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Posts tagged "Steven Paulson"


Grace in an Age of Distraction II – Steven Paulson

The second of Steven Paulson’s stellar presentations at our recent OKC Conference, this one’s gotten a lot of love from those who’ve heard it. It works both in concert with and independent of the first one:

Grace in an Age of Distraction 2 – Steven Paulson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Grace in an Age of Distraction 1 – Steven Paulson

Voila: the first video from our recent conference in Oklahoma City! Here, keynote speaker Steven Paulson — author of Luther’s Outlaw God — introduces the conference theme: distraction… Trust us, you’ll want to give your attention to this one. 😉

Click here to watch Part II.

I Don’t Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God ~ Adam Morton

With sincerest apologies to the much esteemed and beloved Rev. Morton, this video fell through the cracks! Behold, the final breakout video from our Spring Conference in NYC, featuring a cover image for the ages:

I Don't Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God – Adam Morton from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

T-Minus 2 Weeks ’til OKC: Talk Titles (and Darwin’s Appeal)

In two short weeks, we’ll be gathering in Oklahoma City for our Fall Conference (10/11-13)! Our theme is “Grace in an Age of Distraction” and the details are coming together beautifully. The finalized talk titles are as follows:

  • Grace in an Age of Distraction I&II – Steven Paulson
  • In Praise of Distraction – Curt Benham
  • Marriage-Salvation Events – Ellis and Debbie Brazeal
  • Instagram Scrolling and Twitter Rants: Today’s Solutions to Luther’s Anfechtung – Kelsi Klembara
  • Grace in Distracted Parenting – Nathan Carr
  • Walker Percy on Distraction and Selfhood – Scott Johnson
  • The Distraction of Our Lives – Jady Koch
  • I’m So Worried: How God Loves Me Through Anxiety – Carrie Willard
  • Sinners in the Hands of—SQUIRREL! – David Zahl (ht AJ)

Keep your eyes peeled to the conference site for further details as they develop, including the menus from The Kitchen at Commonplace. And to whet your appetite even more, here’s one more passage from Steven Paulson, this time via his essay “Life Without a Preacher: Darwin’s Origin of Species,” ht AD:

“Is it any wonder why a person would prefer the law’s death to the gospel? Darwin did not reject the beginning of Genesis as a preached God because its science is faulty, but because its divine election is appalling. God elects humans over plants for no legal reasons. God elects Jews who had become idolaters and were taken away to Babylon, only to be freed by Cyrus, the strangest of all Messiahs… Yet, as Darwin traveled around the world he naturally asked, what about all these people who have never had a preacher? What about the unnamed animals of Galápagos? There must be a more rational way God operates than that. Why not make God into a silent pigeon breeder? So Darwin bravely went about discovering life without a preacher. Indeed, that life seems to be a much better arrangement than the election by baptism in opposition to the law—unless, of course, you are the weak.”

Click Here to Pre-Register

Fear of the Gospel (According to Steven Paulson)

Can’t believe we’re less than four weeks away from our conference in Oklahoma City (10/11-13)! What better way to prime the pump than reproducing a quote from keynoter Steven Paulson’s latest book, Luther’s Outlaw God? Dr. Paulson is speaking here in reference to the great 16th Century epistolary debate between Martin Luther and Erasmus:

“For Erasmus, freedom… is precisely the problem–it means freedom even from the law, which he will not abide as a good Christian man. Erasmus’s fear is the same held by Paul’s congregations in Galatia. Will people who are freely forgiven abuse their freedom once they realize the law does not save? If excessive gospel causes tumult and loss of concord in the church and society, shouldn’t the gospel be curtailed? No, said Paul, and Luther followed suit. That temptation to truncate the gospel for its possible ill effects is the ‘temporal leprosy’ that must be endured. Such abusers of the gospel, if they arise, are not worth suppressing the gushing public fountain of God’s word. Erasmus backed himself into a terrible corner by defending God’s law as the means of electing the righteous. In the end, all he could do was blame the gospel itself for the evil of the world. This fear of gospel is the nadir of unfaith–the prison of the will.”

For more info or to pre-register, click here!

What Plato and Aristotle Did Not Know (But Luther Did)

Two more remarkable passages from Steven Paulson’s Luther for Armchair Theologians:

51N4yVb4VNL._SY445_Faith in Christ’s promise, not works of the law, alone saves. But we will have to be very careful, since the word “faith” is one of the most abused words in our vocabulary. It does not mean for Luther “accepting,” or “deciding for,” or “committing oneself for Christ,” or any of the misuses this word has received. Faith is perfect passivity for Luther–being done unto by God, or simply suffering God. It is literally being put to death as a sinner and raised as a saint, which is decidedly God’s own act through preached words. This is a teaching that Plato and Aristotle did not know… (pg. 51-52)

Salvation is not the progress of a spiritual athlete for whom practice in the law makes perfect. It is not even like a sick person getting well on the medicine of grace, for those pictures of Christian living leave Christ on the sidelines while human free will takes center stage. Such notions leave Christ idle, displacing him by the star of that drama, the free will that dreams of becoming ever more holy under the law. Why then the cross? Did Christ come simply to remind people of the law that Moses already gave, or even to give an improved version of the tablets of stone? Is Christ to be patient while you try to solve the puzzle of God’s law? The story of scripture, Luther begins to understand, is not how we make our way up the mountain by getting grace and then topping it off with love and works. Scripture is the story of how God came down to meet us–while we were yet sinners. Christ is the mover and the shaker, the active subject, the star of the show. And when Christ comes the law ends. Luther coined a phrase–crux sola nostra theologia (the cross alone is our theology)–and put it in capital letters to stand out boldly as the chief truth he found while lecturing on Psalms for the first time. (pg. 62-63)

Two Notes, Not One

Another quote from Steven Paulson’s Luther for Armchair Theologians:

“When a tone-deaf person sings, it can be painful to hear. But if you have to listen to theologians who know only the one note of the law, it is not only painful but deadly. They like to describe the big picture of God’s plan as a test to see whether you will pass. They explain God’s mind or the order of God’s plan for salvation and how you can fit in if you follow the rules of the game that God plays. Then the church and its leaders act as referees deciding who is in and who is out of salvation by passing some test. Thinking this way makes it impossible to grasp what Luther is saying when he distinguishes law and gospel as what is old and done for and what is newly arriving with Jesus Christ…[Law and Gospel are] two notes, not one.”

The Tune Stuck in Luther’s Head

A great passage from Steven Paulson’s Luther for Armchair Theologians

Luther said “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. “Bound by the Scriptures” with a conscience “captive to the Word of God” hardly sounds like freedom. But scripture’s freedom has never been an isolated, individualistic, lonely and ultimately death-dealing notion like the ones that capture our imagination today. True freedom is being captivated by Christ’s promise for forgiveness of sins. It is like getting a tune stuck in your head that you can’t get rid of, only this time instead of a legal refrain, “Have you done enough?” it repeats a promise: “God is pleased with you, on account of Christ.”

Gerhard Forde on What Matters

From the brilliant Gerhard Forde’s sermon on Galatians 6, found in his work on the Captivation of the Will:

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.

-Galatians 6:15-16

Captivation-of-the-Will-Forde-Gerhard-O-9780802829061“The God of all grace and mercy whose intention it is to relate to us through faith and trust has (you might say) two big problems with us – both of which destroy the relationship God purposes.

One is quite obvious. It is the problem designated by ‘uncircumcision,’ or the problem of our lawlessness, our existence among the lesser breeds without the law, our immorality and waywardness and heedlessness, even our temptation to boast in it. We are all aware enough of such things to acknowledge the problem and to recognize that it destroys faith and trust.

But the other problem is more subtle, and mostly hidden from us, especially at this place. It is really the main one that Paul wrestles with in his letters. It is the problem of the ‘circumcision,’ the problem of our lawfulness, our morality, our holiness, our so-called sanctification, our do-it-yourself religions, and all of that. What we don’t see is that the ‘circumcision’ destroys the relationship of faith and trust as surely as the ‘uncircumcision.’

So now God has acted finally in this very proclamation by his apostles to have his way with us. God has taken the whole business out of our hands. Neither your lawlessness nor your lawfulness, you immorality nor your morality, your unholiness nor your holiness – none of it matters a bit now, but a new creation. Indeed, in most radical fashion, Paul announces not only that it no longer matters but that it is now exposed as sin! ‘The scripture consigned all things – good and bad! – to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.’ ‘Whatever is not of faith is sin’ (Gal 3:22; Rom 14:23). All escape routes shut down. There is nothing to be done now but just listen. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision count for anything, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule.”

Killer-Maker Spirit: From Steven Paulson's <i>Lutheran Theology</i>

Killer-Maker Spirit: From Steven Paulson’s Lutheran Theology

From Steven Paulson’s mighty recent work on the Lutheran tradition, Chapter 9, “Freedom from Death” looks into the Lutheran doctrine of Spiritus Exstinctor et Creator–the simultaneous killing and reviving power of the Holy Spirit. How does Christ free us from death? The same way he was freed–by the Holy Spirit. When and enemy ensnares us, […]

What "Faith Alone" Really Means: A Word from Steven Paulson's <i>Lutheran Theology</i>

What “Faith Alone” Really Means: A Word from Steven Paulson’s Lutheran Theology

From Steven Paulson’s tremendous overview of the roots of the Lutheran faith, Lutheran Theology, in which he talks about the radicality of Luther’s understanding of “faith alone,” and its perpetual endangerment before the human yearning to earn. The key problem with mixing up grace and some capacity of the soul…is that we fail to understand […]

Top Theology Books of 2011

Top Theology Books of 2011

The following is a list (in no particular order) of some of the most interesting theological books published in 2011. Needless to say it’s been a banner year. Lutheran Theology by Steven Paulson What is Lutheranism? Rather than answering this question by outlining the history and development of Lutheranism, Paulson goes back to Luther himself […]