Theology


Confusion is Sovereign   Recently updated!

Warning: This short post is the definition of pedantic. I am going to quibble with the use of the word “sovereign” as applied to God by many Reformed theologians.  It is not surprising that exploring the topic of suffering and grace has led me to consider questions of humanity’s free will, predestination, and God’s sovereignty. For many, the origins and purpose of suffering are directly related to the latter, God’s control over all of creation and history. If God is truly “sovereign” then all events in our lives are controlled and dictated by God. God truly is sovereign . […]


The Divine Perspective: Open Theism and Human Will 2   Recently updated!

[TLDR: Open theism is appealing, but, like Reformed theology today, it insists on looking at things from a human rather than divine perspective of history.] Ages ago, so long ago, in fact, that I do not remember the time or the day or even the year, I realized that I could not hold to a strict belief that God had ordained, structured, determined, and ordered, every final detail of history. Whether one calls it Calvinism, […]


“Whoever is not against us is for us.” 1

What does Jesus really mean when he says “whoever is not against us is for us”? This concept comes up in the Gospel reading for this past Sunday, Mark 9:38-40 (Proper 21, Yr. B), and in the parallel in Luke 9:49-50. (Matt. 12:30 and Luke 11:23 have a similar, yet different phrase in a different context, “he who is not with me is against me.” We will return to that.) In Mark and Luke the […]


Walking in Grace

I continue to wrestle not only with the issue of suffering and grace, but also the book I am attempting to write on the matter. What tone should I take? Should it be more academic, more of a personal reflection, or more essay based? The following is part of the latter effort. Walking in Grace On January 18, 2013 I posted this short reflection on my blog.  A poor analogy but the best one I […]


To every thing there is a season.

“It is what it is” 1

“It is what it is.” A phrase people utter when they are enduring a hardship or, just as often, when there is a problem they would rather not deal with. It is what it is. A horrible, trite phrase. Used all the time, devoid of any real meaning, and all too often intended as a justification for inaction, only slightly more articulate than the monosyllabic “meh,” accompanied by the shrug of the shoulders. It is […]


Toppled Cross

Entering into Lent

An essay for St. B’s quarterly bulletin, The Branch. Growing up in an evangelical Presbyterian church I had never understood Lent until I was in college. I do not mean to suggest that my parents or the pastors did not know about Lent, but it was not something observed in our church and is largely ignored in Presbyterian communities. As I studied church history I began to get some sense of the season and its […]


News from Nashville

This year, after nearly 20 years as both an faculty member and an academic administrator, I am on my first-ever academic leave and, as readers of the blog know, I am working my book on suffering and grace. But two months ago I was contacted and asked if I would consider spending my time in Nashville as the interim rector of St. Bartholomew’s. After an interview process, the vestry decided to extend the call and I […]


Beautiful and Terrible Things — A Biblical Theology of Suffering and Grace 3

This is my most recent idea for the title of a work coming out of my recent writings and talks on suffering. (See the page A Biblical Theology of Suffering for those links.) The quote comes from Frederick Buechner and is oft cited. I have used it for years in graduation speeches. The fuller context is worth considering. It is in his collection of daily meditations, Beyond Words. This is from day 127 and the […]