“Seitz offers a wealth of canonical and theological commentary on the text of Colossians. . . . Readers will be enriched both theologically and historically. . . .
“Happily for me, Seitz’s commentary, while paying due attention to the history and importance of theological interpretation as represented in the Nicene tradition, seems to prioritize the scriptural text.
Subscribers can read the rest of the review here.
Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Byron Borger on Hearts & Minds.
Devin Brown, author of A Life Observed, will be the guest speaker on the Educational Opportunies Tours’ May 2015 tour through England, “A Journey with C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien.”
The struggle and its inconclusive outcome are highly ambiguous. Jacob’s opponent, at first an unknown man, seems to recapitulate Esau, against whom Jacob struggled in Rebekah’s womb. The opponent also echoes Isaac, against whom Jacob struggled by way of subterfuge in order to secure the patriarchal blessing.
The strange man may even evoke Laban, with whom Jacob strove to marry Rachel and gain worldly wealth. Yet, in the end the opponent blesses Jacob—as did Isaac unwittingly.
Jacob’s description of the contest uses a biblical image that is a standard trope for salvation: “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved” (32:30). This evocation of danger and blessing, life-threatening peril and divine encounter, seems to sum up the trajectory of Jacob’s life.
Does the wrestling match set Jacob against an enemy, or does it bring Jacob into intimate contact with a friend? Is the life of the chosen a curse, or is it a blessing and gift? Does the covenant bring heavy burdens and deep suffering, or will it bring peace and prosperity?
The interpretation of Jacob’s struggle in Hos. 12:4–6 suggests a view of God as both enemy and friend. The context is a prophetic pronouncement of divine lament over the faithlessness of Israel.
In the prophecy, Jacob’s wrestling match becomes an image of Israel’s disastrous sinful struggle against God’s promised future: “He strove with the angel and prevailed” (12:4). This is not good news, for it means that faithless, prostitute Israel succeeds in shaking off her divine vocation. She will not be a willing covenant partner with the Lord.
Yet, the prophetic use of Jacob’s wrestling match does not end there. Hosea continues, portraying Jacob/Israel as weeping with regret over his unnecessary struggle with God—one that he has unfortunately won!
Jacob/Israel petitions God for favor. The sanctity and power of God’s name is invoked, and then the prophecy turns to speak to the reader, conveying the moral of the story of Jacob’s wrestling match with God: “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God” (12:6).
©2010 by R. R. Reno. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
Now through August 3, the ebook for Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation by David G. Benner is only $2.99 (85% off) from the following participating retailers:
“A challenging multidisciplinary analysis of psychological change and spiritual development. . . . Blending insights from psychology, theology, anthropology, his own clinical practice, and other disciplines, the author suggests that the adventurous journey of the ‘awakening self’ is one of experiencing the possibility of ‘radical’ transformation leading to oneness with God. Throughout the book, stories from the Christian mystics and other spiritual tutors provide a rich array of examples of communion with the divine as the writer presents his vision of the self as it moves from one stage of consciousness to the next. . . . [Readers] will find this profound journey into spiritual and psychological growth provocative, enriching, and full of insights that will stay with them after they have put down the book.”
Being human is a lifelong journey of becoming. This journey defines our humanity, for it is a journey toward our source and our fulfillment, described in Christian theology as union with God. If we remain open to God as our sense of self awakens, we experience a deeper consciousness of being in him. The self that emerges during this process is larger, more enlightened, and whole.
David Benner has spent thirty-five years integrating psychology and spirituality. Following his acclaimed book Soulful Spirituality, Benner offers readers a deeper understanding of the self and its spiritual development in Spirituality and the Awakening Self. Drawing on a broad range of Christian traditions, he shows that the transformation of self is foundational to Christian spirituality.
July 25, 2014 By trinity.graeser
The interview was conducted at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and was part of Book TV’s College Series.
Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, wrote “Smiling for ‘Auschwitz selfies,’ and crying into the digital wilderness” for CNN’s Belief Blog.
Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung is only $1.99 (89% off) from participating retailers through July 28.
July 25, 2014 By trinity.graeser
Now through July 28, the ebook of Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung is only $1.99 (89% off) from the following participating retailers:
Winner of a C. S. Lewis Book Prize
“A serious, scripturally based revisitation of the perils conservative Christians face from the traditional deadly sins. . . . Suitable for many [collections].”
“Christian readers and readers of other deistic faiths will benefit from the reminder that a divinity is offended by those who act in loveless and other destructive ways; agnostic and atheist readers will be edified by this exhaustive compendium of the ways in which ‘vice’ is glorified and even celebrated in media, literature, and contemporary life.”
“Glittering Vices is a felicitous blend of the scholarly and the hortatory. DeYoung is too sophisticated–and too much of a Thomist–to reduce sin to sociology or therapy. . . . This book is full of subtlety. DeYoung is very good at explaining why ‘deadly’ sins are not always the sins that threaten violence and danger.”
“Moral formation” and “character development” are popular buzzwords, but they are ineffective concepts without an understanding of what good character is and how to cultivate it. The traditional teachings on the “seven deadly sins,” or capital vices, compiled by saints such as Augustine, Pope Gregory I, and Aquinas, offer a strong foundation for recognizing virtues to cultivate and vices to avoid.
Unfortunately, contemporary culture trivializes, psychologizes, or even dismisses the seven vices as if they have no serious moral or spiritual implications. Glittering Vices clears that misconception with a brief history of the vices and an informative chapter on each “deadly sin.” Readers gain practical understanding of how the vices shape our culture and why gluttony, lust, sloth, and others are, in fact, incredibly destructive. Through this eye-opening book, readers will be able to correctly identify and eliminate the deeply rooted patterns of sin that are work in their lives.
Winsome and wise, Glittering Vices is intriguing for any reader interested in spiritual disciplines and character formation. Its rich content makes it useful in undergraduate and seminary ethics courses as well.
July 23, 2014 By trinity.graeser
Jesus’s great sermon on the parables can be read as a commentary on his claim that those who do the will of the Father are his brother, sister, and mother. You do not become a brother or sister to Christ through birth, but you become his brother and sister by learning to be his disciple.
As we shall see, the parables become one of the ways in which Jesus trains his disciples to constitute this new family. In particular, he uses parables to help the disciples discern how the kingdom of heaven is established.
The parables, therefore, like the Sermon on the Mount, have always been crucial for the church to imagine the kind of community that we must be in order to survive in a world that assumes that biological kinship is more determinative than our kinship with Christ. The boat on which Jesus sits to deliver his parabolic sermon on the parables is the church that the parables bring into being.
Matthew does not tell us when or why Jesus is in a house, but only that on the same day in which his disciples are accused of breaking the Sabbath Jesus leaves the house and sits beside the sea. As soon as he leaves the house a great crowd gathers around him.
Indeed, the crowd was so great that Jesus must get into a boat in order to address the crowd, who stand on the beach while he sits in the boat to instruct them. We have, therefore, a situation quite similar to that in which Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
When Jesus delivers the sermon, the crowd hears Jesus, but the disciples are the ones to whom Jesus directs the sermon. In a like manner, Jesus instructs the crowd through some of the parables, but he explains the parables to the disciples because they are the ones who must learn to live in the light of the world revealed by the parables.
©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
July 21, 2014 By trinity.graeser
The following is an excerpt from “Gluttony: Thought for Food,” chapter 2 from Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks by Dennis Okholm.
The sin of gluttony has to do with the manner in which we consume food, involving inordinate desire and immoderate pleasure. To be more speciﬁc, Evagrius, Cassian, Gregory, and Aquinas all delineate several aspects of gluttony that we can reduce to six. They involve both acts and thoughts (or attitudes).
One has to do with what we commonly think of as gluttony: gorging ourselves and not savoring a reasonable amount of food.
A second involves timing: eating at any other time than the appointed hour. For the eremitic monk this usually involved the one meal at none (i.e., 3:00 p.m.) or later. For the cenobite this involved eating with the community at the prescribed times.
The third aspect is anticipating eating with preoccupied, eager longing. The hermit who had his desires under control would not be checking the angle of the sun every ﬁfteen minutes.
A fourth aspect was eating expensively—consuming costly foods.
A ﬁfth aspect of gluttony involved discontent with common food—seeking after delicacies. Since nutritional values of foods were not known, it was considered unnecessary and distracting to seek variety in one’s diet. Being a “fussy eater” who is not satisﬁed with three varieties of cereal at hand might be a modern variation of this. These last two aspects are especially concerned with being content with what we have (cf. Phil. 4:11).
The ﬁnal aspect of gluttony involved paying too much attention to food. While this last is not what we typically equate with gluttony, it certainly applies to our contemporary situation, perhaps even more so than gorging ourselves, for it informs us that it is as gluttonous to be overscrupulous about the food we eat (and how our body looks) as it is to overindulge ourselves. In fact, this overconcern can become idolatry of the creation.
One can see, then, that the evil of gluttony lies not in food itself nor in our need to eat it (with accompanying sensations of the palate), but in how we go about our eating and in the thought (or lack of thought) we give to our eating.
©2014 by Dennis Okholm. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
July 18, 2014 By trinity.graeser
“This is a remarkable book that tries to build bridges of understanding instead of fences of distrust. VanderWal-Gritter tries to encourage us to adopt the attitude of humility, hospitality, and honesty.
“There are already many hurts and hurting people. The Church has already been divided and people are causing unnecessary harm and hurt on people when what they need is healing and a loving heart.
“In an age where people often see the homosexuality issue as black and white, or with binary clarity, VanderWal-Gritter reminds us that we are to love our neighbour regardless of their sexuality.”
Read the rest of the review here.
“Blomberg has produced a deeply valuable and much-needed defense of the authority of Scripture in our modern age. While I disagree here and there, I appreciated his willingness to engage modern scholarship head-on over a wide range of significant issues.
“In a world where evangelicals are regularly denigrated in the academy, Blomberg has offered a helpful tool to encourage Christians that God’s Word really can be trusted.”
Read the rest of the review here.
Congratulations to Craig Detweiler! iGods won Silver in the Popular Culture category of Foreword Reviews‘ IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.
Jim Wallis was also written about in Christian Today: “Jim Wallis at Synod: ‘Politics and markets are riddled with sin’”
Finding Your Plot in a Plotless World: A Little Direction by Daniel de Roulet is on sale for $3.99 (50% off) through July 31.
July 18, 2014 By trinity.graeser
Now through July 31, the ebook for Finding Your Plot in a Plotless World: A Little Direction by Daniel de Roulet is on sale for $3.99 (50% off) from the following participating retailers:
“Instead of offering consolation for those with doubt, de Roulet alters the landscape by offering consolation to those who struggle with plotlessness or perhaps even meaninglessness. . . . [He has] a gifted pen dipped in the inkwell of graceful prose; [he is] pastoral enough that [he doesn't] scandalize. Instead, [he] offer[s] not some simple answer but the genuine Christian solidity called hope. The hope that sustains a struggle of faith. . . . To lead us into his journey, de Roulet explores the theme of struggling to find a plot within plotlessness by dipping in and out of both biblical plots (Jacob is a favorite of mine in this book) and literary plots. . . . I’d love to see some folks read this and blog about it. It surely deserves it. Maybe my top pick for book of the year on this blog.”
—Scot McKnight, jesuscreed.org
“[The author] presents many solid propositions as well as wearied insights from his journey of discovering his son’s autism. . . . The authenticity of his journey and suggestions will undoubtedly resonate with postmoderns.”
The world fell apart for author Daniel de Roulet the moment his son was diagnosed with autism. In Finding Your Plot in a Plotless World, de Roulet takes a closer look at those devastating moments in everyone’s lives and the journey that follows. What do we do when our sense of God’s plan for our lives crumbles around us? How do we find our plots in a seemingly plotless world?
For answers, de Roulet looks to stories—those of our own culture and the Bible. Along the way, de Roulet encourages readers to be authentic as they tell their own stories and leaves them with hope that God reveals himself through our messy lives.
July 16, 2014 By trinity.graeser
This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 139:
It includes a poignant testimony about God’s mysterious and majestic role in human conception and birth (vv. 13-16).
The psalm then features a dramatic change, asking for God’s vengeance on faithless people (v. 19) and guidance in the way of truth (v. 24).
The opening sections of the psalm are the most often used; the concluding section, however, makes it clear that the psalm is about the choice for righteousness (cf. Ps. 1) and expression of awareness not only of God’s pervasive knowledge about us, but also readiness for God to examine and test us (vv. 23-24).
Prayer for reflection:
Almighty God, creator of all things, you know each of us so intimately
that no thought in our minds or cell in our bodies is hide from your eyes.
Secure in the loving embrace of our brother, Jesus Christ,
we open our hearts and lives to your searching gaze. Amen.