The Good Place
At the beginning of The Good Place, Eleanor Shellstrop finds herself in the afterlife. She’s welcomed by the mysterious Michael, who explains her demise and proceeds to show her around the Good Place while answering her many questions about what’s happening and who was right about the whole heaven and hell thing. And while the show goes on for four excellent seasons, it never really leaves this moment behind, the moment of wonder about what
It Is Time (Part 4)
This post is part of a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | The Long Pause (Part 3) Perhaps the consummate Disney movie of my youth was The Lion King. You know the story, the masterful animated retelling of Hamlet accompanied by the sonorous tunes of Elton John. For a film of many memorable moments, one of my favorites has always been right at the end,
Work and Rest
This article was adapted from a sermon delivered at Rooftop Church (Saint Louis, MO) during a series on Faith and Work. As Americans, we’re obsessed with being busy. Even during a pandemic, we’re preoccupied with how much we’re getting done. Our culture fixates on and rewards efficiency and productivity, even at the expense of our own health and relationships. It’s even how we talk to one another. People always ask, “What are you doing this
The Splendor of Light
If I may approach the subject of sacred music without diving into the worship wars, a recent time of personal devotion reminded me of one of the aspects of worship music I particularly appreciate. That is, songs which tickle my brain, allowing me to continue pondering God’s nature after the music has stopped, the service is over, and I am back into the grind of the everyday week. One such song is the hymn Immortal
Should I Hide When Mormons Come Knocking?
One of the great privileges of serving in the local church is the opportunity to hear intriguing questions from congregants. A couple of weeks ago, I had such an experience after talking about evangelism. The topic of door-to-door Mormon missionaries came up, and eventually our conversation turned to how to interact with non-Christian missionaries—and if they should be shown any sort of hospitality at all. One participant in the conversation mentioned that they do not
Spending Time Together in the Temple
Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple… (Acts 2:46a NRSV). This article is a continuation of a series of articles on Acts 2:41-47. The previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. I teach classes on the Bible, world religions, and humanities at several community colleges in my area. Each semester I notice that students seem genuinely surprised when they learn about the Jewish roots of
Bible Translations, Not Inspired
Debates over Which Bible Occasionally, I will run into someone who holds an especially high view of a certain version or translation of the Bible. Sometimes, this perspective follows denominational lines: Roman Catholics have the Douay-Rheims, Reformed churches laud the Holman Christian Standard Bibles (recently updated as the Christian Standard Bible), Dispensationalists fervently search their Scofield Reference Bibles, and Fundamentalists hold to the King James Version. Even when not holding rigidly to one particular version
A Brief History of Communion (Part I)
Christians of all sorts partake of some form of communion. Known by different names—the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion, Breaking of Bread, Mass—and taken at different frequencies—daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly—this practice involving bread and wine stands as a testament to both Christian unity as well as divisions. What do contemporary Christians believe about the Lord’s Supper? To begin answering this question, we must first look at the history of communion, beginning today with what the
Do Liberals and Conservatives Follow the Same Christ?
Our churches preach three different Christs: two with no center and one with no edges. Out of this difference arises our political divide. Is reconciliation possible?
It’s Time to Stop Treating “Religion” Like a Bad Word
Earlier this week, Relevant Magazine posted an article titled, “Entertainment, Modern Worship and What God Really Desires.” In it, author Jesse Carey praises contemporary church bands like Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Planetshakers, Desperation, and others. While he does acknowledge some issues with the trajectory of modern “worship,” he affirms its usefulness and encourages readers, “Just because something has elements associated with ‘entertainment,’ doesn’t disqualify it from being worshipful. Game fans have reported weeping in response to
The Sermon on the Mount and Christian Ethics
Questions of an ethical nature dominate headlines, classrooms, and pulpits across the world. In an era where formulations of morality often spring from what “feels right” rather than any sort of foundational principles, many commentators have rightly noted the necessity of carefully considered ethics.1 For contemporary Christians, ethical thought remains clouded by ongoing disagreements about from where our moral systems arise and how authoritative those sources are in a technologically advanced world of complexity and
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.
Seminal Christian Thinkers: Augustine on the Lord’s Prayer
All Augustine sermon citations are taken from Sermon 80, Edmund Hill Translation1 Prayer has always been central to Christian communities. In America today, most are familiar with the text of the Lord’s Prayer, which Christ teaches his disciples in Matthew 6 (cf. Luke 11). The fact that such an ancient text continues to find relevance in the lives of each new generation says something significant about its worth. Yet popularity includes inherent drawbacks. Although millions can recite the
What Do We Want?
The rich man of Matthew 19:16-26 frightens me because I am like him in so many ways. Not because I’m rich: and make no mistake when it comes to material things I have more than I need. But because I have the same attitudes as the rich man. I want a list, I want a legal document that I can present at the pearly gates that says “admit one.” I think in my mind that
O weariness of men who turn from GOD To the grandeur of your mind and the glory of your action, To arts and inventions and daring enterprises, To schemes of human greatness thoroughly discredited, Binding the earth and the water to your service, Exploiting the seas and developing the mountains, Dividing the stars into common and preferred, Engaged in devising the perfect refrigerator, Engaged in working out a rational morality, Engaged in printing as many
Growing Young (Or, Becoming Like Children)
“ ‘I’ll be darned!’ said Douglas. ‘I never thought of that. That’s brilliant! It’s true. Old people never were children!’ ‘And it’s kind of sad,’ said Tom sitting still. ‘There’s nothing we can do to help them.’ ”1 If you’ve read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine before, then you probably recognize this poignant surmise on aging. Ten year-old Tom’s insight is based on his interactions with the seventy-two year old Mrs. Bentley, a widow who moved
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
Pursuing The Rainbow’s End
If I ever need a reminder to be careful about my pretensions to sophistication, I can always fall back on my love of country music. Every so often though, even this guilty pleasure comes to good account. Case in point, Keith Urban’s Days Go By. Urban’s song wrestles with the same aspect of time considered in my last article, namely the way time seems to fly. In turn, he suggests a specific view for approaching
Time is fascinating. Paradoxically, it both moves quickly and slowly, there is plenty of it and yet never enough. Embracing both of these realities is needed to live well. On the one hand, we need keep our focus on the end toward which time is headed if we’re to live well. At the same time, this focus should drive us back the present moment and the direction that has been given for the moment to
What’s In A Name?
“When I forget my name, remind me.”1 Listening to Andrew Peterson’s song, “Dancing In The Minefields”, I was struck by this line. In particular, the importance of naming jumped out at me. The fact that names are special isn’t a huge surprise. One need only think about how strongly people feel about their own names to confirm this. Feelings aside though, when we look at Scripture, naming often appears to go beyond merely identifying an