Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Doctrine of Eschatology

Christian theologies differ on the doctrine of eschatology probably more than just about any other doctrine. The approach I take in my essay, “The Doctrine of Eschatology”, focuses on ethics.  I ask what would eschatology would look like that reinforces Jesus’ teaching about love of God and neighbor.  Such an ethical eschatology will focus more on our “end” as in our purpose than our “end” as in our future fate.

I center my eschatological reflections on the book of Revelation, interpreting Revelation as a message about discipleship–calling on believers to follow Jesus (the “Lamb”) wherever he goes.  And Revelation presents the “way Jesus goes” as the way of persevering love. 

This essay is the twelfth in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.

Theology of the Religions

Does Christian theology have resources to deal creatively with religious pluralism.  Is our only valid response as Christians still simply invoking God’s definitive revelation for salvation in Jesus’ death–and informing those of other faiths that their religion is inferior?

In my essay, “Theology of the Religions” I attempt to address these kinds of questions from the point of view of  commitment to Jesus’ message of loving God and neighbor.  I suggest that Jesus’ emphasis on the centrality of how we live our lives, shaping them by love and not power politics, provides the best angle for considering questions related to religious pluralism.  Ultimately, faithfulness to Jesus and Jesus’ God stems from how we live more than what our doctrines are.  This truth should open us to make common cause with those of other faiths who have similar moral convictions.

This essay is the eleventh in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.

Theology of the Sacraments

As we reflect on our theology of the church, no matter where we are on the “high-church/low-church” spectrum, we do need to take seriously the formals rituals of Christian practice, especially the ritual of communion.

I propose in my essay, “Theology of the Sacraments, that taking Jesus as our central source for theology will shape how we think of the Sacraments.  Doing theology of the Sacraments as if Jesus matters means that we will recognize that the rituals must serve the love of neighbor.

This essay is the tenth in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.

The Doctrine of the Church

How central should the church be for Christian life?  Is the church a blessing or a curse?  We should be honest and self-critical about the church–and not make into something sacred.  However, Jesus’ agenda certainly placed the faith community as central to faithful living.

In my essay, “The Doctrine of the Church,” I consider the theology of the church in its biblical context, asking how we best think of the church in light of Jesus life and teaching, especially his command to love God and neighbor.

This essay is the ninth in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.

The Doctrine of Salvation

What do we mean when we confess Jesus as “savior”?  Should we take our central cues from Jesus’ own portrayal of salvation or from later Christian salvation theologies about Jesus?

My essay, “The Doctrine of Salvation”, argues for an approach that focuses more on the biblical story than doctrinal theology.  When we do so, we see God’s mercy as the driving force in the establishment of the possibility of human salvation–not God’s impersonal holiness or justice that must be satisfied by a violent act of sacrifice.

Such a view of salvation undergirds the Christian ethical vocation of peacemaking and restorative justice.  God seeks to make us whole so that we might be God’s agents for wholeness in the wider world.

This essay is the eighth in a series that examines core Christian doctrines, consistently asking what shape they should take if they are articulated in light of Jesus.

Witnessing to Anabaptist faith in American politics

Are the only alternatives for pacifist Christians in America either to withdraw into separated communities that remain (relatively) free of violence or to bracket their pacifist convictions while engaging in the public arena?  This article, “Anabaptist Faith and American Democracy,” makes the case for a third approach.

This third approach follows from the belief that Jesus’ peaceable social ethics are ultimately meant for the entire world and that the call he has given his followers is to witness to his way to the ends of the earth.  One helpful insight that should encourage American pacifist Christians is an awareness that we live in two Americas, the American republic (which is compatible with pacifism) and the American empire (which is not).  One may oppose the American empire while still embracing (nonviolently) the American republic.