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  • Direction: God and Violence: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography
    deeds Dell Katharine ed Ethical and Unethical in the Old Testament God and Humans in Dialogue Library of Hebrew Bible Old Testament Studies 528 New York T T Clark 2010 A collection of papers read by Bible scholars at the Cambridge Old Testament Seminar between 2005 and 2008 Many essays address the dark side of the Old Testament God but such issues as truth telling war and the environment are also given close scholarly attention Dietrich Walter and Christian Link Die dunklen Seiten Gottes 2 vols Vol 1 Willkür und Gewalt 1995 Vol 2 Allmacht und Ohnmacht 2000 Neukirchen Vluyn Germany Neukirchener Verlagsgesellschaft Dietrich and Link carefully examine the dark sides of God but give a fair hearing to plausible explanations for God s apparently questionable deeds Reviewed favorably with some reservations in the Dell collection above Fretheim Terence E God and Violence in the Old Testament Word World 24 no 1 2004 18 28 Fretheim capably defends the view that in the Old Testament God s use of violence is intended to subvert human violence in order to bring the creation along to a point where violence is no more In everything including violence God seeks to accomplish loving purposes Gilbert Pierre The Violence of God Investigations in the Book of Isaiah 6 parts Mennonite Brethren Herald 44 nos 12 17 2005 A defense of the violence of God depicted by Isaiah as revelation of God s passionate love for and willingness to involve himself in redeeming his people Written for a general audience by a popular Mennonite Brethren Old Testament scholar Habel Norman C An Inconvenient Text Is a Green Reading of the Bible Possible Adelaide Australia ATF 2009 The human lust to dominate nature gets encouragement from the Old Testament God but can the Bible be read in ways that keep it in check Habel offers a critique of domination mighty acts of God and promised land texts and proposes green readings of the same Heschel Abraham Joshua The Prophets New York Harper Row 1962 Full of insight and Jewish mystical wisdom Heschel s book is a classic His discussion of God s wrath will provoke reverent reflection even if it does not answer all the questions Divine anger is not the antithesis of love but its counterpart a help to justice as demanded by true love Jones Gareth Lloyd Sacred Violence The Dark Side of God Journal of Beliefs Values Studies in Religion Education 20 no 2 October 1999 184 99 Written before 9 11 Jones sounds the alarm over scripture inspired Jewish and Christian violence His recommendation to Christians is very much like Eric Seibert s If a biblical concept corresponds with what we know of God in Christ it is acceptable if not it is invalid Kent Grenville J R et al eds Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching Downers Grove IL IVP Academic 2010 Includes essays by evangelical scholars Daniel I Block Alison Lo Tremper Longman III Laurence A Turner Gordon Wenham

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/2/god-and-violence-selected-and-annotated.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God
    on that basis that the behavior of OT individuals should not be blamed on God that OT Law was actually a huge improvement over the laws of surrounding neighbors that kooky laws like those surrounding clean and unclean food had an instructional purpose that the death penalty often represented the maximum sentence which was rarely imposed that a close examination of the apparently misogynistic laws reveals an improvement over those of surrounding nations and that slavery in the OT was much more humane than that word connotes for readers today Copan also addresses what is perhaps the most difficult issue facing Christian readers wherein the OT God is accused of commanding and participating in indiscriminate killing and ethnic cleansing Copan s strategy here is to apply three basic principles First God has the right to judge nations that have profoundly rejected his ways and stand in direct opposition to him but this should not be called genocide or ethnic cleansing 163 God was opposed to religious practices and not to any specific ethnic group Second Copan advocates for a much more sophisticated reading of the OT texts which takes into account archaeological discoveries exaggerated and stereotypical language common to battle accounts and evidence from the biblical record itself that counters the common assumption that the Conquest consisted of the wholesale slaughter of Canaanites Combined with the recognition that the books of Joshua and Judges follow ancient Near Eastern literary conventions of exaggeration and stereotype Copan argues that it is possible that there was no killing of innocent noncombatants Thirdly Copan argues that the warfare methods of the Israelites were much more humane than was common in that era and that the comprehensive destruction texts describe actions limited in both time and geography Copan s conclusion becomes more philosophical as he

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/2/is-god-moral-monster-making-sense-of-old.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Mennonite German Soldiers Nation, Religion and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880
    to Russia A century later when both Prussia and Russia tightened military demands and Mennonites in Prussia became increasingly supportive of adopting official military demands another exodus began This time the destination was America The Mennonite dilemma over appropriate responses to government demands also drew attention outside Mennonite circles The playwright Ernst von Wildenbruch with his Der Mennonit launched a vigorous attack on Mennonites for their refusal to bear arms to defend a land that granted them extensive religious and economic rights When Mennonite leaders tried to ban the play from the Royal Theater in Berlin Emperor Frederick III refused to approve the request Jantzen compares this confrontation with the nationally divisive Kulturkampf Then in a fascinating examination of Theodor Fontane s criticism of German militarism at this time Jantzen rejects the dismissive views of prominent historians who suggested Fontane was living in a dream world Jantzen also notes that Prussian policy toward the Mennonites was often inconsistent Directives from government officials sometimes instructed local administrators to stop Mennonites from emigrating while some local officials declared that losing subjects unwilling to defend their country was no loss at all Others argued that losing taxpayers was more important than losing soldiers Sometimes would be emigrants were forcibly stopped and interrogated It should be noted that changes in Mennonite relations with the state occurred in an atmosphere of sometimes uncertain relations with both Catholic and Lutheran churches Some Mennonite leaders welcomed persons from other denominations in defiance of government policy In Orlofferfelde Elder Heinrich Donner contended that royal pronouncements of freedom of conscience protected those who wished to join a Mennonite congregation Other Mennonite leaders rejected such a position This issue remained a source of controversy for decades Ältester Donner s lament Our religious freedom has been stolen reflects the depth of

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/2/mennonite-german-soldiers-nation.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Musical Beauty: Negotiating the Boundary between Subject and Object
    dependence on linguistic semantics to constitute a similar deficit in millennia old anxieties over liturgical musical expression Arguably this charge turns on Musical Beauty itself for its verbal expression is not problematised Stone Davis seeks credibility in realigning excessive inclinations of Boethius and Kant through the other That is she overlays Boethius apprehension of beauty as external to individual experience and concomitantly his valuing of form over sound with Kant s insight into beauty as a means of knowing even if hampered by music s subsidiary status of mere sensation Stone Davis draws on the relatively synonymous agency of beauty and music in classical Greek tradition to which Boethius gave ongoing and theological import in early sixth century Rome Indeed order and harmony further co mingle with beauty and music in the ancient discourse of health and wholeness of the cosmos its song ever reaching to and from God as it extends into and beyond particular instantiations throughout the created world Stone Davis highlights how Boethius account of beauty employs music as the active communicating principle of both orderly form and resonant expression She also accents two shortcomings in his presentation the first of his own admission Boethius fails to offer rationale for the experience of pain injustice and evil in the world further he renders the materiality of sound subservient to the intellectual perception of form Enlightenment tradition identifies beauty with what is agreeable to individual taste and sensation Stone Davis demonstrates Kant s contributions and challenges to this understanding particularly his mediating of empiricist and rationalist concerns Kant attributes beauty to objects that encourage harmony in the free play of powers of imagination evincing the disinterested pleasure purposive purposelessness of his epistemological understanding of beauty Music is pertinent to this mediation insofar as it acts to measure harmony

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/2/musical-beauty-negotiating-boundary.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics
    and Yoder the slide began with Constantine Not so for Forster who paints a more nuanced and historically sensitive portrait in which the Reformation s fragmentation of Europe and the secular wings of the Enlightenment are complex crises with no obvious Christian response The thread running through the story is natural law which Forster clearly sees as central for any plausibly Christian politics So far so good it would be hard to disagree with someone who has Augustine Aquinas and Calvin on his side It is here however that the problems begin In making Locke his hero Forster makes an error opposite to modernity critics like Milbank He assumes too much continuity between the premodern natural law of Cicero or Aquinas and the early modern liberalism of Locke and the American founders If there really is no single summum bonum or telos for humanity as Locke claimed he is a far more radical break from his predecessors than Forster wants to believe To his credit Forster ends the book with a healthy pessimism we Christians used to hope for a politics based on a moral consensus rooted in shared religion Locke s confidence that this would happen simply on its own has proved to be misplaced If we ever held such hopes and many Christians still do they are equally misplaced Forster steadfastly refuses to offer a conclusion about how Christians ought to respond to ongoing crises but I think we can read between the lines enough to know where his story is headed this is the conservative communitarianism of Richard John Neuhaus remixed We need to recover the public virtue that our religiously and morally pluralistic society has now lost It cannot be based on Christianity or the Bible in the way that Locke or the American founders once

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/2/contested-public-square-crisis-of.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Gift of Difference: Radical Orthodoxy, Radical Reformation
    deconstruction as a product of modern secular reason results in an ontology of violence and is therefore essentially antithetical to a Christian narrative In response he asserts that Christianity upholds an ontology of peace This counter narrative seeks to reclaim Christian theology from the grip of secular philosophy Blum however questions the nihilistic necessity of deconstruction on which Milbank premises some of his most significant arguments by offering a reading of Derrida s im possibility as a way of giving our implication in violence the im possibility of nonviolence serious attention Blum insists that we ask ourselves What if non violence really is impossible What if violence is not only practically unavoidable as many people assume but somehow radically inescapable These questions are not uncontroversial Not only does Blum s critique specifically address Milbank s reading of Derrida it also serves as an internal critique for Mennonites interrogating common understandings of pacifism Mennonites as a historic peace church often think they have some sort of definitive claim on nonviolence An intentional consideration of our complicity in violence however undercuts any a priori claims on peace It also complicates the dualistic way Milbank frames the ontological debate between himself and Derrida Ultimately Blum writes the point of his two cheers for an ontology of violence is not to finalize the choice of one ontology so much as to warn against finalizing the choice of another Though this collection takes up a wide range of theological questions in the final analysis the debate seems to privilege the work of John Milbank and John Howard Yoder as representatives of their respective traditions While this gives a rich account of the thought of Milbank and Yoder it does so to the detriment of other theologians in each tradition Voices from RO are especially lacking

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/2/gift-of-difference-radical-orthodoxy.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Beyond Suspicion: Post-Christian Protestant Political Theology in John Howard Yoder and Oliver O'Donovan
    According to Doerksen both Yoder and O Donovan argue that God s rule encompasses all human order including public and private life and that political engagement does not necessitate the suspension of religious convictions O Donovan reclaims authority from the secular realm through an account of God s reign in history Israel s claim that God is king reveals that all political authority derives from God s primary sovereignty God s authority is neither the assertion of power nor wily persuasion but is experienced by and instantiated in Israel s monarchy such that Israel s history is a resource for the ordering framework of society O Donovan thus reveals that there are political concepts and theorems rooted in the Bible that must not be bracketed out of political discourse Yoder also draws on the history of Israel although he focuses on its antiroyal strand i e the prophetic tradition of monarchal critique Here Jeremiah s call for Israelites to seek the peace of the city shifts the mode of political display from rule to suffering service Both writers note the Hebrew emphasis on God s activity in Israelite monarchy and prophecy However the upshot for O Donovan is that the form of God s rule is juridical whereby conflicts between governmental violations and religious faithfulness are settled by appealing to a law whose authority is not located in any human order For Yoder it is the life of the exilic community that provides the witness of God s rule in history with which secular authority should cooperate The second suspicion of political liberalism is that because the state is the agent of freedom in society the restrictive interests of one religious group will allegedly inhibit a just order In Doerksen s reading neither O Donovan nor Yoder suggest that the

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/2/beyond-suspicion-post-christian.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: From the Editor: Faith and Skepticism
    to be intellectually fulfilled Along the way he assesses the value of the theory of Intelligent Design in defending Christian faith John Brubacher also a biologist educates lay readers in the uncertain nature of all scientific endeavors so that they can give science the respect it deserves no more than that but no less either Scientists too see through a glass darkly but they do see some things clearly In a more personal paper psychologist John K Rempel presents some of the serious challenges psychological research poses to faith He also shares how he s managed to remain a practicing Christian and at the same time a practitioner of a science that looks only for psychological explanations for why people believe the way they do Religious skepticism is also a theme that great fiction writers have grappled with Justin Neufeld brings the literary art and criticism of three such writers into conversation with each other two of them are devout Christians and one a morally sensitive atheist Readers will agree that the results are most illuminating The Bible itself includes a book that surprisingly gives voice to the extreme form of skepticism we call nihilism The book is Ecclesiastes and Pierre Gilbert offers a thought provoking interpretation of this ancient literary gem If the implications he draws for homiletics are correct then preachers must present disbelief much more convincingly than they often do when they defend the faith One of the brighter theological lights to burst on the North American scene lately is David Bentley Hart Paul Doerksen offers a review essay of one of Hart s most recent books Atheist Delusions The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies He describes Hart s account of the Christian revolution as positively evangelistic There are times when as the article s title

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/40/1/editorial.html (2016-02-16)
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