On more than one occasion, pastors and laypersons from progressive congregations have confided in me, “We are a little weak in our theology; we know what we don’t believe but have trouble articulating our own faith to one another and to newcomers.” They recognize that a vital faith lives by its affirmations as well as its negations, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty.
Recently a group of conservative evangelical theologians put together a self-consciously “evangelical” summary of the Christian faith—a confessional document that aims to provide a point of unity for evangelicals. The statement was published under the heading “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration” in Christianity Today (June 14).
Chester Gillis, the lead-off batter in the new Columbia Contemporary Religion series, has made a solid hit into left center field with this clear, engaging and reliable introduction to U.S. Catholicism. Columbia University Press wants to provide "well-crafted, thoughtful portraits of the country's major religious groups" for nonspecialists.
The Protestant responses to the “Declaration on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church” recently issued by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Office for the Doctrine of the Faith (ODF) have been mostly pained surprise, sometimes anger. Leaders in other world religions had a similar reaction. Even Catholics were taken aback by what seemed like a regressive document.
Like red wine, which we biblical literalists are commanded to take now and then, coffee, unanticipated in the scriptures, offers both an enhancement of and a threat to health. A recent issue of Time summarizes coffee’s contradictory potentials.
Catechism class will now come to order. Either because of bad teaching in the preceding generation or because one kid did not pay attention, a crucial misstatement of doctrine has been repeated in the press.
Why is the death of Christ significant? Some of the church is sure it knows the answer, while much of the rest of the church is deeply uncomfortable with the question. The publicized comment by a feminist theologian at the “Re-imagining” conference a few years ago is only one example of the discomfort: “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all.
It is by living and dying that one becomes a theologian, Martin Luther said. With that comment in mind, we have resumed a Century series published at intervals since 1939 and asked theologians to reflect on their own struggles, disappointments, questions and hopes as people of faith and to consider how their work and life have been intertwined.