07 Jul 2016

Some Women Just Don’t Know What’s Good For ‘Em

I’d like to ask the reader to take a moment and join me in a round of applause for women. I did not know this until recently, but they’ve all been fighting a very important battle in the Supreme Court these last few months, and it seems they have, at last, emerged victorious. I do not know how they all managed to cram in the courtroom at once, or even how they managed to do

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29 Jun 2016

Ascension

This could be the sky Jesus flew up through And this could be the ground with the city around Where he left his disciples to wait for him too Because we still stand looking where he went Even though the angel is here we don’t seem to hear That he went away so we could stay and be sent Perhaps we are those same five hundred fed Who want to be given things and make

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22 Jun 2016

The Ethics of Funny

Many moons ago, I wrote an article titled The Divine Art of Funny, wherein I described the nature and purpose of humor from a Christian perspective. In short, humor is the study of incongruities in life and the world, and those incongruities which elicit a pleasure response like laughter and smiles are what we call “funny.” Whereas materialists are only able to describe humor in terms of evolutionary and psychological causation, I suggest that there

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08 Jun 2016

The One About Donald Trump

The world lost its mind while I was on vacation. I don’t believe this is my fault. However, I fully acknowledge this is not a very good excuse. If push comes to shove, I will take the blame—if for no other reason than to avoid the inevitable avalanche of tiresome op-eds about who is to blame for the world’s mind and the losing thereof. This will save time and, presumably, money for the publications who

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01 Jun 2016

Coffee Hour

An essential part of any Orthodox Sunday morning liturgy is the coffee hour. Whether it’s literally just coffee and baked goods, or a full meal, this is where the Church, renewed as Christ’s body through the Eucharist, practices self-care before going out to work in the world. Everything culminates in coffee hour Not that being on time isn’t important, But the Kingdom will be blessed before you’re there Just like the food will be blessed

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27 May 2016

The Shadow of the Sacred

The Shadow of the Sacred I recently had the extraordinary opportunity to tour Israel and visit a number of historical and sacred sites. And as I fully anticipated from the beginning, the trip’s most memorable moments by far were found within the city of Jerusalem. Seated at the intersection of three different faith traditions—Jewish, Christian, and Islamic—the city has been contested for centuries, and currently exists in an uneasy “status quo” arrangement predicated on mutual

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24 May 2016

To My Single Christian Friends; Why Wait?

In the world of Christendom, marriage is looked upon as a holy sacrament, a demonstration of Christ and the church, the subject of political debate, or worst of all the inevitable conclusion of a heart-connection between two people. The issue with this perspective is not that marriage is bad for relationships, but that for many people it has become a destination to reach, not necessarily a journey to be started. The difference is similar to

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29 Apr 2016

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity? Part II

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity Part I. I. The Reality of Sin in Apophatic Theology Viewing God as the ultimate embodiment of moral rightness means that moral action, and the moral life, is intrinsically oriented away from the self: one ought to sublimate one’s own will and desires when those sentiments impel toward self-aggrandizement or self-centeredness. Moral evil, then, is a self-oriented derogation from the moral perfection God epitomizes. Spong correctly (and in line with

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13 Apr 2016

Christianity is Nonsense

I have sometimes been accused of holding onto my faith for no other reason than rank stubbornness or some vague sense of tribalist loyalty. This assumes on the behalf of the accuser that Christianity is something like a philosophy to which one has proudly ascended and is now too entrenched in to give it up when something more certain in its veracity comes along, lest the believer become red-faced with embarrassment in front of his

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29 Mar 2016

Thus Spoke Pontius

What do we know, and how do we know it? These are fundamental philosophical questions, and whether we realize it or not, how we answer these questions informs the very way we think about the world. In science, we rely on empirical thought; we know what can be tested. In history, we rely on corroboration of independent sources. Not every method of knowing can be applied in every circumstance. We cannot put five Julius Ceasars

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18 Mar 2016

Sola Scriptura and Interpretive Paradox

In most Christian circles, the simple statement that “Christians interpret the Bible in a different way than they interpret the Constitution” would probably be largely uncontroversial. The intuitive objection to juxtaposing the documents in this way–that the Bible is the Word of God, while the Constitution is man’s words–does not directly address the interesting paradox: why do many political and theological conservatives use interpretively “liberal” language (“underlying purpose,” “culturally specific,” “not literal”) in their interpretation

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15 Mar 2016

Review: Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel

The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, Ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be, The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, Many long years ago. If one were to nominate a campaign song for the Republican party this year, I would submit “The Old Gray Mare” as my candidate. It’s American, old-timey, and perfectly enunciates the fears of many voters: our country

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03 Mar 2016

No Longer Scandalized?

Revisiting Mark Noll in 2016 Though it’s had an outsize impact on evangelical intellectual culture, I’d never actually sat down with Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind until this past week. Centrally, Noll (himself a Reformed evangelical) argues that the rise of fundamentalism drove a lasting wedge between mainstream academic inquiry and American Protestant communities. In Noll’s telling, this cleavage led to previously fringe theological positions (six-day creationism, flood geology, strict biblical literalism)

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22 Feb 2016

Is Sprinkling the Best Way to Baptize?

Here in the Bible Belt, sacramental Christians sometimes feel like the nerdy kid on the playground when it comes to explaining our practices of baptism.  In many Baptist, Pentecostal, and nondenominational congregations, baptism is only done “as John the Baptist did it.” That means getting dunked like an early morning cruller in hot coffee. For many in my part of the world, baptism means one thing: immersion. United Methodists actually aren’t against immersion (which is

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16 Feb 2016

Review: God in the Gallery

Today I discuss Daniel A. Siedell’s God in the Gallery, subtitled A Christian Embrace of Modern Art. I realize I may have missed the boat on producing a timely review of this book, as it was published in 2008. However, there are two factors I believe make the book worth revisiting today. The first is Christianity Today critic Alissa Wilkinson’s recent (and highly worthwhile) essay “The Critic’s Job and Why it Matters”, where she reminds

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15 Feb 2016

One Body

Recently I started working as an intern in the tax department at an accounting firm. I am finding a rhythm to the work and my days are beginning to develop a pattern. Certainly, each day brings new work and different challenges, as well as different rewards. As I look ahead to sixty and even seventy hour weeks of preparing business tax returns between now and April 15th, I wonder what it would be like to

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11 Feb 2016

Religious Reasons in Public Debate: A Conversation with Karl Barth

Christianity and Democratic Dialogue: Part One Need we suspend our faith for the sake of conversation? Western Democracy has given Christians religious liberties that few throughout history have enjoyed, while also saving the Church from the shame of statecraft. Foundational to these democratic systems of government is a form of civil dialogue that seeks to include all reasonable voices in the conversation. However, secularization in the Western world has lead many, both atheistic and theistic,

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08 Feb 2016

A Conversation on the Saving Work of Jesus

We asked two of our Editors—Ben Cabe and Ben Winter—to hold a discussion about an important theological question: How does your tradition view the saving work of Jesus?  What follows are their replies, as well as responses to each other’s position. Ben Cabe Soteriology is inextricably connected to Christology. That is, what salvation is, how one “attains it,” and what it effects in the human person, cannot be understood without a proper understanding of who

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04 Feb 2016

Mark Driscoll’s Golden Parachute

Or, Why Denominations Matter Among those Americans who felt the brunt of the 2008 financial crisis, many were infuriated when the Wall Street bankers involved–many of whom had engaged in high-risk trading behaviors–faced virtually no consequences. Instead, many walked away with multimillion-dollar “golden parachutes” and cycled into new professional pursuits. The message sent was intolerable to many victims of the crash: within the financial sector’s privileged caste, reckless and dubiously-legal behavior does indeed pay off

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29 Jan 2016

Rise Up, O Church

A challenge to churches to rise up to their calling Often a friend of mine tells the story about when his wife became a Christian, “She started reading the Bible in Genesis and began to get bogged down. I told her to skip all that and start with Matthew.” Sometimes I wonder if his wife ever got horribly confused to begin reading the story three-quarters of the way through. It would be like reading The

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