Jesus, #OccupyWallSt, and the Rich Young Ruler

What would Jesus say to a Wall Street financier who declared his desire to follow Jesus? We see in Matthew 19 (and parallels) that Jesus said to the seemingly-ernest Rich Young Ruler that, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor...then come, follow me.” But, “When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.”It is often said that Christians should approach the world with the Bible in one hand and the newspap … [Read more...]

“The Upside of Quitting”: Sunk Cost, Opportunity Cost, and the 10th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan

Today marks ten years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. To reflect on the meaning of this tenth anniversary and the future of U.S. foreign policy, I invite you to listen to a recent Freakonomics podcast on The Upside of Quitting. You can also read a transcript of the podcast on the Freakonomics website.Two of the crucial economic concepts that are colorfully explored are sunk costs and opportunity costs: You know the bromide: winners never quit and quitters never win. To which F … [Read more...]

Don’t Justify Your Selfishness in Jesus’ Name (Bonus: Two Cartoons!)

Two pictures have been independently circulating on Facebook. Presented together they serve as both an interesting juxtaposition and as commentary on one another. To be fair, the first picture is too sweepingly dismissive of all conservatives as being of one simplistic type. Nevertheless, Galbraith, a well-known economist who died a few years ago, does speak an element of prophetic truth here given the resurgence of interest in Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfishness among many prominent … [Read more...]

Against "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" (Unless Churches Pay Their Taxes First!)

The New York Times reports that, This weekend, hundreds of pastors, including some of the nation’s evangelical leaders, will climb into their pulpits to preach about American politics, flouting a decades-old law that prohibits tax-exempt churches and other charities from campaigning on election issues. The sermons, on what is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, essentially represent a form of biblical bait, an effort by some churches to goad the Internal Revenue Service into court battles over the di … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Will There Be Faith?" by Thomas Groome

Thomas H. Groome, Will There Be Faith? A New Vision for Educating and Growing Disciples (HarperOne 2011), 367 pages.When I last met Thomas Groome (metaphorically speaking), his book Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision was the core textbook of my seminary Christian Education class. So, I was pleased to be invited to review his latest book to see how his ideas have matured almost a decade after I first encountered his work.A major strength of Groome's new book is … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Who Is My Enemy?: Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam–and Themselves"

Lee Camp, Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam -- and Themselves (Brazos Press 2011), 174 pages.My reading of Lee Camp from this book, from his earlier book Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World, and from listening to his podcast is that he fits within the realm of Christian theology known as postliberalism. As the name implies, postliberalism is "post" -- that is, "after" or "a response to" -- liberalism. Whereas liberalism was a turn f … [Read more...]

Public School Principal Proselytizes Students in SC

The ACLU reports that: A public school in South Carolina flagrantly violated the Constitution recently by holding a Christian rap concert for students on school property during school hours. While most people would go to great lengths to avoid being caught breaking the law, footage of the event, believed to be taken by the event's organizers, was posted online....A school-sponsored performance of this nature would be unconstitutional by itself, but the list of transgressions doesn't stop … [Read more...]

Letter to the Editor

There have been quite a few letters to the editor in response my letter a few weeks ago, which was written to refute a letter titled "Homosexuals choose not to follow God’s word.” Now they've published my response to the responses: Jesus taught us to love human beings In the letter to the editor “The Bible is clear on marriage” (Sept. 2), Marcus Eugene Atkinson refers to the unchanging “principles” about marriage that he believes are in the Bible. Although this argument is frequently made, its … [Read more...]

Atheists May Have a Point on Clergy Tax Breaks

Many news outlets have reported in recent days about a group of atheists who have filed a federal lawsuit to end tax breaks for clergy.I’m on record as strongly supporting the separation of church and state as outlined in the first part of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” I’ve also said a number of times over the years that I wasn’t sure the government-sponsored tax break for clergy was a grea … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Biography of Abd el-Kader"

John W. Kiser, Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader (Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book, 2008), 365 pages.In these weeks following the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Patheos has wisely chosen a book club selection that highlights the life of a Muslim held in high-regard on the world stage -- in this case the 19th-century world stage.  Too much Christian-Muslim dialogue is characterized by a lack of historical knowledge, and this book seeks to make a contribution toward … [Read more...]


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