The Christian Studies Blog


The Letter and Spirit of Biblical Interpretation: A New Book

Posted by Dr. Keith Stanglin on August 20, 2018 at 10:42 AM

When people have asked me what I am reading about, or which course I am teaching this fall, or what my most recent book is about, and my answer is the “history of interpretation,” I have noticed a facial expression that, as a historical theologian, I have become accustomed to seeing.  Their look, or sometimes their accompanying explanation of it, conveys the message that both history and interpretation are sufficiently boring on their own, and the combination of the two must be dreadful. 

To ask about the history of biblical interpretation, however, is to ponder very important questions for our own day.

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Topics: Church History, Church Fathers, biblical interpretation

My Reformation Day Dream: The Catholic Council that Never Was

Posted by Dr. Keith Stanglin on October 24, 2017 at 9:30 AM


“O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions.  Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly Union and Concord: that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one Hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond of Truth and Peace, of Faith and Charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you: through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”  -Book of Common Prayer

Earlier this month, when I mentioned to my students that the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses is coming up on October 31, one student asked, “Wasn’t the Reformation a good thing?” 

I’m not sure if my announcement unintentionally stirred a sense of doubt, but I had to respond, “It’s a mixed bag.”  There certainly were things about the church’s doctrine and morals that needed reforming, and, to the degree that Protestants reformed them, it was successful and beneficial, and we should be grateful.  But have all the results been good?  The answer is clearly “no.”

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Topics: On-Topic Today, Teaching Moment, Church History

Calvinism and Its Implications

Posted by Dr. Keith Stanglin on September 5, 2017 at 9:30 AM

In a blog post earlier this year in which I discussed the resurgence of Calvinism and what we might learn from Calvinism, it occurred to me that I never really defined Calvinism.  So, for those who don’t know or simply need a reminder, perhaps a description of Calvinism is in order, followed by a brief summary of some of its more problematic implications. 



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Topics: Teaching Moment, Calvinism, Church History, Arminianism

Download New Issue of Christian Studies Journal

Posted by Dr. Keith Stanglin on June 22, 2017 at 9:30 AM

From the early days of the Restoration Movement, Churches of Christ and Christian Churches distinguished themselves from their near neighbors on the American frontier with a noticeably robust ecclesiology, reflected in, among other things, the theology and practice of baptism.  Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott’s “high” view of baptism stood out in the context of the Second Great Awakening, wherein salvation often came to be connected to a subjective experience of the Holy Spirit that was externally manifest in ways other than baptism. 

For evangelists like Charles Finney, someone could respond by approaching the “anxious seat.”  All of this took place apart from water baptism.  Campbell’s association of believers’ baptism with salvation was denigrated by most evangelicals as “baptismal regeneration” and seen as a regression to salvation by works.  In the eyes of many evangelicals today, baptism “for the remission of sins” is still regarded as a false teaching that undermines justification by grace through faith.

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Topics: Christian Studies Press, About Austin Grad, Restoration Movement, Baptism, Church History

Black Friday and Blue Laws: What’s Lost in Post-Constantinianism

Posted by Dr. Todd Hall on January 26, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon argue in Resident Aliens that the opening of the movie theater in their hometown on Sundays represented the end of Christendom, and the beginning of an opportunity for “real” Christianity to emerge from the shadow of Constantinianism. This insight is important, and there can be no doubt that the end of “blue laws” at least embodies the shift in epoch experienced as these United States transitioned from a society structured around the edifice of the religion called “Christianity” to a secular, market-driven social structure. Is this a good thing, though?

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Topics: On-Topic Today, Politics, Church History

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