Is Baptism Overrated?


Preview: Baptism is not overrated when it is viewed as a powerful sacrament and a transformative means of experiencing grace. And I recognize that many of my Baptist and Anabaptist forebears were persecuted, suffered, or died for the right to baptize adult believers as they saw fit according to their local congregation.Nevertheless, baptism is overrated anytime it is used as a barrier to Communion or even as a barrier to church membership. Open Communion to all without exception is both what … [Read more...]

The Pragmatism of the Didache: At Least Do What You Can


3:1 My child, flee evil of all kinds, and everything like it. 2 Don't be prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Don't be jealous or quarrelsome or hot-tempered, for all these things lead to murder. 3 My child, don't be lustful, for lust leads to illicit sex. Don't be a filthy talker or allow your eyes a free reign, for these lead to adultery.... 5 My child, don't be a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Don't love money or seek glory, for these things lead to thievery. 6 My child, don't … [Read more...]

Should MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” Be Added to the New Testament?

Bruce Metzger, in his seminal work The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, writes that, Shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, a group of ministers seriously proposed that King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" be added to the New Testament. All will appreciate that this letter, written in April 1964 after he had been jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, for participating in a civil-rights protest, conveys a strong prophetic witness, … [Read more...]

What Is the Gospel According to You? Three Meanings of “Good News” in Mark 1 (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for January 22)


Note: If you want to skip to the section specifically on Mark 1:14-20, scroll down to parts two and three, but the introduction and part one help set-up these later sections. Introduction We're familiar with the Gospel According Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which are each quite distinct. Many of us are even familiar with the Gospel According to Thomas, Mary, and Q. But what is the Gospel According to You from the vantage point of twenty-first knowledge? What is the Gospel According to Your … [Read more...]

Working from January Cold to Summer Beachbody

Last summer I successfully completed my first 2-month Sprint Triathlon training: Swim 750m/.47 mi, Bike 20 km/12.4 mi, Run 5 km/3.1 mi. I used the free training program available here.In the fall, I started a 4-month Olympic Triathlon training (1.5 km/0.93 mi Swim, 40 km/24.8 mi Bike, 10 km/6.2 mi Run), but I lost my momentum as the days shortened and the weather grew colder. However, here in January -- on the other side of solstice -- as the days slowly lengthen, I can feel myself ready to s … [Read more...]

Contemplative Listening: A Simple, How-to Guide

An alternate title for this post could be " What To Do If Someone Asks for Counseling and It's Been a Long Time Since Your Last Pastoral Care Class: Or, How To Help If You've Never Had a Counseling Class." Hint: the contemplative listening how-to guide that anyone can do is at the end if you want to skip to that part.I received two interesting emails yesterday. One was a colleague asking for advice on how to respond to the increasing number of non-church members coming for counseling who … [Read more...]

Preaching the Didache: What Is Your Canon and Why?


The Didache (usually pronounced Did-ah-Kay) is an ancient Christian document written around 50-70 CE and rediscovered in 1873. It is addressed not to radical itinerant peasants like Jesus and his original followers, but to householders as a manual for how “to adapt the way of Jesus to the exigencies of family, of occupation, of home — the very things that Jesus and his wandering apostles had left behind.” This post is the first entry in a new series I will be adding to throughout the season of Ep … [Read more...]

Top 10 Blogs You Should Be Reading in 2012 (Or, Why You Should Be Using Google Reader)

I've lost track of the number of blogs that I follow, and there is one reason that makes this possible from a time management perspective: Google Reader.Perhaps you've noticed that many popular blogs feature an odd orange icon or allude to subscribing to their "RSS Feed." "What is RSS," you ask? Well, RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, blogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever … [Read more...]

Church Planting at the Intersection of Emergence and Creation Spirituality


I recently had the chance to catch up in person with a friend who wants to plant a church at the intersection of the Emergent Church Movement and the Creation Spirituality of Matthew Fox, Thomas Berry, and others. In addition to some of the obvious choices, she asked me to recommend some resources that came to mind, and I'm sharing them here for others who may be interested. Possible Congregational StudiesThe Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism by Andrew HarveyDarwin, … [Read more...]

Discernment: A Spiritual Practice for Preaching 1 Samuel 3 (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for January 15, 2012)

In this passage, God speaks to Samuel four times. The first three times, Samuel does not know that the voice he hears is the voice of God. He mistakenly assumes that his mentor, Eli, is calling him. As we read in verse seven, “Samuel did not yet know God, and the word of God had not yet been revealed to him.”  Eventually, however, Eli realizes what is happening, and equips the young boy Samuel with what he needs to identify God’s call. And here we see that the first step of spiritual discernment … [Read more...]