Misreading Tolkien and Misreading Scripture: Responding to O’Keefe and Reno

I am reading John J. O’Keefe and R. R. Reno’s Sanctified Vision for the independent study on hermeneutics and theological method I am doing this summer. I have found the book fairly helpful overall, and think the authors are right to commend the church Fathers as models for Biblical interpretation in many ways. The authors do good (albeit somewhat tendentious) work arguing for whole-Bible/“intensive reading” strategies and the validity of typology as part of theological method. When they come to allegory, though, their argument almost immediately goes off the rails with a deeply misguided interpretation of The Lord of the Rings. I offer a critique in two (brief) parts:

 

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Soma and the Silencing of Evangelicalism After Trump

In his novel Silence Japanese writer Shusaku Endo tells the story of two Portuguese missionaries in 17th century Japan. After initial pioneering work by Francis Xavier in the 16th century, a small native Japanese church had begun to flourish in the mid-to-late 16th century, possibly growing as large as 100,000 people. Then the government took a hard anti-Christian turn, closed the island to foreigners, and began a harsh regime of persecution against the Japanese Christians.

At the center of this persecution were small icons called fumi-e, pictured above. During the torture, the government officials told the Christians that all they needed to do to end it is agree to trample on the fumi-e, which was understood to be a way of renouncing the faith. To make sure it took, it was common practice in much of Japan to require former Christians to step on a fumi-e once a year. (Silence spoilers below the jump.) Continue reading

Explainer: Divine Simplicity and the Trinitarian Controversy

Today I’m pleased to run this helpful guest post from my friend Andrew Fulford. Given the confusion that has surrounded the recent trinitarian debate, I thought it would be useful to find someone who could write a relatively straight forward post explaining the different terms being tossed around in this debate so far. So this post is going to be a Vox-style explainer answering some of the basic questions that have come up due to the controversy.

What is divine simplicity?

If you have followed the recent upheaval over the Trinity and gender, you may have asked yourself that question. This doctrine was once taken for granted by basically everyone, from the earliest days of the church through to the Reformation and beyond, and only became unfamiliar quite recently. I’m not going to be able to explain all the details of the idea here. My objective is twofold: to give a basic outline of the idea, and to explain why the tradition of classical Christian theism held to it. Continue reading

Mere Fidelity: Understanding the Meritocracy

This week, Derek, Alastair and Andrew consider Helen Andrews’s essay on our meritocracy. Andrews is one of the liveliest and most compelling young writers of our day, and her essay is a fascinating analysis of how our aristocracy has shifted. You can see the excerpt Andrew posted from it here. 

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Gender, Home Economies, and the Church, Ctd.

There are three separate strands I want to pick up from yesterday’s post.

Being Fair to the Complementarians

First, I asked in the post that people would correct me if I was misrepresenting CBMW. Shane Anderson on Twitter obliged by pointing me toward this post from 2015 that is addressing the “what about wives who make more than their husbands?” question. (So, thank you Shane. :) )

Here are a few other posts at CBMW addressing some of the questions I was raising yesterday: Continue reading

The Evangelical Gender Crack-Up

Though it (rightly) hasn’t been discussed as much as the actual trinitarian issues themselves, the current trinitarian debate does suggest some interesting things about how evangelicals are beginning to approach questions of gender. The consensus that has existed amongst most conservative evangelicals for some time is beginning to fracture—and in more than one direction. Continue reading

Why Christians Can Support Tighter Immigration Restrictions

Today we have another long-form piece, this one coming from Stephen Wolfe. I’m pleased to run this piece chiefly because Stephen does a good job of trying to focus the debate around the specific principles that undergird our thinking about an issue like immigration. Even if you disagree with his conclusions, I think you’ll find that this piece raises new questions and issues that should help enrich your thinking about the issue. Again, if you want a print-friendly version of the essay, simply click that green button on the left side of the post. 

And now, here is Stephen:

The success of the Brexit campaign, driven largely by a rejection of the EU immigration policies and handling of the migration crisis, has shattered the hopes of progressives that xenophobia is a thing of the past—a hope that the older generation’s prejudice would give way, through natural attrition, to a new common humanity and cosmopolitan view of human relations, built on universal rights, negative liberty, and common human interest.

Donald Trump, likewise, has found success in promising to “make America great again” through various vague and unlikely policies, including building a wall on the US-Mexico border, generously funded by the Mexican government, and limiting immigration from select countries that tend to produce Islamic terrorists. The Western ruling class has expressed public outrage over these developments, condemning them as xenophobic, racist, and bigoted.   Continue reading

There is no Pro-Life Case for Donald Trump

We are now in the 12th hour of the conservatism’s life in this election cycle, which means it is as good a time as any to revisit the question of how I plan to proceed through American political life over the next four months.

For those who don’t want to read further, it is hard to find a more succinct or accurate distillation of the development of my thought than that offered by Ben Sasse’s spokesman after the Senator met with Trump this week: “Mr. Sasse continues to believe that our country is in a bad place and, with these two candidates, this election remains a dumpster fire. Nothing has changed.” I heartily agree.

There are no conditions at this point under which I could possibly vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Continue reading