Conquest Narratives in Christianity and Islam

I’ve guest posted again for Political Theology Today, discussing Pope Francis’ recent claim that Christianity shares in common with Islam an emphasis upon the theme of conquest and his referencing of the Great Commission of Matthew 28 as an example of this. Focusing on Matthew, I argue that the pope’s claim has strong support in the text itself and that recognition of this fact should encourage a greater degree of caution in Christian polemics against Islam’s use of this theme.

As Peter Leithart has observed, the sending out of the Twelve is presented as a ‘quasi-military operation’. They are sheep in the midst of wolves (10:16), whose mission will herald the advent of bitter conflict (10:21), carrying out a campaign that will take them from city to city within the land (10:23). Like Moses commanded Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:7-8), Jesus instructs the Twelve not to be afraid (Matthew 10:26, 31), assuring them that he will confess their names before his Father.

In Matthew 10:34, Jesus declares: ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.’ The presence of this statement in its context is suggestive. Simon Gathercole observes the ‘intriguing possibility’ that this intentionally echoes the ‘I have come’ statements of the sword-bearing Angel of the Lord, perhaps most notably in Joshua 5:13-15, when the commander of the army of the Lord met with Joshua immediately before the conquest of the land.

Taken with the immediately preceding verses, where Jesus casts himself as the heavenly advocate, the ‘I have come’ sayings of Matthew 10:34-35, with their potential allusion to the figure of Joshua 5, hints at an angelomorphic Christology, in which Jesus is identified with the Angel of the Lord. A possible identification of the pre-existent Christ with this figure, who overcame the Egyptians and led the conquest of Canaan, is found elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g. Jude 5; 1 Corinthians 10:4). Such a connection would be especially noteworthy: Jesus’ and Joshua’s conquests are not merely paralleled, but bound together by the fact that Christ initiates both of them.

Read the whole piece here.



Posted in Bible, NT, OT, Politics, Guest Post, In the News, Theological, Controversies, NT Theology, OT Theology, Joshua, Matthew, Apologetics, 2 Kings | Leave a comment

The Politics of Wisdom and Folly

I’ve just guest posted over on Political Theology Today. I discuss the significance of the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs and the relevance of the distinction between the politics of folly and wisdom.

The conceptual interplay between the pursuit of Wisdom and sexual faithfulness and continence is central for Proverbs. Both understanding and folly begin with the heart: folly with the love of error and hatred of reproof (empowering Folly’s weapon of flattery), but understanding with the love of wisdom (philosophia) and the pursuit of uprightness. Without a humble and faithful love for Wisdom, the greatest intelligence can be reduced to a factory of self-pleasing and self-deluding rationalizations.

A close conceptual relation between righteousness, faithfulness, and prudence in sexual relations and marital bonds and the pursuit of understanding and political wisdom is surprising and perhaps scandalous in the contemporary world, where the public realm of politics is considered hermetically sealed both from the sex lives of our leaders and of the electorate. Yet Proverbs controversially implies that these things can never be separated. Both rulers and voters who cannot faithfully direct and guard their loves and desires are compromised political actors.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Bible, Culture, Ethics, Guest Post, In the News, OT, OT Theology, Politics, Proverbs, Sex and Sexuality, Society, Theological | Leave a comment

Podcast: Pentecost


Mere FidelityFor the second week in succession, we have a two man show, as Andrew and Matt were once again unavailable. Derek and I continue to explore some of the biblical theological themes that we raised last week in our discussion of the Ascension, in a discussion of Pentecost and the doctrine of the Church. Take a listen and share your thoughts in the comments!

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.


Posted in Acts, Bible, NT, NT Theology, OT Theology, Podcasts, Scripture, The Church, Theological | 3 Comments

Podcast: The Ascension

Mere FidelityForsaken by the rest of the cast, who apparently had better things to do, Derek and I recorded a two person podcast this week, on the subject of the Ascension. We discuss the theological significance of the event and its background within biblical typology.

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.


Posted in Acts, Bible, Luke, Mark, Matthew, NT, NT Theology, Podcasts, Theological | 2 Comments

Podcast: Amoris Laetitia

Mere FidelityFor this week’s podcast, the Mere Fidelity crew is joined by our friend Pascal Emmanuel Gobry. Within this episode we discuss the papal document, Amoris Laetitia and some of the reactions to it (see, for instance, Matthew Schmitz and Dwight Longenecker).

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.


Posted in Culture, Ethics, In the News, Podcasts, Sex and Sexuality, Society, The Church, The Sacraments, Theological | 1 Comment

Why We Should Jettison the ‘Strong Female Character’

I’ve just guest posted over on Mere Orthodoxy on the subject of the Strong Female Character trope:

Fictional worlds are places in which we can explore possibilities for identity and agency. The fact that women’s stature as full agents is so consistently treated as contingent upon such things as their physical strength and combat skills, or upon the exaggerated weakness or their one-upping of the men that surround them, is a sign that, even though men may be increasingly stifled within it, women are operating in a realm that plays by men’s rules. The possibility of a world in which women are the weaker sex, yet can still attain to the stature and dignity of full agents and persons—the true counterparts and equals of men—seems to be, for the most part, beyond people’s imaginative grasp. This is a limitation of imagination with painful consequences for the real world, and is one of the causes of the high degree of ressentiment within the feminist movement.

Read the full piece here.

Posted in Controversies, Culture, Guest Post, In the News, Politics, Proverbs, Sex and Sexuality, Society, Theological | 22 Comments

A Musical Case For Typological Realism Part 4

The final part of my four part discussion of music and typological realism has just been posted over on the Theopolis Institute:

Music is the glorified form of temporal action and speech. It transfigures and elevates our temporal activities. Figural or typological reading of Scripture attends to the musicality of God’s historical activity, to the ways in which the realm of human action has been taken into the divine symphony. This glorification and healing of human time transfigures: its characters and scenes come to bear and display a greater majesty, participating in and manifesting a beauty and a reality higher than themselves.

The musicality and, hence, the higher unity of time is established through the work of the Holy Spirit. Typology is where we follow the coherent unfolding of the symphony of the Spirit throughout history—the symphony of which Christ is the unifying theme. As an antidote to our overdependence on quasi-spatial and quasi-substantial models for union with Christ, the typological realism I am advocating suggests that our union with Christ should be regarded as existing in large measure within the orchestrated time of the Spirit.

We are united to Christ as he has come into our dissonant and discordant time, healing and transfiguring it through his action, and as the Spirit works this glorious music of Christ into and out of our lives. We are caught up within the Song of the Word, a song once intimated in the softest of broken whispers, then clearly and definitively expressed by its unaccompanied Author, now swelling through the Spirit’s inclusion of new voices under his lead, until one day all creation will resound with it.

Read the whole piece here. If you haven’t already done so, read parts 12, and 3 first.

Posted in Bible, Christian Experience, Creation, Eschatology, Guest Post, Hermeneutics, Liturgical Theology, Music, NT, NT Theology, OT, OT Theology, Philosophy, Sacramental Theology, Scripture, The Church, The Sacraments, Theological, Theology | 1 Comment