Tag Archives: paradoxes that are really just ridiculous

Martin Luther: Was He Pretty Confused?

Martin Luther, commemorated on February 18 Eva...

 Or A Lover of Paradox?

Martin Luther is one of my favorite figures in church history, both to praise and to criticize. I think that he and many other saints represent the meaning of being a Christ follower, to be fallen, to learn from our mistakes, to be both submissive recipients of tradition as well as iconoclasts, engaging the culture at large, while remaining as faithful to the Gospel as we know how. Now, I find Luther’s anti-semitism, for example, unacceptable, he let his emotions get the best of him. It okay to be passionate, but self-control is one of the cardinal virtues according to the New Testament. Oh, yeah and that whole salvation came to the Jews first, and um, Jesus was Jewish, and that loving your whole neighbor Golder Rule thing!

Reading through Luther’s Table Talk, he has some pretty strong words for the Church Fathers: “in Popedom the glosses of the Fathers were of higher regard than the bright and clear text of the Bible” or statements like “St. Bernard, Basil, Dominicus, Hieronymus,” “Ambrose, Basil, and Gregory” are all each against the good things that “the Divine word” had to offer. Yet, turn the pages a few pages latter, and Luther reflects on the Bible, using what else, images from Patristic thought, like St. Gregory’s  Holy Scripture as water, “an elephant swimmeth, but a little sheep goeth therein upon his feet.”

And you know how a lot of people like fairytales, folktales, and fables? Well, Martin Luther says just like the Church Fathers’ writings, Plato’s Fables are nothing but lies. But to explain the nature of the Bible? Luther uses a fable he remembers, about a lion serving a feast before swine.

I don’t think Martin Luther was pretty confused (well, maybe on a few things like infant baptism and Judaism), but I do think that if one looks at Luther, and Christian theologians before him, paradox, and neither linear logic or systematic theologies, were the norm for Christian theology. Paradox–because we worship the Supreme Paradox in Christ Jesus every Sunday. Fully human, fully divine, without confusion.

Is paradox a helpful term for theology?


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Not from THE ONION: Evangelist Producing "Real Housewives of the Bible"

Someone needs to help me find a new religion.

This is ridiculous.  How many times do Christians have to cheesily rip off pop culture? Really? Reality t.v.? Sigh. I digress

read more from CNN: Evangelist Produces Real Housewives of the Bible DVD

Down Is Up: John Milbank's Radical Orthodoxy Project


Recently, theologian John Milbank of Radical Orthodoxy (don’t bother to ask, just read the title as a contradiction in terms) wrote an article on the relationship between Christianity with the Enlightenment and Islam.  Apparently, it is with great regret that the Christian European empires fell and “allowed” nations such as India, Pakistan, and Algeria to overthrow the colonizers: “This surely has to do with the lamentably premature collapse of the Western colonial empires (as a consequence of the European wars) and the subsequent failure of Third World national development projects, with the connivance of neo-colonial, purely economic exploitation of poorer countries.”  I am sure of course, that Christian orthodoxy has always been for some time now affiliated with an apology for the existence human oppression.  Milbank’s Radical Orthodoxy project is radical in the sense that it is a radical RE-interpretation of Christian history, especially the past two hundred years. He claims in the article that Roman Catholicism found itself allied with the ideals of the Enlightenment, the 17th/18th century philosophies of the John Lockes, the Edmund Burkes, and Benjamin Franklins of those days. However, he is forgetting one crucial element: the evidence, especially the Roman Catholic theological texts contradicts his arguments. In fact, even an amatuer reader of history would know that even as late as the late 19th century, with Vatican I, Catholicism rejected modernity.  I do not see how it is feasibly possible to defend Milbank’s position, but I digress.

It seems as if Milbank desires to see the Muslim world in the image of European-style high-church Christianity of a generic stereotype, mystical and sacramental.  The article definitely reeks of Orientalism and racial hegemony, regardless of one’s theological disagreements with Islam.   I can only hope, with the likes of Adam Kotsko and Halden Doerge that future theorists within the Radical Orthodoxy movement challenge cultural assumptions such as these.

But what’s the point of agreeing with this post? I am coming from a radically subjective angle……..

Halden wrote some excellent pieces on Radical Orthodoxy here and here.

For my critique of the Radical Orthodoxy movement, see the first chapter of my thesis, Beyond Liberated.