Archives / 2014 / May

Are There Different Degrees of Punishment in Hell?

Are all sins the same in the eyes of God? Is lying just as bad as murder? The answer is not as simple as it may seem. In one sense our moral failings are exactly the same: Our sins (regardless of severity) expose our imperfection and separate us from the perfect God who created us. Even the smallest moral failing disqualifies us from the perfection of God. But God recognizes some sins are more hei... »

Works without Faith? Some Thoughts on Religion and Politics

In an earlier blog, I critiqued some aspects of Oliver O’Donovan’s political theology. O’Donovan notes that, contrary to the charge of his critics, his thesis does not espouse an idealized Christendom in which the priest is the king. These roles, for O’Donovan, should remain distinct and separate. O’Donovan’s view can be summarized as follows: (1) all political authorities are subject to God’s sov... »

The Spiritual Exegete, Part 2

Continuing with what I wrote last time, let’s now look at alleged Scriptural supports for the claim that the Holy Spirit is to be relied on first and foremost to help us interpret the Bible. “Jesus promised the disciples that the Spirit of truth (John 14:26; 16:13; cf. 1 John 4:6) would guide them into truth.” Are these passages a promise of “Spirit-guided” interpretation for a m... »

A Reply to a Friend: an Email about the Uncertain Character of ‘the Common Good’

So recently a good friend of mine emailed me, asking for advice and resources for understanding the idea of ‘the common good’ (an idea the legitimacy of which I challenge in my doctoral dissertation). I thought that my reply to him might be helpful to others who are interested in the prospect of grounding a framework of political pluralism on the idea of the human good. (To note: the analysis whic... »

Why Major Social Change and Resolutions to Conflict can be so Simple: Part 2

In my previous post I looked at the works of Charles Taylor who proposes a simple and yet profound way of negotiating a plurality of differences in contemporary societies. Taylor suggested that deep friendships were key to this negotiation and hope. And this is not a matter of mere theorising: John Paul Lederach, the famed conflict studies sociologist, documents how the work on interreligious enga... »

The Spiritual Exegete, Part 1

Recently, I had some dealings with a Christian who disdained the use of Biblical scholarship, and said that the only way we can objectively interpret the Bible is by using a “Spirit-guided process” which allows us to understand the Bible as God intended for it to be understood. In the view of this Christian, the indwelling Holy Spirit provides a stop against false teaching and interpre... »

A Tour: "Reason Within The Bounds of Religion" – Pt. 2

I mentioned in my introductory essay to this very brief tour through Wolterstorff’s “Reason Within the Bounds of Religion” (henceforth, RWBR) that the question being addressed in this book is the following: What is the proper role of one’s Christian (or otherwise religious) commitment in one’s scholarship? (Where the “scholarship” under consideration is not just that of the professional scholar; W... »

Why Major Social Change and Resolutions to Conflict can be so Simple: Part 1

Amidst all the talk about changing the world (for a relatively recent and scholarly piece, see James Davison Hunter) and the need for political reconciliation and justice (see this excellent work by Daniel Philpott), there are good reasons to believe that significant (perhaps even historic) social change and conflict reduction can be achieved by simple yet powerful means. In his behemoth of a book... »

What is the Meaning of the Cross?

When I first became interested in examining the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, I really had no interest in Jesus as God. I was willing to survey and consider the wisdom of Jesus as an ancient sage, but nothing more. Once I was convinced these Gospel accounts were reliable, however, I knew I had to reconsider my naturalistic presuppositions. If Jesus truly rose from the grave, He was more than a w... »

Why Political Liberalism is Not Enough

Whether by design or default, proponents of political liberalism promote certain ends or ultimate social values. In particular, liberalism maintains that in view of the conditions of late industrial capitalism, what matters most is economic liberty. That is, given the constraints on freedom imposed by the ‘unbridled capitalism . . . government intervention in the economy does not violate but rathe... »

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