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How God Became America’s Father

From First Thoughts

Americans just recently celebrated the important role of fathers in the upbringing of children. No doubt more than one sermon drew comparisons between divine fatherhood and human fatherhood, even though doing so is fraught with challenges for the American Christian given the historical connection to . . . . Continue Reading »

The Eruption of Pentecost

From First Thoughts

This Sunday marks the day when churches commemorate the descent of the Spirit. This feast of fiery tongues and intoxicating presence has haunted the Christian imagination. Symbolizing the divine breath that filled the first humans with life, the rushing mighty wind overwhelms the senses, reminding believers that “there lives the dearest freshness deep down things. . .Because the Holy Spirit over the bent world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” Continue Reading »

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 »