In the course of the 20th century, Pentecostalism expanded from a small revival movement to a global presence comparable in its extent and variety to Roman Catholicism or Anglicanism. Yet few people in mainstream U.S. churches know much about it, and what little they do know relates more to Pentecostal practice than to Pentecostal thought.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Americans were unified. We had all been attacked, and we knew what we were defending. References to Pearl Harbor sprang readily to mind. This was our moment to stand up and stand together.
We have come a long way from the naked public square. Political strategists have learned that for most people there is a connection between their religious beliefs and their political choices. The next step may be to understand that our most basic ways of thinking about politics begin in theology.
Two distinguished scholars offer us important new statements about Christian ethics. Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age offers a sweeping review of history to show that Christian thought is not antagonistic to modernity but has a permanent place in it.
Walter Russell Mead was an early advocate of expanding American power in the vacuum left by the end of the cold war, and he supported the Iraq War in 2003. But his work as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations defies easy classification as interventionist, neoconservative or idealist.
Despite assurances that the cold war is over, relations between Russia and the United States suggest a certain nostalgia for that era on both sides. The heightened tensions and lowered expectations may have consequences for Russian democracy.
I’m teaching “The Bible and Ethics” this semester with my New Testament colleague Mark Chancey. It should be a pretty straightforward project, since most moral advice in the church begins and ends in scripture. But connecting text and practice in a rigorous way turns out to be surprisingly complex, both for professors and for students.
It’s been a good season for scandal. Bribery sent a California congressman to prison. Fraud charges provided courtroom drama in Houston. Everybody everywhere talked about baseball stars on steroids. Along the way, there was the usual quota of exploitation, infidelity and larceny among the clergy.
The recent increase in Christian political activism in the U.S. invites deeper thinking about the relationship between Christian faith and modern democracy. Two British authors lead us into these basic theological questions.
Pope John Paul II, the “pilgrim pope,” understood intuitively that his ancient office was perfectly suited to reach a global audience in a media age. He gave peace, justice and human dignity a personal face that was somehow perfectly suited to the times, while reminding people that those values are older and more permanent than the institutions of modern politics.
Christian ethics, like other theological disciplines, constantly rethinks its history in light of current problems. Hollenbach continues this effort with a focus on the tradition of Catholic moral theology.
Reading this book is like joining an ongoing conversation, since Jeffrey Stout has been discussing religion and democracy with Stanley Hauerwas, Alasdair MacIntyre and Richard Rorty since the mid-1970s. Often when we interrupt an animated conversation, it’s best to politely excuse ourselves and move on. But this conversation is worth overhearing.
Almost every American seminary student knows H. Richard Niebuhr’s typology of five ways of relating Christ and culture. I have often used Niebuhr’s book Christ and Culture in the classroom. Presenting these ideas to students at the Russia United Methodist Seminary, however, was a new experience.
As liberal democracy spreads across more and more of the globe, the influence of John Rawls seems likely to spread. Rawls, who died on November 24 at age 82, wrote the 20th century’s most complete philosophical defense of that form of government. He takes his place with political thinkers from Locke and Jefferson to Bentham and Mill who shaped the Anglo-American vision of liberalism.