In Honor of an Uppity Nun

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On one of my first visits to Rome some years ago, I stepped into an elevator on my way to a meeting in the Vatican. I was greeted by a friendly cleric. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Birmingham, Alabama,” I replied. “Oh,” he said in a hushed tone, “do you know Mother Angelica?” I . . . . Continue Reading »

Erasmus Before the Storm

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Five hundred years ago this year, in February and March of 1516, a Swiss-German printer in Basel named Johann Froben published a volume of some 1,000 pages titled Novum Instrumentum Omne, “the whole New Testament.” This was the first officially published edition of the Greek New Testament, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Social Sins in Lent

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The season of Lent is a time of meditation and self-denial, as Christians join with Jesus in his journey toward the cross. Most often, the penitential disciplines of Lent focus on personal sins of greed and indulgence, with an emphasis on abstaining from some private luxuries and exercising a . . . . Continue Reading »

Justice Scalia on Funeral Sermons

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When Jessica Mitford first published The American Way of Death in 1963, she unleashed a broadside against the entire funeral industry in this country. She criticized the way funerals were done in America, including cosmetic excrescences and high expenses stemming from the greed of morticians. Some . . . . Continue Reading »

Mary at Baptism?

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On an escarpment high above the Euphrates River in eastern Syria sit the ruins of Dura-Europos, one of the most important archeological finds of the twentieth century. Founded in 303 BC by the Seleucid successors of Alexander the Great, this ancient caravan city of some 8,000 to 10,000 people was . . . . Continue Reading »

The God Who Names Himself

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The whole Bible is a single, unified text with theological coherence. In it the one supreme and true God, the God who has forever known himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, reveals himself to his people in personal self-disclosure. The initial five books of the Bible, called the . . . . Continue Reading »

In Honor of David Steinmetz

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David Curtis Steinmetz, one of the leading church historians of our time, died this past November at age 79 on Thanksgiving evening. He spent most of his distinguished academic career at Duke Divinity School, where he was the Ragan Kerns Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the History of . . . . Continue Reading »

First Buds of the Church

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are over now, but the melodies linger on—not only for those who observe the full twelve days of Christmastide, but also for others for whom the season has been mostly about lots of good food, good cheer, and the feel-good sentimentality of “God's in his heaven, . . . . Continue Reading »

Bonhoeffer's Last Advent

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One year before Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis on the morning of April 9, 1945, he wrote from prison to his friend Eberhard Bethge: “What keeps gnawing at me is the question, ‘What is Christianity, or who is Christ actually for us today?’” To that question we must now pose . . . . Continue Reading »

After Dinner, a Beheading

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November 2015 will be remembered as the month in which the world woke up. The year began with the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris on January 7 and 8, an atrocity which drew millions to the streets of the French capital to stand in solidarity on behalf of civil liberty and freedom of speech. Militant . . . . Continue Reading »