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Essays

Lying, Truthfulness and the Grace of God

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…
Keith Starkenburg
October 30, 2014
Essays

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

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…
Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung
October 30, 2014
Essays

A Letter from Despondent University

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…
Trygve Johnson
October 30, 2014
As We See It

Thick Lives, Thick Theology

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…
Essays

Coffee Cups and Lactaid Lattes

It was a summer of lattes. Every morning I woke at the crack of dawn, donned black pants and a green apron and drove in the semidarkness to a day full of coffee, sweet syrup, steamed milk and customers. These were good mornings, really. I liked the eerie quiet of my house at 5 a.m., the empty stillness of my neighborhood, the relative calm with a few semitrucks accompanying me on the six-lane highway. I liked walking into the travel…
Anna Visser
October 30, 2014
As We See It

Amazon, Octocopters and Advent

I was born and bred to loathe waiting. My father, with his background in the FBI and law enforcement, is an efficient and effective man – and always on time. All the time. On Sundays in my house as a child, Dad would preside in the foyer of our house, raise his arm, and jingle the car keys loudly. We all knew what the signal meant: In four minutes, he would go and sit in the car. One more minute…
Jared Ayers
October 30, 2014
Essays

Evangelism and Sacraments: Telling Well the Story

The Story cannot be told without reference to water: The waters of creation, the flood, the Red Sea, water from the rock, Jesus in the Jordan, the pool of Bethsaida, a basin for washing feet, bloody water from Jesus’ side, “the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne.” No, the story cannot be told without water, and all that water issues forth from a life-giving font, the baptismal font. Neither…
Sue A. Rozeboom
October 30, 2014
Essays

Like the Wideness of the Sea?

I remember the first time that I watched the synod of my (Christian Reformed) church in action. Synod met back then (late 1940s) in the reading room of the old Calvin College library and, since there was no separate gallery for visitors, some of us got to nestle close enough to the delegates to make us feel as if we were right there in the dugout with the real players. The delegates, as they looked to me, were, most of…
Lewis B. Smedes
October 1, 2014
As We See It

Revisiting a Landmark Statement on Homosexuality

The May 1999 issue of Perspectives contained an essay by Lewis Smedes, “Like the Wideness of the Sea?” that was among the most significant articles ever to appear in Perspectives. Like most of Smedes’s work, it is richly pastoral, drawing heavily on his experience in the church. He recalled the impassioned debates about divorce and remarriage in the Christian Reformed Church of the 1950s and then wondered about possible parallels to discussions about covenanted, monogamous same-sex relationships. Smedes met with…
Perspectives Journal
October 1, 2014
Essays

“Like the wideness of the sea?” 15 years later

Compelling Analogy by Steve Bouma-Prediger Lew Smedes was one of my esteemed teachers when I was a student at Fuller Theological Seminary in the mid-1980s. I vividly recall his stimulating class titled “Calvin and the Christian Life.” I had read his popular book “Sex for Christians” (Eerdmans, 1976) for a religion class as a student at Hope College in 1978 and read everything he wrote in the old Reformed Journal in the 1970s and 1980s. Lew was a larger-than-life person,…