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No, not a glam metal band, but a martyr of the second century and one of the first post-New Testament writers whose works survive. In the episode we take a look at the first heresies to erupt in Christianity—first analyzing just what counts as a "heresy" and why the concept remains a useful one—namely, Ebionitism and Docetism. Ignatius en route to Rome as a prisoner elucidates for us just why it matter so much that God really took flesh in Jesus Christ, and that his flesh was really crucified, and that his crucified flesh was really raised... just as Ignatius himself was really in chains and was really going to be devoured by the wild beasts.

Notes:

1. You can read the seven extant letters of Ignatius here. Note that only the shorter version of each paragraph is authentic—the longer version is probably an expansion by later authors/editors.

2. Dad's Divine Complexity, ch. 2, discusses the formation of the New Testament canon in light of the martyrological witness, not least of all Ignatius's. If you've been interested in picking up one of Dad's books but don't know where to start (or are nervous about committing to 900 pages), start with this one—it'll give you a great overall read on the development of Christian theology and how it completely remade the way we think about God.

3. For a little taste of my learning about the nature of the church from being a missionary in Japan, take a look at this short piece, "Dispatch from a Bewildered Missionary in Japan."

4. Here's some info on the exchange between Pliny the Younger and Emperor Trajan about the wacky sect of Christians.

5. We talked more about martyrdom's "agency" in the face of suffering in the episode on Perpetua and Felicitas. See also the Martyrdom of Polycarp.

6. William R. Farmer and Denis M. Farkasfalvy, The Formation of the New Testament Canon

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The terrible killing of George Floyd and the resulting protests and riots around the country have prompted us to record this bonus episode, in which we reflect on our experiences and theological interpretations of being "white," American, and Christian.

Notes:

1. Much of what we say in this episode presumes topics we've covered already; you may want to check out What Is a Person?, Faith to the Aid of Reason, Two Kingdoms: 16th-Century Edition & Two Kingdoms: 20th- and 21st-Century Edition, and The First Two-Thirds of Acts.

2. See Dad's Mission to the Catskills: A History of Immanuel Lutheran Church of Delhi, New York and his discussion of Martin Luther King Jr in Luther and the Beloved Community, informed by teaching a course on MLK for many years at Roanoke College.

3. A little info about my forthcoming memoir here

4. Review of Albion's Seed

5. This is a thoughtful reflection from a Christian in the South coming to terms with his ancestors and their history.

6. Bonhoeffer talks about the ultimate and penultimate in Ethics

7. Cornel West, Race Matters

8. James Cone, God of the Oppressed

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We bet you still have a hangover from the crucifixion episode with which we opened this season. Well, you had to wait longer than three days, but here it is at last: the counterpart episode on the resurrection. For we consider the sufferings of the crucifixion episode are not worth comparing to the glory that is this resurrection episode.

We cover a range of questions here, from what is even meant by resurrection (and just as importantly what is not) to what an event like this means in the stream of creaturely history to the ultimate question of what the resurrection of the crucified one means within the life of God.

Plus, some fun verbs.

Notes:

1. Jesus Christ Superstar. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a "timeless" work as the advertising fluff on the homepage says—it's pretty obviously the product of its time—but still well worth the listen. Pilate gets to me every time.

2. Two essays by N. T. Wright addressing the meaning of "resurrection" and considerations for its historicity: "Christian Origins and the Resurrection of Jesus" and "Jesus' Resurrection and Christian Origins."

3. Bodily boundedness is discussed at greater length in our Leviticus episode

4. Pannenberg, Jesus: God and Man

5. My article on "The Verbs of the Resurrection"

6. Käsemann, Commentary on Romans

7. Theissen, The Miracle Stories of the Early Christian Tradition

8. For Dad vs. Bultmann, see: Divine Complexity ch. 2 for an extensive discussion of the resurrection and its metaphysical implications for God; Beloved Community on the difference between demythologization and deliteralization (easiest thing here is just to look at the index for all listings); the forthcoming Joshua commentary from Brazos, which will also deal extensively with this topic; and finally "The Theology of the Martyrs," in Martyrdom and the Suffering of the Righteous, 87–110.

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Following on our last episode about eucharistic discipline, in this one we actually dig into the doctrine, discussing what and who it is in, with, and under the Lord's Supper and what it even means to talk about Christ's presence therein. Lots of fun terminology (see below). Then some liturgical advisories on bread vs. wafers, I momentarily lose it over how people approach their shot glasses, and we (perhaps a bit disappointingly) argue less about the eucharistic prayer than either of us anticipated.

Notes:

1. Luther's writings referred to in this episode are: The Small Catechism, Confession Concerning Christ's Supper, the Jonah commentary, and (obliquely) the Babylonian Captivity of the Church.

2. Some of us because theologians because we're enchanted by the vocabulary. Here are some good ones that were or weren't mentioned in this episode pertaining to the Lord's Supper that you can have fun googling: alleosis, capernaitism, epiclesis, ubivolipraesens, transubstantiation, consubstantiation (just so long as you promise not to use it to describe the Lutheran doctrine of the the Lord's Supper), and extracalvinisticum (N.B. I first fell in love with my husband because of a prank involving the extracalvinisticum, so, you know, there's more than one reason to master theological vocabulary).

3. I talk more about gospel imperatives in this bonus episode, and reflect on unusual sacramental circumstances in "The Sacraments in Time, Space, and Matter."

4. Dad discusses the Lord's Supper in detail in Beloved Community, pp. 476–509.

5. Sacramentine sisters

6. For a good survey of early church practice and Reformation response on the eucharistic prayer and the words of institution, see Dorothea Wendebourg, "Traveled the Full Extent of Rome's Erroneous Path?" Lutheran Forum 44/4 (2010): 18–33.

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We put the cart ahead of the horse in this one: after a good start in I Corinthians, we gallop off into matters of eucharistic discipline, but not to worry, we decide to keep going in the next episode, in which we'll back up and deal with the doctrine. In the meanwhile, if you get really exercised about questions of who's in and who's out, you're either going to love this episode... or unsubscribe. Either way, enjoy!

Notes:

1. Dennis Di Mauro, "For You, For Many, For All People?" Lutheran Forum 50/4 (2016): 20–23.

2. We never did get around to infant communion, but here's an article I wrote on the topic called "Mildly Opposed to Infant Communion." A bit off topic but related to something that came up in this episode, I critique C. S. Lewis's doctrine of purgatory in "A Lutheran Reflection on C. S. Lewis."

3. For a study of early liturgical history that doesn't annoy me, see Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson's The Origin of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons in Early Christianity

4. The Vatican II statement on ecumenism is Unitatis Redintegratio; see especially section 3 on "Churches and Ecclesial Communities Separated from the Roman Apostolic See."

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Christianity has had a 1900+ year bad history with (rabbinic) Judaism, with devastating consequences for the lives of Jews and theological bankruptcy for Christians. We hone in on the problem within our own tradition by looking at Luther's contorted and confusing attitude to Jews—from being the first person in about 1000 years to propose toleration and speak well of them, to his famously horrific suggestions to drive them out, steal their books, and burn their synagogues. Yet Luther proves to be not unique but representative in his anti-Judaism, so we also address wider concerns such as the not-always-tenable difference between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, and to what extent the roots of Christian anti-Judaism lie in our Scripture, Old and New Testament alike. Romans chs. 9–11 guide us through this mare's nest of issues.

Notes:

1. David Nirenberg, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition

2. The chief texts of Luther relevant to his Janus-like relationship with the Jews are: “That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew” (1523; Luther’s Works vol. 45), “Against the Sabbatarians” (1539; Luther’s Works vol. 47), and “On the Jews and Their Lies” (1543; Luther’s Works vol. 47)

3. The book that popularly made the case in America for the direct lineage between Hitler and Luther was William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Uwe Siemon-Netto wrote a rebuttal to this claim in his The Fabricated Luther: Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths.

4. My choice for the best place to examine this issue is in Thomas Kaufmann’s Luther’s Jews: A Journey into Anti-Semitism. Here's a review I wrote of it.

5. See Dad’s review of the excellent book by Peter Ochs, Another Reformation: Postliberal Christianity and the Jews in The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning 13/2 (2014) and in his book Beloved Community the “Excursus: on Jewish perplexity as a principle internal to Christology” on pp. 416–428. Also, check out his book Before Auschwitz, which analyzes various Christian theological positions regarding Jews and Judaism and how they were able to resist Nazi ideology or, conversely, fell right in step with it.

6. A few things I’ve written dealing with these issues: “Still Reckoning with Luther” in The Christian Century; commentary on Mark 12:28–34 for Working Preacher; my chapter “Tradition: A Lutheran Perspective” in the collection The Idea of Tradition in the Late Modern World; and a chapter in my ebook Luther, Thrice, available by signing up for the Theology & a Recipe newsletter on my website.

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Romans

Following hot on the heels of our last episode about St. Paul among the Philosophers, in this episode we take up his magnum opus, the Epistle to the Romans. Positioned first in the New Testament, it is actually the last extant letter he wrote. Hugely influential, it is densely packed, tightly argued, and generally impenetrable to a casual reading. So with the excellent aid of the brilliant interpreter Ernst Käsemann we walk through most of Romans (leaving chs. 9–11 for next time) to discover the power of the gospel, the ungodliness of the godly, and God's justification of precisely those ungodly people by His Son and Spirit.

Notes:

1. Käsemann, Commentary on Romans

2. Melanchthon, Loci Communes

3. Paulson, Lutheran Theology

4. J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words

5. Dad talks about baptism extensively in Beloved Community

6. Epp, Junia: The First Woman Apostle; I wrote a review of it for the late great Books & Culture

 

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There we were, calmly recording our regularly scheduled episodes during our pandemic-imposed quiet, including a couple on holy communion for later this spring... when a good old-fashioned theological controversy erupted under our feet. We weigh in on the question of whether holy communion can be consecrated via the internet (spoiler alert: no) and why we think so; but we also lift up the great things that can be done to foster and uplift the Christian community by digital means during this time of distancing and eucharistic fasting. Just in time for Maundy Thursday 2020!
 
Notes:
 
 
 
3. Lange, "Digital Worship and Sacramental Life in a Time of Pandemic" on the Lutheran World Federation website
 
4. Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration 7
 
5. Kleinhans, Schroeder, and Peterson, "Concerning Online Communion"
 
 
7. Jorgenson, "Corona and Communion"
 
8. If you aren't already deluged with online options for worship and sermons, you can check out my YouTube sermon channel
 

The apostle Paul gets a bad rap as the repressive, restrictive jerk who turned the hippie religion of Jesus into a metaphysical mess of religion about Jesus. Strangely enough, Christians seem to be the primary exponents of this misleading interpretation. But across the way in the realms of secular and socialist philosophy, Paul is enjoying a revival of sorts; and in some cases is even the object of envious longing. What gives? In this episode we offer a brief introduction to Paul (apostle, not Dad) and then Paul (Dad, not apostle) walks us through three contemporary philosophers' takes on this figure so important to the Christian faith.

Notes:

1. Nietzsche, The Antichrist

2. Stuhlmacher, Reconciliation, Law, Righteousness: Essays in Biblical Theology and Revisting Paul’s Doctrine of Justification: A Challenge to the New Perspective

3. Bultmann’s existentalist interpretation of the resurrection is found in Theology of the New Testament and draws on Heidegger’s Being and Time

4. Käsemann, Commentary on Romans

5. Stendahl, Paul among Jews and Gentiles

6. Dunn, “The New Perspective on Paul,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 65 (1983): 95–122

7. J. Louis Martyn, Galatians

8. N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology

9. Žižek and Millbank, The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic?

10. Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism

11. Dad co-authored a book with Brent Adkins called Rethinking Theology and Philosophy with Deleuze which deals with some of these thinkers

12. Agamben, The Time That Remains

13. Benjamin and Agamben, Towards the Critique of Violence

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Once again Luther proves his surprising relevance with his treatise "Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague." In light of the metastasizing coronavirus pandemic, Dad and I talk about the treatise and then offer our own reflections on how believers can and should respond.

Notes:

1. Luther's treatise is published in Luther's Works vol. 43 and you can also read it here.

2. Bonhoeffer discusses "natural life" in his Ethics

3. We refer in this episode to a previous episode we did on Faith to the Aid of Reason

4. I discussed at length what I learned about dealing with uncertainty and non-knowledge from the Book of Revelation in my latest issue of Theology & a Recipe (which includes recipes for Seven Bowls of Snacks)

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Following on our last two episodes exploring the Lutheran doctrine of the "two kingdoms," in this one we dive deeply into the life of two extraordinary Ethiopian Lutherans. Gudina Tumsa was a pastor and the General Secretary of the Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus until his assassination by the communist Derg regime in 1979. His wife Tsehay Tolessa, an active evangelist, was arrested after his death, tortured, and imprisoned without trial or sentence for ten years. Only after the fall of the regime was Gudina's death confirmed and his body identified, exhumed, and given a Christian burial.

In addition to discussing their remarkable life stories and witness to Christ, we delve into Gudina's writings during his time of leadership in the ECMY, including his reflections on ecclesiology, wholistic mission, and the role of a Christian in public life, especially when faced with a hostile government. The parallels to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and witness earned Gudina the moniker "the Ethiopian Bonhoeffer," and he and Tsehay alike deserve wider renown.

One other item: we hit a milestone in the life of every podcast with this episode, namely, the Technical Glitch. As a result, the sound quality is poorer than usual. We apologize and have exorcised the relevant demons from the equipment, and expect that from now on the sound will be up to its usual standards.

Notes:

1. The book mentioned in the episode is The Life, Works, and Witness of Tsehay Tolessa and Gudina Tumsa, the Ethiopian Bonhoeffer, edited by me (Sarah) and my friend Samuel Yonas Deressa.

2. You can also read some of the papers of the Journal of the Gudina Tumsa Forum here and here (I have a paper in the latter).

3. Gudina Tumsa Foundation on Facebook and US branch of the Gudina Tumsa Foundation

4. Original English translation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship

5. Dad wrote an entry on "Martin Luther in Karl Marx" for The Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther

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Can a distinction between the religious and governmental realms hashed out in the sixteenth century be remotely useful for us today? Well, we give it an honest try. If in the past the danger was religion invading the realm of the state and making use of violent coercion to advance its ultimate goals, today the danger (at least in the parts of the world we've lived in) is the other way around: the state attempting to assert itself in realms of conscience, mind, and ultimate salvation. We explore totalizing ideologies and share our insights on how to keep on distinguishing the two kingdoms for the good of all people, whatever their religion or politics.

Notes:

1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about secularism and the French vs. American revolutions in “Inheritance and Decay” in Ethics

2. Alasdair MacIntyre observes how “we’re all liberals now” in Whose Justice? Which Rationality?

3. John Locke’s political essays mentioned in this episode are the Second Treatise on Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration

4. Dad calls Robert Benne a liberal in his essay “Luther and Liberalism” in A Report from the Front Lines: Conversations on Public Theology, A Festschrift in Honor of Robert Benne

5. John Witte Jr. discusses early Lutheran political theology in Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation

6. Robert P. Ericksen, Theologians under Hitler

7. Martin Luther reminds us that the kingdom of God will come regardless of our efforts or obstructions in the Small Catechism

8. The excerpt of the song goes “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” and it’s from “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. If you didn’t already know that, you should probably drop everything and go listen to the album Who’s Next

9. Here’s a link to info about the memoir I mentioned (still forthcoming, but if you sign up for my Theology & a Recipe e-newsletter you’ll be notified about publication details… plus, of course, you’ll get Theology & a Recipe), as well as an article I wrote called “A Primer on Luther’s Politics

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You think it's obvious to keep religion and government separate—but for nearly all of human history, it's been anything but that! In this episode Dad and I sort through the landscape of 16th century Europe to scout out the source of Luther's distinction between the "two kingdoms": the lefthand kingdom where God rules by law, coercion, and public authority, and the righthand kingdom where God rules by the gospel of Jesus Christ through word and sacrament. There are so many ways to do church-and-state wrong that we barely scratch the surface! So stay tuned for the next episode, when we'll bring the two kingdoms into the 20th and 21st centuries to see what mischief (to say the least) has come about by failing to distinguish them properly closer to our time.

Notes

1. Ulrich Duchrow, Christenheit und Weltverantwortung

2. Augustine, The City of God

3. Martin Luther's writings on this topic include: On Temporal Authority; Admonition to Peace; Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved; On War against the Turk. See also his eight Invocavit sermons on returning to Karlstadt's violent reforms in Wittenberg while Luther was impounded in the Wartburg. All available in the Luther's Works series.

4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Heritage and Decay," in Ethics

5. Paul R. Hinlicky, Luther vs. Pope Leo

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And you thought Joshua was bad! In this episode I undertake to persuade Dad that the other-least-popular book of the Old Testament is not just an arcane collection of burnt offerings and sin offerings and wave offerings but in fact is the metaphysical substrate of the gospel itself. (Spoiler alert: he is won over.) Have a listen for a new perspective on "detestable" animals, mixed fibers, death on account of blasphemy, liver lobes, and so much more!

Notes:

1. As mentioned before, Dad has a forthcoming commentary in the Brazos series on the book of Joshua.

2. Dad mentions the stroke he had two years ago in this episode; in case you missed it, a bonus episode from last year recounts that experience

3. Ephraim Radner, Leviticus

4. Luther’s commentary on Deuteronomy (specifically ch. 7) deals with the question of who exactly the commands in the Bible are addressed to

5. The only two appearances of Leviticus in the Revised Common Lectionary are Epiphany 7 and Proper 25, both in Year A, both from ch. 19

6. Mary Douglas, Leviticus as Literature

7. The hymn is indeed “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” but the author is William Cowper, not Isaac Watts.

8. More enthusing from me about Leviticus: “Learning to Love Leviticus” (yup, I loved the alliteration so much I stole it from myself to give this episode the same title); a brief review of Douglas’s Leviticus as Literature (scroll to the bottom of the page); commentary on the intra-Pentateuchal discussion between Jesus and the scribe in Mark 12:28–34; and an issue of my e-newsletter Theology & a Recipe devoted to “Discerning Walls with Leviticus” (plus an awesome pair of recipes for Hot Quiche and Cold Tomato Soup!).

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Poor Anselm

Poor Anselm, the favorite medieval-scholastic whipping boy of apparently enlightened moderns. Outraged at the attack on Anselm's honor, Dad and I endeavor to make satisfaction for his slandered reputation, give the best and most charitable account of his atonement theory, make some slight tweaks to it in a Lutheran-ish direction while taking serious issue with Gustaf Aulén's attempt to do the same, and overall make the case that the Anselmian concern for justice and recompense is not nearly as foreign to our sensibilities nowadays as his cultured despisers like to claim.

Notes:

1. Anselm of Canterbury’s Cur Deus Homo can be found in A Scholastic Miscellany

2. Gustaf Aulén, Christus Victor

3. Karl Barth, Anselm: Fides Quaerens Intellectum

4. The Nominalists, from the Latin nomen (“name”), were a school of late medieval philosophers who held that concepts do not exist in reality (opposing the position of the “realists”) but are only names that human beings create to categorize or classify really existing things or persons. As Dad explains to students: “To me, the tree stump along the Appalachian Trail is a chair, but to a termite, it’s a meal.” While we’re at it, Dad—who once described himself as anti-Kantian par excellence, has co-authored a book arguing that Kant is just Plato continued by other means, and has written another book on the confrontation between biblical and philosophical monotheism in the Arian controversy (Divine Complexity)—discusses the various atonement “theories” in chapter 3 of Luther and the Beloved Community.

5. The divine dei in Greek means “it is necessary”

6. Anselm’s definition of God as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived” is found in his work the Proslogion

7. Brandt Jean’s victim-impact statement

8. Friedrich Nietzsche talks about the “evil genius” of God dying for His debtors in Beyond Good and Evil

9. A major source for Luther’s christology is his Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper

10. The Tome of Leo is a patristic document supporting the two natures of Christ but at the cost of assigning very different duties to each nature in a hermetically sealed kind of way

11. admirabile commercium = joyful exchange (in Latin)

12. Peter Abelard gave his version of “atonement” theology in his commentary on Romans, an excerpt of which is also in A Scholastic Miscellany

13. Gerhard O. Forde, “The Work of Christ: Atonement as Actual Event,” in Christian Dogmatics vol. 2

14. Hans Urs von Balthasar writes about Luther’s doctrine of atonement in Theo-Drama vol. 4

15. Gustaf Aulén’s later book is The Faith of the Christian Church

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Welcome to the second season of Queen of the Sciences! We begin our conversations in 2020 with a deep dive into the foolishness and stumbling block that is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Overfamiliar today as a religious symbol, the cross was once the supreme declaration that the person thereon was trash, subhuman, and beyond redemption—certainly not capable of redeeming others. We try to imagine ourselves back into the shame of crucifixion, examine its uses in Roman political control, and explore how the death of God upon it can possibly become the source of eternal life.

Notes:

1. Ernst Käsemann, “The Saving Significance of the Death of Jesus,” in Perspectives on Paul

2. Martin Hengel, Crucifixion

3. Philip Freeman, Julius Caesar (both the quote from Cicero and the description of Caesar’s use of crucifixions)

4. Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion

5. Maasai Creed (“the hyenas did not touch him”)

6. Ferdinand Schlingensiepen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906–1945

7. Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

8. Plato, The Phaedo

9. “Alexamenos worships his god

10. Deuteronomy 21:22–23, “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”

11. Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’”

12. “Propitiation” = reconciliation to God by satisfying his wrath. “Expiation” = reconciliation to God by removal of the cause of offense, namely sin.

13. Gerhard O. Forde, “The Work of Christ: Atonement as Actual Event,” in Christian Dogmatics vol. 2

14. Philip Melanchthon, Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Art. 4 on “why Christ is necessary”

15. Calvin, Institutes vol. 1, Book One, Chapter I: “The Knowledge of God and That of Ourselves Are Connected. How They Are Interrelated”

16. Luther, Galatians commentary, Luther’s Works vol. 26, pp. 276–291, on Christ’s taking the world’s sin into himself

17. Romans 3:25b, “This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

18. John Newton, “Amazing Grace

19. Nietzsche, “God on a cross is the transvaluation of all values,” in The Antichrist

20. George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine

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This is a talk I gave to the ministry team at United Church in Malmö, Sweden—a congregation of the Swedish Evangelical Mission within the Church of Sweden—about the interrelationship of revival and church, some cases studies in charismatic movements in Lutheranism, and rubrics for discerning true, God-given revival.

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Here's the second of two lectures on the distinction between law and gospel that I gave at the Johannelund School of Theology in Uppsala, Sweden, in October 2019.

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Here's the first part of a two-part lecture on the distinction between law and gospel that I gave at the Johannelund School of Theology in Uppsala, Sweden, in October 2019.

Don't forget to listen to the second part!

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Paul R. Hinlicky (aka Dad) presents "How the Holy Spirit Disappeared in Lutheranism" at the Braaten-Benne Lectures in Theology in Indianapolis on August 6, 2019.

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