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Theology


Mining Netflix: “Father Brown”

What do you get when you cross Sherlock Holmes with Pope Francis and Arthur Weasley? You get a slightly bumpling but brilliant Catholic priest who moonlights as a murder detective. “Father Brown” is the literary creation of G.K. Chesterton, and the BBC show based on him is now airing on Netflix in its entirety. I […]

In the Midst of Life We Are in October

What images come to mind when you think of Halloween? Ghosts? Skeletons? Gravestones? Some Christians cry foul at such “morbid” imagery, but it seems to me this stems from a safely modern, bourgeois outlook. Our older brothers and sisters in medieval Europe most assuredly wouldn’t know what to make of the bland, sterilized Christianity regnant […]

Bayesian Theology or: How I Learned to Loosen a Doctrinal Death Grip and Love Statistical Thinking

This one comes to us from Rob Munk. Halfway through 2017, I met the woman I plan to marry. We bonded over pancakes at a greasy-spoon diner on our first date. She was Anglican; I was Lutheran. It was a match in high-church Protestant heaven. But like many Christian couples, we had our share of […]

David Bentley Hart, on Grace Beyond Supply and Demand

An excerpt from David Bentley Hart’s provocative new book, That All Shall Be Saved. As this chapter’s title suggested, he’s “Doubting the Answers,” and he’s giving us something to think about:

… for Christian thought in general, the question of one’s just deserts before God is irrelevant—as it was, for instance, for the woman taken in adultery. If what the New Testament says about God is true, then it is God’s will not to repay us according to our merits, but simply to claim for himself those of his creatures who had been lost in slavery to death. I remain convinced that no one, logically speaking, could merit eternal punishment; but I also accept the obverse claim that no one could merit grace. This does not mean, however, that grace must be rare in order to be truly gracious, as so many in the infernalist party so casually assume it must. Grace universally given is still grace. A gift made to everyone is no less a gift, and a gift this is intrinsically precious need not be rare to be an act of the highest generosity. Conversely, that gift becomes no more precious—indeed, it becomes much less so—if it is certified in its value by being distributed only parsimoniously. Our very existence is an unmerited gift, after all (unless, of course, there really is an eternal hell, in which case it is also, and perhaps preponderantly, an unmerited brutality). More to the point, if Paul is right, then—whereas natural justice is wholly concerned with matters of law and proportional consequences—the supernatural justice revealed in Christ consists in God’s victory over all the powers that separate his creation from him, and to that degree is as “unjust” as any other act of wholly unmerited mercy is. (52)

Sarah Coakley, Against “Sweaty Pelagianism”

Why are we talking so much about bodies? Not just Christians, but everyone. Whether it’s our devotion to workouts and dieting, our “gender trouble” and overwrought attempts at sexual ethics, our reproductive anxieties, our reckoning with racial histories, our climate emergency, or some other perplexity, the fleshiness of our lives stands front and center in […]

Enchanting a Disenchanted World

In his book, A Secular Age, Charles Taylor narrated the long process of disenchantment in the Western world, where the rationality of the scientific worldview comes to dominate how people live from day to day. In the absence of official religion, Taylor contends that people have made themselves and their authenticity the new means of […]

Live and Let Love (Or, Luther vs. Augustine: A Showdown)

Augustine, among others, is a prize-fighter of the Evangelical church. His Confessions persists as an essential read for every young believer, and his emphatic defense of the church in the ugly face of pelagianism is the stuff of legend within Mockingbird. While he certainly faltered in places because of his cultural milieu (he suggested deaf […]

When Reconciliation Was the Most Obvious Thing in the World: An Excerpt from Robert Farrar Capon’s The Youngest Day

From Chapter 14, “The Funeral,” in Robert Farrar Capon’s collection of seasonal musings, “The Youngest Day”: Late one evening I was with a group of people who were having an extended series of nightcaps after the funeral of a common friend. We’d all known him well, and as the night wore on and tongues got […]

Grace for ME: Kierkegaard, Sin, and the Self

A week ago my father asked me, presumably because I was the only suitable philosophical authority within a few miles, what “Existentialism” is. Being the word-merchant that I am, I deftly replied, “uh…well, it was kind of started by Kierkegaard — though it’s not explicitly Christian — and it deals with big questions, like, um, […]

The Mockingcast in July

Quick Update: As mentioned on the most recent episode of The Mockingcast, we’ll be taking a break from our regular recording schedule this month. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be fresh content! In fact, we decided to up the ante while we’re off, and in addition to the upcoming Family Issue audio bonanza, RJ, Sarah and I recorded three special “mini-sodes” on particular topics, about 15-20 minutes each. So that’s four weeks, four episodes. Up first is “The Bondage of the Will,” which you can stream now on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher. Next comes “The Holy Spirit” and after that, “Hope.” Enjoy, and as always, thanks for listening!

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Seculosity and St. Paul

David Zahl didn’t put me up to this, I swear. But if the Apostle Paul were alive today, I dare say he would have written Seculosity. Let me explain. The secular world in which we live now wouldn’t have been imaginable to the Apostle Paul. In the first century, everything one did was connected to […]

The God Days of Summer

It’s safe to say that Robert Capon is not a fan of summer. In his hilarious and profound The Youngest Day he writes concerning the season, “‘Nothing too much,’ said the ancient Greeks; and ever since, wise men have called moderation the key to a happy life. Yet summer is immoderate in everything.” He elaborates: It […]