Assistant Professor of New Testament @GeneralSeminary in NYC. Phd from Durham University, England. I have a love for all things alt-rock, Pixar, football (American style), hockey (on ice), poetry, and good, short literature. On Twitter @toddhbrew
Another year and there are many, many more books to read. If that statement feels more like a celebration than an arduous demand, this post is for you. I buy an inordinate amount of books each year, so I’m firmly in the former category. Below are the best theology books of 2016, categorized by their movie genre equivalent. You can click here for the accompanying podcast. Happy Reading!
The Best Pixar Films (Abreactive Theology Books)
John Newton’s Falling into Grace
A book for those of us who have ever failed and found themselves in dire straits–that is, all of us. Newton writes for…
The Devil is a gentleman, and asks you down to stay
At his little place at What’sitsname (it isn’t far away).
They say the sport is splendid; there is always something new,
And fairy scenes, and fearful feats that none but he can do;
He can shoot the feathered cherubs if they fly on the estate,
Or fish for Father Neptune with the mermaids for a bait;
He scaled amid the staggering stars that precipice, the sky,
And blew his trumpet above heaven, and got by mastery
The starry crown of God Himself, and shoved it on the shelf;
But the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t brag himself.
O blind your eyes and break your heart and hack your hand away,
And lose your love and shave your head; but do not go to stay
At the little place in What’sitsname where folks are rich and clever;
The golden and the goodly house, where things grow worse for ever;
There are things you need not know of, though you live and die in vain,
There are souls more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain;
There is a game of April Fool that’s played behind its door,
Where the fool remains for ever and the April comes no more,
Where the splendour of the daylight grows drearier than the dark,
And life droops like a vulture that once was such a lark:
And that is the Blue Devil that once was the Blue Bird;
For the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t keep his word.
For anyone who went to college in the last quarter of the 20th century you’ll be well aware of the rise of what was called “moral relativism”, i.e. the loss of absolute standards of right or wrong and the rise of the moral choice or preference of the individual. Equally esteemed or feared, particularly within Christian circles, this do-it-yourself morality was the talk of the nation.
The moral winds, though, appear to be shifting. And in a recent opinion piece David Brooks suggests that the once formidable doctrine of moral relativism has slowly become a passing fad with the increase of…
In the several years that I’ve been compiling a yearly review of theology books I have to say that this past year has been the best of them all. Some publishing years come and go without much notice, but this one will likely be remembered for quite a while.
Sin Boldly!: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls, by Ted Peters
This book is so good we keep. writing. about. it. Go back and look – DZ has been subliminally sneaking Peters quotes or allusions into almost everything he’s written for the past 6 months. For Peters, justification is not some abstract,…
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,…
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…
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…
Another appropriate Easter quote comes from a sermon on Lamentations 3:22-41, found in Rudolf Bultmann’s sermon collection, This World and Beyond:
The 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)
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…
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…
“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.”