It's the Culture

From the May 2014 Print Edition

What happens to a culture shaped by the Bible, if the culture ceases to believe that the Bible tells truth?” This was the question asked by my initiation paper for a liberal arts discussion group that met more than fifty years ago. In the meantime, we have been finding out the answer.It is not my purpose, grimly enjoyable though it might be, to set forth a lament over our developing chaos—our nihilistic ideologies, the collapsing sexual order and related social and political dysfunction, the idiot’s greed of masters of the financial universe, and so forth. In order to understand more deeply, we need to attend to specific features of the Bible and to correlated aspects and developments of Western culture. The following is offered as a limited contribution to that effort.Now, we may think of Scripture as both an encompassing narrative of the Creator’s history with his creatures, and as torah, his gracious communication of what is good for participants in that history. These of course are inseparable, but it will be convenient to take them up in sequence. Christians and Jews tend to order them differently: Christians make the narrative primary; Jews, the Torah. I presume the Christian ordering but think both Christians and Jews can agree about much of what I will say. Continue Reading »

How The World Lost Its Story

From the March 2010 Print Edition

As our changing culture struggled to define itself, the theologian Robert W. Jenson mourned the missing narrative of a universe gone postmodern and mad. From the October 1993 issue. I It is the whole mission of the church to speak the gospel. As to what sort of thing “the gospel” may be, too . . . . Continue Reading »

Can We Have a Story?

From the March 2000 Print Edition

Some time ago I published in this journal an essay on “How the World Lost Its Story” (October 1993). Modernity’s project, I said with great unoriginality, was the attempt to maintain the Bible’s grasp of reality while dispensing with the Bible’s God. The long reading of . . . . Continue Reading »

“The American People”

From the April 1999 Print Edition

Sometimes the phrase became so intolerably ubiquitous that entire comedy routines were made around it. But neither political leaders nor the press nor furrowed-brow academics nor editors of prestigious journals nor indeed “the American people” have seemed able to desist. All parties to . . . . Continue Reading »

Catholic and Evangelical?

From the October 1998 Print Edition

Systematic Theology: Volume 3 By Wolfhart Pannenberg, Translated by Geoffrey Bromiley Eerdmans. 713 pp. $49 Authors often await reviews with considerable anxiety, knowing that their work’s impact and survival much depend on them. We may not picture Wolfhart Pannenberg so awaiting this piece. . . . . Continue Reading »

The Ordinary Transformed

From the March 1996 Print Edition

The Ordinary Transformed: An Inquiry into the Christian Vision of Transcendence By R.R. Reno Eerdmans, 222 pages, $19 paper Professor Reno’s book can be taken, and could then be reviewed, in several ways. For a first possibility, it can be taken as a revisionist reading of the theology of Karl . . . . Continue Reading »

Parting Ways?

From the May 1995 Print Edition

Systematic Theology: Volume 2 By Wolfhart Pannenberg, Translated by Geoffrey Bromiley Eerdmans, 449 pages, $39.99 Whenever I am asked to comment on Wolfhart Pannenberg’s work, I begin with the same admonition: If we wish to understand any part or aspect of his thinking, we must always remember . . . . Continue Reading »