Friday, January 22, 2010

A little theological reflection on the U2 catalog

A couple of upcoming speaking engagements are at least tangentially related to things ordinarily highlighted here. The next two Sundays I'll be leading teaching sessions on the theology that informs and makes sense of U2's music at Disciples' Fellowship in Hoover, Alabama at 10:50 A.M. following the morning worship service. The topic for the first session on January 24 is "Theology Beneath the Noise, Below the Din: U2's Christian Imagination"; the essence of that presentation is represented by my article "U2: Unexpected Prophets" from Christian Reflection published by the Baylor University Center for Christian Ethics. On January 31 I'll address "The Theology of U2's No Line on the Horizon." My album review "Grace Inside a Sound: U2's No Line on the Horizon" originally published by Associated Baptist Press offers a sneak peek at some of the themes I'll explore in that session.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pro Ecclesia reviews Towards Baptist Catholicity--four times over, plus an author's response

The current issue of the theological journal Pro Ecclesia (vol. 18, no. 4; Fall 2009) features "A Book Symposium on Steven R. Harmon's Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision." It includes four articles reviewing the book by two Catholic and two Baptist theologians, along with my author's response:
  • Richard Crane, "Explosive Devices and Rhetorical Strategies: Appreciation for Steven R. Harmon's Towards Baptist Catholicity" (pp. 367-70)
  • Nicholas M. Healy, "Traditions, Authorities, and the Individual Christian" (pp. 371-74)
  • Elizabeth Newman, "Remembering How to Remember: Harmon's Subversive Orthodoxy" (pp. 375-80)
  • Maureen H. O'Connell, "Towards a Baptist (and Roman Catholic) Catholicity" (pp. 381-85)
  • Steven R. Harmon, "Why Baptist Catholicity, and by What Authority?" (pp. 386-92).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany sermon--"Hospitality Human and Divine (Genesis 18:1-15)"

In honor of today's Feast of the Epiphany: thanks to a blog reader who discovered this and called my attention to it, I'm now aware that my faculty page on the Beeson Divinity School web site includes a link to the audio from a sermon I preached in Beeson's Hodges Chapel during the last Epiphany season (click on hyperlink above and scroll to embedded audio player at bottom of page). Somehow the season of Epiphany, the year-long chapel series "Table Grace: A Biblical Call to Hospitality" based on Beth Newman's book Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God and Other Strangers, the assigned chapel series text on the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah, the readings from the daily office lectionary, and the feast day of St. Anskar all seemed interconnected. If this actually worked, the influence of postliberal narrative theology gets a good measure of the credit.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beth Newman on "Christian Unity and Baptist-Catholic Conversations"

Dr. Elizabeth Newman, Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and a member of the Baptist delegation to the ongoing conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has contributed to Associated Baptist Press a nice opinion column reflecting on the significance of our latest round of conversations held in Rome December 13-19, 2009--"Christian Unity and Baptist-Catholic Conversations" (click on hyperlinked title). Here's a snippet:

The 2009 meeting, held in Rome this past December 13-18, took up the question of “Oversight and Primacy in the Ministry of the Church.” Some may well wonder what Baptists and Catholics have to say to each other, especially about “primacy” (referring to the primacy of Peter or the pope). Adherents of both traditions have entertained stereotypes about the other. I recall thinking as a child that Catholics were not quite Christian because they worshiped Mary and believed in works-righteousness (both of which are not actually Catholic teaching). And I have been with Catholics who regarded Baptists as followers of a different faith.

Mindful as we are of the real division between Baptist and Catholic Christians, we must be more mindful still of the prayer of Jesus that all his disciples be one. And we must remember that such unity is essential to God’s salvific intentions for the world. “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). It is the privilege of all Christians, as God’s adopted sons and daughters (Rom. 8:15-17), to share in the communion that the Son has with the Father, a gift given by the Spirit for the sake of the church and the world. Such triune communion is not uniformity but rather enhances the gifts that members give and receive from one another.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"A time for exchanging ecclesial gifts" (Baptists Today guest commentary)

The January 2010 issue of Baptists Today includes my guest commentary "A time for exchanging ecclesial gifts." Here's a teaser:

'Tis the season for exchanging gifts.

I'm referring not to the Christmas season just past but rather to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25), when we join with sisters and brothers in Christ from other denominations in praying Jesus' prayer that we "may all be one" (John 17:21).

Our prayers in this season move us to ponder what we might do to embody more fully the unity of the body of Christ. One hugely significant thing we can do for Christian unity is to participate in the exchange of the gifts that each Christian tradition has to offer the universal church....

....Receptive ecumenism is an approach to ecumenical dialogue according to which the communions in conversation with one another seek to identify the distinctive gifts each tradition has to offer the other and that each could receive from the other with integrity....

....Baptists have actually been practicing this sort of ecumenism for a long time (p. 18).

If you're interested in reading further but you or your church/school library do not receive the print edition of Baptists Today, you may subscribe to the electronic edition for $15/year via the Baptists Today web site--or wait a few months for the issue to be made available to the public on the site as a PDF. I'll post a notice here when that happens.

Speaking of the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement have made available online helpful congregational resources for the 2010 observance with the theme "You Are Witnesses of These Things" (click on hyperlink). I hope you'll encourage your church to participate.