Black Bible Reading Endures

Thank you for Kate Shellnutt’s article on the pervasive and faithful readership of the Bible by African Americans. I was not surprised by the ABS findings. The line “Historically we had to turn to our Bibles as the only source of hope, even as Scripture was being twisted to buttress our subjugation” is what makes the article make sense. Black folk don’t have the luxury of reading the Bible simply as literature because we’ve lived the hardship found on its pages.

Rev. Gordon Glenn
Kansas City, MO

Body Politics

I agree that given the right conditions, we are to be stewards, not owners of our bodies. How beautiful it is to see this witnessed in loving marriages, founded on mutual respect and love, as well as practiced in celibacy. However, we must acknowledge that aside from those of us who are privileged enough to be surrounded and supported by like-minded people, this is putting the cart before the horse. It is akin to expecting a poor child to pay attention in school when he/she hasn’t had a decent meal in days. In this example, we recognize the need to provide for more basic needs first before moving to higher ideals and needs. Yet for some reason, it is hard for us to see that this applies to so many women who are caught in the middle of this ongoing debate. Society as a whole has failed them and continues to fail to provide for those more basic needs (such as but certainly not limited to healthcare, birth control, etc.) that are required in order to move toward the ideal. Unfortunately, the abortion war will rage on in the tiresome old way as long as we insist on putting the cart before the horse. What else can a woman do but try to claim her own body as hers when she is not supported in any way by policies that enable her to flourish otherwise? Let’s not give up on the ideal, but let’s be courageous enough to think deeper and wider in order to make space for this to be a real possibility for all women to consider.

Lisa Hill
Kandern, Germany

The 2019 Book Awards

I just want to applaud Lauren Pusateri’s photography for this feature. I clicked for the book reviews, but LP’s images here are compelling art in their own right. Excellent visual work that elevates the reporting / communicating. Bravo.

Michelle Gourley

Church as Family

I loved Krish Kandiah’s article about the church as a family. He concisely and brilliantly talked about the reclamation process as not about branding or being culturally relevant. His discussion about the power of a generative metaphor was also a great reminder that how we talk about things (the words that we choose) does a lot to lead us down both the right and wrong paths. A must-read for all pastors!

Cheryl Berto
Delta, BC, Canada

Making Sense of the Atonement

I think when Eleonore Stump criticizes Anselm’s theory—insofar as God apparently satisfies justice by punishing the innocent and letting the guilty go free—she makes the same mistake many evangelicals do. She drives a wedge between Christ’s substitutionary work and his deity. Or, to put it more strongly, between God the Father and God the Son.

John Harutunian
Newton, MA

Mark Galli is right—substitutionary atonement is mysterious, essential, and supra-rational. A common mistake is to equate penal satisfaction theory of atonement with the broader theory of substitutionary atonement. The Bible speaks often of one individual efficaciously dying in place of others. All Christians who believe in Christ’s atonement believe that Christ’s death and resurrection substitute for us. But only penal satisfaction describes that death as God’s demand that someone die to satisfy his just wrath, that God is powerless to forgive without being paid with blood. This is not to say that one cannot find language in the Bible that suggests that God is satisfied in Christ’s death—only that making penal satisfaction the primary theory goes beyond what the Bible supports. Christ died for us. The just, holy, and righteous God offers loving salvation through that death. Insisting that Christ’s death gave God the ability to forgive and save is neither supported by the Bible nor rational.

Lynn Jost
Fresno, CA

I Escaped from Iran but Not from God

Thank you so much for this story from David Nasser. It resonates with me a thousand times over. I am the daughter of an Iranian mother and American (atheist) father and also grew up in the Bible Belt of Texas. I only found God about ten years ago and have held onto him despite my background. I truly appreciate David’s story with all my heart, soul, and Iranian-Texan roots.

Shayda Windle
Purcellville, VA

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