Christianity

81 posts

Blessings and Woe: For Everything There is a Season

This past Sunday our Gospel reading was Luke 6:17-26. After a short preamble, Jesus begins his “sermon on the plain.” 6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and […]

Confusion is Sovereign

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

[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, […]

Creedal Confusion

I receive the daily devotionals from Richard Rohr and his “Center for Action and Contemplation.” I know many friends and a few family members who are appreciative of RR and his group’s work but I find it often very frustrating. I often agree with about 80% or more of what he writes. What often frustrates me is not not the 20% where I do not agree, but how arguments are set up and presented. Too […]

Alternative Christmas Music 2018

A few years ago I shared about Over the Rhine‘s Christmas music. It is a little bit melancholy and a lot of gorgeous. I shared then that I had found one of my all time favorite Christmas albums from 1988, “A Broken Christmas,” was and still is on iTunes. There are quite a few albums that I enjoy this time of year that are not the usual Christmas fare and I thought I would share some […]

What are our priorities?

Whenever I hear the word priorities, I think of Ron Weasley (in the movie version, at least) saying that Hermione, who privileges learning above all else, “needs to get her priorities sorted.” The comment is a bit subversive, it is very amusing, but I have a more serious challenge today. American Christians: we need to get our priorities sorted. What is more important for a Christian, to be right or to be compassionate? What is […]

It’s not just the hearts, it’s the smarts as well.

I often flip that line when recruiting students for the honors college (“We are looking for people with not just the smarts, but the hearts as well.”). But as Chris Tilling points out, Christians (and not just Evangelicals) often go too far into the “hearts” side of faith and usually without understanding the biblical concept of “heart.”  …the Greek word, καρδία (heart), doesn’t mean “muh-feels as opposed to suspicious mental work”. Rather, as the Exegetical Dictionary of the […]

“Whoever is not against us is for us.”

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 […]

Jesus in the Talmud

This past year I was asked by Chris Keith to write a chapter on Jesus in the Talmud for The Reception of Jesus in the First Three Centuries. Last month I was invited to speak at the 1892 Club at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They recorded it and have posted the presentation (and the rest of the series) on YouTube.  

Kingdoms Rise and Kingdoms Fall But We Go On

Year B – Season after Pentecost Proper 6 (11) (June 17, 2018) Fourth Sunday after Pentecost  Readings:  1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13  Psalm 20  2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17  Mark 4:26-34 Kingdoms Rise and Kingdoms Fall But We Go On As I was reflecting upon our readings this morning I was reminded of a line, it came almost unbidden: “Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall but we go on.” It is from the band U2’s title […]