Category: Theology

What About The Bonhoeffer Option?

Last autumn, in the midst of the tumultuous American election season, I began reading and discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s magnum opus, Ethics, as part of a book club at my seminary. Fragmented and unfinished, it contains perhaps his most prophetic and political writings. Assessing Western culture during World War II, he wrote, “Seldom has a generation been as uninterested as ours in any kind of ethical…  [more]

Parsing the Prayers at the Trump Inauguration

With the inauguration of the United States’ first business president—Donald Trump, who has no experience in politics or the military—it’s time to be honest about the degree to which 21st-century American culture esteems wealth. Trump’s nomination of a cabinet full of people with experience building or managing fortunes further suggests that he and his supporters see business ability as a…  [more]

Christianity, Cremation, and Scattering My Sister’s Ashes

On April 2, the one-year anniversary of her death, we scattered my sister’s ashes. She had given us explicit instructions regarding her cremation and general instructions regarding their disposition. “Over water,” she told us. When we said “Lake Michigan?”, she nodded as if to say that would be suitable. Not required. Any decent body of water would do. When it came time, we divided her…  [more]

Does The Good Place Have Room for Grace?

Whatever the afterlife turns out to look like, The Good Place suggests there will probably be a lot of bureaucracy involved. This isn’t only true of the sharp, thoughtful new NBC comedy, created by Michael Schur (of Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine fame). It’s also true of many of the last century’s most indelible depictions of the next world, from Michael Powell and Emeric…  [more]

The Birth of a Nation, in Exodus and 1831 Virginia

Two things made me very uncomfortable recently: revisiting the death of Egypt’s firstborn in Exodus, as part of our Scripture reading in church, and watching The Birth of a Nation, a dramatization of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion, which also involved rampant death and was largely motivated by Turner’s understanding of Scripture. These instances made me uncomfortable partly because they have a…  [more]

Weathering cultural winds

Editor’s note: TC contributor Shiao Chong was recently appointed editor of The Banner, a sister ministry of ours within the Christian Reformed Church. His thoughts on cultural engagement in his first editorial also nicely capture how we strive to approach things here at TC, so we thought we’d share an abridged version of his original piece. To help us envision a way for Christians to navigate…  [more]

Disney World and Designing God’s Kingdom

This summer’s horrific death of a young child at Walt Disney World in Florida stood in stark contrast to the park’s nickname, “the happiest place on earth.” For that one family, Disney World must surely be the opposite. The bitter irony, of course, is that Walt Disney’s original intentions were to create a place where nothing bad could even be imagined, much less experienced. In short,…  [more]

Of Fairy Tales and Stranger Things

In his preeminent book on preaching, Telling the Truth, Frederick Buechner wrote, “If the world of the fairy tale and our glimpses of it here and there are only a dream, they are one of the most haunting and powerful dreams that the world has ever dreamed.” Indeed, the fairy-tale genre has persisted from storytelling to literature to film and television precisely because it faithfully captures not only…  [more]

Obama’s Pardons

President Barack Obama now holds the record for the single most generous grant of executive clemency in United States history. On Aug. 3, he bested Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1935 record by commuting the sentences of 214 federal prisoners, mostly nonviolent drug offenders who received unduly harsh sentences as a result of outdated “mandatory minimum” standards. That brings his career total to…  [more]

Are You Voting Christianly or Christendomly?

Kudos to believers who strive to vote like Christians. Some do so by electing candidates who best represent the Christian values they cherish most. Others do so by electing candidates whose overall approach to government they believe best serves the good of all. By voting in these ways, believers attempt to love and seek the peace of their neighbors. Unfortunately, many people who are attempting to vote Christianly…  [more]

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