Christianity

86 posts

Billy Graham Warned Us: “The hard right has no interest In rellglon except to manipulate It.”

Billy Graham was a great man, by any estimation. It is often assumed that he was very conservative politically and his son Franklin certainly takes that position. But in many things in life Franklin has not listened to his father. As Franklin calls for his followers to align themselves with the political agenda of the President, many are sharing a “meme” with the above quote from his father Billy. As Abraham Lincoln once famously said, […]

How to Read Ancient Texts

I am reading the proofs of my contribution to The Reception of Jesus in the First Three Centuries. The following quotes from Daniel Boyarin are true not only for dealing with what the Talmud has to say about Jesus but for any time we are engaging ancient texts. The effort must be made to read the texts in their own context and resist the temptation to ask of the texts the questions we have, but […]

Why “Shepherd”?

This past Sunday was “Good Shepherd Sunday,” so-called because of the reading from John 10. The entire chapter is full of sheep and shepherd imagery and, for many of us, it is a reminder of how far away from that agrarian experience we are. A colleague on Facebook asked, “So what’s a good 21st C equivalent of a Good Shepherd? Good Librarian? Good Trash Collector? Good Barista?” I think it is an excellent question, a […]

CS Lewis and George MacDonald on Theological (un)Certainty

This image was on a Facebook meme, so I am not sure of the source of the quotes. The one from Lewis is in keeping with various other analogies which he has made in The Problem of Pain. [Others have pointed out that the quote above is from his Reflections on the Psalms.] There is a passage in his chapter “Divine Goodness” (pp. 32-33) that also provides an analogy with dogs that speaks to this […]

Let’s be honest, why did Jesus die on a cross?

We are fast approaching Good Friday and the interwebs is filling with people post and reposting essays about the crucifixion. The ones that always nag at me are those that seek to argue that Jesus’ death was not somehow an atoning sacrifice offered for our sins.1 The usual objection is based upon a rejection of penal substation or any of the other various models of atonement theory. The link provided has a very nice summary […]

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 […]