26 Oct 2017

Round Table: Interpretation of Scripture

Introduction Christian life flows forth from the nourishing Word of God. Each generation encounters the sacred text, and responds in love to the divine laws written therein. And yet, the interpretation of Scripture is a topic that oftentimes divides more than it unites. The complexity of the text dictates that we may not all think the same way; yet, in line with our mission to promote meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions, we asked our authors

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17 May 2016

Round Table: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? This is a question which has received much attention in recent years, with numerous theologians and cultural commentators weighing in on what has become a hotly contested debate. And rightly so, for as Christian and Islamic civilizations clash, a clarification of the foundations of each worldview remains necessary for understanding each religion and what is at stake. Yet the question of this month’s Round Table discussion does

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07 May 2015

5 Mistakes White Folks Make When Discussing Race

The recent events in Baltimore and Ferguson, along with the killings of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Eric Garner and John Crawford III, have thrust the issue of race back into our public discourse. It is a discussion that needs to take place. It is a talk we must have. Unfortunately, discussions on race relations often devolve into shouting matches, tired cliches, and playing the “blame game.” Here, I would like to outline 5

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23 Apr 2015

Old School Evangelism

Two weeks ago I was witnessed to. An evangelical armed with a King James Bible and a million dollar smile didn’t ask me if I knew where I would go if I died today. I wasn’t given the latest edition of The Watchtower by a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wasn’t stopped by a couple of clean-cut young men in white dress shirts, sporting backpacks and the Book of Mormon. No, I wasn’t proselytized by

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09 Apr 2015

Book Review: The Joy of the Gospel (Pope Francis)

Pope Francis, head of the world’s largest church, is easily the most influential Christian in the world. Though non-Catholic, I have been thoroughly impressed and inspired by Pope Francis’s dedication to living the gospel. From rejecting the lavish papal residence to sneaking out of the Vatican at night to help the poor, the current pontiff seems to follow the example of Christ closer than any other Christian figure today. It is with this admiration that

Chris Smith 1
26 Mar 2015

Book Review: The Grand Paradox (Ken Wytsma)

In The Grand Paradox, aptly subtitled “The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith,” Ken Wytsma discusses the struggles that all of us endure as we journey through life. As the author repeats many times throughout his work, “life is messy and God is mysterious” and trust in God is a necessity. No matter how strange or complicated life becomes, we will persevere as long as we place God at

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12 Mar 2015

Are you willing to cross that bridge? – A review of Selma

This past Sunday, as America commemorated the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I decided to take my 10-year-old daughter to see the film Selma. I am so glad I did. It was one of the most important and powerful films I have ever seen. I was brought to tears during the opening scenes of the film.   Selma opens

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26 Feb 2015

Houston, We Have a [Muslim] Problem

As someone who has spent the last six years of my life studying the history and culture of Muslim societies, I find myself increasingly troubled by the way in which Americans, and particularly Christians, speak about Islam and Muslims. When Christians, especially those with a conservative worldview, write or speak about Islam, you typically find the same problematic sources and anti-Muslim activists being utilized over and over. It is rare to see a Christian engaging

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12 Feb 2015

A little less Friedman, a little more Hayek

Milton Friedman and Friedrich August von Hayek are two of the most prominent economic thinkers of the twentieth century. Both men are also deeply influential among those with conservative and/or libertarian philosophical leanings and the ideas of both have shaped global capitalism. Over the past year, I finally sat down and read two of the foundational works written by these men, Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom and Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and came to the

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29 Jan 2015

The Orthodox Church and Ecology

“To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin.” – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew1 His All-Holiness Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew uttered these words on November 8, 1997 at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara, California. This statement came as a shock to many in the media having never heard such bold environmentalist language from a religious leader, much less a Christian one. It is common in our Protestant-dominated culture to

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15 Jan 2015

The Bible in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition

In this article, I will give a short overview of the function, place, and authority of the Christian Bible in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. First, it must be noted that I am not, as of the writing of this post, an official member of the Orthodox Church. My family is currently attending a Greek Orthodox Church and plan to join the Church in the near future. The view of the Bible outlined in this post

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01 Jan 2015

New Books for My Daughters

I am always looking for good books to help teach my daughters the beauty of the Christian message. This Christmas season my daughters received several new Christian-themed children’s books. In this post I would like to review three of them, two of which I obtained free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and one that I purchased for my girls as a Christmas gift.   Let There Be Light by Desmond Tutu

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18 Dec 2014

Becoming Whoville

One of my favorite holiday traditions will always be watching the classic Christmas specials with my daughters: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and especially Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated version, not the Jim Carrey flick). Dr. Seuss’s holiday classic offers perhaps the best message for Christian children during the Nativity season. Most are familiar with the story of the wicked Grinch whose heart was bitter

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04 Dec 2014

The Church is Not a Mall

A few weeks back I received a postcard in the mail from a local non-denominational church inviting me to attend. The invitation also instructed me to bring the postcard with me to church in order to receive a free cup of coffee from their coffee shop. This was their gimmick, their way to get me in the door. Not the chance to meet my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not the opportunity to worship with

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20 Nov 2014

On Zombies and Communion

Over 22 million Americans watched the Season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead, making it the most watched cable show of all time. The series, airing on Sunday nights, routinely outperforms Sunday Night Football in the touted 18-49 demographic. The Walking Dead is only the most recent success story in the zombie apocalypse genre. The Resident Evil film franchise has a combined gross of over $900 million worldwide and last year’s World War Z, a

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23 Oct 2014

Lying in Christ’s Name: Part Two

During the past decade, a small group of evangelical Christians claiming to be “ex-Muslim extremists” have entered the public discourse on Islam. They have written books, given speeches to law enforcement and military personnel, and appeared in the media. Unfortunately, their narratives contain serious discrepancies and several outright falsehoods. It cannot be known whether their deception is based on ideological motives, monetary reasons (these men have earned substantial amounts of money, including taxpayer funds, to

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09 Oct 2014

Lying in Christ’s Name: Part One

Lying or deceiving to advance a religious agenda in nothing new. It is something that has taken place throughout history by the adherents of virtually every major religious tradition. When the first Christians appeared on the scene, the Romans accused them of incest and ritualistic orgies (latching onto the fact that Christians called each other “brother” and “sister” and called their priests “father”) and cannibalism (due to the language of the Eucharist – “body and

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25 Sep 2014

Our Tower of Babel

Probably no story from the Bible better exemplifies human arrogance than that of the Tower of Babel. This story, found in Genesis 11, tells of a time when the entire world was united by one language and a single race. In that time of unity, the people built a great city and attempted to construct a massive tower capable of reaching heaven. For this monumental delusion of grandeur, God humbled the people by “confusing their

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11 Sep 2014

The Foolishness of Walter White

My wife and I finally got around to “binge-watching” the immensely popular TV series Breaking Bad on Netflix. I was initially reluctant to watching this show given my general skepticism to all pop culture phenomena. I assumed this was just another “shoot em up” excuse to glorify sex, violence, and drug abuse. However, as I quickly found out there was much more to this particular show. The drugs and violence of Breaking Bad, in fact,

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28 Aug 2014

Why on Earth Would a Christian Dedicate Their Life to Studying Islam?

Why in the world would a white Christian American make a career of studying Islam and Muslim civilizations? Why would anyone put himself through the ridicule or the ostracization? I have been called things like “terrorist sympathizer” and “al-Qaeda operative” on social media not only by strangers, but also by a few personal acquaintances. So why even bother? I am not a Muslim. I do not belong to any Middle-Eastern ethnicity. Why should I care

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