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About Todd Brewer

PhD student in New Testament at Durham University in the UK. Ordained clergyman. Husband. I have a love for all things alt-rock, Pixar, football (American style), hockey, poetry, and good, short literature. On Twitter @toddhbrew

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    The “Trigger-Warning” Life

    The “Trigger-Warning” Life

    Universities have historically always been on the leading edge of American cultural change. The university has, or at least tries to be, the place where new ideas are tested, refined, and put into meaningful action. Today’s college students become tomorrow’s leaders, which is to say that the recent explosion of “trigger warning” policies are not an aberration or fad that can be ignored.

    As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt so astutely outline in their cover story for The Atlantic (see DZ’s take here), the muting of “triggers” from pedagogy is an overt form of censorship of anything that might create unwelcome,…

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    Shining Some Light on True Detective, Season Two

    Shining Some Light on True Detective, Season Two

    This season of True Detective has – to say the least – not lived up to the high standards set by the gripping first season. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are hard acts to follow, so perhaps the expectations were too high. But the real Achilles heel of this season has been its plot, which was so convoluted that I had to consult a lengthy summary before watching the finale. As we all learned from the most recent season of a certain beloved comedy, TV shouldn’t be that hard to follow and I still can’t remember all of the main…

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    A Quick Calvin and Hobbes (on Work vs. Play)

    ch150512

    Modern Marcionitism and the Epistle of James (Part II)

    Modern Marcionitism and the Epistle of James (Part II)

    In my previous post on the Epistle of James and the origins of its place in the New Testament Canon I noted (following David Nienhuis’s excellent work on the subject) that James found its canonical home within the New Testament as a corrective to the persistent threat of Marcionitism. While Marcion, reading Paul, divorced the God of gospel from the demigod of the Old Testament, the Epistle of James was written to ensure that this God and his commandments are not be discarded as obsolete. Rather than Marcion’s supposed antinomianism, the Epistle of James ensures that genuine faith is a…

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    The Way to God Is the Way Into Darkness: Bultmann on Hope and the Cross

    Another appropriate Easter quote comes from a sermon on Lamentations 3:22-41, found in Rudolf Bultmann’s sermon collection, This World and Beyond:

    imageThe way to God leads not to hell but through hell, or, in Christian terms through the cross. It leads us not to hopelessness but to a hope which transcends all human hope; and we must silence all human hope, if that divine hope is to dawn for us.

    We must make this clear to ourselves: for man as he is, laden with wishes and plans, with longings and hope — and this means for us all, we who form our dream pictures as to how our life should go according to our desire and will — for all of us the way to God is the way into that darkness which for us means hell…. the breath of the Lord can sweep away everything of ours in a second and for our eyes there is nothing left but comfortless waste. That is the meaning of God: His majesty annihilates whatever stands independently. His word is a word that slays.

    This hell we must traverse; before the life of the resurrection stands the cross. “It is the essence of God” says Luther, “first to destroy what is in us before He bestows on us His gifts.” (p 233)

    James, an “Epistle of Straw”? Not So Fast!

    James, an “Epistle of Straw”? Not So Fast!

    Whenever I read the letters of Paul and his great doctrine of justification by faith, there is always lurking in the background the problem posed by the Epistle of James and its not-so-apparent direct refutation of Paul. And in any discussion of justification by faith there always lurks the specter of James, always calling into question whether Paul was really correct in his understanding. Admittedly, for the longest time I never quite knew what to make of James 2, and its contradiction of Paul’s thesis that Abraham the ungodly was justified by faith, without works (Romans 4). It was Martin…

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    The Top (Mockingbird) Theology Books of 2014

    The Top (Mockingbird) Theology Books of 2014

    Some years of theology publications are better than others, and to be honest the crop has not been so plentiful this year. But the books that have come out are pretty fantastic, and well worth a read.

    The Second Letter to the Corinthians by Mark Seifrid. This is not your normal commentary! Rather than retreading ad nauseum all of usual topics commentaries cover like authorship, dating, provenance, Greek parsings etc., Seifrid’s main purpose is to explicate Paul’s theological logic throughout the book. The Paul that emerges is one of real theological breadth and profound commitment to the grace of God in…

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    Martin Luther Opens the Book (and Finds the Gift)

    In honor of Reformation Day, another quote from the Great Reformer’s “A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels” (1521):

    IMG_6341“When you open the book containing the Gospels and read or hear how Christ comes here or there, or how someone is brought to him, you should therein perceive the sermon or the Gospel through which he is coming to you, or you are being brought to him. When you see how he works, however, and how he helps everyone to whom he comes or who is brought to him, then rest assured that faith is accomplishing this in you and that he is offering your soul exactly the same sort of help and favor through the gospel. If you pause here and let him do you good, that is, if you believe he benefits and helps you, then you really have it. Then Christ is yours, presented to you as a gift.”

    Ray Rice and the Perils of Relative Righteousness

    Ray Rice and the Perils of Relative Righteousness

    This Ray Rice saga doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and it just keeps getting more interesting. Just yesterday (Friday September 19th) ESPN’s Outside the Lines released a report of the long, detailed timeline of events from the original incident right up until Roger Goodell’s press conference yesterday. It’s a fascinating account of the NFL’s behind-the-scenes PR spin machine, complete with new revelations (Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh wanted to release Ray Rice back in the spring?) and some of the thought process behind the original 2 game suspension.

    It’s this last aspect of the story that I find to be most…

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    The Adventures of the Holy Ghost: “Clarity”

    Yet another delightful internet find, this time via former Conference Speaker, Francis Spufford. It’s the comic strip, “The Adventures of the Holy Ghost”, humorously featuring the third-person of the trinity personified in ghostly form. There are a number of highlights, but I found the below, “Clarity”, to be pretty spot on take on Luke 18:

    HG comic

    Bonus: check out this gem as well! The rest of John hendrix’s work looks pretty amazing too.

    Excursions & Arrivals, by Brett Foster

    SEMITRUCKS1

    Excursions & Arrivals

    The sign at the corner of the property
    at the foot of the driveway—”No
    eighteen wheelers allowed in the church
    parking lot”—may be exactly the confirmation
    I needed that I am currently passing
    by a Baptist church a little to the south
    of Chattanooga. Was it a recurring problem
    that led to its posting? Did the congregation
    rebel or reach the proverbial tipping point?
    Even so, I’d like to think they would make
    an exception, that every once in a great
    while they might wave the driver toward them
    with his truckload of passengers battered
    bruiseful by all of the loveless difficulties
    that make up so very much of this life,
    not pallets of freight they’d come to expect
    but many blemished ones hungry to the point
    of being famished, urgent for the Son
    rising with his big paper-carrier’s bag
    of good news and promises or even simple
    reassurances like, You are not going
    to perish now, or You are mightily
    welcomed here, even though you’re fully
    known here
    , and so on. Against hope, I hope
    sometimes that those Baptists are smiling
    as they direct the eighteen-wheeler’s driver
    forward, forward with the bird’s-wing flutters
    of their sweet, inviting hands, as if saying
    Pull yourself on in here now, buddy.
    You take up as many spaces as you need
    ,
    while already his long trailer is being
    unlatched and its metal door rolled up
    so as to let that Tennessee light pour in,
    clarifying its darkened conveyances,
    especially brightened on Sunday morning
    as I imagine it now, while driving slowly
    on Spring Creek Road south of Chattanooga.

    The above appears in the Mar/Apr issue of Books and Culture (and online here). For more from B&C, see here.

    Ferrari Buyers in Search of Love: from The Philosopher’s Mail

    Ferrari Buyers in Search of Love: from The Philosopher’s Mail

    If you haven’t yet found it, I highly recommend the new UK site The Philosopher’s Mail. It’s a news site, much like the tabloid-heave Daily Mail, but it’s written entirely by philosophers. Think celebrity gossip and pop culture news with a reflective and entertaining twist, with stories like: “Love shortage drives Shia LaBeouf nuts” or “Larry Page, Google CEO, tortures us with his jeans“. Brilliant, but funny stuff right?

    Today’s article, “200mph Ferrari California launched. Buyers not greedy show offs, just vulnerable fragile big infants in need of affection” struck me as particularly Mockingbird worthy.

    We know, because we hear it so…

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