Exploratory and standard theology

In a thoughtful review of Fergus Kerr’s recent book on Twentieth-century Catholic theology ( First Things , May), Rusty Reno discusses the distinction between exploratory and standard theology. The “Heroic Generation” prior to Vatican II (Congar, de Lubac, Rahner, Lonergan, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Faith and Grace

Faith is often characterized as a “receptive” and “responsive” disposition, or as “passive.” Even if we accept standard definitions of faith, that characterization seems to overlook the variety of ways in which grace and faith can be related. There appear to be . . . . Continue Reading »

Jesus as Israel

If you click on “Downloads” above you’ll be able to find a longish, but rather unpolished and work-in-progressive paper on the typological structure of Matthew. Thanks to Ralph and Emeth Smith for pdf-ing it for me and uploading it to this site. . . . . Continue Reading »

Restless confinements

In a 1971 article, Ann Banfield writes, “If Mansfield is ‘modern, airy, and well-situated,’ the house at Sotherton, ‘built in Elizabeth’s time’ and ‘furnished in the taste of fifty years back,’ is ‘ill-placed,’ for ‘it stands in one . . . . Continue Reading »

Ordination and revolt

In an article in Studies in English Literature (2004), Michael Karounos notes that “The meaning of ordination was not restricted in 1814 to the meaning of assuming a religious office, nor, indeed, was that its primary definition. A glance at the OED demonstrates that trees, animals, and ideas . . . . Continue Reading »

The task

In Book III of his poem “The Task,” the most popular poem of the late eighteenth century, William Cowper lamented how the lust for “improvement” has spoiled nature and the English character. Austen, who described Cowper as her favorite poet, might have had the poem open as . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptism and assurance

Brownson claims that baptism does not bring assurance in the sense of answering the question “How can I know if I really have true faith that relies on Christ alone?” That experience of assurance only comes through “the existential act of reliance upon God’s grace in Christ, . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptism and identity

Brownson again, arguing that “In baptism, I am given a new identity, into which I am called to grow”: “When we are baptized into the name of Jesus, we are given a new name, the name of Christian. Names are curious things. We rarely choose them for ourselves; they are given to us . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptism and faith

In The Promise of Baptism (Eerdmans, 2007), James Brownson describes faith as 1) acknowledging God’s goodness to me in particular, 2) accepting and receiving the gifts He offers, 3) trusting Him, and 4) being loyal to Him, clinging in allegiance to Him. He neatly ties this to baptism in a . . . . Continue Reading »

Suicide against property

The violent are confined to the seventh circle of Dante’s hell, which is divided among those who commit violence against neighbors, against themselves, and against God. In the second category, those who commit violence against themselves, are not only suicides, but those who have . . . . Continue Reading »