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The Work of Lent: Learning with Emily Dickinson

By As We See It

I didn’t grow up celebrating Lent. I came to it later in life. My first Ash Wednesday came late winter, only months after burying our firstborn son. Ashes; all was ashes. Dust; all was dust. In the dimly lit sanctuary, I found dried palms, ashes and words about loss. I discovered words to voice what was seething in my heart: words of honesty in Lent, however unsavory they might have been. How does one sing the songs of Easter when…

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Common Grace and Race

By Essays

That Abraham Kuyper was a racist, following the conventions of his time, is something that no neo-Calvinist would deny. His views on race and his theological impact – to some degree – on the rise of apartheid in South Africa have been well documented. For Kuyper, this is no mere blind spot: the problem of race in his thinking is situated within some of his most important theological formulations, namely his doctrine of common grace. With Kuyper, common grace is…

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The Cost of Faithful Witness in South Africa: Russel Botman, 1953–2014

By Essays

Russel Botman, Reformed theologian and university president, died on June 28, 2014, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. A 60-year-old dying in his sleep is not typically a matter for international attention. But in later press investigation and commentary a more complex story emerged. The context of his life and the circumstances of his death should interest us because they illustrate a theme about the personal toll exacted on those who would follow in the gospel train of Mandela, Tutu and King…

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Abraham Kuyper bust

Many Sons Had Father Abraham

By Essays

In 2013, we saw the publication of Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, the masterful biography by James D. Bratt. When the president of Fuller Theological Seminary, Richard Mouw, announced his retirement, the July/August 2013 issue of Perspectives reminded us how much a Kuyperian our leading Reformed Evangelical has been. Mouw has been candid in his deep appreciation of the Kuyperian legacy and also judiciously critical of some parts of it. I want to engage the legacy that these two…

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Abraham Kuyper bust

WWWow! It’s Perspectives’ New Website

By As We See It

“‘Wow! This is Perspectives?’ That’s how we hope you react as you pick up this issue.” We began a From the Editors with that line in the January/February 2011 issue of Perspectives. At that time, the editors and board believed the journal needed a fresh look to signal a renewed commitment to be our best. And, if you don’t mind our saying so, the new-and-improved print edition has been well received. We said something else in that From the Editors…

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Home, Heroes and Saints in Christ

By Essays

I have been told that I have a tendency to ruin cultural outings with my penchant for theological critique. I try really hard to rein it in, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. It might have happened last month, when I took my 4-year-old son to see “The Wizard of Oz.” It was an Andrew Lloyd Webber production, with many of the classic songs from the 1939 movie and a few new songs written for this play. One of…

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Lying, Truthfulness and the Grace of God

By Essays

It is an old question, and it happens every fall. Every fall, I teach a required course on biblical theology as seen through the Old Testament and the Gospels. Every fall, we get stuck on the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua, and we get particularly stuck on the question of whether Rahab was justified in lying to Jericho about the whereabouts of Israel’s spies. Every fall, almost all of my students — whether they are products of…

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How to Practice the Virtue of Hope: The ‘Shawshank’ Connection

By Essays

The apostle Paul ends 1 Corinthians 13 with the words “And so these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” In the Christian tradition from Augustine to Aquinas and beyond, “these three” become the three theological virtues. For love, we get a list of how-to’s in the same chapter: love is not rude; it rejoices with the truth. In Hebrews 11, we get a list of heroes of faith. But what to say about…

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A Letter from Despondent University

By Essays

Below is a letter from an old friend, Karis, who now serves as dean of the chapel at Despondent University in up-state Washington, in WantMore County. We share a faithful correspondence through letters. Occasionally she writes something that I like to share. Despondent University, est. 1849 May 6, 2014   Dear Trygve, It’s graduation day at Despondent University. It’s typical Northwest atmosphere. The clouds hang low, and a slow drizzle threatens the moment. Yet, despite the concrete sky, an atmosphere…

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Thick Lives, Thick Theology

By As We See It

The question of this guest-edited issue of Perspectives can be asked in two ways. First, we are asking a broad question: How does Christian theology illuminate the weight and depth of our day-to-day lives, such that our lives can be experienced and shaped in accord with that weight and depth? As David Bentley Hart has recently claimed in “The Experience of God” (Yale, 2013), “We have, in fact, no direct access to nature as such; we can approach nature only…

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