The late Christian civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: “I believe the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” As we come to the end of 2015 I have reflected upon this a great deal and applied it to my own life and work. We are about to enter what appears to be a year that will be filled with war, tumult and continued suffering. There will be a lot more bad news. And we are entering an election year in the U.S., a time when minds and hearts are taken away into profound partisanship.
I look ahead to 2016 praying to God that I will be armed with both “truth” and “unconditional love.” I do believe it is not “pie-in-the-sky” to adopt this stance toward all things. Let me elaborate.
Those who love me, and follow me via the social media, know that over the last six months of 2015 I wrote very few blogs. There were several reasons for this:
- I was working on a new book and this
Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College (Empire State Building), in New York City. This means that Kreeft, a Catholic, teaches at both a Catholic and an evangelical college, making him very unique in so many ways. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 67 books.
I have never personally met Dr. Kreeft but value his writing and teaching as highly as that of almost any contemporary Christian philosopher and thinker. I require students of mine to read his work because he is among the very best when it comes to popular Christian thought that is serious and practical at the same time. Once a Reformed Protestant Kreeft is today a devout Catholic. But he has never lost his love for the catholic church. He has some of the most insightful things to say about missional-ecumenism of any writer I know today. A friend sent me a two-minute audio clip that underscores
Yesterday (November 10) I noted that I preached twice on Reformation Sunday (October 26) in Montreal. I also mentioned that I was in Quebec to serve in partnership with Fr. Tom Ryan of the Paulist Fathers. We were the lead missioners in a Gospel Call event. The Gospel Call is a four-day renewal event which brings together Christians for worship, community and mission. The Gospel Call provides a unique “on the ground” opportunity for Christians, and their respective parishes, to come together in order to give visible expression to the deep communion that we already share in the Trinitarian life of God. We gather from many different Christian traditions to listen to the Word of God and respond in solidarity to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
This Gospel Call mission can take place in any context where congregations wish to come together for such a mission. The churches invite Fr. Ryan and me to come and serve them together. The mission is sponsored by local congregations in a town, suburb or city center. The number
Just a little over a year ago Antonia Brenner died (1926-2013) in Tijuana, Mexico. I had never heard of this amazing woman until a few weeks ago when I discovered some things that she wrote. I then read her story for the first time.
Born Mary Clarke this amazing woman was known over the last
thirty years of her life as Mother Antonia Brenner. She never took formal orders as a Catholic. Brenner died in La Mesa prison in Tijuana, Mexico. So why is she remembered so warmly by many who miss her a year after her death? The answer is one that glorifies the gospel.
Mother Antonia voluntarily entered a Mexican prison where she spent the last thirty years of her life. She committed no crime. In fact she received a call from God while she was living in Beverly Hills. She abandoned a luxurious lifestyle, took religious vows and walked into a dark and harsh prison to spend the rest of her life serving others for Christ.
Mother Antonia, born December 1, 1926, as Mary Clarke, lived a very different life
Which stretches far and wide like a vast sea.
The gatherers are so few; I fear the precious yield
Will suffer loss. Oh, find a place for me!
A place where best the strength I have will tell.
It may be one the older toilers shun;
Be it a wide or narrow place,’tis well
So that the work it holds be only done.
– Christina Rossetti
In this series of posts called “Love Alone Is Eternal” I earlier referred to what one writer calls “the art of unknowing.” This idea is taken from the title of a classic medieval book, The Cloud of Unknowing. This anonymous work comes from the fourteenth century but it expresses something about the Christian faith that was more widely known in the Christian East for centuries.
In the East “dogma” is never understood as doctrine which explains or defines the truth. Dogma defines or explains what is not true. It was used, as we saw earlier, to explain heresy and error. Simply put, this means that in order to understand the mystery of the faith we must let go of errors and rest in the Truth, who is not a series of dogmas but a divine person.
In The Cloud of Unknowing the author makes a statement that shall guide me throughout this book. “But now, you put a question to me asking, ‘How shall I think about him, and what is he?’ And to this, I can only answer, ‘I
The Old Testament regularly sounds this theme, especially in what we call the wisdom literature (e.g. Job 27:3; 33:4; 34:14-15; Ps. 104:29-30). God upholds the creation through his Spirit. Even the natural processes of everyday life on our planet are credited by Jesus to the direct agency of his Father when he speaks of his Father providing sunshine and rain, feeding the birds and providing the beauty of the flowers (Matt. 5:45; 6:25-30; 10:29-30).
Extreme forms of immanence lead to pantheism, the belief that every creature is not only a manifestation of God, but is identical with God. A similar problem, and one that became more popular in the last century, is panentheism. Panentheism literally means “all-in-God” and posits the idea of God as an eternally animating force that interpenetrates every part of nature and yet timelessly extends beyond it. Unlike pantheism this thinking about God maintains a better Creator-creation distinction but it tends toward believing that the cosmos exists within God, thus it denies, in some way at least, the creation-Creator distinction required by a proper emphasis upon transcendence.
The simple way to say this is to
How do we understand God? Careful readers of the Bible since the time of the Jesus and the apostles have sought to understand the answer to this question, thus the meaning of certain prominent and recurring theological terms. I am persuaded that the most basic of all questions really does come down to this: “How do we define or conceive of God?”
The late evangelical theologian Stanley J. Grenz said, “Perhaps the most deeply ingrained conception among Christian views of God as a being – albeit an eternal, uncreated being – who is both present within and exists beyond the world of created beings” (Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1994, page 78). This kind of thinking corresponds, at least to a certain extent, with the very language that the Bible uses about God, particularly in the Old Testament. Yet, as Grenz notes a great deal of this type of thinking about God owes its prominence to Greek philosophy, especially to Plato and Aristotle. This thinking led to the commonly accepted idea of an