Douglas Hall is likely the most influential North American theological interpreter from a Reformation perspective, especially with reference to Luther. He continues to filter his thought through his teachers Tillich and Niebuhr—but he is his own man and carries his inquiry toward the demise of Christendom.
President Obama’s speech in Newtown on December 17 included this pivotal question: “Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” The president is bristling here at the way our political discourse reflexively leaps to claims about individual rights and freedoms.
According to Albert Schweitzer, the quest for the historical Jesus ends with the questers looking down a well and seeing their own reflections. Could the same be said of a search for the historical Satan? With few exceptions, we have tended to see Satan in the face of the other.
A three-day Vatican conference last month called on the Catholic Church to rethink its commitment to just war theory. The theory too often provides a justification for war, the conference’s final document says, arguing that the just war approach gets in the way of exploring nonviolent resolutions. “We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel nonviolence,” the document says. Conferees said that the destructiveness of modern warfare and the effectiveness of nonviolent means of peaceful resolution have made the theory, which goes back to Augustine and Aquinas, outdated. “Jesus is our inspiration and model,” they state. “Neither passive nor weak, Jesus’ nonviolence was the power of love in action” (National Catholic Reporter, April 14).