Billy Budd

Some notes from a lecture on Melville’s Billy Budd. Billy Budd was written in the last few years of Melville’s life, and was not published until three decades after his death. It has been common to interpret the novel as a final testament that indicates a shift in Melville’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, Third Sunday After Epiphany

Love is a necessary expression of new life and knowledge of God. If we are born of God and know God, we will love one another, and this love must be expressed in our actual behavior. John is blunt about the alternative: Whoever does not love does not know God. Suppose you examine yourself and . . . . Continue Reading »

You shall know them by their fear

Stott notes that 1 John 4:19 indicates that the church’s great characteristic is love, not fear. That is, it should be. Is it? Hardly. Read the next piece of direct mail you get from a Christian advocacy group. Look at the listings in a Christian book catalogue or bookstore. Analyze the . . . . Continue Reading »

Fear and fear

Perfect love casts out fear, John says. But the Bible repeatedly exhorts us to fear God. There’s fear, then there’s fear. How do we tell the difference? The difference is in the direction our fear moves us. Adam feared God, and hid in the garden. Wrong fear drives us away from . . . . Continue Reading »

Kantian modalism?

Post-Kantian thought cannot make room for undistorted revelation of God in history. History, creation, is necessarily a distorting medium. Is this just a form of modalism? Doesn’t this just create an unbridgeable modalist gap between God-in-Himself and God-as-revealed? Isn’t this just . . . . Continue Reading »

God’s body

Time was when you could despise the body and love God, or despise God and love the body. One could be an ascetic or a hedonist. Then God got Himself a body. Despite efforts to retain this choice (Nietzsche, flagellants), the incarnation made the ancient choice of ascetic or hedonist impossible. . . . . Continue Reading »

Dionysus and the crucified

Shaftesbury recognized the stark difference between his own rational Deity and the vulgar bodily and crucifiable Christ. Francis Hutcheson, building on Shaftesbury, tried to conflate the two. Hutcheson was a Christian, a Presbyterian professor of moral theology. Shaftesbury loathed Christ. But . . . . Continue Reading »

Sade and the cross

Notoriously, the Marquis de Sade stole some consecrated wafers, pushed them into a prostitute’s vagina, and had sex, saying, “Avenge yourself, if you are God.” He meant this as blasphemy, and it is. But his blasphemy only shows just how insurmountable Jesus is. Sade thought . . . . Continue Reading »