"Jesus was a failure" - an anonymous missive on the possibility of faith in the modern world

Note from the editor: Gentle readers, some of you may be old enough to remember what a transom is. For those of you who are not, it is a window above a door (pictured) that one could leave open--even while closing the door--to encourage air circulation inside a building back before the advent multi-million dollar HVAC systems. Editors used to occasionally enter their offices and glance at the floor to find that some authorial hopeful had pushed a manuscript over the transom. Well, the electronic version of such a thing happened to me with the below post. It was submitted anonymously for reasons that will become obvious when you read it. What we have here is an account of coming to a personal theological reckoning with dialectical theology. I have decided to publish it in accordance with the author's wishes in the hopes that it will encourage others of you who may be in similar situations. The author has greater facility with classical Greek than do I; I have discerned that this pi…

Free Study Guide for "Our God Loves Justice"

As you know, gentle readers, lately I've been bringing all my social media resources to bear in an effort to make the case for why my fellow theological and religious studies academics should assign my recent book--Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer (Fortress, 2017)--in their classes. All the same arguments hold true for pastors looking for resources for leader training and other pedagogical resources, and for anyone with a theological existence who is part of a theology reading group, etc. But I'm especially keen to get this work into the hands of theological students in the college, university, and seminary contexts because I believe it can help them come to a radically different understanding of the intersection between Christianity and politics than one usually finds in the United States today. As Shannon Smythe, who teaches theology at Seattle Pacific University and who has endorsed the book, puts it:
"This is a challenging and hopeful book t…

Mere Pragmatism is Cold Comfort for Theology: A Concluding(?) Unscientific Postscript on Kaufman

This past fall -- back in the halcyon days when I blogged regularly here! -- I explored, or (better) began to explore, the late Gordon Kaufman's conception of theology as "imaginative construction" in his stunning systematic work, In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology. (For evidence that my role at DET was once more than titular, you may see for yourself here).

Why would someone like me, who hangs out with dialectical theologians on Twitter by day and secretly reads neo-Calvinist websites at night (oops, didn't mean to share that bit), be intrigued by the work of a liberal Harvard theologian, whose commitments to pluralism, historicism, and cultural relativism push his theological conclusions into what some critics might deem to be post-Christian territory? My dirty secret is that I remain obsessed with theological method. But debates over formal method always are rooted in material concerns for what is heart of the gospel and, thus, the norm and impetus for th…

Reform, Yes! But What Sort?

I’ve long been a fan of Bernhard Lohse. His A Short History of Christian Doctrine, for instance, should be required reading for everyone. Yes, everyone. And I’ve read some of his Luther scholarship before as well. But only recently did I sit down to read through his Martin Luther: An Introduction to His Life and Work.

This book is incredibly well organized and reads in many ways like a digest of Luther research as it stood at the end of the 20th century. In other words, it is a wonderful resource.

One bit that I especially liked was Lohse’s description of the need for reform at the end of the Middle Ages. He situates this need especially within the German context, and that means he gives us more than hackneyed Protestant platitudes. He also include a very well-selected detail about Albert of Mainz to make his point.

So here is Lohse; italics are his and bold is mine.

At every diet of the German Empire the Gravamina nationis Germanicae—the list of abuses that the diet was asked to co…

10 Reasons You Should Assign "Our God Loves Justice" in Your Class

Any of you, gentle readers, who have been hanging around DET for even a few weeks are surely aware that I published a book toward the end of 2017 on Helmut Gollwitzer entitled, Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer (Fortress) (OGLJ). You also, no doubt, have noticed that I've been trying to get the word out to folks about this book in an effort to, well, introduce folks to Gollwitzer. The bottom line is that I think Gollwitzer has something important to say to those of us who come from the white Protestant theological tradition but have questions concerning how that tradition has become so nakedly aligned with political figures and policies of--let us say--questionable Christlike-ness.

It is also currently about the time of year when the thoughts of faculty turn to what they will be teaching in the upcoming Fall semester, and such thoughts necessarily include reflection on what books to require in their classes. I hope you don't mind if I make so bold as…

Faith Happens to Us: a sermon on John 1:35-39

So I was not around the last couple weeks. My family and I were on vacation in St. Louis where we got to spend a lot of time with family and our parents got to spend a lot of time with the kids, my parents got to meet my daughter, Oakley, for the first time. It was really wonderful And, you know, the last time my parents saw the kids, my son, Boston, was a newborn. So this was really the first time I was going to get to show them who I am as a parent, especially as a parent of two, one being a toddler.

This was kind of intimidating, but I was excited about it. I mean, I'm like... a responsible adult now. I've been living on my own for several years. I'm successfully keeping two humans alive. And my wife and I have both worked really hard at instilling good habits and manners in our kids thus far. I felt ready for this. However, my kids apparently had other plans. You know what, it's easier if I just give you some examples.

So one night we were over at my parents house …

Top 10 DET Posts of 2017

It’s that time again, gentle reader, to cast our memory over the past year, assess where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished, and then begin once again moving forward. Part of this process here at DET has long been the compiling of a list of the top 10 blog posts – that is, a list of the posts that most resonated with you, our beloved readers, as indicated by traffic received.

Before moving on to 2017’s lists, some of you might want to revisit the top posts from 2016. I know that I always enjoying seeing which posts hang around these lists year after year, and some certainly do. You might also refresh your memory concerning the DET contributors list.

Now, without further ado, the list: #1 had the most traffic and #10 had the least.

DET 2017 Top 10
Abortion, Authoritarian Self-Deception, Evangelicals, and Trump: a collected Twitter essay from Christopher Stroop - This post, which I borrowed from Stroop after seeing him post the tweets on Twitter one night, has received some of the h…