Mysticism and culture

Gadamer notes that the concept of Bildung (culture) has its origins in medieval and baroque mysticism, and continues to carry a mystical connotation when it begins to be used of the cultivated humanness. Von Humboldt, for instance, says “when in our language we say Bildung, we mean something . . . . Continue Reading »


Responding to Isaac Watts’s claim that we love things purely out of our choice, Jonathan Edwards deftly isolated the problems of that position: When we choose one thing over another, we are clearly preferring that thing, but “that the mind sets a higher value on one thing than another, . . . . Continue Reading »

Glory and craft

In English, Psalm 19:2 is arranged in a neat parallel structure: A. The heavens B. tell C. the glory of God. A’. The firmament B’. proclaims C’. the work of his hands. In Hebrew, the verse is chiastic: A. The heavens B. are telling C. the glory of God. C’. The work of his . . . . Continue Reading »

New Year’s Sermon

INTRODUCTION We often have a problem with time. We get used to things the way they are, and we want them to stay that way. We are nostalgic for what seems a happier time of our lives. Living in time means living in uncertainty about what the next year, or the next minute, will bring; and we crave . . . . Continue Reading »

Christmas Eve Sermon

Matthew 2 has all the elements of an exodus story. There is a murderous king, who slaughtering Jewish babies. There is a infant who will be Israel’s future deliverer, saved from the murderous king so He can later return to save His people and lead them to the Promised land. There is an exodus . . . . Continue Reading »


In his history of American movies (thanks again Ken Myers), David Thomson notes that “there was in the ordinary lifestile of the first moguls a steady habit of gambling.” David Selznick, he says, “lost a couple of million dollars in two years.” No wonder: Their whole . . . . Continue Reading »


In her recently-published Rituals of Spontaneity (Baylor), Lori Branch investigates the shift from ritual to emotional expression in liturgy, poetry, romance, consumer behavior from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. She asks, “How and why did the popular conception of poetry shift . . . . Continue Reading »

Providence and Lessing’s Ditch

Helmut Thielicke says that Lessing cannot find the absolute of reason in the relativity of history because “history is an accumulation of the accidental and irrational.” Behind the epochal hermeneutical ditch between the truths of reasons and contingencies of history is a loss of any . . . . Continue Reading »


Lundin sees a link between (some) Protestant hermeneutics, Schleiermacher, and the quest of the historical Jesus. The common factor is a search for a pure origin: “In the nineteenth century the quest for scriptural purity and origins assumed a number of guises. In some quarters, it became the . . . . Continue Reading »

Plebs in the church

Thanks to Tim Enloe for getting me a copy of David Rankin’s 2004 article, “Class Distinction as a Way of Doing Church: The Early Fathers and the Christian Plebs” ( Vigiliae Christianae 58). He examines the way the terminology and orders of Roman society were imported into the . . . . Continue Reading »