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America’s two greatest strengths—her liberal democratic culture and her free-market economy—have made her a global superpower. But left unchecked, these two strengths can become great cultural weaknesses, sowing selfishness, recklessness, and apathy. In Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society, theologian R. R. Reno argues that America needs a renewal of Christian ideals—ideals that encourage self-sacrifice, responsibility, and solidarity. Drawing on T.S. Eliot’s 1940 essay “The Idea of a Christian Society,” Reno shows how Christianity encourages “an abiding ambition for higher things” and a “moral vision” that can strengthen communities and transform America into a truly great nation.
For more than a millennium, beginning in the early Middle Ages, most Western Christians lived in societies that sought to be comprehensively Christian--ecclesiastically, economically, legally, and politically. That is to say, most Western Christians lived in Christendom. But in a gradual process beginning a few hundred years ago, Christendom weakened and finally crumbled. Today, most Christians in the world live in pluralistic political communities. And Christians themselves have very different opinions about what to make of the demise of Christendom and how to understand their status and responsibilities in a post-Christendom world. Politics After Christendom argues that Scripture leaves Christians well-equipped for living in a world such as this. Scripture gives no indication that Christians should strive to establish some version of Christendom. Instead, it prepares them to live in societies that are indifferent or hostile to Christianity, societies in which believers must live faithful lives as sojourners and exiles. Politics After Christendom explains what Scripture teaches about political community and about Christians' responsibilities within their own communities. As it pursues this task, Politics After Christendom makes use of several important theological ideas that Christian thinkers have developed over the centuries. These ideas include Augustine's Two-Cities concept, the Reformation Two-Kingdoms category, natural law, and a theology of the biblical covenants. Politics After Christendom brings these ideas together in a distinctive way to present a model for Christian political engagement. In doing so, it interacts with many important thinkers, including older theologians (e.g., Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin), recent secular political theorists (e.g., Rawls, Hayek, and Dworkin), contemporary political-theologians (e.g., Hauerwas, O'Donovan, and Wolterstorff), and contemporary Christian cultural commentators (e.g., MacIntyre, Hunter, and Dreher). Part 1 presents a political theology through a careful study of the biblical story, giving special attention to the covenants God has established with his creation and how these covenants inform a proper view of political community. Part 1 argues that civil governments are legitimate but penultimate, and common but not neutral. It concludes that Christians should understand themselves as sojourners and exiles in their political communities. They ought to pursue justice, peace, and excellence in these communities, but remember that these communities are temporary and thus not confuse them with the everlasting kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians' ultimate citizenship is in this new-creation kingdom. Part 2 reflects on how the political theology developed in Part 1 provides Christians with a framework for thinking about perennial issues of political and legal theory. Part 2 does not set out a detailed public policy or promote a particular political ideology. Rather, it suggests how Christians might think about important social issues in a wise and theologically sound way, so that they might be better equipped to respond well to the specific controversies they face today. These issues include race, religious liberty, family, economics, justice, rights, authority, and civil resistance. After considering these matters, Part 2 concludes by reflecting on the classical liberal and conservative traditions, as well as recent challenges to them by nationalist and progressivist movements.
Short. Timely. Poignant. Pointed. Burying White Privilege is all of these and more. This is the book that everybody who cares about contemporary American Christianity will want to read. Many people wonder how white Christians could not only support Donald Trump for president but also rush to defend an accused child molester running for the US Senate. In a 2017 essay that went viral, Miguel A. De La Torre boldly proclaimed the death of Christianity at the hands of white evangelical nationalists. He continues sounding the death knell in this book. De La Torre argues that centuries of oppression and greed have effectively ruined evangelical Christianity in the United States. Believers and clerical leaders have killed it, choosing profits over prophets. The silence concerning—if not the doctrinal justification of—racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia has made white Christianity satanic. Prophetically calling Christian nationalists to repentance, De La Torre rescues the biblical Christ from the distorted Christ of white Christian imagination.
After the staggering slaughter of back-to-back world wars, the West embraced the ideal of the “open society.” The promise: By liberating ourselves from the old attachments to nation, clan, and religion that had fueled centuries of violence, we could build a prosperous world without borders, freed from dogmas and managed by experts. But the populism and nationalism that are upending politics in America and Europe are a sign that after three generations, the postwar consensus is breaking down. With compelling insight, R. R. Reno argues that we are witnessing the return of the “strong gods”—the powerful loyalties that bind men to their homeland and to one another. Reacting to the calamitous first half of the twentieth century, our political, cultural, and financial elites promoted open borders, open markets, and open minds. But this never-ending project of openness has hardened into a set of anti-dogmatic dogmas which destroy the social solidarity rooted in family, faith, and nation. While they worry about the return of fascism, our societies are dissolving. But man will not tolerate social dissolution indefinitely. He longs to be part of a “we”—the fruit of shared loves—which gives his life meaning. The strong gods will return, Reno warns, in one form or another. Our task is to attend to those that, appealing to our reason as well as our hearts, inspire the best of our traditions. Otherwise, we shall invite the darker gods whose return our open society was intended to forestall.
Congratulations to Luke Bretherton on winning the 2013 Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing for Christianity and Contemporary Politics! Relations between religious and political spheres continue to stir passionate debates on both sides of the Atlantic. Through a combination of theological reflection and empirical case studies, Bretherton succeeds in offering timely and invaluable insights into these crucial issues facing 21st century societies. Explores the relationship between Christianity and contemporary politics through case studies of faith-based organizations, Christian political activism and welfare provision in the West; these case studies assess initiatives including community organizing, fair trade, and the sanctuary movement Offers an insightful, informative account of how Christians can engage politically in a multi-faith, liberal democracy Integrates debates in political theology with inter-disciplinary analysis of policy and practice regarding religious social, political and economic engagement in the USA, UK, and continental Europe Reveals how Christians can help prevent the subversion of the church – and even of politics itself – by legal, bureaucratic, and market mechanisms, rather than advocating withdrawal or assimilation Engages with the intricacies of contemporary politics whilst integrating systematic and historical theological reflection on political and economic life
In this four-color illustrated journey that is part travelogue and part theological investigation, bestselling author and acclaimed Bible scholar John Dominic Crossan and his wife Sarah painstakingly travel throughout the ancient Eastern church, documenting through text and image a completely different model for understanding Easter’s resurrection story, one that provides promise and hope for us today. Traveling the world, the Crossans noticed a surprising difference in how the Eastern Church considers Jesus’ resurrection—an event not described in the Bible. At Saint Barbara’s Church in Cairo, they found a painting in which the risen Jesus grasps the hands of other figures around him. Unlike the Western image of a solitary Jesus rising from an empty tomb that he viewed across Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the Crossans saw images of the resurrection depicting a Jesus grasping the hands of figures around him, or lifting Adam and Eve to heaven from Hades or hell, or carrying the old and sick to the afterlife. They discovered that the standard image for the Resurrection in Eastern Christianity is communal and collective, something unique from the solitary depiction of the resurrection in Western Christianity. Fifteen years in the making, Resurrecting Easter reflects on this divide in how the Western and Eastern churches depict the resurrection and its implications. The Crossans argue that the West has gutted the heart of Christianity’s understanding of the resurrection by rejecting that once-common communal iconography in favor of an individualistic vision. As they examine the ubiquitous Eastern imagery of Jesus freeing Eve from Hades while ascending to heaven, the Crossans suggest that this iconography raises profound questions about Christian morality and forgiveness. A fundamentally different way of understand the story of Jesus’ rebirth illustrated with 130 images, Resurrecting Easter introduces an inclusive, traditional community-based ideal that offers renewed hope and possibilities for our fractured modern society.
During the late second and early third centuries C.E. the resurrection became a central question for intellectual commentary, with increasingly tense divisions between those who interpreted the resurrection as a bodily experience and those who did not. The relationship between the resurrected person and their mortal flesh was also a key point of discussion, especially in regards to sexual desires, body parts, and practices. Early Christians struggled to articulate how and why these bodily features related to the imagined resurrected self. The problems posed by the resurrection thus provoked theological analysis of the mortal body, sexual desire and gender. Resurrecting Parts is the first study to examine the place of gender and sexuality in early Christian debates on the nature of resurrection, investigating how the resurrected body has been interpreted by writers of this period in order to address the nature of sexuality and sexual difference. In particular, Petrey considers the instability of early Christian attempts to separate maleness and femaleness. Bodily parts commonly signified sexual difference, yet it was widely thought that future resurrected bodies would not experience desire or reproduction. In the absence of sexuality, this insistence on difference became difficult to maintain. To achieve a common, shared identity and status for the resurrected body that nevertheless preserved sexual difference, treatises on the resurrection found it necessary to explain how and in what way these parts would be transformed in the resurrection, shedding all associations with sexual desires, acts, and reproduction. Exploring a range of early Christian sources, from the Greek and Latin fathers to the authors of the Nag Hammadi writings, Resurrecting Parts is a fascinating resource for scholars interested in gender and sexuality in classical antiquity, early Christianity, asceticism, and, of course, the resurrection and the body.
A path-breaking scholar's insightful reexamination of the resurrection of the body and the construction of the self When people talk about the resurrection they often assume that the bodies in the afterlife will be perfect. But which version of our bodies gets resurrected--young or old, healthy or sick, real-to-life or idealized? What bodily qualities must be recast in heaven for a body to qualify as both ours and heavenly? The resurrection is one of the foundational statements of Christian theology, but when it comes to the New Testament only a handful of passages helps us answer the question "What will those bodies be like?" More problematically, the selection and interpretation of these texts are grounded in assumptions about the kinds of earthly bodies that are most desirable. Drawing upon previously unexplored evidence in ancient medicine, philosophy, and culture, this illuminating book both revisits central texts--such as the resurrection of Jesus--and mines virtually ignored passages in the Gospels to show how the resurrection of the body addresses larger questions about identity and the self.