The Rhetoric of Race

I have written an article in the latest Theopolis Conversation on the subject of race, in response to Vincent Bacote. Within it I briefly discuss a few of my concerns about the rhetorical shape of current conversations about race in the US.

It has seemed to me that recent years have witnessed a growing essentializing and ideologizing of racial discourse, as a specific set of discourses of American provenance have been conflated and projected into the world more generally in ways that cannot but prove unhelpful. The gains in rhetorical force have frequently come at the expense of clarity and understanding.

It seems to me that this is in no small measure a result of the abstraction of discourse encouraged by the Internet, on which vague ideological concepts can subsume and efface the particularity and variegation of concrete issues and events (which get rendered as de-particularized symbols of the concepts). Master concepts such as ‘white supremacy’, ‘white privilege’, or ‘whiteness’—concepts in which countless disparate tensions, inequities, and frustrations of myriads of individuals’ and communities’ lives can be agglomerated—may be incredibly low resolution for the purposes of analysis, yet are effective rhetorical tools for mass mobilization and offer catharsis in their naming of pervasive yet rather amorphous realities people feel.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Culture, Guest Post, Politics, Society, Theopolis | 1 Comment

Davenant Hall Course on Reading the Bible

Only a few days left to sign up! $99 for ten weeks of interactive classes. Recordings of all classes included.

Sign up for Davenant Hall courses here!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Daily Reflections on Scripture for 2020

Although I write and speak on a great many topics, nothing is more central to my personal practice or my Christian vocation than pursuing and encouraging the attentive reading of Scripture. For 2020, I wanted to take this a step further and to start an ambitious project to produce daily podcasts/videos in which I would read and reflect upon passages of Scripture in a lectionary. My hope is that this would encourage people to read and meditate upon Scripture as a daily practice, ideally as part of daily devotions. It is also convenient for people who want to think about Scripture on their commute or while doing household tasks.

There is a crisis of biblical literacy in the Church today, but I wanted to do my bit, not just to address a crisis, but to catalyze an appetite for and attentiveness to Scripture in people who join me on this journey, hoping that this might yield long term fruit for God’s kingdom. The Internet is no replacement for embodied and concrete relational Christian practice. However, it does afford us possibilities to facilitate, encourage, and equip such concrete practices. This is what I am aiming to achieve with this project.

For the project, I have chosen to use the lectionary for Morning Prayer from the new ACNA Book of Common Prayer, the text of which is available for free from the Internet. I would also recommend the hard copy of the book, which is a very attractive volume, especially the deluxe edition.

This is the very first beginnings of a project which has considerably greater ambitions. There are some exciting things happening behind the scenes and you should expect a far more extensive resource in the not-too-distant future.

The task itself is a fairly daunting one in many ways. It takes a lot of time, commitment, energy, and resources to do it well. At the moment, my funding is reduced from what it was a few months ago; I am going into this trusting that my commitment to doing a year of this won’t prove to be a costly mistake, but that I will be able to produce something of genuine service to people, while still keeping the wolves away from the door! If you would like to support this project, the best way to do so is to use it and share it with others as you find it helpful (word of mouth is hugely important, perhaps especially during this initial period). This really is what it is all about. I would also greatly value your prayers, as I believe that this project is as challenging as it is worthwhile and will need God’s aid if I am to complete it well (and hopefully extend it in the future). Constructive criticism and input are also valuable, especially in this teething period.

If you would like to support me in more material ways, I am currently investing much of my support in building up a robust collection of commentaries, which are an invaluable resource for my research. I will keep a list of commentaries and other volumes that I would use for my research here: if you would like very directly to equip me in what I am doing, this is a great way to do so. You can also support me on my Patreon account or on PayPal here. Beyond the immense help it provides practically, the support that I currently receive has been a huge encouragement—reminding me that others are genuinely invested in my labours (truly, this is a blessing I fear that too few people really enjoy)—and a source of confidence that I can expand what I am doing and take on ambitious new projects like this one.

The biblical reflections I am producing are available on YouTube, Soundcloud, and iTunes.

Posted in Audio, Bible, My Doings, NT Theology, OT Theology, Podcasts, Public Service Announcement, Scripture, Theological, Video, What I'm Doing | 7 Comments

Man and Woman in Creation (Genesis 1 and 2)

9Marks have published an abridged version of an article of mine over on their website.

Expressing sexual difference in a vast array of culturally conjugated ways can display the beauty of our particular differences. Our differences are more than merely random and unstable assortments of contrasts between two classes of persons. Far from it. Our differences are musical and meaningful, inseparably intertwined.

Recognizing this truth, most cultures celebrate sexual difference by developing gendered customs, forms, norms, and traditions. Rather than treating gender, as our culture is often inclined to, as a restrictive, stifling, and legalistic constraint, this approach welcomes sexual difference as an often liberating manifestation of meaning and beauty that resonates with the deep reality of the creation.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Bible, Creation, Genesis, Guest Post, OT, OT Theology, Sex and Sexuality, Theological, Theopolis | 1 Comment

Gospel of Matthew Series

I recently started a new series on the Gospel of Matthew over on my personal podcast. You can follow it here.

Posted in Bible, Matthew, NT, NT Theology, Podcasts, The Gospels, Theological | Leave a comment

Davenant Institute UK Convivium at the The Kilns!

Very excited to announce that the Davenant Institute will hold its first UK Convivium on January 25, 2020 at The Kilns (C.S. Lewis’ former home) in Oxford. I will be there, as will Colin Redemer and Dr Michael Ward, our plenary speaker. We are also looking for people who would be interesting in submitting a paper of their own.

Sign up now!

Posted in Public Service Announcement | 2 Comments

Rethinking Israel

The Theopolis Institute has been having a conversation surrounding the identity and future of Israel over on its website. Theopolis Conversations are designed to explore complex yet important issue from different perspectives with various positions in sharpening dialogue. I’ve just posted a piece on supersessionism and the future of Israel.

For God to strip the olive tree of almost all of its natural branches and repopulate it with grafted wild branches instead raises serious questions about the tree’s continued identity. Even if we maintain that the Messiah is the root of the olive tree, bearing all of the branches, the olive tree is not reducible to its root, much as the body of Christ isn’t reducible to its head. The identity of Israel can be focused upon and borne by the Messiah, but it cannot simply be alienated onto the Messiah. As Paul says in the context, ‘the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.’

Indeed, Paul’s claim in verse 15 suggests the most startling homology between the Messiah and the nation of Israel, even in its state of rejection: the rejection of Israel is the ‘reconciliation of the world’ and their acceptance would mean ‘life from the dead’. The story of the Messiah, cast away for the reconciliation of the world, is recapitulated in his people according to the flesh: just as the Messiah was raised from death, so must Israel be. And, when they are, it will mean resurrection.

Read the whole thing here.

Photo: Andrew Shiva
Posted in Bible, Church History, Election, Eschatology, Luke, Matthew, NT, NT Theology, OT, OT Theology, Politics, Romans, The Church, Theological, Theology, Theopolis | 23 Comments

Davenant Hall Course on Biblical Wisdom

The Davenant Institute has just established Davenant Hall, which offers online courses on a range of different theological topics at the affordable price of $99 for ten hours’ of classes. For the first semester of classes, I will be teaching a course on the subject of Biblical Wisdom, which will, in a far-reaching engagement with the text of Scripture, explore the theme of wisdom as it runs throughout it. If you are interested, there is no time to lose: the registration deadline is the 23rd of this month and there are limited slots!

Application For Biblical Wisdom Course

Posted in Bible, Davenant Institute, OT Theology, Scripture, Theological | Leave a comment

True Ritual Versus Hypocritical Religiosity

A piece of mine has just been published over on the Political Theology site:

The temptation to put faith in religiosity, to employ religious ceremonies and rituals as akin to compensatory ‘moral offsets’ for our godless, oppressive, and unjust behavior is a perennial one. Treated in such a manner, what we suppose to be our worship of God can be made an integral element of our oppressive and perverse societies, as if it were a valve designed to release the discomfiting pressure of uneasy consciences.

Like the people of Judah Isaiah excoriates, we can come before God with gifts rank with the stench of exploitative economic practices from which we have grown rich and hands bloodied from unjust wars. We can ignore the needy and the stranger in our neighborhoods, while expecting to receive God’s welcome when we visit his house. We can pollute our lives with all sorts of immorality and fornication, while feigning to be the spotless Bride of Christ.

Read the whole piece here.

Posted in Bible, Culture, Ethics, Genesis, Guest Post, Isaiah, OT, OT Theology, Politics, Theological, Worship | 1 Comment

Welcoming the Stranger: A Final Immigration Response

My final response in the Theopolis conversation on immigration has just been published here.

We beware of treating the condition of the uprooted immigrant as paradigmatic. As Christians, who are committed to the universal value of Christ, we can easily succumb to the distorted universalisms of the modern world, a universalism that resists the humility of particularity. Gottfried Leibniz expressed the modern liberal ideal of the universal human subject: “I am indifferent to that which constitutes a German or a Frenchman because I will only the good of all mankind.”

Read the whole piece here.

Posted in Bible, Controversies, Culture, Ethics, Guest Post, Politics, Society, Theological | 6 Comments