Category Archives: Bible

Hauerwas on being a forgiven people

Scripture has authority for Christians because they have learned as a forgiven people they must also be able to forgive. But to be a people capable of accepting forgiveness separates them from the world: The world, under the illusion that power and violence rule history, assumes that it has no need to be forgiven. Part of the meaning of the ‘world,’ therefore, is it is that which assumes it needs no scripture, since it lives not by memory made possible by forgiveness, but by power. Being a community of the forgiven is directly connected with being a community sustained by the narratives we find in scripture, as those narratives do nothing less than manifest the God whose very nature is to forgive. To be capable of remembering we must be able to forgive, for without forgiveness we can only forget or repress those histories that prove to be destructive or at least unfruitful. By attending closely to the example of those who have given us our scripture, we learn how to be a people morally capable of foregiveness and thus worthy of continuing to carry the story of God we find authorized by scripture. – Community of Character, 68-69

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Considering Marion’s Gift: Receptivity, Dependence, and Enjoyment vs Possession in the Prodigal Son

[Find part I of this series here.]

Few would quarrel with Jean-Luc Marion’s claim that the parable of the prodigal son speaks to themes of ownership and possession. It may be more contentious to claim, as Marion does, that this parable promotes the virtue of ongoing dependence and use and strikes against an ethic of self-funding and ownership. And it may sound simply foreign to contend that the prodigal son teaches us how to relate to and encounter truth and the good: as a reception of excessive grace in an ongoing posture of praise and dependence. And yet, I find Marion’s exposition of this parable one of the most compelling presentation of God Without Being’s recurring themes of receptivity, dependence, and enjoyment/use vs possession. Continue reading Considering Marion’s Gift: Receptivity, Dependence, and Enjoyment vs Possession in the Prodigal Son

How creation out of nothing matters

This is a re-post.

For as long as I have been involved in theological circles to any degree there have been people who have questioned the historical and biblical veracity of creation ex nihilo. Even though my theological sensibilities depend significantly on creation ex nihilo, such questioning has, in and of itself, never upset my theological sensibilities. I generally wonder what all the fuss is about. I’ve also started to worry that maybe I’ve missed something – the extent of the critique, the implications of creation ex nihilo, or something else. This post is to try to articulate why I am not theologically bothered by biblical nitpickings of the doctrine of creation. Hopefully if I am missing something (or many things) someone will let me know.

As I understand it, the biblical critique of creation ex nihilo boils down to claiming that God created the world out of chaos and not out of nothing. Some also argue that God uses a plural pronoun (1:26) because God is addressing the heavenly court, which would directly imply that (non?)-creatures pre-existed God’s creation. It seems to me that such technical alterations of creation out of nothing do little (if anything at all) to alter the theological significance of that doctrine. That is, the biblical narrative presents the same important themes and implications of creation ex nihilo even if God did create out of chaos and in front of a royal court. Here are seven important and closely related theological claims that stem out of (or are at least tied to) creation ex nihilo. I don’t believe that a creation out of chaos significantly alters them. Continue reading How creation out of nothing matters

The Idolatry of Genius, part one

We’ve had some discussion recently on genius and the possibility for authentic art. Most recently, Lisa (using Woolf) called the term “genius” into question, suggesting that it does not adequately account for the extent to which those reckoned “great artists” are in debt to those who came before (teachers, colleagues, mentors) and to the social conditions that made possible their position as an artist. In this way, genius functions as a sort of privileged male illusion that allows the most indebted to consider themselves self-sufficient and authentically creative because of their self-sufficiency. I agree with Lisa’s critique and would like to push it further. I want to use Jean-Luc Marion’s analysis of the idol to suggest that much of what we consider the marks of “genius” indicates idolatry and illusion. Nevertheless, I would still like to claim that not all art is absolutely determined by a stifling immanence; in other words, that there is more to art than its context. To do this, in part two, I will draw on Marion’s understanding of the icon. Continue reading The Idolatry of Genius, part one

“Disciplined Inattentiveness”

In the introduction to his commentary on Hebrews, D. Stephen Long calls the reader to a disciplined inattentiveness while reading the book of Hebrews. The point is that the modern reader, living in a flattened and gridded world, cannot enter into the book of Hebrews unless she or he also enters into its “odd” world of depth, messiness, and wild spiritual entities. To quote Long more fully:

Bultmann intended…to show the need to demythologize the Bible, rid it of its enchantments, and make it palatable to life on the grid. Hebrews challenges this intent by asking us which is the ‘real’ world. Is it the flat metaphysics of the grid, or is it the illusion that requires a disciplined act of inattentiveness to see it as real? – Long, 13 (my emphasis)

Continue reading “Disciplined Inattentiveness”