John Walton on Genesis through Ancient Eyes

I really appreciate John Walton’s work on the thought forms of the ancient near east and how this impacts our reading of Genesis.  He helpfully gets to the root of what we need to understand when looking at the text of Genesis.  Check it out.

Absinthe and the Apostle Paul


In one of Paul’s letters we have the curious advice offered to Timothy that he should take a little wine for his stomach to help him heal because of his frequent illness (1 Tim. 5:23).  It would seem odd that such a recommendation is offered by the apostle Paul of all people.

However, I came across an interesting parallel employing the same idea with a surprising substance, Absinthe.  Apparently, the French Army distributed Absinthe to its soldiers to put in their canteen water to prevent them from getting sick or developing malaria or dysentery from the substandard water supplies they had to make use of in the campaign of the African battalions into Algeria.  This is in fact what popularized the drink in France.

Water supplies in biblical times often times were sub-par and carried similar problematic microorganisms which meant much of the water was diluted with wine to kill those same said bacterial bad guys.  Fast forward to today with hiking kits, one can use a type of iodine in water to accomplish a similar task.  This points out the practice is one which has been practiced for millenia and the Bible no less mentions an example as an aside in the occasional writing of Paul to his faithful disciple Timothy.

The Language of Science and Faith

If I could recommend on book on the subject of contemporary understandings of science and how those gel with Christian understandings of the universe it would be The Language of Science and Faith by Karl Giberson and Francis Collins.

It is straight forward, easy to understand and does a great job of covering the span of scientific understandings that have  led up to this point in our understanding of how the universe works.   The book addresses a number of concerns evangelicals have when thinking about this topic and the last chapter alone which gives a flowing  narrative of the creation of the universe is worth the price of the book.  I had been trying to cobble something together like this on my own and I am glad to say this work has done the job for me and confirmed many of my own conclusions on the subject.  I hope others can find it helpful also.

Science and the Bible: Theistic Evolution, Part 1 | BioLogos

Science and the Bible: Theistic Evol Part 1 | BiLogos. This is a helpful article delineating some key ideas of theistic evolution as it relates to science and the bible.

A Christian’s Stroll Through the Portable Atheist

Call it the anti-Bible.  A consolation of writings for the faithless,  the infidel, the unconvinced.  I picked up the book because the topic is interesting.  I also thought it could be helpful in understanding why some people find faith incredulous or just don’t have an interest in spirituality.  With major names ranging from the new atheists to some of the old, the book offers a who’s who of disbelief and logical discourse.  I thought it could be interesting to share my initial reactions as I worked through the book, giving my own impressions of the work and offering some comments relating to elements that I find most persuasive/useful, even if one maintains a faith oriented perspective.  So begins the journey, like Don Quixote and the windmills.  If anything else, it hopefully should be interesting.

My initial impression of Christopher Hitchens is that he is an engaging writer.  His metaphors and allusions are quite colorful and his rankor is rich with  journalistic wit.  I immediately am somewhat perplexed though with the main contention of Hitchen’s rub.  He rails on and on about how illogical the Christian faith is, all the while using innumerable allusions, references and parallels to Christian ideas, events and theological descriptions.  This is what I find so interesting.  If Christianity were as illogical as he claims, such journalistic wit would be wasted, as it would run aground on countless logical dead ends.  What I find to be the opposite, is that Hitchens is able to be so engaging and artful BECAUSE OF the fact Christianity is logical and consistent.  Someone is overstating the case here, with intricate logical discourse nonetheless.  Hitchens may weave a masterful narrative of disbelief but it hinges on the solidity of the logic of Christian discourse.  To suggest otherwise seems to render Hitchens style impotent.  With every artful pary of the journalistic sword, I become less convinced of its powerful thrust.  Time will tell if the rest of the book offers more than this but that is my first impression with the introduction at least.

Learning to Walk Again

The Foo Fighters have a new album with a song titled “Walk.” It captures where I’m at right now. The line that strikes me is “learning to walk again, I believe I’ve waited long enough, where do I begin?” My year and half in California at Fuller was in many ways a respite, in spite of the fact it has been one of the busiest times in my life.  I have learned a lot about myself more than anything.  I learned that I need to manage myself and discerned key aspects of my personality where I can allow stress to affect me in negative ways. Also, the question of intimacy with God is rolling in again like slow, small waves.  I am slowly trying to wade back into the water and find my footing.  I have found myself seeking for more thoughtful engagement than I had in the past.  Some of the more uncritical approaches I developed are now giving way to deeper forms of connecting with God.  It is going beyond behavior and certain practices to the real heart of the matter.  I do long for that centering feeling when you know you are in the place where you and God are vibing again.  I think God has led us on this journey for many reasons, some connected with issues in my family, but others related to our own trust issues with God.  I feel like God is putting us in a place of radical trust where we will know for sure when he is doing something tangible and lately it has been apparent. The numerous people who helped us with moving is one example of how we experienced love from Christian friends and neighbors.  One of my biggest hangups has been expectations and being on the receiving end of actions or behavior from Christians who weren’t quite acting Christ like.  It really damaged my faith in some ways and caused me to question the efficacy of God in this world at times.  One of the worst contributors to that experience unfortunately was fundraising.  

We had some amazing experiences during our time fundraising, connecting with people who shared our vision for ministry and telling them about what we were doing.  We also encountered some difficult situations.  It was more than a number of occasions that people specifically told us they wanted to give to us only to later provide some lame excuse as to why they had a change of heart.   For someone whose living came from these commitments, the failure of a number of people to follow through with them was heart wrenching.
It wasn’t about the money so much as the keeping of one’s word. I know this shouldn’t have affected us but it did.  I felt like “where is the integrity here?”  Fundraising is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life and people were just flippant about it.  This is only one example of a number of encounters that challenged my faith in many ways. What also hurt was the alienation and exclusion we felt as we exited our church family in Denver. It was very painful and caused a lot of sadness in our family. In one sense we felt excommunicated. Its tough to leave years worth of community all at once. Especially with a new baby on the way. I couldn’t help feeling rejected by friends who we had spent a lot of time with. It has only been in the past year or so I would say that we have experienced more loving Christian actions towards us in meaningful ways. The truth is I felt hurt by God. I felt like ” these are your people and you just let them treat us this way.” I sought reconciliation with the pastor and feel good that we came to a mutual resolution towards the whole thing. We both felt regrets and sought forgiveness from each other. I harbor no ill will today and wish him the best. I just can’t help some of the feelings that linger as a result of the whole experience. Especially in relation to folks from that community. Its like a freshly healed sore, getting better, but still a bit sensitive. I want to move on and California has been a big part of that transition. Now that we’re moving again I feel cautiously optimistic about the next step. I’m calling this year “the year of Steve.” Somewhat like George from Seinfeld but focused on my own health and well being. If there is one thing I have learned from a wholist view of the person, it is how negatively my substance dualism affected my own view of my body. I definitely want to get away from the more gnostic way I viewed the physical and let God inform and challenge my life in those areas to grow and develop them in more healthy ways. So here’s to ” the year of Steve!” 🙂 and may God challenge me to continue to draw closer to him.

George Lindbeck’s Theological Method

I’m posting my writing sample here which I’ve been submitting with my Ph. D. applications.  Its a paper from my Theological Method doctoral seminar I took a while ago.  I like Lindbeck and thought it would be worthwhile to spend some time on him since he was so influential on postliberalism.  Hope you enjoy.







 ST 829/529




MARCH 18, 2011









George A. Lindbeck (b.1923) has been a pivotal figure in the recent theological movement termed “Postliberal Theology.”  According to Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Ockholm, eds. in The Nature of Confession, Postliberal Theology, as a research program, attempts to “recover premodern scriptural interpretation in contemporary form.”[1]  James Fodor in The Modern Theologians describes its aims as threefold:  “1) Faithful yet creative retrieval of Christian tradition  2) ecumenically open renewal of the church and 3) compassionate healing and repair of the world.”[2]  It is primarily a movement in North America and Britain in association with two seminal figures who have formulated its distinctives:  George Lindbeck, whom has already been mentioned, and Hans Frei, both of which taught at Yale Divinity School.  Major figures in theology that have been influenced by this movement include:  George Hunsinger, Stanley Hauerwas, Ronald Thiemann, James Buckley, William Placher, Garrett Green, Bruce Marshall, Serene Jones, Kathryn Tanner and Kathryn Green-McCreight.[3]  Those influenced in the “Radical Orthodoxy” movement include John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward.[4]  Some of the major thrusts within this theological paradigm include a dialogical interaction with the theology of Karl Barth, close attention to developments in the philosophy of science,[5] an appropriation of insights from postmodern philosophies of language,[6] incorporation of narrative analysis from biblical, literary and philosophical perspectives,[7] integration of advancements in the field of anthropology,[8] and new appropriations of Thomas Aquinas[9] and Martin Luther.[10]

For a theological movement that has demonstrated such a widespread and diverse influence, an investigation could prove valuable in analyzing the theological method of one of its chief proponents.  The scope of this paper will be to investigate the life and work of George A. Lindbeck, described by many as one of the fathers of Postliberalism. Distinctives that have helped shape Lindbeck’s theological method will be delineated. The goal of this paper will be to show that Lindbeck’s early childhood experiences, specifically as a child of protestant missionaries in China, fostered a growing desire in him to develop a thoroughgoing ecumenicalism.  As such, it will be shown that ecumenicalism stands as the centering feature of Lindbeck’s theological method and that all other aspects of his theology should be viewed in this light.

George A. Lindbeck’s Ecumenical Journey

Early Life

             George Lindbeck (b.1923) spent seventeen years in China growing up as a child of protestant missionaries.[11]  The youngest of four children, he claims his most formative exposure to the Chinese people and culture occurred before the age of twelve.  The city in which he lived, Luoyang, had no “electricity, running water, motorized transportation or even radios.”[12]  It was in many ways, unmodern.  Despite this remoteness, the processes of everyday life were not much different than those found in “an American suburb, medieval ghetto or first-century Hellenistic household.”[13]  Lindbeck felt the basics of humanity were largely the same anywhere one went.  In Luoyang, he marveled at the disparity between the once thriving capital of the Chinese empire, filled with ancient ruins serving as reminders of a bygone era, and the current status of the city as essentially impoverished.  As a “sickly child,” he spent much of his time cordoned off from the outdoors, left to construct his world from the many books his parents owned and listening in on the conversations his parents had with their Chinese friends.  The distinctly Confusian[14] expression of Christianity his parent’s visitors embodied captivated Lindbeck.  In his school, there was an environment of pan-Protestant, international, missionary culture; combining a surface interdenominational friendliness, with a deep seated divisive denominationalism, absent of ecumenicalism.  This state of affairs seemed strange to Lindbeck looking back, as all of the missionary children did not see a need to try to convert their friends to their own denomination and thought the “invisible unity in Christ of [their] respective churches seemed quite sufficient.”[15]  No doubt the seeds of his ecumenical journey were planted at the intersection of these intercultural and interdenominational experiences. He has said that his interest in ecumenism was, in part, a rebellion against the non-ecumenical reality of his formative years.[16]

Lindbeck shares that the theological conservatism of the protestant missionaries in the interior of China tended towards viewing ecumenism with suspicion. The prejudices of Protestant parents were passed on to the children, reinforcing common stereotypes in relation to the Roman Catholic Church.[17] He was not immune from such influence.  It was only at the age of seventeen, when he left China to attend college in the United States, that he became fascinated with the philosophy of Roman Catholic writers.[18]  The pursuit of arguments for the existence of God brought him into contact with Aquinas and other Catholic theologians.  Before long, Catholic philosophy AND theology became the center of his interests.  Following these impulses, Lindbeck set off to divinity school.  At Yale, he became close friends with a fellow classmate who happened to be a Roman Catholic.  In relating with his friend, he shared the same feeling of oneness in Christ that he had experienced with his childhood friends in his early years back in China.  This was surprising to him and challenged some of his prejudices that had been instilled in him as a child coming from an exclusively protestant upbringing.[19]  He headed to Paris as a Fulbright Scholar, persuaded to pursue a dissertation on Duns Scotus from the advice of some of his Franciscan friends.

Ecumenism in Paris

Lindbeck considers his ecumenical journey to officially have begun at the age of twenty six, when he moved to Paris to study at the Faculte, The,ologique Protestante of the E,glise Reforme,e.[20]  In Paris, Lindbeck came into contact with Jean Danie,lou, S. J. at the Institut Catholique, and was thoroughly impressed.[21]  Danie,lou thoughtfully handled his protestant misconceptions about Catholics in regular discussion and fostered a genuine interest in the visible unity of Christian churches.  Danie,lou, and others of the French Catholic avant-garde, were willing to reinterpret the Catholic answer to unity in the faith:  the “return to Rome.”  This posture of the avant-garde completely changed Lindbeck’s understanding of ecumenicalism.  Ideas forwarded by Yves Congar loomed large, such as the view of seeking convergence amongst the churches whether true reunion happened before or at the end of history.[22]  The impetus for denominationally divided churches to enter into an obligatory form of concern that would curtail their autonomy was present in the avant-garde approach, in contrast to the lack of humility present in the interdenominationalism of Lindbeck’s childhood.  Lindbeck found inspiration in the words of Yves Congar, “[i]t is important for divided Christians to help one another to live faithfully the Christian life of their own confession, because it is thus that they draw spiritually closest to one another.”[23]  Congar and the avant-garde shared an appreciation for the strengths of the Reformation and suggested that Protestants too could learn from them by recapturing the Reformation sense of a catholic heritage.[24]  All of this was a side of Catholicism Lindbeck had never known.  After encountering it, the possibilities of a truly ecumenically rich theology took on new life.

Ecumenism in Rome

Lindbeck’s teaching at Yale during the 1950’s was fully connected to Roman Catholic thought in various ways.  He became a teaching assistant serving under the first Catholic priest to teach at Yale, John Courtney Murray.  His connection to this important figure was significant, as Murray later became a prominent figure in drafting the Declaration of Religious Liberty at Vatican II (1962-1965 CE).  Also, Lindbeck later came to work alongside Murray in the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue that subsequently formed after Vatican II.[25]

One of the most important developments in Lindbeck’s career was his invitation to participate as a Lutheran “delegated observer” at the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church.  He was one of forty to sixty observers from non-Catholic churches who responded to the Pope’s invitation.  His role was to represent the Lutheran World Federation with fellow delegates.  The observers had a special status as both ambassadors and contributors.

Lindbeck had the opportunity to live in Rome and was privy to details as to what was going on between the sessions of the Council from the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, who kept the delegates abreast of on-going events, and took into account their feedback related to how they thought their churches would react to what was going on in the Council.[26]  This afforded Lindbeck a special window into the proceedings and made him feel like he was a part of the action.[27]

A key moment for him during the many sessions was a speech given by Archbishop Léon-Arthur Elchinger of Strasbourg on what Catholics owe to non-Catholics.  In it, the Archbishop pointed to justification by faith as a crucial dogma of the church that had been maintained by the Reformation churches. To hear this affirmation, from an Archbishop of all people, brought tears to Lindbeck’s eyes.[28]  The significance of the event and its demonstration of the oneness in community and ecclesiology of the body of Christ made it the watermark and high point of his ecumenical career.[29]  A close second was the signing of the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification on October 31, 1999, which was one of the most important moments of his work in ecumenical circles on the relationship between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism.[30]  Being witness to such historic events was truly monumental for him.  Lindbeck’s experiences participating in Vatican II were formative in instilling in him the need for the church to continue to seek to find ways to resolve differences in doctrine.  His cultural-linguistic approach developed as the result of an attempt to provide a baseline for religious ecumenical discussion.

Lindbeck’s Cultural-Linguistic Approach

Hans Frei’s Diagnosis of Modernity

Hans Frei (1922-1988 CE), a fellow colleague of George Lindbeck at Yale, wrote a book called The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative (1974) in which he argued against modernist approaches to Scripture, both conservative and liberal, in favor of a more narratival approach.  He claimed that each camp sought to make specific presuppositions prior to the text itself,[31]  utilizing a theory of knowledge that elevated specific forms of knowledge above Scripture, thus, stripping Scripture of its status as realistic narrative.  More precisely, in his view, the modernist notion of truth as a “universally accessible reality”[32] was the dominant alien epistemology applied to the Bible.  For the conservative school, this meant mining the Scriptures for factual propositions.  For the liberal school, they extrapolated from the text eternal truths that the text symbolized.  Scripture as narrative was undermined in favor of the a priori commitments of modernity.  Frei argued that “[s]cripture no longer defined the church’s social world in a normative way.”[33]  It was stripped of its ability to shape the community of disciples through a grand narrative.  He called this “the great reversal.”[34]  Before this reversal, “Jews and Christians made sense of their lives by viewing themselves as related to and participating within the story told in Scripture.”[35] Modernity made true knowledge, as it conceived it, the all determining reality and both liberal and conservative scholars succumbed to it.

Lindbeck’s Proposal

George Lindbeck, a fellow colleague of Hans Frei, taught at Yale from 1955 to 1993.  His book, The Nature of Doctrine attempted to provide “a cultural-linguistic view of religion in combination with a scripture-centered understanding of Christianity and a grammatical-rule theory of doctrine.”[36]  This book served as a catalyst for the Postliberal movement, setting off a flurry of debate and conversation over its proposals.  It attempted to emphasize a “cultural-linguistic” understanding of religion rather than a “cognitive-propositional” or “experiential-expressive” linguistic understanding.  Lindbeck utilized the findings of Wittgenstein and applied them to faith communities.  Wittgenstein argued that language is the “means by which we think”[37] and that we learn in social contexts, “forms of life,”[38] which describe the world.  Wittgenstein pointed out that the context in which words are used is as important as the words themselves because words have different meanings depending on the speaker and the context of the phrase.[39] Thus, language is conditioned by history.

Grammars of the Faith

In Lindbeck’s model, in the Christian community “meaning is given within the praxis of the church.”[40]  The way in which the religious community uses language, provides the context for its meaning.  Lindbeck focused on the connection between rationality and the skillful use of acquired rules by faithful believers.  Phillips and Ockholm capture it well, “[l]ike rules of grammar that govern our use of language to describe the world, theological doctrines identify the rules for using confessional language in defining [its] social world.”[41]  If doctrine is understood as grammars of faith, then the rationality of a religious tradition is demonstrated by its internal coherence in relation to skillfully utilizing its internal grammar.[42] These categories for talking about large-scale traditions are taken from Alasdair MacIntyre, an Anglo-American analytic philosopher. Learning theology, then, is less like learning to speak a language and more like learning the grammar and dictionary definitions of its vocabulary.[43]  For Lindbeck, Christian disciples become “skilled practitioners who spontaneously follow the rules even when they don’t know how to articulate them.”[44]  Lindbeck continues, “Christian doctrine therefore identifies the rules by which Christians use confessional language to define the social world that they indwell.”[45]

Holist Epistemology

Lindbeck also appropriated a non-foundational epistemology, viewing truth as a web of beliefs borrowing from W. V. O. Quine, rather than foundationalist or experiential-expressivist epistemologies.  Understood correctly, Philips and Ockholm argue “Lindbeck’s theory of truth employs an internal coherence of propositions that as a whole correspond to the particular states of affairs.”[46]  Concepts then become the “means by which we access and perceive reality.”[47]  They provide a bridge to the external world.  Thus, the cultural-linguistic world is the context of the Christian community and their actions demonstrate what the language of faith means for that faith community.  In this context, doctrines function as moderators giving us a guide for interpreting and making Christian assertions.

Cultural-Linguistics and Ecumenicalism

Hans Frei has stated that there is no logic of coming to faith; however, there is logic of belief.  The Christian faith has a structure to it.  It is the position from which we argue.[48]  The reason for Lindbeck’s development of the cultural-linguistic method was grounded in intra-Christian theological and ecumenical issues.  He wanted to provide a way to get beyond the doctrinal disagreements and division of the major Christian traditions.[49]  Using Wittgenstein and his understanding of “meaning as use” in relation to language, Lindbeck sought to describe the role doctrine played in the Christian faith by emphasizing how language and culture constituted the identity of the Christian community.  Phillips and Ockholm summarize Lindbeck by stating, “the language and tradition in which we live shape our experience and understanding of even the most basic components of reality.”[50]  Providing a definition for describing the formation and function of doctrine created an avenue for doctrine to be analyzed from a different vantage point with the goal of finding unity amongst the churches in doctrinal confessions.

Evangelical, Catholic and Postliberal

Lindbeck grew to adopt both aspects of evangelical Protestantism, specifically confessional Lutheranism, and Roman Catholicism.  He has called himself a Wittgensteinian Thomistic Lutheran.  Primarily, however, he locates himself within the Lutheran tradition.  He states: “[i]f I do theology…its Lutheran theology in the Lutheran confessional tradition.”[51]  In terms of evangelical, he considers the three Reformatory “solas”:  solus Christus  (Christ alone), sola fides (faith alone, including grace alone) and sola scriptura (Scripture alone) as the foundation for his Protestant Reformation heritage.[52]  His involvement in Catholicism has been as a professor of medieval philosophy and theology, as well as working with the Catholic Church on the ecumenical level for many years. His participation in Vatican II certainly bestows upon him a special status among Protestants in relation to Roman Catholicism.

As was stated at the beginning of this paper, the divisive denominationalism experienced by Lindbeck as an early child drove him to search for a more robust way to conceive of Christian unity; the answer for him was found in the ecumenical movement.  He comments, “[i]t has been the ecumenical movement even more than my teaching at Yale…that has been the context of my thinking.”[53] His method is shaped primarily by ecumenical goals: unity in the Christian church and the desire for the church to be a visible manifestation of Jesus Christ.  For Lindbeck, in order for this manifestation to be realized, churches must enact the text of Scripture through actively living it out.  He believes the church achieves this through reading the Bible as realistic narrative in the premodern way of the pre-Reformational church. Lindbeck’s view of biblical authority is grounded in “practicing the Gospel, living in community and interpreting the world.”[54]  He believes the practices of the church become the source for authority; “[w]here practice are in order, faith and love in the crucified Lord may flourish even in the midst of grave deficiencies in second-order teaching, but faith and love withers despite purity of doctrine when worship, life and action are corrupt.”[55]  He contends that the role of the Holy Spirit working through the Scriptures in the interpretive faith community provides the identity and understanding needed for faithful obedience.  The church illustrates the Gospel through its daily life of activity.  The stories it tells about the God it serves and the way one is to view the world from a biblical perspective is the “form of life” of the community of faith.[56]

Consensus and Confession

Lutheran and Catholic Unity

One of the central convictions of Lindbeck’s participation in ecumenism is related to the Protestant Reformation and its impact on the witness of the church:

            Failure to progress in overcoming the sixteenth-century schism impedes the reconciliation of the Eastern and Western churches with one another and among themselves, and in the absence of that reconciliation believers everywhere are greatly hindered from witnessing together to their common faith in Jesus Christ.[57]

This central tenet informs every aspect of Lindbeck’s ecumenical considerations.  He holds the conviction that “Lutheranism once was and should again become a reform movement within the Catholic Church of the West, rather than a separate ecclesial body.”[58]  The Augsberg Confession is vital for this conclusion to remain true.  Standing as a central confessional document in the Lutheran church, the main tenets hold that the Reformation teachings do not conflict with the catholic consensus of Rome itself.[59]  If the Roman Catholic Church would freely allow the Gospel to be preached, the sacraments to be performed in accordance with the Gospel, and a modified papacy, whose primacy was human rather than divine, then the Lutheran church would no longer have reason to remain apart from the Roman communion.  The potential for reunification between Lutherans and Roman Catholics is strong for Lindbeck and events such as the signing of the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification by the Roman Catholic Church, reinforces this conviction.

Ressourcement and Unity of the Church

Protestant neo-orthodoxy and Catholic Nouvelle The,ologie both sought renewal in the Christian faith by returning to the sources of Scripture and premodern tradition.[60]  They provided a center for intra-Christian communication.  This intra-Christian communication is necessary for ecumenical dialogue.  Lindbeck argues that the generously orthodox are needed that hold to reconciled diversity, resisting polarization between extremes and working for pluralistic unity in the framework of Christian belief.[61]  This ressourcement first encountered by Lindbeck in the French Catholic avant-garde was a prevalent theme during Vatican II. [62]  The ressourcement exercised in Vatican II is a key theme for postliberal theology and a model for what Lindbeck believes to be a common ground for establishing true ecumenical dialogue.


In some ways, Lindbeck’s story resonates with my own.  I grew up in a small Nazarene Protestant church and the only world I knew was that of the Bible and my church denomination.  It was not until going to college at a Jesuit university that I ever met and had substantive dialogue with Roman Catholics. Once enrolled, I was immersed in a foreign culture, which had its own rules and forms of life.  In my coursework I was introduced to Catholic thinkers and writers and grew to appreciate and understand them.  My world was expanded and I became friends with many from the Catholic faith.  My own desire for ecumenicalism grew in part from these experiences.

I am particularly attracted to the aspects of Lindbeck’s postliberal research program that emphasize the communal aspect of Christian churches as witness to the world.  It is a form of evangelism that is especially relevant to the cultural shifts we have undergone in the postmodern era.  The appropriations of Wittgenstein, as it relates to the grammars of the faith, are significant insights as to how we can witness to the faith in an increasingly post-Christian world.  Being the church for the world is a compelling way to describe the need to make our faith vibrant and draw upon the deep cultural heritages of our forbearers.  Ressourcement of premodern hermeneutics may provide a way forward in this regard.  Viewing the Bible as realistic narrative provides believers with more storied ways of reading Scripture.  The faith practices of individuals as they participate in the Christian tradition provide meaning for demonstrating what Christianity is about.  The inner logic for this large scale tradition creates an environment wherein people can learn the language of the faith and comprehend its rationality of belief.  The promotion of Christian unity through communal worship and consensus provides the necessary resources for dealing with doctrinal disagreements in the spirit of affirming plurality within unity. I concur with Lindbeck that unity in Christian churches can only happen if we are willing to engage in deep, diverse, pluralistic ecumenicalism.  Through George Lindbeck, the Postliberal movement has influenced numerous theologians over its lifetime and continues to impact the theological landscape today.  I share in Lindbeck’s hope that such engagement would continue to encourage unity in the body of Christ as a demonstration and witness to the world of the power of the Gospel.



Buckley, James J. “Radical Traditions: Evangelical, Catholic and Postliberal,” In The Church in    a Postliberal Age. edited by James J. Buckley. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Dorrien, Gary J. “The Origins of Postliberalism,” Christian Century 118 no. 20 (Jl 4-11, 2001):      16-21.

Fodor, James.  “Postliberal Theology” In The Modern Theologians. edited by David F. Ford with             Rachel Muers. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

Frei, Hans.  The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974.

Kallenberg, Brad J. Live to Tell. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2002.

Lindbeck, George. “Atonement and the Hermeneutics of Intratextual Social Embodiment In The             Nature of Confession. edited by Timothy R. Phillips & Dennis L. Ockholm. Downers            Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

________.“Confession and Community:  An Israel-like View of the Church,” The             Christian Century 107 no. 16 (My 9, 1990): 492-496.

________.  “Ecumenical Imperatives for the Twenty-First Century,” Currents in Theology and     Mission 20 no. 5 (O 1993): 360-366.

________.  The Nature of Doctrine.  Louisville, KY:  Westminster John Knox Press, 1984.

________. “Paris, Rome, Jerusalem: An Ecumenical Journey,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies        no. 41:3-4 (Sum-Fall 2004): 389-408.

________. “Performing the Faith,” Christian Century 123, no. 24 (Nov. 28, 2006): 28-33,             35.

________. “Reminiscences of Vatican II,” In The Church in a Postliberal Age. edited by James   J. Buckley. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Phillips, Timothy R. & Dennis L. Ockholm, eds., The Nature of Confession. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Placher, William C. Unapologetic Theology.  Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press,        1989.  

Wilson, Jonathan R.  “Toward a New Evangelical Paradigm of Biblical Authority” In The             Nature of Confession. edited by Timothy R. Phillips & Dennis L. Ockholm, Downers            Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.


                [1]Timothy R. Phillips & Dennis L. Ockholm, eds., The Nature of Confession (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 246.


                [2]James Fodor, “Postliberal Theology” in ed., David F. Ford, with Rachel Muers.  The Modern Theologians (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), 229.


                [3]Other theologians also include Joseph DiNoia, George Stroop, David Yeago, William Werpehowski, Joseph Mangina, Eugene Rogers, David Kamitsuka, Ian Macfarland, Paul Mcglasson, and R.R. Reno.  Non-Yale trained theologians who share affinities include Willliam Willimon, Stanley Grenz, Gabriel Fackre, James William McClendon, Jr., Rowan Williams, Peter Ochs, Daniel Hardy and David Ford.


                [4]James Fodor, “Postliberal Theology” in The Modern Theologians, 229.


                [5]Thomas Kuhn and Michael Polanyi are notable figures from the philosophy of science who have been appropriated by postliberals.


                [6]Ludwig Wittgenstein and Gilbert Ryle are notable figures from the philosophy of language, whose ideas have been incorporated into postliberal thinking.


                [7]Key figures include for literary, Eric Auerbach and Frank Kermode; for biblical, Michael Fishbane and Moshe Greenberg; for philosophy, Alasdair MacIntyre.


                [8]For anthropology, the findings of Peter Berger and Robert Bellah have been utilized.


                [9]Specifically, the Nouvelle The,ologie school of thought seeks a renewed interest in the sources of the faith including Scripture and premodern tradition.


                [10]Fodor, “Postliberal Theology,” 229.


                [11]Lindbeck, “Performing the Faith,” Christian Century 123 no. 24 (Nov. 28, 2006):  28.


                [12]George A. Lindbeck, “Confession and Community: An Israel-like View of the Church,”                 Christian Century 107 no. 16 (My 9, 1990):  493.




                [14]Lindbeck, “Performing the Faith,” 28.




                [16]George Lindbeck, “Paris, Rome, Jerusalem: An Ecumenical Journey,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies no. 41:3-4 (Sum-Fall 2004): 389.


                [17]Ibid., 392.




                [19]Ibid., 393.


                [20]Lindbeck, “Paris, Rome, Jerusalem: An Ecumenical Journey,” 389.


                [21]Ibid., 393.


                [22]Ibid., 394.



                [24]Ibid., 396.


                [25]Lindbeck, “Paris, Rome, Jerusalem: An Ecumenical Journey,” 396.


                [26]George A. Lindbeck, “Reminiscences of Vatican II,” in The Church in a Postliberal Age, ed., James J. Buckley (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2002), 12.


                [27]Ibid., 399.


                [28]George A. Lindbeck, “Performing the Faith,” 28.


                [29]Lindbeck, “Paris, Rome, Jerusalem,” 399.




                [30]Lindbeck, “Performing the Faith,” 29.


                [31]Gary Dorrien, “The Origins of Postliberalism,” Christian Century (July 4-11, 2001): 17.


                [32]Phillips & Ockholm, The Nature of Confession, 11.




                [34]Hans W. Frei, The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974): 130.


                [35]Dorrien, “The Origins of Postliberalism,” 17.


                [36]Lindbeck, “Performing the Faith,” 28.

                [37]Brad J. Kallenberg, Live to Tell (Grand Rapids, MI:  Brazos Press, 2002), 20.


                [38]Wittgenstein utilizes this phrase to describe the context of our language games.


                [39]William C. Placher, Unapologetic Theology (Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989), 58.


                [40]Phillips & Ockholm, eds., The Nature of Confession, 13.


                [41]Ibid., 12.


                [42]Dorrien, “The Origins of Postliberalism,” 18.


                [43]Lindbeck, “Performing the Faith,” 28-9.


                [44]Ibid., 29.




                [46]Phillips & Ockholm, eds., The Nature of Confession, 16.




            [48]Frei,  The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative , 252.


                [49]George A. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine (Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984), 8.


                [50]Phillips & Ockholm, eds., The Nature of Confession, 12.


                [51]Ibid., 247.


                [52]James J. Buckley, “Radical Traditions: Evangelical, Catholic and Postliberal,” in The Church in a Postliberal Age (Grand Rapids, MI:  2002), viii.


                [53]Lindbeck, “Confession and Community: An Israel-like View of the Church,” 492.


                [54]Jonathan R. Wilson, “Toward a New Evangelical Paradigm of Biblical Authority” in The Nature of Confession, eds., Timothy R. Phillips & Dennis L. Ockholm (Downers Grove, IL: 1996), 153.


                [55]George Lindbeck, “Atonement and the Hermeneutics of Intratextual Social Embodiment” in The Nature of Confession, eds., Timothy R. Phillips & Dennis L. Ockholm (Downers Grove, IL: 1996), 239.

                [56] Lindbeck, “Atonement and the Hermeneutics of Intratextual Social Embodiment,” 239.


                [57]Lindbeck, “Paris, Rome, Jerusalem,” 397.






                [60]George A. Lindbeck, “Confession and Community:  An Israel-like View of the Church,” 494.


                [61] George Lindbeck, “Ecumenical Imperatives for the twenty-first century,” Currents in Theology and Mission 20  no. 5 (O 1993): 364.


                [62]Lindbeck, “Performing the Faith,” 29.

Big History and the Story of Creation

Map of the timeline of the universe

This is an article talking about the timeline of the universe.  I think it fits quite nicely with our understanding of creation.  It is interesting that science is now pushing for a narrative to talk about our universe.  Such an inclination fits well with the Abrahamic faiths,  which have always viewed creation as part of the larger narrative of God’s creative work and subsequently humankind’s vocation as caretakers of God’s creation.  It will be interesting to see what gets added when the Higgs Boson particle is finally revealed.  It’s the last link in the unified theory of the universe.

The Theory of Evolution in Two Minutes

I thought this was a quick and dirty explanation for evolutionary theory that gets at the core elements taken into consideration regarding the overarching theory.  In science, a “theory” is made up of already existing facts and laws, which are combined to articulate a larger explanatory narrative i.e. a theory.  So when people say something is “just a theory” what they don’t realize is that in science, the facts and laws drawn upon to make such a claim are not in question.  The larger explanation utilizing said data is what is up for discussion.  The laws and facts drawn upon have already been shown to stand up to rigorous empirical testing and verification.   If we can clear up the use of this terminology, it can get us further down the road in discussing these kinds of questions.  Hope it helps.