The Unoriginal Oden

Theologian Thomas Oden (1931-2016) was adamant that he brought nothing new to the table. His goal was to be unoriginal. While that vision may not capture the attention of Silicon Valley or your local trendy university town, Oden believed his approach was precisely what a generation of Christians needed who had lost any anchoring in the 2,000-year tradition that preceded them. Oden was convinced that modern Christians lagged behind their forebears in the ability to read and interpret Scripture and to immerse themselves in a deep understanding of God’s revealed word. In terms of theological reflection and understanding, Oden was always “trying hard to catch up with the fourth century.”[1]  Continue reading “The Unoriginal Oden”

“Dear Friend”

In 1999, theologian and evangelical statesman Carl F. H. Henry contributed a brief essay to Lessons in Leadership: Fifty Respected Evangelical Leaders Share Their Wisdom on Ministry.[1] It is Henry at his best: warm, insightful, taking his gospel seriously and himself lightly. Young people in general and young ministers in particular will find it to be a helpful and penetrating essay. Further, as it was written when Henry was 86 years old (four years before his death), it also provides a remarkable reflection upon a life well lived for the evangel and for evangelicalism. Continue reading ““Dear Friend””

Bonhoeffer for Today

This is a guest post from Dr. Steve Bezner, in which he graciously responded to questions about his study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at Baylor University and what Bonhoeffer has to say to believers today. Steve is the Senior Pastor at Houston Northwest Church in Houston, TX. Follow him on Twitter at @Bezner Continue reading “Bonhoeffer for Today”

C.S. Lewis on Theology as a Map

At the risk of beginning an article sounding like an ancient curmudgeon, kids these days can’t appreciate one area of life that has become infinitely easier over the last ten years: navigation. No more printing out eight-page documents with step-by-step instructions (and then shuffling through these going 75 down the highway). No more buying Mapscos at the beginning of a cross-country trip. Now, just turn on the data and you have a handheld portal that can lead you to anywhere in the world. Continue reading “C.S. Lewis on Theology as a Map”

Take Up and Read

“Tolle lege. Tolle lege.” Augustine heard a voice, perhaps of a child nearby, saying, “Take up and read. Take up and read.” He took this as a command from God, and therefore opened his Bible to Romans 13. From that day forward, Augustine would profoundly shape how believers read and understand the Bible. While the turn-to-a-random-passage and read approach is not encouraged, in this case it had incredible ramifications down to the present day. Continue reading “Take Up and Read”

“Karli” and Kids Music

Karl Barth was a complex figure. He’s always had a tenuous relationship with evangelicals. In fact, this site derives its name in part from a simultaneously hostile and humorous conversation between Barth and evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry. As recent research has confirmed, Karl Barth was no perfect man.[1] He harbored sin in his life and attempted to justify it to avoid repentance (as we are all prone to do). But he also made significant contributions to Protestant theology, many of which helped steer a new course away from liberalism and toward a renewed appreciation for Christ and Scripture. If you view theological liberalism and traditional evangelical theology as a road trip from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Barth gets you all the way to about Jackson, Mississippi. His theological program has much to commend and leaves much to be desired.

But this post is not focused on Barth the adult or Barth the theologian. Rather, it will look at Karl Barth the child, “Karli” as his parents called him. As Mark Galli points out in his new book Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals, young Karl had a mean-streak in him that led to his share of fight fights. But alongside this proclivity to confrontation, Karli was captivated by music. He first heard Mozart at age 5 or 6 and was gripped from then on. But Mozart was not the watershed musician for young Barth; his mother was. Continue reading ““Karli” and Kids Music”

Augustine the Pastor

Augustine, perhaps church history’s most towering figure, didn’t think his work would be remembered. In his widely read and celebrated autobiographical Confessions, he wondered: “But to whom am I telling this story? Not to you my God; rather in your presence I am relating these events to my own kin, the human race, however few of them may chance upon these writings of mine.”[1] Continue reading “Augustine the Pastor”