Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2017

The Economy of Forgiveness Trades in the Currency of Mercy

‘We will build a better South Africa through radical economic transformation’ (President Jacob Zuma on Heritage Day, 24 September, 2017)
Introduction: Justice and Love
The economy of forgiveness trades in the currency of mercy, not in justice.  This in no way diminishes the importance of justice, but it locates the concerns of justice correctly.  If we make justice the chief virtue, we withhold forgiveness until it is satisfied.  Mercy does not wait at the fire while justice and injustice negotiate in the kraal.  Justice, rather, awaits the response of injustice to mercy.  Attaching the economy of forgiveness to restitution for wrong seems very sensible: it is, after all, just.  Yet Jesus repeatedly overturned this logic in his Kingdom economy, which trades rather in the currency of mercy.
To understand the difference, consider the four cardinal virtues of the Greeks and Romans: prudence, courage, temperance, and justice.  Justice was the scales on which the virtues were held in right b…

Modes of Enquiry and the Gender, Sexuality, and Marriage Debate: From Teacher to Lecturer to Dialogue Partner to Tribal Warrior

Martin Davie’s response to the manifesto ‘Christians United in Support of LGBT+ Inclusion in the Church’ (issued on 30 August, 2017) is excellent.[1]  Davie takes each point and shows its inconsistencies, particularly with Scripture and the Christian tradition.  In light of the ongoing pressure through dialogue to come to an affirming view of multiple instead of binary sexualities and of sexual desires, acts, and relationships contrary to Scripture and Church teaching, Davie’s patient explanation of the manifesto’s errors is most welcome.
My point in this blog post is much more specific.  It is that the nature of the dissemination of knowledge and the approach to enquiry have shifted radically in the past few decades, and this has led to changing convictions.  With this manifesto (and the likes of it), we appear to be moving on from the era of dialogue befitting postmodernity to a new era of liberal fundamentalism characteristic of Western tribalism.  If the Christian teacher was rep…

Towards an Ethic for Mission and Ministry Practice

Following Aristotle (Nichomachian Ethics), ethics might be thought of in terms of a craft (te,cnh) practised by a guild (think: a particular community).  This brief essay will follow this analogy and expand the thought with additional consideration of ethics in terms of 'narrative'.  Ethics may be understood, in part, as virtues that are acquired through the formation of particular habits and that are aimed at achieving certain ends.  These virtues and ends are understandable against the narratives by which people frame their lives.  Examples will be offered for mission and ministry practice by Christian communities.
1. Ends.  We need ends or goals (te,loj) to guide our actions if we are to have purposeful lives.  (Craftsmen who make things out of wood—carpenters—need to have specific goals, such as that they are making chairs and not wardrobes.)  For ethics, the end that moral ‘craftsmen’ need to pursue is the highest good, for this end gives meaning to all other ends.  Aristo…

Peddling Dangerous Nonsense: James K. A. Smith on the Meaning of ‘Orthodoxy’

One of the ways to undermine orthodox Christianity’s stance against the sexual perversions of contemporary, Western society and the disappearing mainline denominations in the West revolves around the word ‘orthodox.’  The argument goes that orthodoxy is all about affirmations in the early Church, ecumenical councils, which do not mention anything about homosexuality—or sexuality in general.  So, goes the argument, there is no orthodox teaching on sexuality.
Smith’s Argument
James K. A. Smith—and he is not the only one with this argument—has recently put the argument to print.[1]  He says,
Historically, the measure of "orthodox" Christianity has been conciliar; that is, orthodoxy was rooted in, and measured by, the ecumenical councils and creeds of the church (Nicea [sic], Chalcedon) which were understood to have distilled the grammar of "right belief" (ortho, doxa) in the Scriptures.  As such, orthodoxy centers around the nature of God (Triune), the Incar…

Israel and the People of God in Early Christianity

This is a replication of a published article:

‘‘Not My People?’ Israel and the People of God in Early Christianity.’  In First the Kingdom of God: A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Dr. Peter Kuzmic.  Ed. Miroslav Volf, Corneliu Constantineanu, Marcel V. Măcelaru, Krešimir Šimić. Regnum Press and Wipf & Stock, 2011.  ISBN: 978-953-6110-14-8.
The 1998 Vatican document presented by Cardinal Edward Cassidy, ‘We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah,’ observes that ‘the fact that the Shoah [Holocaust] took place in Europe, that is, in countries of long-standing Christian civilization, raises the question of the relation between the Nazi persecution and the attitudes down the centuries of Christians towards the Jews’ (n. II).[1] The document acknowledges that some Christians have, in the history of the Church in Europe, mistreated and persecuted the Jews, and not done all that they could to oppose anti-Semitism.[2]  The ‘We Remember’ document is intended as an expression of r…