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God's Wonder and Mystery
German theologian, Klaus Schwarzwäller reclaims Christ's cross and resurrection as God's wonder and mystery. He connects with art, history, contemporary culture, and especially scripture in presenting a trenchant analysis of the modes of power and production that have undergirded both society and the church since the Enlightenment.
The church in the present era comes under the power of the Enlightenment's quest for truth in the measurable, reproducible, and rational. The proof of the Spirit’s power thus comes to depend on the criteria of reason and theory, rather than on the Spirit’s work in the reality of daily life.
When the church and theology operate in this way, the cross and resurrection become something that requires our management, manipulation, or expert interpretation. Thus, the church and theology wind up existing for their own ends, and freedom and faith are replaced with brutal indifference and control.
The truth of the gospel is that on the cross Christ bore the brunt of power and production that could not bear his utter devotion to God and care for the powerless. The cross excludes our control and the power of the resurrection ensures that the negativity of human life borne on the cross will be overcome.
Schwarzwäller calls the church and theologians to relinquish both their conformity to society and the indifference that power and production create and instead focus on tending to God’s word so that the cross and resurrection are again revealed as God’s wonder and mystery.
The Early Life of a Christian Symbol
This book brings together, for the first time, the relevant material evidence demonstrating Christian use of the cross prior to Constantine. Bruce W. Longenecker upends a longstanding consensus that the cross was not a Christian symbol until Constantine appropriated it to consolidate his power in the fourth century. Longenecker presents a wide variety of artifacts from across the Mediterranean basin that testify to the use of the cross as a visual symbol by some pre-Constantinian Christians. Those artifacts interlock with literary witnesses from the same period to provide a consistent and robust portrait of the cross as a pre-Constantinian symbol of Christian devotion. The material record of the pre-Constantinian period illustrates that Constantine did not invent the cross as a symbol of Christian faith; for an impressive number of Christians before Constantine’s reign, the cross served as a visual symbol of commitment to a living deity in a dangerous world.
Luther's Theologia Crucis and Bonhoeffer's Christology
The Cross of Reality investigates Bonhoeffer’s interpretation and use of Luther’s theology in shaping his Christology. In this essay, H. Gaylon Barker uses the “theology of the cross” as a key to understanding the characteristic elements that make up Bonhoeffer’s theology; he also shows how Bonhoeffer’s conversation with his teachers and contemporaries, Karl Holl and Karl Barth in particular, develops.
Bonhoeffer’s thought was indeed radical and revolutionary, but it was so precisely because of its adherence to the classical traditions of the church, especially Luther’s theologia cruces. When his theology is understood in light of this tradition, his “nonreligious interpretation,” which he set out to describe in his theological letters from Tegel prison, is not a radical departure from his earlier theology, but is the mature expression of his “theology of the cross.” Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran roots would not allow him to turn his back on the problems and tragedies of the world. In fact, because God had turned toward the world, had entered into the world and identified with suffering individuals, the only proper sphere for theological reflection was this world. Theology properly conceived, therefore, is very this-worldly. It is this worldly character that gives it its power to speak.
Violence against Women and the Church's Response
In this comprehensive, practical, and gripping assessment of various forms of violence against women, Pamela Cooper-White challenges the Christian churches to examine their own responses to the cry of Tamar in our time. She describes specific forms of such violence and outlines appropriate pastoral responses.
The second edition of this groundbreaking work is thoroughly updated and examines not only where the church has made progress since 1995 but also where women remain at unchanged or even greater risk of violence.
Fathers, sons, and mothers take center stage in the Bible’s grand narratives, Amy Kalmanofsky observes. Sisters and sisterhood receive less attention in scholarship but, she argues, play an important role in narratives, revealing anxieties related to desire, agency, and solidarity among women playing out (and playing against) their roles in a patrilineal society. Most often, she shows, sisters are destabilizing figures in narratives about family crisis, where property, patrimony, and the resilience of community boundaries are at risk. Kalmanofsky demonstrates that the particular role of sisters had important narrative effects, revealing previously underappreciated dynamics in Israelite society.
Preaching, Death, and Hope
In an age when the so-called prosperity gospel holds sway in many Christian communities or the good news of Christ is reduced to feel-good bromides, it would seem that death has little place in contemporary preaching. Embracing the vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 as a metaphor for preaching in the Spirit, acclaimed homiletician Luke Powery asserts that death is the context for all preaching. In fact, the Spirit leads preachers to the context of death each Sunday in order to proclaim a word of life that ultimately breathes hope into people's lives. Yet many preachers avoid death because they are at a loss of what to say about it and do not realize its vital connection to the substance of Christian hope. As a result the church is too often left with sermons that are fundamentally devoid of hope.
Dem Dry Bones aims to remedy some of the theological and homiletical shortcomings in contemporary preaching by looking closely at the African American spirituals tradition. Through this study, Powery demonstrates how to preach in the Spirit so that proclaiming death becomes an avenue toward hope. In short: no death, no hope.
Calvin, Schleiermacher, and Barth on the Providence of God
This dissertation stages an intervention in Reformed readings of the doctrine of providence, particularly around Barth’s critical interpretation of the tradition stemming from Calvin and Schleiermacher, and provides a critical and constructive assessment of Barth’s contribution. The author argues that while Barth advances the discussion in key ways, his reading of Calvin in particular is significantly hampered by his running challenge to Schleiermacher.
Following an assessment of Barth’s critique of the Reformed position, the author provides an extensive reading of Calvin’s writings, demonstrating that Calvin is far more concerned with the Christological basis and Christian meaning of providence than Barth’s theology recognizes; as well, Schleiermacher’s theological construction problematizes aspects of Barth’s reading.
The upshot of this work is that each of these theologians provide critical safeguards and soundings that need to be heard in concert and mutual correction for a robust doctrine of divine providence.
Broadening Reformed Theology
Deviant Calvinism seeks to show that the Reformed tradition is much broader and more variegated than is often thought. Crisp’s work focuses on a cluster of theological issues concerning the scope of salvation and shows that there are important ways in which current theological discussion of these topics can be usefully resourced by attention to theologians of the past.
The scope of atonement, in particular, is once again a hot topic in current evangelical theology. This volume addresses that issue via discussion of eternal justification, whether Calvinists can be free-will libertarians (like Arminian theologians); whether the Reformed should be universalists, and if they are not, why not; whether Reformed theology is consistent with a universal atonement; and whether the hypothetical universalism of some Calvinists is actually as eccentric and strange a doctrine as is sometimes thought. This book contributes to theological retrieval within the Reformed theology, and establishes a wider path to thinking Calvinism differently.
Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran Tradition
Martin Luther's disdain for philosophy is well known, and the Lutheran theological tradition has been wary of its constructs. Yet the tradition also includes philosophical giants-from Melanchthon to Schleiermacher to Kierkegaard and even Nietzsche. This volume assumes that such skepticism about reason actually opened up new ways of doing and seeing philosophy.
Philosophers, theologians, and historians assess the paradox and achievements of philosophy in the Lutheran vein. In their important exploration in the history of ideas, they not only probe the roots and branches of Luther's own ambivalence toward philosophy, they also draw illuminating connections between his revolutionary theology and the development of European continental philosophy.
An Introductory Exposition
In Dialectical Theology and Jacques Ellul, Jacob E. Van Vleet argues that the work of Jacques Ellul is frequently—and deleteriously—misread on account of inattention to the theological underpinning that governs Ellul’s thought. In a penetrating analysis, the first of its kind, Van Vleet provides a substantive account of the theological structure of Ellul’s work and demonstrates the determinative role that theology, especially dialectical theology, plays in a proper understanding of Ellul.
Van Vleet offers a major introduction to Ellul’s thought, his contribution to theology and philosophy, and how his philosophy of technology is both theologically informed and culturally relevant. As well, this work situates Ellul’s theological and philosophical thought within an important genetic context, from Kierkegaard to the dialectical theologians of the twentieth century.