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And here I was wondering if anything could beat justification for being a great idea hidden behind a lousy word. Well, pragmatism, you win. Dad renders this unpromising term lively and insightful, shows how its approach avoids the extremes of both rationalism and empiricism, and can prove to be a helpful handmaiden to theology (but, of course, not a foundation. Heavens no). Also, how to cope with the hell of the irrevocable.

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Notes:

1. West, Prophecy Deliverance!

2. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature

3. Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

4. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

5. Thiemann, Revelation and Theology

6. Peirce, How to Make Our Ideas Clear

7. Royce, The Problem of Christianity

8. Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests

9. Hinlicky, Luther and the Beloved Community and Beloved Community

More about us on sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

You can't get too much of a good thing! Picking up where we left off in the last episode, we discuss why "rectification" may be preferable to "justification," what human faith has to do with the faith(fulness) of Jesus, forgiveness vs. the defeat of the dominating power of sin, what on earth Paul is talking about with the "powers," and whether he is in fact suggesting an undoing of all the distinctions that make up the creation according to Genesis 1.

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Notes:

1. Check out these other related episodes: Justification by Faith, Romans, The First Two-Thirds of Acts, and The Last Third of Acts.

2. Dad's Luther vs. Pope Leo brings John Wesley to the rescue (whom we discuss also in this episode).

3. Luther's "How Christians Should Regard Moses" talks about the use of OT law in Gentile and Christian settings—and is not nearly as hostile as you might expect.

4. We both got the number of Jewish mitzvot wrong. It's 613.

More about us on sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

In this episode we only begin to tackle the myriad of issues in this searing, white-hot, impassioned blast from our favorite apostle early in his career. Who were these Galatians, and more importantly, who weren't they? Who were the interloping Teachers, and why does it turn out that sola gratia isn't specific enough? If the law is so treacherous in Paul's reading, why can he turn around and talk about "the law of Christ"? This and many more enigmas, plus ways of interpreting Galatians for good and for ill from Paul's own epistle to the Romans to more recent commentators.

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Notes:

1. Martyn, Galatians

2. Luther, Lectures on Galatians 1–4 and Lectures on Galatians 5–6

3. See in particular our previous episodes on John Part 1 and John Part 2, Romans, and Law and Gospel Part 1 and Part 2.

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

What to do when there is no longer common faith or common facts? Reversing the tide of history is not an option, but the church recentering itself on its task of being conformed to Christ and learning to speak in the new language of the Spirit is. In this episode, we review what we've covered in the past two, why they run aground, and how Christian speech in the public square can aid civil discourse without illegitimately demanding assent to Christian faith.

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Notes:

1. More from Dad on this topic: "Luther's Anti-Docetism in the Disputatio de divinitate et humanitate Christi (1540)," in Creator est creatura; "Metaphorical Truth and the Language of Christian Theology," in Indicative of Grace–Imperative of Freedom; and Beloved Community, pp. 72–84.

2. Relevant to this topic from me: "Martin Luther, Pacifist?"

3. Pannenberg discusses the "disputability" of the Christian claim in vol. 1 of his Systematic Theology

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

In matters civic, we have great sympathies with empiricist and classical-liberal critics of the recent woke madness induced by Critical Social Theory. And yet...

In this episode we distinguish among the many children of the Enlightenment, point out the strengths of the empiricist/liberal tradition but also its corresponding weaknesses that CST exploits, and exhort secular empiricists to reconsider the moral, spiritual, and theological roots of the intellectual tradition that they rightly see as critically endangered. So have a listen, and then share this episode with an empiricist near you!

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Notes:

1. Pluckrose and Lindsay, Cynical Theories

2. Spinoza, Principles of Cartesian Philosophy

3. Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

4. Sharp, Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization

5. Locke, Second Treatise of Government

6. Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea

7. Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes

8. Also check out our episode on Faith to the Aid of Reason

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

Hot diggity dog! Here we go, investigating the obscure Marxist theory beloved of academics that has gone viral in the past year... in both senses of the word. In this episode you'll get an effective innoculation, for the good health of your own mind as well as the polis at large.

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Notes:

1. Hedges, "Cancel Culture: Where Liberalism Goes to Die"

2. Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach,” in Karl Marx on Religion

3. Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment

4. Tillich, The Socialist Decision

5. Simpson, Critical Social Theory

6. Marcuse, Eros and Civilization

7. Derrida, The Gift of Death

8. Brown, Undoing the Demos

9. Foucault, The History of Sexuality

10. Orwell, 1984

11. Carter, Race

12. Mitchell, American Awakening

13. Other episodes you might like related to this one: The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, What Is a Person?, Two Kingdoms: Sixteenth Century Edition, and Two Kingdoms: Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Edition.

14. For my further reflections on Marxism and its impact, see these blog posts on The Bitter Price of Making the World a Better Place and Three Memoirs of Slovak Communism, as well as my book I Am a Brave Bridge (the January and February chapters in particular).

15. Dad on these topics: “Luther and Heidegger,” Lutheran Quarterly (Spring 2008); “The Spirit of Christ amid the Spirits of the Post-Modern World” Lutheran Quarterly (Winter 2000); “Sin, Death, and Derrida,” Lutheran Forum (Summer 2010).

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Second-century bishop and theologian Irenaeus of Lyon is famous for his teaching on recapitulation—how Christ our head redoes everything Adam and the rest of us did wrong—and so, in our worst pun yet, in this episode we recapitulate his teaching. Also, why heresy is not so much a deviation as a dead-end, how redemption is not getting airlifted out of creation, and how my dogma outran your karma.

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Notes:

1. Irenaeus's work is the five books of Against Heresies, but as Dad advises in this episode, you're best off focusing on books 2, 3, and 4.

2. Related episodes to this one you might enjoy are Ignatius in Chains, Poor Anselm, and Athanasius Against the World.

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

Five years in the writing, and more than a quarter-century after the fact, I Am a Brave Bridge: An American Girl's Hilarious and Heartbreaking Year in the Fledgling Republic of Slovakia recounts the first year that the Hinlicky family spent as missionaries in Slovakia in 1993 (the year of Slovakia's independence) and 1994. In this bonus episode, Dad and I talk about the theological themes embedded among the hijinks of cross-cultural romance, the difference between omnipotence and totalitarianism, how to talk about sexuality and love from the perspective of faith without being creepy or cheesy, and the experience of relearning the faith from those who have counted the cost and willingly paid it.

Read the complete prologue on my website or jump right in and get a copy of your own!

Among a certain kind of Lutheran theologian, liking Barth just isn't done. We are not that kind. In this episode, Dad walks us through the theological development of the great Swiss Reformed theologian, why Lutherans made it difficult for Barth to receive Luther and what Barth nevertheless gained from Luther, and highlights of Barth's massive theological oeuvre. And we once again discuss the distinction between law and gospel, because what else would we do?

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Notes:

1. Barth is not the easiest read, but if you're feeling inspired to try, here are some suggestions. For absolute beginners, Evangelical Theology and Prayer. Next step up, try his Anselm: Fides Quaerens Intellectum. When you're ready to tackle the Church Dogmatics, any of these three: volume I/1 on the Word of God, volume II/2 on election, or volume IV/1 on reconciliation.

2. Excellent secondary studies on Barth: McCormack, Barth's Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology; Hunsinger, Disruptive Grace; and Jenson, God after God.

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

All memoirs are meditations on providence—so I learned from writing one of my own (see Note #1 below!). I used to think that all Christian memoirs went back to Augustine, but it turns out he had a biblical precedent: Nehemiah, who most unusually in the canon of Scripture reported his own acts and motives in the first person. In this episode, Dad and I consider the advantages of drama over concepts in depicting the interplay of divine and human agency, how to think about Nehemiah's prohibition on intermarriage and the challenges to minority communities, and what good walls and  buildings do for the community of faith, despite all their inherent problems.

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Notes:

1. The long-awaited memoir! I Am a Brave Bridge: An American Girl's Hilarious and Heartbreaking Year in the Fledgling Republic of Slovakia is pretty much what it sounds like. Also, you can find out how Dad parented a teenage girl, why God is omnipotent but not totalitarian, and how to always be homesick for somewhere else. Plus, there are recipes. Order print from Amazon, an ebook from pretty much any provider, or an ebook direct from Thornbush Press!

2. The two commentaries I studied in preparation for this episode are Throntveit, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Myers, Ezra-Nehemiah.

3. Relevant previous episodes: Is Scripture Holy?, Law & Gospel Part 1, Law & Gospel Part 2, Learning to Love Leviticus, Joshua.

4. See Dad's Beloved Community on conscience, pp. 613–630, and for the Christian revision of metaphysics, see his Divine Complexity and Divine Simplicity.

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

Now is the winter of our discontent... or is it the winter of our ecumenism? Either way, the mission-motivated drive to reconcile bitterly divided Christians has succeeded so well that all the frisson has vanished right out of it, but hasn't succeeded enough to actually make us one as Jesus and his Father are one. So in this episode, Dad and I talk through our own interest in and commitment to the search for Christian unity, what unity is not, how an ecumenical document differs from a confessional document, and the lively but relatively unknown history of this 110-year-old movement. Also, a few unguarded opinions.

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Notes:

1. Tons of resources about ecumenism at the Institute for Ecumenical Research.

2. Some of the ecumenical documents we mention in this episode: Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, Healing Memories, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Unto the Churches of Christ Everywhere, Mortalium Animos, Unitatis Redintegratio.

3. Not mentioned by name but highly relevant are the document Lutherans and Pentecostals in Dialogue and the new ecumenical outfit Global Christian Forum.

4. Dad on ecumenism: “Staying Lutheran in the Changing Church(es)” in Changing ChurchesLuther vs. Pope Leo; “Scripture as Matrix, Christ as Content” in Luther Refracted; Luther for Evangelicals; “Theological Anthropology: Towards Integrating Theosis and Justification by Faith," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 34/1 (1997): 38–73; and “Process, Convergence, Declaration: Reflections on Doctrinal Dialogue,” The Cresset 64/6 (2001): 13-18.

5. Me on ecumenism: "Reflections Five Years into Ecumenism," "Six Ways Ecumenical Progress Is Possible" Concordia Journal 39/4 (2013): 310–32, entries on "Ecumenical Movement" and "Pentecostalism, Global" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, and A Guide to Pentecostal Movements for Lutherans.

6. And heck, let's get the whole family in on the fun: check out my husband Andrew's book Here I Walk: A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Luther tracing our pilgrimage on the 500th anniversary of Luther's. (Except it was the 499th... we found out too late.)

7. If you want to take up the catechetical call at the end of the episode, why not try the Small Catechism: Memorizing Edition?

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

After a recent dive into the theological, philosophical, and political writings of Hannah Arendt, I found her so disturbingly prescient that I wanted to talk her ideas over with Dad—only to discover that Arendt was one of his earliest and most formative influences, and still is now, in ways that he only realized as we talked. So, in this episode, much about her writings and why Eichmann in Jerusalem elicited such a firestorm, why you should never say "it can't happen here," and that, contrary to popular belief, the most troublesome of all pronouns is "we."

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Notes:

1. Books by Hannah Arendt discussed in this episode: Love and Saint Augustine, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Eichmann in Jerusalem, On Violence

2. Two movies: Hannah Arendt and Vita Activa

3. See Dad's Before Auschwitz and his recent article "Hitler's Theology: A Cautionary Tale for Today's Peril"

4. Kušnieriková, Acting for Others: Trinitarian Communion and Christological Agency

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

After setting the stage in our last episode with the distinctives and circumstances of John's Gospel, here we turn to its message: being born again (or is it from above?), how the Father and the Son can be one and yet the Father greater than the Son, whether John's commendation of love of friends is a retrogression from Paul's enemy-love, and how the confrontation with Pilate and the powers functions as the mega-exorcism consolidating the individual exorcism accounts in the Synoptics.

And if every one of things that Jesus did were recorded, the internet itself could not contain the podcasts that would be published.

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Notes:

1. Bultmann, "Eschatology of the Gospel of John" (1928) in Faith and Understanding, 165-183

2. Käsemann, The Testament of Jesus

3. Hill, Paul and the Trinity

4. Twelftree, In the Name of Jesus

5. For Dad on John, see Divine Complexity, 69–96

6. For me on John, see "Law and Gospel (With Some Help from St. John)," a sermon on "Doubting Thomas," and the Winter 2020 issue of Theology & a Recipe, "Latkes for Jesus"

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

One of these kids is not like the other... and among the New Testament Gospels, that weirdo kid is John. He drops the parables and the Sermon on the Mount and the exorcisms, shifts the cleansing of the temple from the end to the beginning, turns poor Lazarus in Abraham's bosom into a dead man walking out of a tomb, and is totally unfazed by Gentiles but levels constants accusations against "the Jews"... even though most of his heroes are Jews, too. What gives? In this episode, Dad and I talk through the Johannine distinctives and the theories as to why this Gospel turned out so different, in the process voting for our favorite. No spoilers here... you gotta listen all the way through to find out.

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Notes:

1. Brown, An Introduction to the Gospel of John (among others)

2. Bultmann, The Gospel of John

3. Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel

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In which Sarah unloads a jeremiad on the Revised Common Lectionary and Dad mostly stands at the side of the road and watches. Also, ways to work around lectionary limitations, and whether you should preach "with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other."

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Notes:

1. Revelant previous episodes of ours include What Is (Not) the Job of a Pastor?, Learning to Love Leviticus, The Relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and Is Scripture Holy?

2. This jeremiad pretty much follows the course of the jeremiah I wrote for Mockingbird, "The Top Ten Reasons the Lectionary Sucks and Five Half-Assed Solutions." Lots of relevant links in the notes there.

3. A good podcast for lectionary preachers, hosted my old friend John Drury, is Fresh Text. I'll be in an upcoming episode (where I manage to restrain my RCL disdain reasonably well).

4. Strawn, The Old Testament Is Dying

5. Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man

6. You can find my sermon series on Romans on my YouTube channel.

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

Welcome to Season 3 of Queen of the Sciences!

To kick off the most welcome new year in recent memory, we tackle the question of the certainty of faith. What does it even mean to be "certain" where something like "faith" is concerned? Can we have the same certainty as, say, apostles and early Christians, or as folks before various revolutions in science and historical study? Where does doubt fit in, or hard questions? Is faith something that you have or something that has you? All this and more!

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Notes:

1. Relevant previous episodes include Justification by Faith, Faith to the Aid of Reason, and The Freedom of a Christian.

2. Here's the Council of Trent criticizing what it took to be the Reformation doctrine of faith.

3. For Tillich on faith as being grasped by ultimate concern, since his Systematic Theology, vol. 3, pp. 129-134

4. For Barth on prayer, see the Church Dogmatics III/4:87-115 and Karl Barth: His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts

5. See Dad's Beloved Community for an example of "critical dogmatics" in action, and also his forthcoming article "Retrieving Luther on Prayer" in The T&T Clark Companion to Christian Prayer

More about us on sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

In which Dad and I read aloud a series of questions I put to him in a notebook on Christmas 1990, and discover that the more things change the more they stay the same. You can read the transcript on my website. Merry Christmas!

This is Dad's talk for the Virginia Synod's annual Power in the Spirit conference, from July 2020. You can also watch the video version with questions and answers from Pr. David Drebes on YouTube.

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To wrap up season 2 of Queen of the Sciences, not to mention wrapping up an exceptionally fraught election year (at least for those of you in the U.S.), we tackle St. Augustine's magnum opus, The City of God against the Pagans. Turns out there isn't actually very much about the two cities at all, but we range with Augustine across a wide assortment of issues: theodicy, providence, human community, the uses of history, and the nature of evil.

Fun fact: the Roman empire never actually fell, and certainly not due to barbarian invasions. It just sort of petered out due to its own stupid infighting. Food for thought, eh?

By the way, we had a technical glitch, so my audio track is pretty muffled, but Dad's is fine, and fortunately he did more of the talking on this one anyway.

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Notes:

1. I quote from Dyson's translation of The City of God; this is the abridged one Dad mentioned; you may want to check out newer translations by New City Press; and this is the audiobook version I listened to, which was pretty well narrated except for the occasional pronunciation error, as in "the tropical interpretation of Scripture." Pretty sure he meant "tropological."

2. For a mind-blowing take on what really happened to the Roman empire under Christianity, check out Peter Brown's The Rise of Western Christendom.

3. Dad discusses the nature of evil in his Beloved Community, pp. 783–790. See also his forthcoming Joshua commentary on the nature of human community.

4. The accounts of evil that aim not only to harm the body but to destroy the soul that I mention toward the end of the episode are Endo's Silence, Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, and Orwell's 1984.

5. Earlier in 2020 I did an issue of Theology & a Recipe on Augustine, called "Late Have I Loved Thee," imagining a late-in-life encounter between Augustine and his concubine. I didn't realize at the time John Updike had already done this; if I may so, I think my version is a lot more faithful to the principals and ultimately the more compelling. Judge for yourself, and then sign up for Theology & a Recipe on my website!

More about us on sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

The eponymous unlikely marriage is that of marriage—with Christianity. After assembling an impressive number of reasons why we should have expected the Christian faith to want nothing whatsoever to do with exclusive sexual pairing, we then change directions and show why, after all, Christianity opted for marriage, and in so doing once again engaged in a doctrinal revision of inherited notions of God. In light of which, we then engage a contemporary Catholic theologian's take on Christian marriage. Spoiler alert: we don't even go near the usual hot-button topics. If you feel the need for outrage, Twitter is waiting for you.

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Notes:

1. Some relevant stuff I've written: "Marriage Matters," "Blessed Are the Barren," and "Luther's Hagiographical Reformation of the Doctrine of Sanctification in His Lectures on Genesis"

2. See also Dad's Luther and the Beloved Community, ch. 8 on "The Redemption of the Body: Luther on Marriage"

3. Kant ruined Christian ethics with The Critique of Practical Reason

4. For the range of Luther's take on the nature of divine and Christian love, see the Heidelberg Disputation (esp. #28) and his explanations of the Fourth and Sixth Commandments in the Large Catechism

5. Sarah Ruden, Paul among the People

6. Matthew Levering, Engaging the Doctrine of Marriage

More about us at sarahhinlickywilson.com and paulhinlicky.com!

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