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Briefly Noted 20

The First and the Lastby isaiah berlinnew york review books, 141 pages, $19.95 In 1996, two years before he died at the age of eighty-nine, Isaiah Berlin received a request from a professor of philosophy at Wuhan University in China, asking him to offer a précis of his core ideas for a Chinese . . . . Continue Reading »

Why We Need Interreligious Polemics

The intellectual life is essentially and constitutively agonistic. It progresses almost entirely by struggle, by challenge and response, by thesis and antithesis, by getting it wrong and then moving, always asymptotically, toward getting it right. Hegel was wrong, so far as I can tell, about most . . . . Continue Reading »

Denomination and Church

Protestant evangelicalism, it seems, has a symbiotic relationship with American denominationalism. Evangelicals trace their deepest roots to the Protestant Reformation, which was, among other things, a church split. In America, experiential revivalism and disestablishment have combined to liquidate . . . . Continue Reading »

Reviving the Missionary Mandate

The editorial in our May 1991 issue was titled “Christian Mission and the Third Millennium.” It described the complicated connections between the Christian missionary enterprise and the future of an essentially Western civilization that is, in however ambiguous a manner, a product of the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Death of Religious Higher Education

From time to time, a set of concerns reaches something like a critical mass. Familiar discontents vaguely felt turn into more focused anxieties, and then, all of a sudden it seems, a passel of scholars arrives at a similar analysis of what has gone so thoroughly wrong—and some similar ideas of . . . . Continue Reading »

The Demon in the Jewish Soul

Demons surface. For most people, demons surface in nightmares, but for us, for Jews, demons seem to surface in history. Pharaoh, Amalek, Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, Torquemada, Chmielnitsky, and Hitler were real demons. They killed real Jews. The night demons can be forgotten, but not the demons that . . . . Continue Reading »

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