The Justification Debate (aka "the new calvinism" vs. "the new perspective"). The major players in this discussion are John Piper and NT Wright. Follow this link to recordings from the recent Wheaton conference on NT Wright's work and listen to the lighthearted but straight-talking Saturday morning lecture with Keven VanHoozer for a decent catch up on the issue. He calls Wright's work part of a "paradigm revolution" and he might be right. I think it is a good thing going on. There needs to be better dialogue and less reactionism though. That goes for me too. I think VanHoozer gets it right at the end of his talk, for sure.
Genesis Controversies. No, not the band. In the last few years a number of professors at Reformed schools in the States have either resigned in the aftermath of or out-right lost their jobs over their openness to theistic evolution. More to the point: it is their intrinsically related readings of Genesis. An underlying issue here is the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy, which are important topics for people who believe that the Bible is divinely provided. It tends to matter how we think these human words convey divine truth. I think there are intricate and vital discussions going on here, and no doubt a school has a right to hire and fire according to the ways it wants to approach the issue, but once again, I hope we see genuine listening and loving dialogue. The change in our time is great, and we should take good care, going forward.
Abuse in the Catholic Church and the entrenchments of the current Pope. See the open letter from Catholic theologian Hans Kung to the bishops of his church, printed in the Irish Times. I'm not sure I'm with every thing Kung says in this letter (I'm hesitant about some of the bio-ethics stuff), but with the main thrust of it I am totally on board, and it is guys like this who keep my hope for shared communion alive.
McChurch and iChristian. Yeah, that's my little slam against the consumerism and individualism of the Christianity that gets all the attention and praise nowadays. I'll admit, at times in my life I've disdained traditionalism and at other time, like now, become weary of the trends. Maybe I'm just never going to be happy. That said, a recent Aberdeen University student has been posting excerpts from his Master's thesis on discipleship and his last post explains quite well some of the things I'm concerned about. Or, as an example take this video:
As much as I like Rob Bell (I do), I had to marvel at this Easter sermonette that was making its way around the internet. Pretty solid message, actually. But did any thought go into its use of media at all? The very content of the message is about the embodied nature of hope in Jesus Christ and yet instead of doing the guy-walks-the-streets video like they used to do (and which in this case would have been somewhat poignant) they put together this rock-star photo-shoot flurry of canned graphics and pop music? It all but wrecks the message for me, this carelessness about the medium. But even worse it bothers me that it just becomes one more easy-click for consumerist Christianity competing on the market of inspiration. Check out the Wright quote at the end of that discipleship post to see what I think about that.
Now, lest I sound all negative, I must say that I think this is a rather exciting time in Christianity (not to mention a crazy time to try to be a professional theologian). I also must remind myself that between all the headlines there are hundreds and thousands of people hidden away in the churches of the world who are confessing their sins and mistakes, confessing that Jesus is God and the world has hope, and humbly aiming to live and love and learn in community. Let them engage with this stuff and speak the truth in love. Let me be counted among them. And, as Ravi Zacharias says, let my people think!