- Happy MLK, Jr. day. I hope we can spend the day wrestling with and furthering the as-of-yet-unrealized dream Martin Luther King, Jr. shared. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” should be required reading for all Americans, especially Christians. As a seminary student, I’m taking pains to remember the letter begins “My fellow clergyman.” King wrote the letter to white Alabama clergyman whom were critical of him. Their criticism of King sounds familiar: many agreed with his aims but not his tone, action, or so-called impatience. They called their criticism “A call for Unity.”
- My friend and fellow Truett student is launching a book review blog today: “Words about God.” I have reviewed Zondervan’s “Two Views of Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church.” I recommend the volume. If any of my summaries of the arguments seem odd, please note that space constraints make it difficult. I hoped to give a preview of the types of points being made without indicating which arguments I found convincing. Here is an excerpt of my review:
Zondervan’s Two Views of Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church (edited by Preston Sprinkle), is worth your time because it does two difficult things successfully. First, it provides approachable essays by committed Christians and academics which present the two major views of the church’s practice as it relates to same-sex unions. Secondly, the book refuses to relegate this topic to the theoretical or abstract. The work recognizes the real pastoral concerns and persons affected by these questions.
- Silence, the Martin Scorsese film based on Shusaku Endo’s novel, is released to a wider audience day. I plan on seeing it and hope to finish the novel soon. One of my favorite Twitter voices, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, wrote a wonderful piece on the film for The Washington Post. Her theological reflection on the film by way of the Donatist controversy is spot-on, in my opinion. We will see if I agree with her assessment of the film.
Most Christians in the West have never had to choose between martyrdom and apostasy, though the persecution and murder of Christians for their faith still continues in the world today. Among those there may be some who apostatize under pain of death and privately repent. Unlike those commentators noted above, I don’t think the final point of “Silence” is that apostasy is sometimes approved by God. The message is even more difficult to accept: Apostasy is sometimes forgiven by God. That the creator of the universe would love weak and fragile creatures so much as to forgive their direct rejection of him is, indeed, shocking — but it is also the promise of the faith. That it requires so much convincing to get across more than justifies Endo’s novel and Scorsese’s beautiful film. -Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig