Welcome to Profitable Discourse, my name is John Raines.
The foundations have crumbled, the supports have collapsed and given way. The philosophical and theological landscape within which Christians are situated is marked by profound complexity, and many thus find themselves overwhelmed by a myriad of intellectual and social questions.
We need a way forward. Not a way forward that demonizes doubt nor one that piles on platitudes until we just forget about our doubts. But a way forward that acknowledges the depths of this profound complexity and yet still strives for clarity.
It’s in this spirit that I’ve created Profitable Discourse, which is devoted to clear and serious theological and philosophical thought. I hope that through my thoughts and writings I might do my small part in helping some of us move from confusion to collectedness, from anxiety to tranquility.
Here’s the plan: I want Profitable Discourse to be unique in the world of online theological resources by offering both short-form, judiciously-argued blog posts as well as well-researched, long-form, rigorously-argued essays. God knows we don’t need anymore pat answers, anymore unconvincing responses that ignore the complexities of our issues and refrain from serious intellectual engagement. I want you to have access to thorough theological and philosophical reflections, to explorations that seek to gain and impart a comprehensive, detailed knowledge of issues, topics, problems, and realms. We might not find every solution, and we will have to admit mystery when we must, but we will always strive for clarity.
Serious theology and philosophy needs to be conducted in a certain way; in accordance with what I would call the hermeneutic of love. With the hermeneutic of love, one approaches the perspectives of others in a charitable manner—they sincerely seek to understand a foreign outlook on its own terms, to comprehend someone else’s views before they judge them. They must be at the same time both critical and charitable, both lucid in their intellectual evaluation and open in their attitude to new ideas. Therefore I want us to welcome dialogue and discourse, knowing that since our beliefs have grown into the place at which they presently dwell, we should look forward to their future refinement. I want this to be a place where a Calvinist could be enriched by an Arminianist’s perspective, where an Evangelical could be edified by a Catholic’s perspective. But I also want this to be a place where responsible convictions are carefully defended and lovingly heard, where perceived falsity is bravely challenged out of a sincere concern.
I co-host a podcast entitled Reconstruct, where my friend Dan Koch and I help deconstructing Christians begin reconstructing their faith. I am married to my sweetheart, Kristan, whom I love to death. You can discover her superb baking, writing, and photography skills, for which she is appropriately praised, at The Broken Bread. We reside in the beautiful city of Seattle, where I am attaining my Master’s of Arts in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary with the intent to pursue a Ph.D. afterwards.
Being dedicated to conversation and mutual understanding, I invite you to share your theological inquiries and investigations. I will do my best to respond to each query as well as I can, perhaps even formulating my response in the form of an essay through which all might benefit.