Recent Articles on Religion and the Church
Despite unanimous agreement about the central importance of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Christian church in all of her many historical manifestations has differed greatly on central matters such as the meaning of Scripture and the relationship of the Church with the rest of the world. Today, religious pluralism and the rise of secularism have complicated matters further, uncovering foundational questions concerning the very nature of words like “religion”, “Christian”, and “God”. In a world in which Christians can no longer assume that others share their assumptions, the importance of exploring the theological significance of age-old Christian doctrines and the distinctiveness of the Christian story is more important than ever. At the same time, a certain humility is needed, a humility to recognize the culturally constructed limits of Western theology, and a humility to recognize how God’s common grace will not have left Him without a witness in other religious traditions as well. There is still much for Christians to learn.
Remember when you first told me that you would never become a Christian because all Christians were hypocrites? Remember when you turned away in annoyance when I tried to invite you to church because you hated that Christians never practiced what they preached and were always so judgmental? Remember how you coughed and mumbled “hypocrites” under your breath every time I tried to talk about my faith? But most of all, do you remember how I would get really defensive and angry every time you did any of those things because I refused to believe Christians were anything less than perfect?
Well, I guess you’ll be glad to know then that I’m here to tell you that you were right.
My family used to joke that when Martin Luther hammered in his 95 Theses our ancestor held the nail. All our family had been Lutheran and Protestant for centuries until 2007. That was when the Reformation ended for my dad, and he became Catholic. It wasn’t easy to end the Reformation. He had been raised in a devout Lutheran home and had been a member of that denomination for five decades. My mother is still Protestant, and he raised my sisters and me as Lutherans. But his reason and then his conscience bid him to communion with Rome. Since he’s a philosophy professor, he thought he should give a reason for his impending conversion, so he wrote “A Lutheran’s Case for Roman Catholicism”. I’ve mentioned my dad’s conversion to give you some context. Tonight the Reformation ends for me too and I become Catholic.
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) This verse surfaces most often when Christians argue that God calls us to follow Him with a “child-like faith.” But what exactly does a child-like faith entail? What does it mean to follow Christ with the faith of a child?
While Enoch’s account does a good job of pointing out some of the intuitive and theological problems of what he describes as the evangelical picture of sin, our fears are that 1) Enoch’s account does not quite do the traditional doctrines of sin and penal substitution justice, 2) the social view of sin does not aptly account for the Christian tradition, and 3) the social view of sin also portends potentially overriding theological problems.
A large majority of my time this semester has been dedicated to studying constitutional interpretation for my freshman seminar. This has prompted me to think a lot about biblical interpretation, too, and how theories on constitutional interpretation might be applied to the Bible. As a brief background, constitutional interpretation can generally be bracketed into three large groups, but variations and combinations of the three are also common. These three are: the textualist, originalist, and “living” Constitution points of view.