A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Caption Contest

 - new air control after 9/11

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Church Bashing and Kingdom Utopia

from Scot McKnight:
It is not uncommon to read someone poke the church but no one pokes the kingdom. (There’s a story in that observation that can’t be engaged in this post but I discuss how to compare the two in Kingdom Conspiracy.) More often than not people poke the church because they have an eye (or two) on the kingdom. Which is a way of saying they poke the church because they are strapped to utopia. Much kingdom thinking spins between utopia and idealism.

The church of our reality struggles with folks who have utopian visions of the church and for the church. It only takes a good dose of reality, a theology of here-and-now reality, to reveal that the pokes are based on utopian visions that are not for the here-and-now-church.

Comparing our real churches with the glories of the future kingdom fastens us to depression or rejection of the church.
The entire post, "The Church’s Struggle with Utopia," can be read here.

Eat Your Peas! Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs

Actually, my mother never had to tell me to eat my peas at dinner because I love peas. In fact, it is one of my favorite vegetables; but mothers all over the world have and continue to instill such proverbs in their children.

A proverb is "a short, memorable, and often highly condensed saying embodying, esp with bold imagery, some commonplace fact or experience." Every culture and people employ them in daily wisdom. It seems that we human beings benefit from such simple and direct wisdom because we have a tendency to complicate the obvious. So, the wise sage who wrote the book of Proverbs gives us some brief, but nourishing food for thought in straightforward fashion.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christianity Turning Secular: It's About Convenience and Being Trendy

from Carl R. Trueman at First Things:

This week I read two articles that seem to capture the contradictory impulses of this present age. The first reported that Christ United Methodist Church in Shreveport is offering "Ashes to Go" services on Ash Wednesday. This will allow people simply to receive the ashes in their cars for a kind of "drive-thru" shriving. In the second, David Brooks argues that secularism must in the future become more enchanted, more sensitive to the transcendent, if it is to flourish.

I Want One of These!

The Competition Really Isn't Much Competition

Gregory of Nyssa.jpgWhen I was young, I played little league baseball. I have no idea how teams were chosen. We just waited to receive a call from our coach in the spring informing us of the team we were on. Whether it was coincidental or some coaches rigged the draft, it was clear halfway through the season that some teams had the lion's share of the talent and other teams were woefully lacking in ability. I was fortunate enough to have played on the one of the most talented teams in the league, and at the time it was quite fun beating up on the less talented teams. When I played little league some forty years ago, there were no rules about everyone having to play at least a couple of innings and there were no mercy rules when it came to scoring. Thankfully, most kids' leagues now have such rules in place, but when I was playing, if the score was 32-2 in the last inning, we played until the very last out. There were evenings when the competition we faced was not really much competition.

Bishop and Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-395) writes the following:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I'm Only Human... But That's Not the Problem

I'm only human. This is something we say or hear said when explaining a wrong done or when exhibiting a flaw in our character. I'm only human. It's another way of saying, "I'm not perfect," or "I'm frail." I'm only human. It's another way of saying, "I'm a sinner."

But to equate our humanity with sin is quite problematic from a theological standpoint. Nowhere does the Bible equate sin with humanity. Nowhere does the Bible state that the problem with humanity is that it is human. God created us human. The problem, the Bible insists, is our sin, which is something entirely different from our humanity. Our sin is not a revelation of our humanity; rather it demonstrates that we are less than human, we are not what God created us to be.

The Christian belief in Incarnation is an affirmation of our humanity. Jesus was fully human. The fact that he was without sin, as the Book of Hebrews claims (Hebrews 4:15), is what makes Jesus fully human. You and I are human, but our sin will not allow us to put the adverb "fully" in the description. Jesus Christ has come to change that. Salvation in Jesus Christ is the work by which God intends to restore our humanity.

Only a fully human (and fully divine) Jesus can restore the cracked image of God in us and return us to the full height of our humanity, the humanity God intended for us. Without this salvation, we will hopelessly remain less than human.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Google Hangout: What are the Essential Doctrines of Christianity?

You are invited to join me in an online panel discussion on "Biblical Essentials: What are the Essential Doctrines of Christianity," tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. I will be part of a panel of three.

The Google+ link is here. You can also watch and listen to the discussion on YouTube, here.

The difference between using Google+ and YouTube is that if you use Google+ you can use the Q&A app to ask questions of the panel.

I hope you can join us tomorrow night.

Learning the Content of the Name: A Lectionary Reflection on Mark 8:31-38

Mark 8:31-38

At the beginning of Mark 8 we read that the crowd is once again in a desolate place, and Jesus is concerned with their physical well-being. In several places the Hebrew Scriptures promise that God's future salvation will make the desert blossom. Just as God supplied food to the people in the wilderness of Sinai, so the people of Israel looked forward to the day when God would bring a new Exodus of deliverance that would supply an abundance. The miracle of feeding the masses from a few loaves of bread and some fish was a sign that the hope of Israel was now being fulfilled in Jesus.