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Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Back in 1998, my father wrote an unfashionable yet characteristically compelling little volume entitled The Protestant Face of Anglicanism. With the big anniversary finally here, it seemed like an ideal time to remind people of its existence (and merit)! Coincidentally, the book shares the title of PZ’s latest project, a tumblr devoted to, well, you guessed it. He’s provided us with a personal introduction to the project below, but first, a couple of zinging paragraphs from the final chapter of the book in question:

The Reformers saw the message of justification as a word of comfort, first and primarily, to the troubled conscience. The conscience, unable…

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Martin Luther King, Jr: “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart”

This an excerpt from the conclusion to MLK’s 1959 sermon, “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.”

8f582_MLK-Home-thumb-400xauto-29178[1]I am thankful that we worship a God who is both tough minded and tenderhearted.  If God were only tough minded, he would be a cold, passionless despot sitting in some far-off Heaven “contemplating all,” as Tennyson puts it in “The Palace of Art.”  He would be Aristotle’s “unmoved mover,” self-knowing but not other-loving.  But if God were only tenderhearted, he would be too soft and sentimental to function when things go wrong and incapable of controlling what he has made.  He would be like H. G. Well’s loveable God in God, the Invisible King, who is strongly desirous of making a good world but finds himself helpless before the surging powers of evil.  God is neither hardhearted nor soft minded.  He is tough minded enough to transcend the world; he is tenderhearted enough to live in it.  He does not leave us alone in our agonies and struggles.  He seeks us in dark places and suffers with us and for us in our tragic prodigality.

At times we need to know that the Lord is a God of justice.  When slumbering giants of injustice emerge in the Earth, we need to know that there is a God of power who can cut them down like the grass and leave them withering like the Greek herb.  When our most tireless efforts fail to stop the surging sweep of oppression, we need to know that in this universe is a God whose matchless strength is a fit contrast to the sordid weakness of man.  But there are also times when we need to know that God possesses love and mercy.  When we are staggered by the chilly winds of adversity and battered by the raging storms of disappointment and when through our folly and sin we stray into some destructive far country and are frustrated because of a strange feeling of homesickness, we need to know that there is Someone who loves us, cares for us, understands us, and will give us another chance.  When days grow dark and nights grow dreary, we can be thankful that our God combines in his nature a creative synthesis of love and justice that will lead us through life’s dark valleys and into sunlit pathways of hope and fulfillment.

Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Five Verses Thirteen Through Fifteen

Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Five Verses Thirteen Through Fifteen

This morning’s devotion comes to us from SM White.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are…

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The Top Theology Books of 2016

The Top Theology Books of 2016

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…

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The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

I am an American Christian, however little I sometimes want to own that label. God, preaching, and proper theology may matter to me, but I know there is a business side of the church that demands pragmatic response. Bills must be paid, complaints satisfied, and attendance must be kept up, and all these things seem to ask technique of this pastor far more than faith. Pragmatism is rewarded, and this pragmatism easily hardens into cynicism when one knows how the ecclesial sausage is made.

I serve two congregations and converse daily with an assortment of other insiders, and I have to watch my tongue around…

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My Best New Years Eve(r)

My Best New Years Eve(r)

In downtown Milwaukee, there’s a Starbucks attached to an ice rink where every winter, you can drive past and see families, singles, couples, and kids of all ages gliding in graceful rotation over an artificial frozen pond. The sight evokes the kind of Americana sentimentality one might feel upon seeing a Norman Rockwell painting or a 1980’s Speilberg film. It just looks like the thing to do – the thing you ‘ought’ (read Law) to do in the winter, in the Midwest, with your wife and kids…especially during the holidays. It seems so inviting to sit with a cup of hot coco or…

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Gideon in the Dojo: Grace with a Karate Chop

Gideon in the Dojo: Grace with a Karate Chop

The other day, a dear friend posted a photo on Instagram that piqued my interest immediately. It showed her son, wearing a gi, proudly holding up a broken board. Her caption said “Joel the white belt.” Now, as proud as I am about my dear friend’s kid’s achievements, this wasn’t what drew my attention. The thing I noticed immediately was the the board, though split down the middle, had “Good job!” written on it. It also had Joel’s name, the date, and the name of the Grand Master who, I assume, oversaw the accomplishment. Here’s the fascinating thing, though: the…

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Things Done and Left Undone – David Zahl

Alrighty, just under the wire, here’s DZ’s closing presentation from the OKC Conference (10/28-29):

Two Bits of Good News

1. Both of our new publications are now available on Amazon! Click here to order Churchy and here to grab More Theology & Less Heavy Cream.

2. Yesterday Commonweal posted a wonderful exchange between theologians Simeon Zahl (no relation) and David Bentley Hart about Hart’s recent salvo for them, “Christ’s Rabble”. Recommended not just as an example of two extraordinarily nimble minds at work, but in a tone befitting the subject matter. A favorite passage from Simeon’s entry:

img_1472Indeed, the New Testament reveals an unbearable moral standard on a great many topics—we are commanded never to be angry and never to lust, for example (Matthew 5)—and that is precisely why “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Viewed through this lens, Hart’s point about Christian ethical mediocrity in the era of late capitalism can be transfigured into an argument for why salvation is better understood as preceding moral transformation rather than as enabling it (“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” [Romans 5:8]).

Drunk Theology with Robert Farrar Capon

Drunk Theology with Robert Farrar Capon

This one comes from our friend Joshua Retterer, just in time for the release of Capon’s never-before-published collection of essays, More Theology and Less Heavy Cream, available today! Head over to our store to get your copy!

Reading Robert Farrar Capon sometimes feels a bit like watching Drunk History. You do a lot of mental tallying, while realizing the comedians and actors, in an inebriated state, get closer to the truth than some of the the more studious historians do. Case in point, check out Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recent appearance on Drunk History explaining the Hamilton/Burr rivalry. Capon was no different. The side effect…

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The Indefatigable Regret of the Sham Existence

The Indefatigable Regret of the Sham Existence

“The sinner’s relationlessness and the judgment of God’s wrath upon the sinner which takes place in and with sin is not revealed, however, as sin is enacted but only as it were in retrospect, within the brackets of the revelation of the righteousness of God in the gospel. Only in the one who knew no sin and yet was made sin for us (2 Cor 5.21) is the sinner revealed in relationlessness and sin. That Jesus Christ was made sin for us by God means that the destruere et in nihilum redigere which is enacted in and with our sin is revealed…

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How Hans Urs von Balthasar Stopped Up His Ears

An incisive passage from Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s Heart of the World, ht Clayton Hornback:

heart-of-the-worldI’ve been a person who has fulfilled his religious obligations. I am a practicing Christian. I am a good Catholic. Sundays I’ve always been in church. I’ve made my Easter duty. I’ve paid my tithes. I’ve given my alms. I’ve always said my morning and evening prayers. I have always been to confession and they’ve always been valid. I have made my nine First Fridays (which, after all, have given me a kind of insurance before God, sanctioned by the Church). I’ve gone to Communion every Sunday. I’ve communicated daily.

‘I have, I have’. What I’ve done with my religion is raised up walls against God. By my practices I have stopped up my ears to God’s call. Quietly, imperceptibly, everything which could have been life has become a mechanism behind which my soul has laid itself to rest.