Calling For Public Theology (A Brief Convocation Address)

Below is a brief convocation address I delivered recently at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, which I am proud to call my new employer. I gave the address a few weeks ago, along with three other new faculty at UTS (Matthew Johnson, Thorsten Moritz, and Samuel Subramanian). It was a dynamic event, reflecting [Read More...]

Don’t Ask How to Grow Your Church

As an academic theologian, I don’t read a lot of church leadership books. So I was glad to join with Patheos folks in a discussion of Michael Foss’ Reviving the Congregation: Pastoral Leadership in a Changing Context. I wondered how an established, working pastor (St. Mark Lutheran Church in West Des Moines) deals with “changing [Read More...]

“Starved for Justice”: The Beatitudes, Ferguson, and Us

If you’re like me, you grew up hearing in Sunday School about the “poor in Spirit” in Matthew. These were the humble, the meek, the spiritually thirsty. And if you and I would just be humble and meek (and we can all do that, whether poor or rich, white or black, educated or uneducated), we [Read More...]

The Form of Christ: On “The Church for the World”

In the past several weeks I have been preparing for fall courses at United Seminary of the Twin Cities, one of which is a course called “Public Theology for Social Transformation.” I have been attempting this academic preparation while the world is ripping apart. Palestine/Israel, deadly persecution of Christians in Iraq and now the mind-boggling [Read More...]

The Ironic Relativism of Evangelical Fundamentalism

Growing up evangelical, and being theologically trained in evangelical contexts, I heard a lot of scary warnings about the dangers of postmodernity: i.e., it is based in or leads to epistemological or moral relativism. Truth is not absolute! There is no normative standard for truth! Postmodernity will lead us down a path to nihilism and [Read More...]

Announcement: I’m Going to United Seminary

Big changes are happening in my professional life. I’ve recently resigned my position at Bethel Seminary because I have accepted a position at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities to be Associate Professor of Public and Missional Theology, beginning there this fall. This was a pretty recent and quite unexpected development for me, but [Read More...]

Gendercide isn’t a ‘Women’s Issue’ (it’s a Theological One)

Untold millions of women and girls around the globe are victims of physical and sexual violence. In the U.S. alone, over one million women suffer a physical assault by a partner. 25% of American women have been or will be victims of sexual assault. In many countries, structural and systemic violence against women results in [Read More...]

Why Churches Still Need Seminaries: A Complicated Case Study

Recently Tony Jones suggested that seminaries are “training people to repair phone booths.” Sadly, he has a point. Seminaries are struggling to find new students–and even to keep the ones they already have–because they are becoming increasingly disconnected from the realities of our complicated world. In the Integrative Seminar I’ve been teaching this semester, we’ve [Read More...]

Kierkegaard and the Modern Theology Cocktail Party

Tomorrow I make my way to Copenhagen to participate in a conference at the University of Copenhagen’s Kierkegaard Research Centre. The conference is titled: “Kierkegaard Sources and Reception: The State of Kierkegaard Studies Today.” (click the link to view the schedule). The occasion of the conference is to celebrate the 2/3 completion of a massive [Read More...]

A New Barth Book is On the Way

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the publication of a new book on Barth and evangelicalism, co-edited by Christian Collins Winn (my friend and colleague here at Bethel) and John Drury. My contribution is on the connection between Barth and the Missional Church around the theme of “witness.” The publication date hasn’t been released yet, but Christian [Read More...]


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