When I first heard that Nic Cage was going to be starring in an upcoming reboot of the Left Behind series, I thought it was a parody: Everyone’s least favorite actor teamed up with the cliché expression of American Christian pop culture. Surely this was just some internet joke or hoax? Sad to say, it’s not. “Relevant” magazine has been reporting on its upcoming release with what can almost be described as giddy anticipation, which I find difficult to comprehend (I’m sure they aren’t alone on this as far as Christian media goes…. But I’m afraid to look!). The theology represented in these books has been very influential among American evangelicals, where the “Rapture” (an event in which all the “saved” are taken up to be with Jesus, and everyone else is left behind to endure the tribulation) has captured the popular imagination. This all comes from a premillenial/pretribulational/dispensational reading of the Bible, which can be regarded as a relatively recent development in theology (within the last 150 years or so); historian George Marsden’s amazing book Fundamentalism and American Culture, chronicles this, along with much more (I highly recommend it!).
I learned yesterday via a series of hilarioustweets that Wolfhart Pannenberg (my theological flavor of the month) had some very speculative comments in his Systematic Theology about the existence of non-terrestrial intelligent life. This made me curious enough to check out this statement in context. Had the great Pannenberg who, at least in Jesus- God and Man, seems to generally stick so close to the facts, been given over to idle speculation on this question? Read this segment below and decide for yourself! Continue reading Can E.T. Be Saved? (Pannenberg, Redemption… And Aliens)
Since I’m starting to dive a bit deeper into Pannenberg, I’ve decided to go back and re-listen to the collection of lectures that he delivered at Asbury back in 1991 (when I was 10 years old….). They are a bit difficult to navigate on the seminary’s website (some of the titles are missing and there are several duplicates), so I am listing them here below by title with direct links to each lecture. If you don’t listen to any others, make sure you check out The Christian Vision of God, which is an excellent talk on the doctrine of the Trinity.
A few weeks ago I finished reading God in Creation (GC), book two in Moltmann’s famous series of “systematic contributions to theology”. Like most everything Moltmann, I thoroughly enjoyed this book on the doctrine of creation. It is a breath of fresh air to a conversation that is usually (unfortunatley) dominated by exegesis of two chapters of Scripture: Genesis 1-2 (which, here in America at least, comes front-loaded with an unhelpful debate between “Creation” and “Evolution”). Moltmann seems far removed from that discussion (and actually probably doesn’t spend enough time on Genesis 1-2! Maybe he felt that this was already over done?). In contrast, when the topic of evolution comes up, he does not present it as a conflict with the doctrine of creation. He instead offers a robust theological interpretation, bringing to the forefront again two neglected aspects of God’s creative activity: continuous creation (creatio continua), and new creation (creatio nova), both of which have receded into the background as creation in the beginning, creatio originalis, came to dominance. Continue reading The Feast of Creation
Sexuality has been a hot topic in the Church for some time. Not only has it been at the epicenter of the culture war; it has divided congregations and denominations, leaving many of us hesitant to even bring up the issue in Christian company for fear of unhelpful heated debate (meanwhile the LGBT people in our midst often feel misunderstood, targeted, and marginalized). There now exists among Christians a spectrum of approaches on this matter. That does not mean that all positions are equally right. But it does mean that we should be open to having conversations where we speak the truth with grace, and steer clear of using loaded words like “apostate” or “bigot” to describe those who take the view opposite our own.
Ever since I first read N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with the way many Christians (especially in the Evangelical camp I usually find myself in) talk about heaven, basically, as a place we would all like to go to when we die. A final destination, perhaps in contrast to someplace… less pleasant. It locates the Christian hope in a simplistic (and fuzzy) life after death. In contrast, Wright, not unlike Moltmann before him, finds his doctrine of hope grounded in resurrection, or “life after life after death” as Wright likes to put it. Continue reading I don’t want to go to heaven