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.
The Theopolis blog is hosting another conversation, this time on the subject of the immigration debate. I was invited to kick this discussion off and my opening post has just been published.
A neighbour-focused ethic is an ethic of love, an ethic that commits itself to particular persons over others. A liberal humanitarian ethic, on account of its abstract object, can undermine the particularity and the concreteness of our bonds and their related obligations. For instance, beyond the force of parental instinct, the reason why I should take especial concern for the well-being of my own children over the children of others may not be clear to someone holding such an ethic. However, Scripture makes clear that our moral duties are not generalized duties to humanity as such, but duties that are focused in concentric circles of proximity. We have duties to our households that we do not have to anything like the same degree to those outside of them. Likewise, our obligations are especially focused on the people of God (Galatians 6:10). Those who claim to be serving God in radical humanitarianism, while neglecting their obligations to their neighbours—those persons most immediate to them—reject the commandment of God (Mark 7:6-13).
Read the whole thing here.
Posted in Bible, Controversies, Culture, Ethics, Exodus, Genesis, Guest Post, OT, OT Theology, Politics, Society, Theological, Theopolis
I have just completed a 42-part, 25-hour-long, series on the story of the family of Abraham. Within it, I discuss the book of Genesis from chapter 11 to the end and reflect upon its relevance for us today. Take a listen here.
A piece of mine has just been published over on the Theopolis Institute’s website, in which I respond to an article by Dru Johnson. Johnson’s article argues for a close relationship between moral and ritual knowledge and I explore the particular case of circumcision in this regard.
In The Savage in Judaism, Howard Eilberg-Schwartz speaks of circumcision as a ‘fruitful cut’. He observes the way that fruit trees are spoken of as being ‘uncircumcised’ and having ‘foreskin’ (Leviticus 19:23-25). He suggests that this association implied that the tree needed to be pruned of its ‘foreskin’ for a few years before its fruit could legitimately be enjoyed. This not only made it permissible to eat from the tree, but also served its fertility. And this association illumines the meaning of circumcision too. Circumcision is a sort of pruning of the generative organ of the body, so that it might bear legitimate fruit in a well-cultivated manner. Through the ‘pruning’ of Israel’s foreskins, they cease to be a wild tree and are domesticated by God to bear fruit for him. In removing part of the body, they cease to be an untamed people and their bodies are rendered ‘whole’.
There is a sexual import of circumcision to observe here. Circumcision conscripts the sexual conduct of Abraham and his household. They must now act as a well-cultivated tree and no longer a wild one. They must not repeat the error of seeking to produce the promise through the virility of the flesh, nor must they imitate the rapacious sexuality of the Sodomites.
Read the whole thing here.
Posted in Bible, Ethics, Galatians, Genesis, Guest Post, NT, OT, Romans, Sex and Sexuality, The Sacraments, Theological
I’ve just posted a piece over on the Political Theology blog, on the subject of Palm Sunday. Within it, I argue that, when we listen carefully to the narrative of Luke’s gospel again, as if we didn’t already know its conclusion, kingdom themes will probably appear far more prominently.
Extricating ourselves from the vantage points of Good Friday and Easter Sunday to view the events of Palm Sunday on their own terms, however, as if we did not already know how the story was going to end, may lead us to ask different sorts of questions. What might strike the reader of Luke’s account, from the Triumphal Entry until the Last Supper, are the prominent themes of authority, rule, and kingship.
Entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus is heralded as the king. In the few days that follow, he cleanses the Temple, defends his royal authority against a variety of opponents, gives several judgment sayings declaring the coming destruction of Jerusalem that his future advent in judgment will bring, identifies himself as the Messianic Son of David and the Danielic Son of Man (who will have a universal empire, with all peoples, nations, and languages serving him), speaks of the way that his disciples will sit on twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel, and affirms before the Sanhedrin that he is the Son of God and before Pilate that he is the King of the Jews.
Read the whole thing here.
The Theopolis blog has just posted an article of mine, in which I discuss the story of David against the background of the story of Jacob, exploring how things changed following his sin with Bathsheba.
Just as the beginning of David’s life is a powerful illustration of the capacity of a blessed and righteous man to restore a people to its full health and vigour, as David epitomizes the spirit of Jacob raised to its true stature, in the latter days of David we see the sins of the house of Jacob returning to David’s bosom and the old family wounds bursting open once more. David is Jacob throughout, wrestling with both the promises and the warnings of its deep historical destiny. Will it decay as it exacerbates the sins found at its origins, or ascend into the realization of the divine purpose held out to and intimated to it from the beginning?
Much as David might have fancied that he could compartmentalize his sin in the privacy of his own life, as human beings we are not detached individuals. The poison that David introduced into his house exacted its greatest toll from his children. He lived to see in his own sons the reflection and exacerbation of his own wickedness, and in his wives, daughter, and slain sons the true cost of actions that he once lightly committed. Despite forgiveness and a measure of restoration, David was never the same man again. He remained Jacob, but experienced but the tragic shadow of an identity that was once glorious in him. Sin exacts its bitter price.
Read the whole article here.
Posted in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Bible, Christian Experience, Ethics, Guest Post, OT, OT Theology, Sex and Sexuality, Theological, Theopolis