Who says liberal churches don’t exercise church discipline?  United Methodists have filed formal charges against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his role in separating the children of illegal immigrants from their families.  And for saying that the practice is “Biblical” by citing Romans 13.  (UPDATE:  Pres. Trump has signed an executive order stopping that separation.) Sessions is an active Methodist, but he could be expelled from the denomination.  Such charges are almost never leveled at laypeople, but they are possible… Read more

President Trump has directed the Pentagon to create a sixth branch of the military:  the Space Force. Thus, in addition to the Army, Navy, Marines (though part of the Navy, considered a distinct “branch”), Coast Guard, and Air Force, we would have a Space Force, designed to carry out military operations in outer space. In addition to countering hostile satellites and other space-based weaponry such as China is developing, the Space Force would protect us from illegal aliens. Sorry.  I… Read more

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7).  I’ve heard discussions about what “the name of the Lord” means and what “in vain” means.  But what does “take” mean?  The Hebrew word means “bear,” as in “You shall not bear the name of the Lord your God in vain.” So says the learned Peter Leithart in his series of exegetical studies of the Ten Commandments at his Patheos blog.  In his post Bearing the Name, Dr…. Read more

President Trump had announced the imposition of tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods imported from China.  So China retaliated by imposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods.  So now the President has upped the ante to $200 billion.  China is saying that they will respond in kind.  So the President is threatening that if they do, they will face tariffs on another $200 billion. This is President Trump’s style, which we have seen consistently in his rhetoric… Read more

We don’t hear much today about Hell or the prospect of eternal punishment, do we?  The popular culture seems fascinated by darkness, horror, and cosmic pessimism, but a realm of everlasting judgment is just too dark to consider.  People used to be afraid to sin, lest they incur God’s wrath.  But no more, it seems.  In the popular religious imagination, everybody goes to Heaven. This is the teaching of universalism, that everyone in the universe–including the devil–gets saved, one way… Read more

The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology has applied to the American Board of Medical Specialties to authorize a medical specialty in late term abortions. It won’t be called that, of course.  The certification will be in “Complex Family Planning.” From Briana Heldt: “Although contraception and abortion services for healthy women may be safely provided by general OB GYN clinicians,” the application reads, “subspecialists with special knowledge and skills are necessary for advanced gestations.” What does that special knowledge include,… Read more

I first heard the phrase from a radical feminist:  If God punished His Son for our sins, that would be “cosmic child abuse.”  Since then, I have been hearing it more and more, including from evangelicals!  But to think of the atonement in that way demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the triune God and the deity of Christ. Here are some comments from Rev. Steve Chalke, a Baptist and a leader of the U.K.’s progressive evangelicals.  From Christian Today,Traditional view… Read more

I recently wrote a post called My BBQ Pilgrimage about my five days in Texas visiting acclaimed barbeque joints.  A reader, Edward Kettner, urged me to do something similar about another BBQ mecca:  Kansas City.  Last weekend, we went there to catch a Royals/Astros game, a perfect chance to take up the challenge.  We weren’t there long, though, so I did the research so that we could start with what is considered the best.  The consensus was a place I had long… Read more

Most discussions of the Lord’s Supper among Christians of different theologies focus on the question of Christ’s presence or lack of presence in the bread and wine.  But that is only the beginning consideration.  We also need to reflect on other questions:  What does the Sacrament mean?  What does the Sacrament do? Some people accuse Lutherans, with their high view of the efficacy of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, of advocating salvation by works.  You believe Baptism is regenerating and… Read more

Of the 23% of Americans who are “nones,” claiming no religious affiliation, a great many of them say that they are “spiritual, but not religious.”  Indeed, they have many spiritual and even religious beliefs.  What they don’t have is any kind of community, religious or otherwise. So says philosophy professor Stephen Asma in an article  in the Los Angeles Times: Contrary to the hopes of neo-Enlightenment thinkers like Steven Pinker, millennial nones are not abandoning organized religion to become secular, science-loving… Read more

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