Showing posts from July, 2015

Seven Things You May Think Are True About Christianity But Are NOT.

1.Jesus is NOT your “personal Lord and Savior.”
He is Lord and Savior but he is not yours. You are his. His mission to reclaim and restore God’s wayward creatures and damaged creation is much bigger than any individual. Better to say that what Jesus is up to is not about us, but we have graciously been included in what he is doing.
2.You will NOT spend eternity in heaven with God.
Heaven is a way station for whatever happens to us after death. Resurrection to a new body and life together with God on the new earth is our eternal destiny (“life after life after death” as N.T. Wright cleverly puts it”).
3.You will NOT spend eternity as a quasi-angelic choir member strumming harps and singing praise to God.
Not that God isn’t worthy of praise but he seems more interested in us doing something else: reigning (Rev.22:5). Or in other words, we will spend eternity doing what humans were created to do – represent and reflect God’s character and will and nurturing creation to its full flourishing.

Postmodern, Post-Christendom…Postcommuter?

Our culture has once again begun to realize the significance of the local, of place, of being rooted. In contrast, Enlightenment thinkers subsumed particular “place” to universal “space.” At least this is the argument made by phenomenologists like Martin Heidegger, who believed that Truth could be revealed only by carefully attending to the things and people nearest to us. The philosophical recovery of particularity converged nicely with a late-modern cultural nostalgia for the local, a concept lost amid the big box stores and MacDonaldized franchises now homogenizing every square inch of the United States.[1] There is increasing evidence in our communities of this “late-modern cultural nostalgia for the local” which I believe is much more than nostalgia, even as we wrestle with conflicting values and structures in its pursuit.[2] As one couple in our Neighbourhood Life missional community reflected, “We’ve learned the importance of proximity especially with our move. It’s really hard t…

How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform

It's bad enough that the banks strangled the Dodd-Frank law. Even worse is the way they did it - with a big assist from Congress and the White House. By May 10, 2012 President Barack Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act alongside members of Congress in 2010. ROD LAMKEY JR/AFP/Getty Images Two years ago, when he signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, President Barack Obama bragged that he'd dealt a crushing blow to the extravagant financial corruption that had caused the global economic crash in 2008. "These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history," the president told an adoring crowd in downtown D.C. on July 21st, 2010. "In history."

This was supposed to be the big one. At 2,300 pages, the new law ostensibly rewrote the rules for Wall Street. It was going to pu…

Rethinking the Rethinking of Transcendence

Posted on15 July 2015by

In his recent article “Rethinking Transcendence,” Greg Boyd invites us to reconsider our understanding of divinity in light of God’s self-revelation in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ:
Consider, would it ever occur to anyone to think that God is “above” experiencing things sequentially, or that God is “above” experiencing any kind of change, if they anchored all their reflections about God in the Word who became flesh (Jn 1:14) and who then offered himself up on our behalf? And would it ever occur to anyone to imagine that God is “above” being affected by others and “above” experiencing passionate emotions or suffering if their thinking about God was consistently oriented around the one who suffered humiliation and death at the hands of wicked humans and fallen powers? I, for one, do not see how. The revelation of God on the cross runs directly counter to the divine attributes of the classical philosophical conception of God. I used to preach alon…

The Four Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Inequality

Robert Reich
Monday, May 5, 2014 Even though French economist Thomas Piketty has made an air-tight case that we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the nineteenth-century robber barons, right-wing conservatives haven’t stopped lying about what’s happening and what to do about it.
Herewith, the four biggest right-wing lies about inequality, followed by the truth.

Lie number one: The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators. So we dare not tax them.

The truth is the middle class and poor are the job-creators through their purchases of goods and services. If they don’t have enough purchasing power because they’re not paid enough, companies won’t create more jobs and economy won’t grow.

We’ve endured the most anemic recovery on record because most Americans don’t have enough money to get the economy out of first gear. The economy is barely growing and real wages continue to drop.

We keep having false dawns. An average of 200,000 jobs were created in the United …

A More Christlike God - A Review

Bradley Jersak’s A More Christlike God is a sort of summation or primer on the last 15 years or so of rethinking God, especially around atonement issues. For many years now I’ve loved my tradition’s (the PCUSA) emphasis that, as I put it, the distinctive claim Christians make is not about how godlike Jesus is, but rather how Jesus-like God is! As you can tell from his title, Jersak agrees. And reclaiming this understanding of God is the big take away from the discussion I mentioned above.
Not that we ever should have lost this heartbeat of Christian faith, but tragically, we did. We too easily accepted damnable surrogates from the culture around us and as we tried to put Christian faith to illicit uses (behavior and social control). Jersak mentions four common false surrogates: God the doting grandfather, God the deadbeat dad, God the punitive judge, and God the Santa Claus blend. I like to reduce them to two: the God with a Scowl and the Nice God of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Greece, Debt and Democracy: A Theological Reflection

Luke BrethertonABC Religion and Ethics7 Jul 2015 Regimes of indebtedness do not simply create objective conditions of oppression; they also forge subjective conditions of domination by inducing feelings of shame, guilt and inferiority. Credit: AFP The drama of Greece and the Euro is an ancient one. It harks back to the origins of democracy, which was born in Athens out of a struggle against debt bondage.
Writing some two hundred years after the reforms that laid the foundations of democracy in Athens, Aristotle sees the demand for an amnesty of debts and an ending of debt-slavery as central to the origins of democracy.

For Aristotle, politics was a means through which the common institutions of self-government preserved the sense of community necessary to subordinate the power of money to the pursuit of the common good.

In the light of the recent referendum, it seems the people of Greece share Aristotle's view of things.
Aristotle reflected the view in ancient Athens - …

The Death Of Expertise


By January 17, 2014

Should Evangelicals Embrace the “Benedict Option”?

July 7, 2015 by 7 Comments Rod Dreher has been blogging about the need for traditional Christians to embrace the “Benedict Option” of retreat from and engagement with post-Christian society. In a recent post, he commented that

It is retreat in the sense that it requires a) an honest and sober recognition of the condition of our post-Christian culture, and the relationship of the church to it; b) a realistic understanding of how radically Christianity opposes the mainstream post-Christian culture; c) a clear grasp of how radically Christians have to live, in community, to “push back against the world as hard as it pushes against you” (Flannery O’Connor), and d) implementing these new, and renewed, ways of living, in part to build resilience for the trials to come, and to guard against assimilation.

It is about engagement in that the church has a mission to serve the world, through evangelism and works of charity. The church can only fulfill its mission if it knows who, and wha…

5 Ways to Preach/Teach Genesis 1-2 None of Which Involve Creationism/Intelligent Design or Evolution!

The vexed matter of how to interpret Genesis 1-2 seems inextricably tethered to debates about science and origins. Sadly, this misplaced focus robs these texts of much of their richness and either unjustifiably inflates the explanatory power of science on the one side, or unjustifiably jaundices our view of it one the other. Many voices, of course, have been raised from many directions contesting this focus on these texts but they seemed to have made little headway. I don’t expect that my contribution will make much headway either. My justification for it is my conviction that the most effective way to contest another perspective is to show the fruitfulness of other perspectives in treating the same issues. It would be a fine thing if all who preached and taught these texts broadened their viewpoints enough to include some or all of the 5 other perspectives on Genesis 1-2 that I will suggest in this piece.

All the peoples and cultures surrounding Israel in the Ancient Near East of the …

Is Your Eschatology Shaped by the Empire (USA)?

So, is your eschatology shaped by the empire? How you respond to the following will provide the answer:
If you are you giddily gleeful that the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are exceedingly depressed that the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are greatly anticipating the day when Barack Obama exits the White House, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are really depressed at the thought of Barack Obama leaving the White House, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you believe that the next President of the United States must be a Republican so we can "take back our country," your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you believe that the next President of the United States cannot be a Republican since they will "take our country backward," your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are more interested in reading polit…

On Same-Sex Marriage: Beyond the Courtroom and Closet to the Table

July 3, 2015 by 0 Comments ©iStockphoto
A gay friend shared with me today how delighted he is in the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage; he spoke of how the ruling brought validation to same-sex couples he knows who have waited for years for equal rights. Yesterday a friend on the other side of the issue shared her consternation. Many people with social conservative convictions fear that they and their views will be consigned to the closet, just like gays and lesbians in the past (See this article and video). I would assume many of you have friends whose emotions and convictions range across the spectrum on this issue. But how often do you and I sit down together with all of them to listen and share? We need to take the conversation from the court room and the closet to the table.

My friend and colleague Dr. Brad Harper is writing a book with his son, Drew. Like me, Brad holds to a traditional view of marriage based on our reading of Christian Scr…

The Sermon on the Mount according to Congressional Jesus

3 Comments Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For they can get a job at minimum wage.

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they made their bad decisions and must suffer the consequences.

Blessed are the meek,
For we can take advantage of them.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For we can promise them free food to get them to vote for us.

Blessed are the merciful,
For we will remove them from their positions for not being “tough on crime.”
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they are the most gullible.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they know how to make peace through war.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
For they will turn over secrets about their terrorist activities.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for this proves that you are standing up for the right things in the right way.

Read more at…

Desiring the End(s) of Salvation

J. Todd Billings

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. –C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

In my theology classes, I often assign works from 4th- and 5th-century theologians debating about Christ and the trinity. These theologians stand in awe before the reality of the Triune God – they stutter with words of poetry and praise as they worship Christ the Lord. They meditate on the astonishing scriptural truth that we have been made adopted sons and daughters of the Almighty King, through the power of the Spirit.
Reformed theologians do not hesitate in speaking about the uniting communion that we experience now – and will experience in…

On Being On The Wrong Side of History

(Caveat: The argument I am about to make has nothing to do with promoting the agenda for or against the Christian support of Same Sex Marriage. It is solely about this argument that is often used to urge church support for it)

When someone tells me “we need to be on the right side of history” I look quizzical and ask whose history? Which history are you talking about? Has anyone been reading literature these past forty years (the beginning of postmodernity)? There is no one interpretation of history. There are multiple histories. To claim one history is right over another is an imperialist move of first order magnitude. Have we just reverted back to Enlightenment fascism? There’s only one history and we own it?
Usually by the time someone says something like this, the right side of history has already been determined. And, using this argument, I am being asked to make a decision between being on the right side and wrong side. The discussion is over. The whole d…