Two Modes of Secularism

Charles Taylor has suggested that secularism was an “exit strategy” from religious conflict. There were two exit strategies. In the summary by RA Markus, “The first, ‘the common ground strategy,’ assumes a certain range of beliefs shared by all Christians (or all . . . . Continue Reading »

Locke on religion

John Locke drew up the basic contours of the modern conception of religion as internal and private in his “Letter Concerning Toleration.” He made a sharp distinction between religious and civil realms: “The end of a religious society, as has already been said, is the public . . . . Continue Reading »

Aquinas on Gratitude

Comments primarily on Aquinas on Gratitude/Ingratitude (primarily ST, II-II, qs 106-7). Aquinas describes gratitude as a virtue “annexed” to justice, and so to understand his discussion of gratitude, we must get some handle on what he means by justice. In ST II-II, q. 58, he describes . . . . Continue Reading »


If you’re in the vicinity of Duke, you might be interested in a conference sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology, in cooperation with the Duke Divinity School, on May 21-23, at Duke. The theme is “Preaching, Teaching, and Living the Bible.” Speakers include . . . . Continue Reading »

Garber on Merchant

Marjorie Garber has, as usual, some insightful things to say about Merchant of Venice: 1) She describes the play as “Shakespeare’s great play about difference,” pointing to the apparent stark contrasts of Christian and Jew, Venice and Belmont, male and female. Yet, she also notes . . . . Continue Reading »

Biblical echoes in Merchant of Venice

A.R. Braunmuller offers some suggestive comments in his introduction to the Merchant of Venice in the Pelican Shakespeare. Having summarized Portia’s speech (which he suggests might be a “setup that turns on a technicality” that “turns back on Shylock a legal rigidity he had . . . . Continue Reading »

Hypostatic union

Thomas argues that “if the human nature is not united to God the Word in person, it is not united to him in any way, and thus belief in the incarnation is altogether done away with, which subverts the entire Christian faith.” But since there is a union, it must be a union that took . . . . Continue Reading »

Aquinas and Chalcedon

Frederick Bauerschmidt claims that “Aquinas is in fact the first medieval theologian in the West to quote directly from the Council of Chalcedon.” This is remarkable on all sorts of levels, not least because of the questions it raises about the authority of the ecumenical councils in . . . . Continue Reading »

Gift and Gratitude in the Middle Ages

INTRODUCTION Seneca’s de Beneficiis was known to the Christian Middle Ages, as were some of the gift and gratitude customs of the Roman world. We’ll examine the use that Aquinas makes of Seneca when we get to the Summa later this week. But in addition to these ancient sources, medieval . . . . Continue Reading »

Barth on Gratitude

In a 2001 Modern Theology article, Matthew Boulton points to the theme of gratitude in Barth’s theology. Gratitude is for Barth the “one but necessary thing which is proper to and is required of him with whom God has graciously entered into covenant.” It is the “genuine . . . . Continue Reading »