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Aldersgate and Athens

John Wesley and the Foundations of Christian Belief

William J. Abraham

In his day, John Wesley offered important insights on how to obtain knowledge of God that readily bears fruit in our own times. As premiere Wesleyan scholar William Abraham shows, Wesley's most famous spiritual experience is rife with philosophical significance and implications. Throughout, Abraham brings Wesley's works into fruitful conversation with some of the most important work in contemporary epistemology. Lyrically and succinctly he explores the simultaneous epistemological quest and spiritual pilgrimage that were central to Wesley and the Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century. In so doing, he provides a learned and eye-opening meditation upon the relationship between reason and faith.

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Alms

Charity, Reward, and Atonement in Early Christianity

Christianity has often understood the death of Jesus on the cross as the sole means for forgiveness of sin. Despite this tradition, David Downs traces the early and sustained presence of yet another means by which Christians imagined atonement for sin: merciful care for the poor. In Alms: Charity, Reward, and Atonement in Early Christianity, Downs begins by considering the economic context of almsgiving in the Greco-Roman world, a context in which the overwhelming reality of poverty cultivated the formation of relationships of reciprocity and solidarity. Downs then provides detailed examinations of almsgiving and the rewards associated with it in the Old Testament, Second Temple Judaism, and the New Testament. He then attends to early Christian texts and authors in which a theology of atoning almsgiving is developed—2 Clement, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, Polycarp, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Cyprian. In this historical and theological reconstruction, Downs outlines the emergence of a model for the atonement of sin in Christian literature of the first three centuries of the Common Era, namely, atoning almsgiving, or the notion that providing material assistance to the needy cleanses or covers sin. Downs shows that early Christian advocacy of almsgiving’s atoning power is located in an ancient economic context in which fiscal and social relationships were deeply interconnected. Within this context, the concept of atoning almsgiving developed in large part as a result of nascent Christian engagement with scriptural traditions that present care for the poor as having the potential to secure future reward, including heavenly merit and even the cleansing of sin, for those who practice mercy. Downs thus reveals how sin and its solution were socially and ecclesiologically embodied, a vision that frequently contrasted with disregard for the social body, and the bodies of the poor, in Docetic and Gnostic Christianity. Alms, in the end, illuminates the challenge of reading Scripture with the early church, for numerous patristic witnesses held together the conviction that salvation and atonement for sin come through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the affirmation that the practice of mercifully caring for the needy cleanses or covers sin. Perhaps the ancient Christian integration of charity, reward, and atonement has the potential to reshape contemporary Christian traditions in which those spheres are separated.

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Althanasius and the Holy Spirit

The Development of His Early Pneumatology

by Kevin Douglas Hill

Serapion on the Holy Spirit (ca. 359–361), leaving a gap in our understanding of Athanasius’s prior pneumatology. By exploring the period from Athanasius’s election as bishop (328) to the completion of the third Oration against the Arians (ca. 345), this book seeks to help fill this gap. The first part argues that by the mid-330s, Athanasius had begun to establish core pneumatological perspectives that he would maintain for the rest of his career. Part two examines Athanasius’s three Orations, giving particular attention to Orations 1–2. Without the pneumatological perspectives that he established in the 330s and 340s, Athanasius would not have been prepared for his Letters to Serapion, where he took the next steps of confessing the Holy Spirit’s divine nature and role in creating the world.

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American Journal of Theology & Philosophy

Vol. 31 (2010) through current issue

The American Journal of Theology & Philosophy is a scholarly journal dedicated to the creative interchange of ideas between theologians and philosophers on some of the most critical intellectual and ethical issues of our time.

Exceptional scholars, such as Gordon Kaufman, John Cobb, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Holmes Rolston III, Robert Neville, Delwin Brown, Wentzel van Huyssteen, Richard Rorty, Nancy Frankenberry, William Dean, Richard Bernstein, Nancy Howell, Daniel Dombrowski, Edward Farley, Victor Anderson, and Linell Cady have challenged us to think in completely new ways about topics that include public theology and American culture, religion and science, ecological spirituality, feminist cosmology and ethics, problems in religious pluralism and inter-disciplinarity, process thought, metaphysical theology, postmodern thought, the viability of historical and contemporary concepts of God, American religious empiricism and pragmatism, creative democracy, and the nature and truth-value of religious language.

The American Journal of Theology & Philosophy is the official publication of the Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought.

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The Annotated Luther

The Roots of Reform

edited by Timothy J. Wengert

Volume 1 of The Annotated Luther series contains writings that defined the roots of reform set in motion by Martin Luther, beginning with the 95 Theses (1517) through The Freedom of a Christian (1520). Included are treatises, letters, and sermons written from 1517–1520, which set the framework for key themes in all of Luther’s later works. Also included are documents that reveal Luther’s earliest confrontations with Rome and his defense of views and perspectives that led to his excommunication by Leo X in 1520.

These documents display a Luther grounded in late medieval theology and its peculiar issues, trained in the latest humanist methods of the Renaissance, and, most especially, showing sensitivity toward the pastoral consequences for theological positions and church practice.

Each volume in The Annotated Luther series contains new introductions, as well as annotations, illustrations, and notes to help shed light on Luther's context and interpret his writings for today. The translations of Luther’s writings include updates of Luther’s Works, American Edition or entirely new translations of Luther’s German or Latin writings.

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The Annotated Luther

Word and Faith

edited by Kirsi I. Stjerna

Volume 2 of The Annotated Luther series contains a number of the writings categorized under the theme word and faith. Luther was particularly focused on what the word “does” in order to create and sustain faith. Writings in the volume range from the large core documents Bondage of the Will, Against the Heavenly Prophets, The Smalcald Articles, and Large Catechism to Luther’s own Confession of Faith and treatments of Moses, the Gospels, and Two Kinds of Righteousness.

In the treatises in this volume, we hear Luther’s understanding of Scripture and theology as he continues his growth as teaching theologian, pastor, biblical exegete, and apologist for the faith.

Each volume in The Annotated Luther series contains new introductions, as well as annotations, illustrations, and notes, to help shed light on Luther's context and interpret his writings for today. The translations of Luther’s writings include updates of Luther’s Works, American Edition or entirely new translations of Luther’s German or Latin writings.

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The Anointed Church

Toward a Third Article Ecclesiology

by Gregory J. Liston

The phrase Third Article Theology is used in two senses: first, to characterize a methodological approach that intentionally starts with the Spirit, and second, as the theological understanding that emerges from this approach. Over recent decades, Spirit Christology has utilized the approach of Third Article Theology to gain significant insight into the person and life of Christ. The Anointed Church extends this work, providing the first constructive and systematic ecclesiology developed through the approach of Third Article Theology. Gregory J. Liston argues that a pneumatological lens irreducibly informs the connection between other theological doctrines and ecclesiology. Utilizing this insight, the Church is examined from the vantage points of Christology and the Trinity through such a pneumatological lens. The constituent features of a Third Article Ecclesiology developed in this manner are compared and contrasted with critical evaluations of ecclesiological understandings developed through alternative approaches, particularly those of Barth, Zizioulas, and Volf. Arguing that the immanent identity of the Spirit is reprised on a series of expanding stages (Christologically, soteriologically, and, most pertinently here, ecclesiologically), Liston concludes that the Church can be characterized as existing in any and all relationships where, by the Spirit, the love of Christ, is offered and returned.

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Apocalyptic Paul

Cosmos and Anthropos in Romans 5-8

Beverly Roberts Gaventa

Romans 5-8 revolve around God’s dramatic cosmic activity and its implications for humanity and all of creation. Apocalyptic Paul measures the power of Paul’s rhetoric about the relationship of cosmic power to the Law, interpretations of righteousness and the self, and the link between grace and obedience. A revealing study of Paul’s understanding of humanity in light of God’s apocalyptic action through Jesus Christ, Apocalyptic Paul illuminates Romans 5-8 and shows how critical this neglected part of Romans was to Paul’s literary project.

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Apologist (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 73)

Saint John Chrysostom

Apologist is the English translation of two of Chrysostom's treatises, written about 378 and 382, aimed at provoking the divinity of Jesus Christ.

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