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The Problem of Constructive Protestantism

From First Thoughts

It has been almost eighty years since the publication of H. Richard Niebuhr’s The Kingdom of God in America and we are still talking about what Niebuhr called the problem of constructive Protestantism. This problem lurks behind the recent talk about the future of Protestantism unleashed by Peter Leithart’s initial volley. Continue Reading »

On Thinking with the Church

From First Thoughts

Gerald McDermott has been prosecuting a case against a certain version of evangelical theology over the past few years (see here and here). His fundamental point is the need to recover the Great Tradition within Evangelicalism and thus to read scripture in and through the lens of the church spread out through time. To fail to read scripture in this way, according to McDermott, is to hold to nuda scriptura in which the interpretation of scripture is reduced to the application of current sensibilities that reinforce the autonomy of the late-modern individual. When personal interpretation trumps the tradition, McDermott wonders how one can ever move beyond a new kind of Babylonian captivity, the captivity of interpretation to a modern cultural milieu. Continue Reading »

The Pope and the Patriarch

From Web Exclusives

On Sunday Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will join one another in their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Fifty years after the historical meeting of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, this new meeting aims to do more than commemorate the past. Continue Reading »

Women and Teaching in Evangelicalism

From First Thoughts

The new president of Cedarville University, a Christian college in Ohio, has decided that no woman shall teach a man in any Biblical studies. This reflects a long-running debate within Evangelicalism (see here and here) over gender complementarianism and the role of women. To be . . . . Continue Reading »

On the Importance of Place

From First Thoughts

One of the natural loves that humans possess is a love of place. Bubbling up from love for home and love for creation, the love of place shapes humans, conforming them to the topography of the landscapes they inhabit. As C. S. Lewis notes, to speak of a love of home is to conjure up images . . . . Continue Reading »

What Makes Rock Christian?

From First Thoughts

The recent release of Switchfoot’s new project Fading West led to more questions for lead singer Jon Foreman on how his band can be Christian when its songs lack explicit Christian content. Foreman’s answer has basically remained that his songs are Christian because they are deeply . . . . Continue Reading »