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Theology Articles

  • Uche Anizor — 

    In the second chapter of Billings’ Union with Christ, he takes issue with the reduction of Reformed theology to the TULIP acronym. Specifically, regarding “total depravity” he questions the notion that one can properly understand a Reformed (or biblical) doctrine of depravity within the limited scope of the so-called “five points.”

  • Rob Price — 

    I’m not the only one who’s been reading Billings. Uche Anizor has been at it, too, and he’ll soon be posting comments here on specific chapters of Billings’s book. Meanwhile, I’ll add a few of my own on Billings’s foundational first chapter on union with Christ as the ground of our adoption.

  • Rob Price — 

    Todd Billings is one of evangelicalism’s brightest up-and-coming pastor-scholars. From missions work in Uganda, to a Harvard Ph.D., to an adopted daughter from Ethiopia, Billings is advancing many of the projects dear to evangelicalism. You may have seen his wonderful cover article for Christianity Today (October 2011) on the theological interpretation of Scripture. In November 2011 he published the distillation of nearly a decade’s sustained reflection on a theme that is central to the gospel: the believer’s union with Christ.

  • Ashish Naidu — 

    Wonderful is the word that encapsulates the world of horology. The more I read about the art and craft of watch making, the more I reflect on the infinite complexity of the divine mind, particularly the wondrous design and the meticulous plan of salvation—conceived in eternity—but executed in time and space.

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    My colleague (Dr. Darian Lockett) and I are almost finished writing a book that we want to read – due to the publisher by January 15, 2012! This is not to say the book is really well written; it is saying, rather, that it is a book that addresses an important and complex topic that we have always wanted help to explore. That topic is Biblical Theology.

  • John McKinley — 

    Two college students, Marc and Sue, sit together in the church on a Saturday evening service. It’s time to observe communion today. The pastor speaks slowly. “Let’s take a few moments to reflect on where we are with God and one another. Paul instructed the church at Corinth to examine themselves when they participated in the Lord’s Supper.” This invitation cast Marc into his memories of the past month. Like signs planted along a road that he drove along quickly, sins flashed to mind in rapid succession. Three weeks ago, he’d borrowed his roommate’s research paper from a geography class the semester before. Marc used the paper to write his own version for the same class this semester. He told himself that he was still learning by doing it, so it wasn’t really cheating.

  • Rob Lister — 

    I love reading good children’s literature to my kids. I especially love it when a great narrative for kids comes packaged together with really good theology. Such is the case with Starr Meade’s Keeping Holiday (Crossway, 2008)—a book so satisfying narratively and theologically that we are re-reading it to our kids this holiday season. The best way I can describe it is to say that Keeping Holiday is part Narnia and part Pilgrim’s Progress for kids.

  • John Hutchison — 

    Thanksgiving day 2011 has come and gone. Like many families, it has always been for us a time when the relatives gather together. Like many Christian families, we try to remember in a more intentional way the blessings God has bestowed upon us. But unlike most families, on Thanksgiving Day we are painfully reminded of another memory . . .

  • John McKinley — 

    Marc Vandenbroucke sits on the couch in his apartment. The television is flickering; two quarter pounders with cheese, a pile of fries, and a giant coke are on the coffee table, ready for gulping. The food passes by his mouth indistinguishably as a flow of salt, potatoes, meat, and sugar. Oh, the comfort of it after a hard day.

  • John McKinley — 

    Marc Vandenbrouke set down the book he was reading on the café table. In one hand was the cigarette that beckoned to him with smoldering nicotine. That was his life disintegrating into acrid smoke. Marc had been reading about the revered Buddha, Siddhartha, but the monk had taught him nothing about the meaning of his own life. He had also turned to Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. These had all failed him. They told him he was a nothing, a parasite in an otherwise lovely ecosystem. Marc couldn’t even explain to himself why he, a human being, was significantly different from the chair or his cigarette. His thoughts were futile, his feelings were nonsense, and his choices, as his teachers had told him, were merely illusions based in chemical reactions taking place within the fat tissues of his skull. Was knowledge truly impossible? Did no one have a way to explain existence? Ah, well, here’s a phone call to relieve him from the brief sojourn into morbidity, despair and the meaninglessness of his life.

  • Rob Price — 

    Last week our son, Elijah (7) was given a drawing assignment: copy Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate (c. 1487). Operative word here: ‘copy’. Elijah, however, understood ‘interpret’. And so the heavenly shafts of light illumining Mary’s head were transmogrified into something rather less spiritual. So, taking a cue from Sanders’s Avant-Garde category…

  • John Hutchison — 

    The greatest tests of faith come either when life is going well (prosperity) or when it seems to be falling apart (trials). How can I keep my focus in life during both of these distracting times? A few years ago, when the prayer of Jabez was getting all the attention and selling many books, I became enamored with another obscure prayer in Scripture. It was prayed by a little-known wisdom writer named Agur . . .

  • Uche Anizor — 

    A question I receive repeatedly, and a good one at that, is: “What is the theological interpretation of Scripture?” If you’ve heard this phrase bandied about and are still not sure what it means, you’re certainly not alone. There aren’t many concise and clear definitions of it, though there are a number of descriptive accounts.

  • Joanne Jung — 

    It happened this past Sunday. The moment my daughter said, "I do," I became a mother-in-love. No one knew except the wedding planner, but I had written a letter addressed to my daughter and had it read in the presence of our guests at the reception. Though short, it was long in writing, as the memories, emotions, and tears often paralyzed yet drove the process. I share these words with you.

  • John Hutchison — 

    Just a month ago I was glued to the TV for an entire weekend as our nation replayed and remembered the tragic events of 9/11/2001. Even after all these years, the many stories of heroism and survival cannot remove the sting of that day. As I watched the video tapes of those well-documented events, I was brought to tears by the stories of so many families who were . . . and still are . . . living with sadness and great loss. The way this story was reported ten years later reveals to me two of the most difficult ideas for many people to accept . . .

  • Ashish Naidu — 

    I have often wondered if the lack of interest in the external beauty of sacred space and décor, which characterizes much of our church culture today, is due to the struggle with dualism? Or is it due to the residual sense of over-correction that we have inherited from the Reformation movement? I suspect it may be both.

  • Erik Thoennes — 

    There is always a tension between the purity and unity of the church. How do Christians decide how much weight to put on certain beliefs? Here is how I think we need to figure out how to plant flags wisely.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    It’s a simple concept: God is our Rescuer, and we are to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1). Therefore, we should be rescuers of others.

  • Mickey Klink III — 

    What does the doctrine of “the church” really do? Does it have a say in matters related to church life and practice? While you might want immediately to answer in the affirmative, let me offer one more question: When is the last time the doctrine of the church had a say in a ministry decision of your local church? Let me tell you where I am going with this. I have a hunch that the doctrine of the church is quite frequently a non-voting member of our ministry decisions – even within the church, and its influence is suppressed not by anti-church sort of Christians, but by the very same evangelicals who would herald themselves as committed to a robust ecclesiology. Allow me to give just one example

  • Uche Anizor — 

    One thing that has struck my students in their initial interactions with the Institutes is how different Calvin sounds than much theology and God-talk today. The difference, I think, lies in his conviction of the truth and weightiness of what he writes. He is confident, earnest, and forthright in a way that makes a twenty-first century reader feel uncomfortable.

  • Uche Anizor — 

    In the preface to the 1539 Edition of the Institutes, Calvin explains the purpose of the Institutes and in doing so offers good counsel regarding the need for theology in reading Scripture well

  • Uche Anizor — 

    The Aug 15th issue of TIME magazine has a short piece on Rembrandt and his portraits of Christ. According to the writer, Richard Lacayo, Rembrandt in his early 40s began to evolve in the way he depicted Christ, changing from "turbulent scenes in the Gospel, full of sharp light and emphatic gestures, to smaller, contemplative groupings.” This shift in artistic emphasis represented a more profound concern in the artist

  • Uche Anizor — 

    After many years of foolishly putting it off, I am finally reading Oliver O’Donovan’s classic primer on Christian ethics, Resurrection and Moral Order (2nd ed.). One of the book’s major claims is that the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate reaffirmation of the created order.

  • Erik Thoennes — 

    What are the sure signs that you are a authentic Christian? Bible reading, praying, church attendance, right answers to theological questons, concern for social justice, and acts of service, are all necessary to grow in Christ. But none of these is definite evidence that you are truly a child of God.

  • Uche Anizor — 

    As I prepare to teach an undergraduate seminar on Calvin and Barth, I’ve been reflecting a bit on how I want my students to engage the latter, since (1) they have likely never read him firsthand and, more importantly, (2) he is not especially lauded in contexts in which my students have been reared or currently find themselves. The second point raises for me the general question: how should I (and my more-or-less conservative students) engage with less conservative writers, particularly upon a first (or second or even third) encounter?