Jon Stovell’s Notebook


Against the notion of “left” and “right” in social and theological discourse

If I could, I would eradicate the entire “left–right” conceptual structure from public discourse (and theological discourse!). It is ridiculously reductionistic. Ridiculously. Stupidly. Crazily. Horrifyingly. It is my belief that the “left–right” metaphor is itself one of the worst causes of problems in Western social and theological discourse—a deeper problem than any “threat” posed by the ideas of “the other guys” (whomever that may be). This is because the left–right conceptual structure reduces all the diversity and complexity of human thought down to “positions.”

The worst form occurs when “left” and “right” are understood as two camps into which all human beings must be categorized. In this conceptualization, it is typically assumed that camp allegiance will determine one’s views on everything. It is as though every question were reducible to “Which is your favourite colourmore

On Wright’s historical arguments regarding Jesus’ resurrection

Some posts in reply to the discussion topic, “Strongest skeptical responses to NT Wright?” which discussed Wright’s historical arguments about how the first Christians came to believe that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead.

Ooo, this is a fun topic! :)

I think part of the problem here is that Wright’s argument is more subtle and robust than the attempted summary you’ve given above, @Daniel L Heck. In The Resurrection of the Son of God, Wright argues using a version of the double criterion of similarity and dissimilarity. On the one hand, resurrection was indeed a prevalent concept in Second Temple Judaism and was therefore available to the first Christians as a tool to try to explain what they believed they had experienced regarding Jesus after his death. The dissimilar bit, on the other hand, was the idea that one person might be resurrected in advance ofmore

Summary of how hope for a heavenly afterlife supplanted hope for resurrection in popular Christian theology

The New Testament barely ever talks about “going to heaven when we die,” but it talks a lot about the hope for bodily resurrection to everlasting life in a renewed and glorified creation. Yet the popular understanding today is that “going to heaven” is the central promise of the Christian Gospel.

How did this happen? Well, it was a long and involved process of historical development, but here is a simplified summary:

  1. As Christianity spread beyond the Mediterranean to the Franks, Goths, Celts, etc., of Europe, theological attention to the resurrection hope faded in favour of hope for a heavenly afterlife. Unlike the Greeks, Jews, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, etc., who believed that all the dead descended to an underworld of some sort, these peoples tended to believe that at least some people (e.g. brave warriors) would be taken to the heavenly dwellings of the godsmore

The Significance of the Cross of Christ

When my daughter was three years old, I realized that it was time to start explaining the gospel to her. But how does one explain the gospel well to a child that young in a way that will actually make sense to them? It isn’t easy! But I recognized that if I, with all my years of studying theology, could not explain the gospel to a preschooler, then I didn’t really understand myself. So I set my mind to it and thought a long time about how I could express it in a way that made sense to her. In the end, I came up with this formulation, which I like to call “the gospel for the preschooler”:

Jesus died and came alive again, so that one day he can make everyone who dies come alive again. He is going to make the whole world good, and he wants us to help!

That’s what the gospel really is, once you get right down to it. Everything else is elaboration, implicationmore