Last year, I was horrified at the reports that protestors and parishioners had been gassed by police so that President Trump could have a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church. Well, an internal investigation under the Biden administration has turned up that the police had cleared people from the area for unrelated reasons, and then President Trump arrived for the photo-op. I still think the photo-op itself and the unrelated, indiscriminate gassing of parishioners and clergy was bad, but my characterization of President Trump’s actions was premised upon a falsehood.
My book review of Duke Kwon and Greg Thompson’s Reparations: A Call for Repentance and Repair is up at Mere Orthodoxy. Kwon and Thompson make the case that White churches owe African Americans reparations. I expect that their work will be a starting point for a lot of reparation discussions in Presbyterian circles in the near future. The book was compelling, but overreached. Here’s an excerpt of my reivew,
I was persuaded of the biblical arguments for reparations before reading Kwon and Thompson, and their work only strengthened that conviction. But the application of that biblical principle into the life of the church? My church, where I pastor? The duty of Christian love and sacrifice in working towards repair does not go away if fault is cleared, but the bedrock of Kwon and Thompson’s argument is that reparations is the complicit returning what was stolen. It is not ethical bean counting or an evasion of loving obligation to take that aspect of their argument seriously and then to assess its claims of historical moral responsibility for my congregation.
This newer chart of American Presbyterian denominations is more visually pleasing than the one I had made, though it is not as thorough. It’s still a great chart.
I started a tradition in 2018 of selecting a theologian and reading all (or at least most of) his works over the course of the subsequent year. My hope is that this allows me to not only to become familiar with important figures and texts, but to also get into his theological mind over a large body of work. This year I picked to a group of theologians: the Cappadocian Fathers.
The Cappadocian Fathers are three hugely influential, 4th-century theologians and churchmen who wrote and ministered in Cappadocia, what is now central Turkey. They are Basil the Great (330-379), the bishop of Caesarea; his younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa (~335-395), who was bishop of his namesake; and their friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (or Gregory Nazianzen; 329-389), who was briefly bishop of Nazianzus before becoming bishop of Constantinople…
I was frustrated with the lack of good, simple family trees explaining the American Reformed landscape, so I made my own. Better, more interactive versions are to come (high quality link here).