At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, President Obama urged humility about “a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith” to the point where we commit atrocities, like slavery and Jim Crow, in the name of Christ. Critics quickly denounced Obama’s comments as un-American, while supporters defended their accuracy. But few have asked why Obama did not also link Christian conviction to the campaign against slavery and racial injustice.
Invasion of the Dead: Preaching Resurrection, by Brian K. Blount. Our reluctance to engage apocalyptic eschatology renders the gospel moralistic and largely unable to speak about death. That’s a tragic failure of theological creativity for a people navigating a culture that is fixated on death and doomsday scenarios.
I saw the stranger across the crowded room. My eyes were drawn to him like a dog to a raw steak. He looked lonely. I could tell that he needed a friend. I smiled broadly at him. He smiled back, and that was my cue.
If you wrestle with this Matthean parable through the night, it'll leave
you limping by morning. Martin Luther didn't like preaching on it, and
worshipers in early October won't be in the mood for its judgment.
In time for Holy Week, this issue features David Cunningham’s essay on the destiny of the “other thief” who was on the cross beside Jesus. It also contains William H. Willimon’s witness to the radical news of Easter.
Hell is talked about cautiously, if at all, in mainline churches. Yet the notion of a divinely ordained place of punishment for the wicked after death is deeply embedded in the Christian imagination. How should we think and talk about hell? Why don’t we talk about it? We asked eight theologians to comment.
I can’t remember the last time I read much about hell—the topic of a symposium in this issue—but those of us who recite the creed weekly do include “he descended into hell” as part of what we believe about Jesus Christ.