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A New Year & A Better Immanuel...

A New Year & A Better Immanuel…

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

-Matthew 1:23

Immanuel, God with us, epitomizes the Christmas season and carries certain implications which we could summarize in the following respects: Firstly, God has come near us not to condemn, but rather to be condemned for our sins. We understand this as a fitting contrast to Genesis 3:8 (and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden…and they hid). As well, we can see in this a foreshadowing of the blessed future state John…

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The Stray Bible of Christmas 1993

The Stray Bible of Christmas 1993

I spent Christmastide of 1993-1994 in a rural village on Shikoku, Japan’s smallest main island. I was 13, impossibly skinny—my brain a language-sponge my Japanese classmates teased me about for being more Japanese than Japanese.

There is almost nothing I forget about that winter vacation: the udon noodles, the persimmons from the trees in the yard, the home-made plum pickles in the cellar, the eleven-faced Buddha we visited on New Year’s Day after climbing 1,368 steps at Konpira-san, grandfather’s war-stories told from the Japanese side, the Shinto amulet on the kitchen wall honoring the war dead at Yasukuni, the smell of…

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“Paul, Grace, and Human Worth,” A Lecture by John Barclay

A phenomenal lecture from Prof. John Barclay, one of the world’s foremost Paul scholars, talking about Paul’s theology of grace, its significance for today, the ideal of self-esteem, social media, and Martin Luther!

Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion was written by K. Marc Choi.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5, NIV)

“Formless and empty.” These are the two words that the writer of Genesis uses to describe the world, pre-creation. They are frightening words. Enter God the Creator. He brings shape and substance to…

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A Genealogy of Wastrels

A Genealogy of Wastrels

Another great one from the Advent devotional, Watch for the Light. This one was written by Gail Godwin about the precariously long lineage recounted in Matthew’s Gospel, which moves from broken promise to broken promise, and finally ending with the Promised One.

…These three minutes worth of tongue twisting names contain the essential theology of the Old and New Testaments for the whole Church, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant alike.

Now that’s a pretty bold and sweeping ecumenical statement. But Brown tells us Zwingli was already preaching it back during the Reformation. Zwingli preached that Matthew’s genealogy contained the essential theology of…

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Is There Life After Law? A Few Reflections on Pauline Ethics

Is There Life After Law? A Few Reflections on Pauline Ethics

Another wonderful piece by Charis Hamiltonius, continuing from last week’s entry on Luther and Paul.

“Shall we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” This rhetorical question, dropped in the middle of Paul’s lengthy argument in Romans against a Law-oriented life, is not without merit. If grace is freely given to the ungodly, if the moral ordering of the universe is upside-down, and if our works have no bearing on our righteousness before God, then a reader of Paul’s letter would understandably wonder whether Paul cares about morality at all. To this question, Paul emphatically says, “HELL…

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The Road Back for Pariahs

The Road Back for Pariahs

It is hard to know how much of his tongue was in his cheek when Politico’s Jack Shafer penned “The Sex Pariah’s 6-Step Guide to Rehabilitation.” Yet the questions he addresses in the wake of Weinstein and Lauer and O’Reilly (and so many others) are both serious and timely: once the pariahs have served their punishments, “can we, should we, allow them to return to public life and their careers? And by what avenue?” The advice which follows is laced with explicit Catholic pastoral care and 12-Step best practices. They include unqualified confession, a season of retreat, submission to a…

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Go Gently

Go Gently

A beautiful reflection on family and the Advent season by Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

And we think that we can’t write that for which we do not have words but actually sometimes you can if you go gently between the words. Brian Doyle

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah 9:2

It is a week before Christmas and I tell my oldest son: “It is a big responsibility to be a big brother.” This three year old stares at me blankly from across the room, then continues playing with the nativity scene strewn across the floor in a mishmash of…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Ezekiel Chapter Forty Seven Verses One Through Ten

The second video from our DC conference is here! Adam Morton’s devotion that opened our session on Saturday. It’s a beautiful one:

Devotion on Ezekiel 47:1-10 ~ Adam Morton from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Day Four of #AARSBL17 (and the Spiritual Roots of Theological Insight)

Day Four of #AARSBL17 (and the Spiritual Roots of Theological Insight)

To read the previous round-ups of this year’s American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL), click here. Also excited to announce that we have the recording of Simeon Zahl’s lecture from the event, “Prayer and Affliction: Martin Luther on the Spiritual Roots of Theological Insight” available to stream/download here.

The final day of AARSBL feels like going to church on a snowy day. The publishers are still there and papers are still being given in the morning, but the excited “buzz” is gone as probably 50-75% of attendees have already left. Universities don’t usually…

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Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

Kids, Camels, Needles & the Righteousness of the Law

This one comes to us from Brad J. Gray.

Something my dad has said many times before, and something that I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon, is that the keys to good biblical interpretation happen to also be the same 3 basic rules in real estate: (1) Location, (2) Location, and (3) Location. Or to put this in hermeneutical terms, we might say, Context, Context, and Context!

Context is king when it comes to reading, studying, and applying the Bible. (My dad should know a thing or two about this, as he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the same subject.) This is…

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Do You Need a Receipt to Return a Christmas Miracle?

Do You Need a Receipt to Return a Christmas Miracle?

I’m quickly coming up to the two year anniversary of when I nearly, nearly, shouted a four letter word in a crowded auditorium. And it wasn’t fire. I was at a Christmas concert, and the organizers had thoughtfully placed magnets with handwritten Bible verses underneath all of our seats. At a certain point in the evening, they asked us to reach under and collect them. I did. That’s the moment I wanted to shout…um…not-fire.

The verse was for me, for that very moment. The Lord answers prayers. This particular evening, I really didn’t want him to. Like, at all. It meant…

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