Author: Clay Libolt

  • JACOB’S LADDER: HOW OUR SPIRITUAL ANCESTOR GOT EVERYTHING WRONG

    The Bible is a subversive book. It subverts our assumptions about life, about good and evil, about where God is and where God isn’t; it often subverts even what seems like the obvious meaning of the story it tells. Few passages are as subversive in this last sense as the story of Jacob’s ladder in […]

  • RETRIEVING THE WORDS OF FAITH 2: HOLINESS ONE MORE TIME

    Introduction to the Series: Over time through overuse and bad theology words of faith come to lose their meaning or to mean something they did not originally mean. Take “faith.” We often use “faith” to refer to belief. Faith, we suppose, is what we do with our heads. But belief is seldom what the Bible means […]

  • RETRIEVING THE WORDS OF FAITH

    Introduction to the Series: Over time, through overuse and bad theology, words of faith tend lose their meaning or come to mean something which they did not originally mean. An example would be the word “faith” itself. “Faith” has come to mean mostly belief, as if faith is what we do with our heads. As a […]

  • SMALL KINDNESSES: AN ADVENT MEDITATION

    In 1985, Robert Fulgham wrote an essay that later became the bestselling book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (1990). It went viral. Fulgham’s premise was that the simple rules that children learn in kindergarten serve just as well in adult life, such things as: Share everything.Play fair.Don’t hit people.Put things […]

  • IS THE CHURCH’S STANCE ON HUMAN SEXUALITY A CONFESSIONAL MATTER PART 3: 1 CORINTHIANS 6

    A The study committee appointed by Synod 2016 of the Christian Reformed Church “to articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality” was asked by the same synod whether in regard to what the church teaches about human sexuality (with same-sex marriage central to the discussion) the church should declare a status confessionis, ecclesiastical Latin […]

  • IS THE CHURCH’S STANCE ON HUMAN SEXUALITY A CONFESSIONAL MATTER PART 2: THE CLARITY OF SCRIPTURE

    Let’s go back to where we were (for more introduction, see the previous post: “Is the church’s stance on human sexuality a confessional matter? The status confessionis question”). The study committee on human sexuality (a committee charged by the Christian Reformed synod of 2016 “to articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality”) was asked whether the […]

  • IS THE CHURCH’S STANCE ON HUMAN SEXUALITY A CONFESSIONAL MATTER? THE STATUS CONFESSIONIS MATTER

    A brief introduction In June the synod of the Christian Reformed Church, my denomination, will take up a long (175 pages) report of a study committee charged five years ago (Synod 2016) “to articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality.” In an earlier series of posts, I asked whether there is such a thing—“a […]

  • The Bible and Critical Race Theory

    We need historians. Especially now. Especially in traditional liberal arts colleges. Especially in Christianliberal arts colleges. We need historians because History—how to write it, teach it, and think it—is at the center of a current culture war. Often thought to be the dustiest of all academic subjects, History is now determining elections, causing people to behave […]

  • CAN YOU STEAL A BLESSING? RIFFS ON THE STORY OF JACOB

    Because we often read the Bible woodenly, especially those of us who have been taught that the Bible is mostly about teaching religion, we often miss the point, especially if the point is in story rather than theological discourse. And especially if we are not inclined to see the humor and the humanness of these […]

  • THE TOWER OF BABEL: THE DIVINE PREFERENCE FOR DIVERSITY

    The intriguing, funny, and cutting story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) is the last in the collection of stories that makes up the preface to the book of Genesis and, therefore, to the Bible itself. We do well to attend to these stories, not as histories, which is to distort them and lose […]