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 In this episode we discuss Japanese theologian Kazoh Kitamori’s book, Theology of the Pain of God. Kitamori focuses attention on God’s willing love of the unlovable and of His own enemies through Christ—an embrace that, following Jeremiah 31:20 and Isaiah 63:15, causes God pain. But what exactly does it mean to talk about God “in pain”? Is it sheer anthropomorphism or worse yet patripassianism? Does it make God into a sentimental figure, suffering helplessly by our side? Or are we seeing here a genuine development in doctrine?


1. Here’s an essay I wrote some years ago about Kitamori (for an anthology that apparently fell through).

2. Tokyo Lutheran Church

3. Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church

4. Kyodan (United Church of Christ in Japan) Confession of Faith

5. Moltmann, The Crucified God.

6. Kosuke Koyama was another Japanese theologian, though better known in the U.S. than in Japan because he published mainly in English and spent most of his career stateside. Among his other significant works are Water Buffalo Theology and Mount Fuji and Mount Sinai.

7. Dorothee Soelle discusses Kitamori in her book Suffering.

8. Vítor Westhelle talks about hybridity in After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies.

9. Adding to Kitamori’s use of Jeremiah 31 and Isaiah 63, Dad mentioned Hosea 11:8, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”

10. Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about costly grace in The Cost of Discipleship and about the suffering of God and time for silence in Letters and Papers from Prison.

11. Robert Jenson, Unbaptized God.

12. Hegel, The Philosophy of Religion.

13. Johannes Rist’s hymn “O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid” (1641) includes the line Gott selbst liegt tot, “God Himself lies dead.”

14. Martin Luther, Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper.

15. Tome of Leo (yep, Fourth Council, not Third).

16. Dad discusses the concept of patiency throughout Beloved Community.

17. Albert Schweizer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle.

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Why is such a great thing trapped in such awful words? We discuss some of the problems with both “justification” and “faith” in contemporary English, then dig into the details of what this perplexing terminology actually refers to, and why Lutherans consider it “the article on which the church stands or falls.”


1. Scripture verses we discuss include Romans 3 and 4, II Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 2:20, 3:13, and 5:13.

2. J. Louis Martyn, Galatians (Anchor Bible Commentary)

3. Robert P. Eriksen, Theologians Under Hitler

4. Doris L. Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich

5. Paul R. Hinlicky, Before Auschwitz: What Christian Theology Must Learn from the Rise of Nazism

6. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

7. N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology. For a discussion of this book, see Paul R. Hinlicky, Luther and the Beloved Community, pp. 245–248.

8. Some texts by Martin Luther on justification by faith: “The Freedom of a Christian,” “Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee,” “Preface to Romans

9. Philip Melanchthon, “Ausburg Confession IV” and “Apology to the Augsburg Confession IV

10. Paul Tillich: “Not faith but grace is the cause of justification, because God alone is the cause. Faith is the receiving act, and this act is itself a gift of grace. Therefore, one should dispense completely with the phrase ‘justification by faith’ and replace it by the formula ‘justification by grace through faith.’” Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, 3:224. See also “You Are Accepted.”

11. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about “speaking to life at its center” in both Christ the Center and Letters and Papers from Prison.

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In this episode we talk about Athanasius, the great church father (c. 298–373), nicknamed Athanasius Contra Mundum, Athanasius Against the World, among other things for going into exile five times during his bishopric.

Why does it matter to say, as Athanasius did, that Jesus is truly divine as well as truly human? What does it mean to say Jesus is truly divine as well as truly human? What’s at stake in other christologies (i.e., other ways of describing Jesus’ “being”)? And how does Athanasius’s christology alter our very perception of reality?


1. Athanasius “On the Incarnation of the Word,” “Festal Letter 39,” and “Life of St. Anthony.”

2. Paul R. Hinlicky, Divine Complexity: The Rise of Creedal Christianity

3. Jordan Cooper, Christification: A Lutheran Approach to Theosis

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Not single, not double, but triple predestination! Listen to this episode to uncover the meaning of this mysterious formulation. Also, why predestination does not necessarily have to be the worst possible doctrine, contrary to popular belief.


1. Martin Luther, "The Bondage of the Will," which you can easily find free as well as in published books.

2. Paul R. Hinlicky, Paths Not Taken: Fates of Theology from Luther through Leibniz

3. Chief biblical texts mentioned are Romans 7, 9–11, Isaiah 53, and John 3:16.

4. Robert Kolb, Bound Choice, Election, and Wittenberg Theological Method

5. The main source for Karl Barth's take on predestination is in volume II/2 of his Church Dogmatics.    

6. Philip S. Watson, Let God Be God: An Interpretation of the Theology of Martin Luther

7. J. K. S. Reid, "Introduction," in John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, trans. J. K. S. Reid (Louisvile: Westminster John Knox, 1961), 9–44.

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In this episode we cover the Gospel of Mark from the Transfiguration through the curiously inconclusive conslusion.

Show notes:

1. Resources for the Gospel of Mark can be found with Part 1 of this two-parter.

2. For those of you unfortunates who didn't grow up in the 1980s, this will explain about the Choose Your Own Adventure series.

3. Some other stuff I've done on the Gospel of Mark:

a) Story Grid Spreadsheet of the Gospel of Mark, inspired by Shawn Coyne's The Story Grid.

b) “Luther by Means of Mark,” from Lutheran Forum Spring 2016.

c) WorkingPreacher.org Commentary on Mark 10:17–31, 10:35–45, 10:46–52, and 12:28–34.

4. And finally, my son Zeke's illustration of the camel through the eye of the needle:


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Since we both love the Gospel of Mark best (even though it's a bit ridiculous to play favorites with the Gospels) we decided to devote a whole show to working through it. We dig into the details of the theological framework and creativity of this Evangelist who created the genre of Gospel, illuminating the parts we find astounding and inspiring. And there was so much to say that we decided to do this one as a two-parter! Second half coming soon.

Show notes:

1. To make it easy for you to read all of Mark in one go, without chapter or verse numbers or headings to distract you, here's a complete text in the English Standard Version, from biblegateway.com.

2. Here's the complete free text of Albert Schweizer's Quest of the Historical Jesus.

3. When we tried to narrow down the exact "Jesus the Salesman" book Dad mentioned, we discovered a truly horrifying number of business books and prosperity promises based on Jesus. No links to such works will be offered here. Please, we beg of you, just don't go there at all.

4. Johannes Weiss, Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

5. William Wrede, The Messianic Secret.

6. Joel Marcus, Anchor Bible Commentary on Mark, 1–8 and 8–16.

7. C. Clifton Black, Abingdon New Testament Commentary on Mark.

8. Donald H. Juel, A Master of Surprise: Mark Interpreted.

9. And, quite different from all the foregoing commentaries on Mark, this is a great tool for analyzing story structure, just as pertinent to Mark as to Pride and Prejudice: Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid.

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In today's show we set aside the question of whether we can say the Scriptures are true, reliable, accurate, historically verifiable, false, fake, or toxic, to ask whether they are holy--whether they are in themselves, and whether (and how) they make us holy. Reframing the question this way avoids many of the pitfalls of the past centuries and opens up new possibilities for theological reasoning. 

Show Notes: 

1. The texts we discuss vis-à-vis their being-holy and making-holy qualities are Joshua 8:1–29, Nehemiah 7:7bff, and Mark 9:1. We also refer to Romans 1 and I Timothy 3:16.

2. Yes! Paul Hinlicky (i.e. Dad) has a forthcoming commentary on Joshua in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series. Personal favorites of mine are Ephraim Radner on Leviticus, Robert Jenson on Ezekiel, and Joseph Mangina on Revelation.

3. Walter Brueggemann's book is Theology of the Old Testament.

4. Karl Barth's essay is "The Strange New World within the Bible."

5. The texts of Luther's mentioned in this episode are the Large Catechism (Apostles' Creed, Article III, §40) and "The Freedom of a Christian" (sometimes known in English as "Concerning Christian Liberty").

6. Heiko Oberman's take on Scripture and tradition can be found in The Dawn of the Reformation.

7. Paul Hinlicky's book on God's nature and revelation in light of the gospel is Divine Complexity.

8. You can read about half of Origen's homilies on Joshua on Google Books.

9. Here is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

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Here's the very first episode of Queen of the Sciences!

In this introductory show we talk about our approach to theology and theology's contested place in our world, but also why Christians need theology--why simply repeating what the Bible says or doing what the church does is insufficient testimony to our faith.

Show Notes:

1. Yep, I mistakenly said "hilasterion" instead of "lutron" for "ransom" in Mark's Gospel. It will be corrected and discussed at length in a future episode!

2. Dad's New Testament mentor was J. Louis Martyn, who wrote among other things a commentary on Galatians and the study Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul.

3. The metaphysical "hornet's nest" to which Dad refers is his book Divine Complexity. More on this in a future episode!

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

Intro/Outro music: "An Orange Groove" by Raphael Pistachio, licensed through Jamendo.

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