My Christmas Sermon: The Nativity According to Stephen King

It’s Christmas. So put up your nativity sets. Polish up your star of Bethlehem. Feed the donkeys. Put your plastic baby Jesus in the manger. I guess we should dress up as shepherds, wise men, and angels. Let’s do the nativity all over again as we do every year. Get some cute little girl to [Read More...]

An Atheist Christmas Address … that is Actually Good!

Now I’m no atheist. I think atheism is very “retro,” very 1950s and 60s, back in the hey day of logical positivism, but it is not a serious intellectual option for me. Even the new atheists tend to be cranky, snide, and hate-filled old men who do for the good of humanity what Hannibal Lecter [Read More...]

Christmas and the Priesthood


An often overlooked aspect of the Christmas story of Luke’s Gospel is the emphasis on the priesthood. The first character introduced in the story is a priest (Zechariah) who is in the Temple preforming a priestly act (burning incense): Priest, Temple, priestly activity. What’s more, we are told that Mary is related to Elizabeth who [Read More...]

Michael Licona’s new ministry “Risen Jesus”

Watch this clip about Michael Licona’s new ministry initiative called Risen Jesus. If you have a church, college, school, or ministry that is interested in guest lecturers in apologetics, then I heartily commend Michael Licona to you. [Read more...]

Christmas in a Nutshell

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The Myth of Tolerant Paganism

My former post December 25th Means the Triumph of Christianity over Paganism caused a bit of an uproar in pagan circles. Just read the comments. My wife reads my blog so I won’t repeat the content of some of those comments. Across the street at the Patheos Portal, Star Foster responds in a post When [Read More...]

Stanley Hauerwas on Christmas

Over at ABC Religion and Ethics are some reflections on Christmas by American theologian Stanley Hauerwas entitled: Facing God in the Face of Nothingness. Christian humanism is not based on the presumption that our humanity is self-justifying. Rather Christians are humanists because God showed up in Mary’s belly. We are not an evolutionary accident. We [Read More...]

Jewish Context of the New Testament Story

Roberts_Fall of Jerusalem

This coming semester I’m teaching one of my favorite courses, Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. In preparation I’ve already begun reading up again on things ancient Jewish. The books on the Second Temple period that I’m having students read as background are two brief introductions: Lester Grabbe, An Introduction to Second Temple Judaism (T [Read More...]

A thought for Christmas!

“No other God have I but thee, born in a manger, died on a tree” – Martin Luther. [Read more...]

Tom Wright Reviews Three Jesus Books

Over at the Times Literary Supplement, Tom Wright review three books on Jesus by Benedict XVI, Maurice Casey, and Bruce Fisk. He regards these books as pre-modern, modern, and post-modern. A rather amusing review of three very different books about Jesus. Wright concludes: Despite their radical differences, these three books share one positive feature and [Read More...]

Why I’m Not a Pagan … the Movie “Dragnet”

After the manifold comments from pagans in my last post on Christmas as a triumph over Paganism, I need to explain why I don’t find paganism an attractive religious option. The best way to do that is through a clip of the Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks movie Dragnet. Note carefully what P.A.G.A.N stands for! [Read more...]

December 25 means the Triumph of Christianity over Paganism

Yes, we’ve all heard the JW, Free Presbyterian, and Puritan arguments that the 25th of December was originally a pagan festival to celebrate the birth of the sun god Sol Invictus, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, “the birthday of the unconquered sun,” therefore, Christians should not celebrate Christmas because it is a pagan holiday. There might [Read More...]

Apocalyptic and Salvation-History in Galatians

Further evidence that apocalypticism and salvation history cannot be played off against each other in Paul’s letters, this time from N.T. Wright on Galatians: “There is a current fashion in Pauline studies of playing off ‘covenantal’ categories against ‘apocalyptic’ ones. Since I have myself stressed the importance of ‘covenant’ in Paul, let it be said [Read More...]

Celebrating Advent with a Young Family

We’ve come to the beginning of the fourth week of Advent. We’ve been celebrating it with our two 4-year old twins, Zion and Mary. This week we hit about 4 of the 7 days, not too bad. The script for our Advent devotion is pretty simple: light the candles, read and talk about a Bible [Read More...]

Practices of the Church 3: Baptism

I’ve been reading John Howard Yoder’s book Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community Before the Watching World. It was unintentional, however providential, that the book, which focuses on the mission and politics of the church, was chosen in close proximity to the engagement with Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert’s book What’s the Mission [Read More...]