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Immanuel: Finding Integration and Wholeness


In the birth narrative of Jesus in Matthew 1, the gospel writer displays a deep awareness that Jesus is the one who has come to rescue humanity from all the things that mar, deface, and thwart life, preventing it from being everything that it is supposed to be.[1] But there is more at play in the person and work of Jesus than just his address to evil. While Matthew primarily argues... Read More

There’s Another Country: The Conceptual Geography of the Letter to the Ephesians


Newspaper columnists insist that my country, the United Kingdom, is a Christian country, while their counterparts at different papers rail against our military misadventures in Muslim lands. In parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland, particular streets or neighborhoods are thought of as Protestant or Roman Catholic, with flags, murals, or painted curbstones to mark the differences.... Read More

Conciliar Reception in the Early Church as Traditio and its Contemporary Implications


The phenomenon of conciliar reception—the process by which the church accepts the decisions of legitimate councils into her life and thought—has fascinated theologians because it constitutes simultaneously the most mysterious and the most decisive factor in establishing a council’s authority. Assemblies of bishops occurred quite frequently in the early church, but it was soon... Read More

Spirit, Tradition, and the Pneumatology of Liberation


The Holy Spirit and the Logic of Tradition According to the French Dominican theologian Yves Congar (1904-1995), the term “Tradition” [1] (from the Latin, tradere) was originally used in Roman legal documents, where it signified the transfer of property from a donor to a beneficiary.[2] When the term was adopted by Christian theologians, it came to signify a transmission from... Read More

Scandalizing John Howard Yoder


In the years following, some say preceding, the 1972 publication of his monumental The Politics of Jesus, the celebrated Christian ethicist John Howard Yoder emotionally manipulated and sexually violated numerous women.[1] Yoder’s conduct troubles us on multiple levels. Because these behaviors strike us as profoundly dissonant with the ways in which his thought has deeply influenced... Read More

Three Construals of Scripture and Tradition, Canon and Church: George Lindbeck, Kevin Vanhoozer, and Robert Jenson


There was a time when almost no scholarly work was being done to relate Christian theology and ethics to the Bible.[1] We therefore owe a great debt to George Lindbeck, who spent much of his career seeking to recover what he called the “classic pattern of biblical interpretation” for today’s church.[2] The mainline churches, Lindbeck contended, exist in a state of “methodological... Read More

The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness: A Review of God, Sexuality, and the Self


Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay “On the Trinity” (Cambridge, UK: University Press, 2013).   In her recently published prayer journal, the influential southern writer Flannery O’Connor wrote, “Dear Lord please make me want You. It would be the greatest bliss. . . . Oh Lord please make this dead desire living.”[1] O’Connor’s prayer is... Read More

A New Creation: Performing the Book of Common Prayer


According to the medievalist Mary Carruthers, the metaphor of travel governed monastic architecture and liturgy. Those who entered a church or performed a service set out on a journey from a starting point (or stasis) to an end (or skopos), passing through the intellectual, emotional, and physical stations along the Way (or ductus).[1] These stations were thought to affect travelers... Read More

Theological Ethnography: Embodied


Over the past several decades, theologians have turned to new methodologies to better understand how cultural situations shape lived faith and, in particular, the church. While these new methodologies have their origins in the social sciences, their adoption by theologians has both complicated and constructed new theological thinking for contemporary ecclesiology. This essay traces... Read More

A Religion of Losers: Dissenting Voices in Church History


The 1930s debate between Emil Brunner and Karl Barth has come to have iconic status in the history of Christian theology. It has been said that if you understand what’s at stake in that debate over natural theology, then you understand the situation of Christian theology in the first half of the twentieth century. Stanley Hauerwas recounts that when he was being interviewed for... Read More