11 Apr 2017

How to Approach Difficult Bible Passages

As a teacher, I am regularly asked about Bible passages and the theology they convey. Sometimes the questions are straightforward; other times, not so much. Just last week, for example, as I was innocently trying to lead our community group through Romans 8:18-30, I was asked how to interpret verses 29-30 in light of that not-at-all-discussed-among-Christians topic of Predestination and Freewill. It happens. The vast majority of the time, I am more than happy to

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22 Jan 2016

Of Tribalism and Churches (Part II)

In my last post I outlined some of the contextual and doctrinal considerations surrounding my ongoing wrestling with tribalism and baptism. In today’s post, I attempt to apply these principles to my “on the ground” situation. All Things to All People? Saint Paul speaks of becoming all things to all people. Less helpful, at least for my purposes, is how far he expects us to go in order to meet people where they are. Building

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08 Jan 2016

Of Tribalism and Churches (Part I)

Recently I have been thinking about the topic of tribalism. By tribalism I mean adapting one’s behavior and thinking to accord with the group of people with which we are associated. I have been thinking a lot about this issue not because I am thinking about becoming a St. Louis Cardinals fan (my fellow Cubs fans will be happy to hear). Rather I have been thinking about tribalism in the context of baptism and the

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27 Nov 2015

V for Vendetta and the Problem of Eisegesis

Another November 5 has come and gone, and with it contemporary culture’s annual celebration of James McTeigue’s 2005 action film V for Vendetta, which popularized the Guy Fawkes mask often associated with digital surveillance protests and the Anonymous hacking collective. And every year, I find it exceedingly fascinating that the film is embraced and celebrated by individuals across radically different political traditions. Leftists praise the rising of the common people against an oppressive, Eurocentric-fascistic hierarchy.

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02 Apr 2015

What Day Did Jesus Die?

“When students are first introduced to the historical, as opposed to a devotional, study of the Bible, one of the first things they are forced to grapple with is that the biblical text, whether Old Testament or New Testament, is chock full of discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable…. In some cases seemingly trivial points of difference can actually have an enormous significance for the interpretation of a book or the reconstruction of the history of

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04 Nov 2014

A People’s History of Christianity | Book Review

While much of the field of the History of Christianity (and indeed, history in general) focuses on the great people and ideas of the tradition or period being studied, the genre of “people’s history” seeks to raise awareness of the ways in which ordinary people have lived throughout time and space. Admirable as this project sounds, it is not without its problems. In my experience, many “people’s histories” tend to make significant assumptions concerning the

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17 Oct 2014

Leadership Lessons | Book Review

In Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul (Thomas Nelson, 2013), Ralph K. Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott outline ten principles for leadership building from the life and failures of King Saul of Israel. Leadership Lessons uses the “worst practices” model of instruction, learning through the examination of the failures of others, much in the model of Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima’s classic Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Beginning with an explanation of

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05 Sep 2014

The Seven Heavens and Planet Narnia, Part One

Some of my favorite books are the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. While Lewis’s tales of the adventures of the Pevensie children (and later Eustace and Polly) in the land of Narnia are for many little more than entertaining children’s books, I find myself returning to this series again and again. And while I cannot claim to speak on behalf of everyone who has read Chronicles, I know there are many other readers,

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