Theopolis Institute teaches men and women to lead cultural renewal by renewing the church. Participants in its various programs—its courses, conferences, and publications—will gain competence to read the Bible imaginatively, worship God faithfully, and engage the culture intelligently.

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Theopolis Institute Regional Course: Who is God?

We think we know. God is a stern Rule-Maker who has a bit of an anger management problem. Or, God is the indulgent Daddy in the sky. Or, God used to be a stern Ruler, but he got nice. Christians don’t believe any of that. Christians say the one God has a threefold name – […]

Why We Should Jettison the “Strong Female Character,” Part III

Click HERE for part 1 of this series, and HERE for part 2. The recurring characterization problems with such Strong Female Characters arise in no small measure from the struggle to show that men and women are interchangeable and can compete and cooperate with each other on the same terms. As I have already noted, […]

Why We Should Jettison the “Strong Female Character,” Part II

The Rise of the Action Heroine Click HERE for part 1 of this series. Partly as a result of this everywoman heroine trend, partly in order to be more inclusive in traditionally male dominated genres, partly in order to push back against stereotypes, partly in order to legitimate eye candy for male audiences, partly in […]

Lamech’s Patsy: The Human Cost of State Hypocrisy

I was in prison and you came to me. (Matthew 25:36) From the New York Times: U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, […]

Why We Should Jettison the “Strong Female Character”: Part 1

The trailer for the latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was released last week. Following the success of the revival of the franchise in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, anticipation is unsurprisingly at a fever pitch. As in the case of The Force Awakens, much of the pre-release speculation and comment has been preoccupied […]

Seeking Integration in a Fragmented World: Integration Requires an Integrative Epistemology: Michael Polanyi

The word, “integration,” can sound abstract, technical, unhelpful. But as I represented it in my first installment on this matter, I take it instead to be the central desire of our lives. We long to integrate life, and to integrate ourselves. I offered as a preliminary definition, that integration is creatively putting things together. We […]

Worship as Ordination

Anyone who has read his Bible straight through has done it. Admit it. When you get to those parts in Exodus that deal with the instructions for and construction of the Tabernacle, your eyes glaze over and your mind begins to wander. Measurements, lists of materials, meticulous details about clothes and tent pegs are not […]

Bread and Cup

This article is a continuation of James Jordan’s article, “From Bread to Wine“.  We will here investigate the use of the word “cup” for the wine. I suggest that the cup itself corresponds to the firmament shell between heaven and earth, and that the liquid in the cup corresponds to the waters above the firmament. […]

Streams in the Desert

Mark 1:11-13 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered […]

From Bread to Wine

In the Bible, bread (and beer, usually translated “strong drink,” liquid bread made from grain) is priestly and wine is kingly and prophetic. Bread comes first and wine later. Bread is alpha food while wine is omega food. You eat bread in the morning and drink wine at night. Bread is suitable for children while […]

Herbertian Lessons for Lent

I live in an area where Mardi Gras is in full swing, and I can remember from my upbringing that Fat Tuesday was a last ditch effort at debauchery before the pseudo-spiritual practice of “giving something up for Lent” really began. In my youth I would give up some kind of chocolate or candy, something […]

Of Wine and Wineskins

Part 1: Observations from the Texts (Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:33-39) The precipitating context for the new wine/old wineskins discussion is people asking Jesus why His disciples did not fast. His immediate answer is that you can’t get the friends of the groom to fast at the bachelor party or the wedding — they […]

True Progress

Simply, “progress” means to move forward. In that sense, a slug can progress from one end of the sidewalk to the other. But for us in twenty-first century America, progress means something else. For us, it is almost a synonym for goodness. The slug can only “progress” if the other end of the sidewalk is […]

On Abortion and Real Love

I have the privilege of being able to counsel a lot of women who are seeking abortions. I can tell you that the majority of them are seeking to end their pregnancies not because they feel like it would be a fun thing to do, but because they are scared out of their minds and […]

What Pastors Could Learn From Jordan Peterson

Last night, along with a few online friends, I watched this debate on the meaning of life between William Lane Craig, Rebecca Goldstein, and Jordan Peterson, hosted by Wycliffe College. While watching it, and reflecting upon Peterson’s work more generally (about which I’ve written in the past), I was struck by some of the lessons that preachers can […]

Seeking Integration in a Fragmented World

I’m glad to have been invited to contribute regularly to the Theopolis Institute website. Thank you, readers, for welcoming and joining what I hope will be a venture of integration. Integration itself is what I want to explore. And for me personally, this is the shape of my current integrative quest. Christian believers of certain […]

The Complexity of Biblical Allusion

There is no question about the fact that the book of Deuteronomy is full of literary allusion. But there is a serious problem, even a paradox, of understanding how that allusion works. To begin with, if we assume that Deuteronomy was written by Moses — with some editorial emendations added later — we have to […]

The Artificial Resurrection

Genesis and Genetics in Blade Runner 2049 The power of science fiction, and what’s positive about it, is that you’re able to experience the worst-case scenario without actually having to live it. (Actor Ryan Gosling, who plays Officer “K”) (Warning: The following analysis contains spoilers for both Blade Runner films.) Released in 1982, the original […]

The Battle of Gog and Magog

The battle of Gog and Magog is found in Ezekiel 38-39. My purpose in this brief essay is to propound an explanation for this passage that I have not encountered in any of my commentaries, but that makes more sense to me than any other. I offer it here in the hope that others can […]

Deep Hope

I. Varlam Shalamov in Kolyma Tales describes his experience of the Gulag, where he spent more than a dozen of years. In a story titled The Life of Engineer Kipreev Shalamov reflects on the theme of hope in the life of a prisoner: “Hope always shackles the convict. Hope is slavery. A man who hopes […]

Abram’s 318 Men

Genesis 14:14 says that Abram mustered his trained men, “born in his house,” to rescue Lot, and gives their number as 318. It is clear that the precise number is provided for some reason, but what is it? S. Gevirtz notes that 318 is the sum of all the prime numbers between 7 and 7 […]

The Flying Scroll

And he said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits” (Zechariah 5:2). Immediately following his vision of the outpouring of the Spirit upon the restoration community (4:1-14), Zechariah saw a flying scroll. The interpreting angel told him that […]

The Gospel according to the Sacraments (Part 3): One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

In the first post of this series, I proposed that the sacraments of baptism and communion are the nexus point for the evangelical and ecumenical movements. In the following post, I proposed a new orientation for ecumenism – a conciliarity of the cross – with the necessary confession of guilt as the first step towards […]

Christian Mission and Cultural Transformation

“Contextualization” is now, and has been for a long time, the buzzword for the day.1 Missionary effort in non-Western countries is all about “contextualization” — making our communication of the Gospel, if not the Gospel itself, fit into the culture to whom we from the West speak.2 There is, of course, an element of truth in […]

The Gospel According to the Sacraments, Part 2

In my previous post, I highlighted the sacraments as the point of convergence between evangelicalism and ecumenism arguing that baptism and communion are presented in the New Testament as signs of the gospel that simultaneously enact and remember union with Christ and the unity of Christ’s body. I concluded that post by appealing to evangelical’s […]

Baptism and Contextualization: Part II

Click HERE for Part I of this series. What does baptism have to do with culture? As I said in the previous essay, the short answer is “everything!” To begin with, baptism is baptism into Jesus’ death (Romans 6:3). Paul explains this as the crucifixion of the “old man” (“old self”) in a chapter that […]

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