Showing posts from January, 2014

You Can’t Have Jesus Without Faith
By Bobby Grow
You can’t simply do historical analysis of the New Testament and expect to come to right conclusions about Jesus. And yet this is where so much of ‘Evangelical’ scholarship (and Christian scholarship in general) resides. You can’t use analogies that start with yourself and work your way to Jesus from there, and expect to find the genuine Jesus; you’ll just end up finding the Jesus who looks oh so much like yourself–the Jesus molded in your own image. So the irony of what I just asserted is that I am saying that you can’t ‘solely’ rely on historical Jesus studies and expect to find the true Jesus, and at the same time I am asserting that we must avoid somehow importing our own historical culturally situatedness back onto the face of Jesus. So what’s the answer to this dilemma? What gets us beyond this impasse of dualism between studying Jesus through historical empiricism and isolated subjectivism? I…

Living the Covenant Triangle


Below is the Covenant Triangle. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Covenant Triangle, see this by Mike Breen). Every story, every teaching, every book of scripture is written through the lens of relationship (Covenant) and responsibility (Kingdom). Below is a teaching tool that summarizes the reality of Covenant from scripture:

Some questions I use personally to align myself  rightly in the Covenant Triangle: Do I measure my closeness to God by how little I’m sinning? Or by my trust that, to the extent the Father loves Jesus, the Father loves me?Do I understand my primary identity as “saved sinner” or “saint who sins”?When I talk to God do I spend more time rehearsing my failures or enjoying His presence?What sort of preaching/teaching do I connect with? Am I drawn to pastors who are “tough on sin” and “let me have it” or those who encourage me to trust what God says about my identity in Jesus? Does their teaching reverse the fl…

6 Bad Reasons to "Go to Church"
by David Fitch
David Fitch presents good and bad reasons for participating in the life of a local church community.
The phrase “go to church” is a “no-no” in missional circles. Some twentysomething chastises me every time I let that phrase slip from my mouth at our church.
Church is not a place we go. It is a way of life we live as being God’s people in the world participating in His Mission.
Acknowledging that, why get up and go on Sunday to the gathering of His people? I must admit to often awakening Sunday morning and experiencing the inertia of getting going to the Sunday morning gathering. And I am a pastor! Why go to such a gathering?
To combat this inertia, I think we can get into some bad habits for “going to church.” If we got rid of these habits, we might actually be able to see the gathering as a more natural part of the rhythms of our l…

How The Christian Doctrine of creatio ex nihilo or ‘Creation Out of Nothing’ Makes Bill Nye a Saint, and Ken Ham a Heretic

By Bobby Grow light of the forthcoming debate between Bill Nye – The Science Guy and Ken Ham – The Creation Science Guy – which will take place at Ham’s Creation Science Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 4th; I thought it would be interesting to consider how the Christian orthodox teaching of creatio ex nihilo (‘creation out of nothing’), which serves prominent for T. F. Torrance’s approach to things, might impact how we as Christians might think about the relationship of Christian theology and the empirical or so called ‘hard’ sciences that engage in observational science. It might in fact be surprising to some, how  ’creation out of nothing’ might in fact favor the methodology advocated by Bill Nye, more so than it does Ken Ham.

Creation out of nothing (CON) was a teaching of the Christian church that developed quit…

And There Was Not a Needy Person Among Them:

John Stackhouse
“Not a Needy Person among Them”
January 29, 2014

Acts 4:34: “There was not a needy person among them.”
No one was crushed under medical bills he couldn’t pay.
No one missed a job interview because she couldn’t find a babysitter.
No one had to forfeit education because he lacked funding.
No one turned to junk food or drugs or porn out of sheer loneliness.
No one kept repeating bad choices because psychotherapy was too expensive.
No one remained in foster care because no one else would adopt.
No one was estranged from God because he had been taught terrible theology.
No one kept quiet all the time, all the time no matter what, for lack of self-respect nurtured in an affirming community.
No one failed to realize her potential on the job because of a stupid or self-absorbed manager.
No one suffered chronic illness alone without anyone else knowing or caring.
No need was left unmet.
There was not a needy pe…
Reading Revelation According to the Four-fold Pattern of Worship
Problem 1 in reading Revelation:its strange and bizarre imagery that most of us have learned to misinterpret to our loss and frustration, ultimately leading to our giving up on the book as a resource for faith.
Problem 2 in reading Revelation:no one has figured out the structure of the book.Since what something means is integrally tied to how it is written and put together, this is a serious difficulty.
Problems 1 and 2 are related.Confusion and perplexity wrapped in opacity results.For some, wisdom is to avoid these visions.For others, they become happy hunting grounds for every manner of exotic, gnostic, and idiosyncratic readings based on ideological premises drawn from outside the text.
I have a suggestion.Born from the failure to date to develop a consensus about the structure of Revelation, my proposal is to look for a structure or pattern for reading it from the experience of the Christian tradition.A widely-shared hi…

a religion of immanence
Jan 29                                                                                   

Walter Brueggemann remarks that what we see in our western culture is a religion of immanence, always a feature of a civil and static religion. The other two features are the economics of affluence and the politics of oppression.

He finds these features in the transition of Israel from a theocracy to a monarchy, and in particular in the transition from David’s rule to Solomon’s, where God and the temple become a part of the royal landscape, in which the sovereignty of God is fully subordinated to the purpose of the king. From this point forward God is “on call” and access to him is controlled by the royal court. Brueggemann sees this as the final and deadly state of affairs after a long slide downward from the radical Mosaic vision of freedom and justice.

The social purpose of a really transcendent God is “to have a court of appeal again…

Aquinas on Virtue #1 (Introduction)

In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas offers a closely reasoned and orderly Treatise on the Virtues. Aquinas drew heavily from the philosopher Aristotle, but also imported theological considerations that moved beyond the ancient Greek philosopher.

Aristotle was concerned with (among other things) what has been referred to as the function argument, that is, virtue refers to the ability of something to function well. The virtue of the horse is running, the virtue of the knife is cutting. When the matter of function is applied to the human person, one asks what characteristics allow a person to live well. This not only refers to the qualities necessary for an individual in the performance of his or her job, but also to one's station in life as a husband or wife, etc. Aquinas uti…

Defending Barth and Torrance from the Charge of Incoherence: Contra Robert Letham and Others
By Bobby Grow
Karl Barth and Thomas F. Torrance are both, and often accused of being incoherent in their material theological positions and conclusions. Robert Letham most recently has made this charge against Thomas Torrance in particular (and it might as well have been against Karl Barth as well). Letham writes against Torrance:
… It is simply incoherent for Torrance to say what he says about the definitive justification and reconciliation for all people and yet to deny universal salvation. Moreover, if it is possible for people to reject Christ and what he has done, it cannot be definitive and effective for them and cannot have been complete in Christ’s person. It simply will not do to dismiss criticism on this point by the assertion that Torrance’s claims stem from a center in God and that the critics have an uncrucified epistemology; this is to break d…

America’s Biggest Crises are Rooted in the Fact that the Economy is Rigged for the Wealthiest

Image A paradigm shift is taking place. It is coming from the awareness that all of our crises are connected to an economy rigged for the wealthiest. The symptoms of big finance capitalism create the poverty, low wages, economic insecurity and environmental destruction so a handful can profit. While these facts have been hidden by political leaders and corporate mass media, now people are seeing them and understand the task we have before us.

The Radical Dr. King

This past Monday, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. History books and the new Memorial in DC commemorate Dr. King for his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and his work for civil rights. Most people have been led to celebrate this limited version of Dr. King’s life. In fact, there has been an attempt to erase the last 5 years of his life, a time when he espoused a deeper political analysis, dared to question capi…