Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

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Apostate

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Atheism and religious indifference are growing in the United States. In Faith No More, recently reissued in paperback, Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman cites Pew surveys showing that “20% of Americans now claim ‘none’ as their religion.” Harris polls register an uptick of atheism, from 4 percent in 2003 to 10 percent in 2008, with another 9 percent identifying themselves as agnostics.

Among the Rootless

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In a speech delivered in October 2014, David Brooks offered a fanciful contrast devised by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik between the external and internal Adams. External Adam, or “Adam One,” pursues an “external résumé” of career advancement, rising status, and financial success. Adam Two cultivates “eulogy virtues,” his motto is “Charity. Love. Redemption,” and he values a “serene inner character” and a “quiet but solid sense of right and wrong” more than his portfolio. Assertive Adam One wants to “venture forth,” while virtuous Adam Two desires to “return to roots.” Continue Reading »

The Abraham Myth

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Evangelicals are debating the historicity of Adam, but they are too timid. It is time to reject fundamentalist distortions of the Abrahamic narrative just as decisively as we have abandoned literalistic readings of Genesis 1–3. Clinging to discredited biblical accounts of Abraham as if these . . . . Continue Reading »

Rearing Slaves, Rearing Sons

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You’ve heard the horror stories about the schools: kindergartens with a dose of amoral sex education; teachers sowing gender confusion with the hearty support of administrators; violence and widespread drug use in the tony prep schools that train tomorrow’s elites; depression, eating disorders, . . . . Continue Reading »

How to Preach About Bruce Jenner

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Should pastors grease the Kardashian celebrity machine by mentioning Bruce Jenner from the pulpit? There are good arguments for ignoring the whole thing, but I think that’s a pastoral mistake. So much of our cultural trajectory converges on Bruce: our rampant Gnosticism, our confidence in technology, our moral libertarianism and determined flight from biblical standards, our cult of fame, our sexual self-contradictions. Bruce Jenner will be forgotten soon enough, but what he represents isn’t going away, because transgressiveness is one of the few cultural imperatives that we are not permitted to transgress.If we preach about Bruce, what should we say? When I asked the Jewish theologian David Novak how a synagogue would respond, his answer was stunning in its simplicity: First, “Jews would not recognize Jenner as a woman”; then, “Torah forbids castration.” Castration doesn’t turn a man into a woman. It only leaves him a damaged man.  Continue Reading »

Seven Spirits of God: A Pentecost Exhortation

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What do we have when we have the Spirit? We have everything.All the treasures of God, hidden away in the depths of God from before the foundation of the world, become ours through the Spirit of Pentecost. He is the Gift from the Father and the Son, the Gift above all gifts, the Gift containing all gifts. At Pentecost, God gives God: What more could we ask? Continue Reading »

Crusoe in God's World

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Partly a rehabilitation of Ian Watts’s Rise of the Novel, partly a theological deepening of Watts’s thesis, Joseph Bottum’s splendid essay on “The Novel as Protestant Art Form” is a literary education. Bottum hits all the fundamental issues, and he hits most of them out of the park.He defends the once-standard judgment that Don Quixote is the “door by which we entered the modern novel,” since Cervantes’s mockery irreversibly cut the novel off from medieval romance. Despite complaints from Byron and others, “Cervantes won, his work too good not to provide us with permanently comic lenses through which to view that lost time.” Something of the “supernatural thickness” of medieval romance reappeared in the spooky Gothic novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but there was no going back. Continue Reading »

Teach Us to Pray

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Christians have watched in helpless horror at the release of videos of masked ISIS warriors shooting and beheading Coptic Christians on a lonely stretch of North Africa beach. We can help, by diligent prayer for brothers and sisters who fall victim to Muslim brutes.But how should we pray? Continue Reading »