day brings new tragedy. A small child is diagnosed with leukemia and undergoes extensive medical treatment only to die in his mothers arms. A newlywed couple is killed by a drunk driver as they leave for their honeymoon. A faithful missionary family is attacked and killed by the very people they were ministering to. Thousands are killed in a terrorist attack. Hundreds drown in a tsunami, while scores of others are buried in an earthquake.

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