Few subjects are so paradoxical as popularity. “Popular” kids often are the most liked and disliked people in school. Youth seek it above anything else; as adults, popular kids don’t always fair well. Although adults bemoan the popularity contests of adolescence, these dynamics still exist in companies and organizations. Popularity is both helpful and harmful. These are a few observations noted in Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World (by Mitch Prinstein). In this post, I’ll highlight a… Read more

There is one gospel yet many ways to present this message. Accordingly, in addition to framework themes, biblical writers use a number of “explanation themes” to clarify the significance of this good news. These themes complement each other as they serve different functions. The explanation themes help us answer four key questions routinely answered in discussions about the gospel. Read more

Chiasm is one of the most common memory devices in history and across the world. Yet, I find few people today use it or appreciate how chiasm works within an oral culture. For years, I’ve been one of those people. If ancient oral cultures use chiasm as a mnemonic tool, might there be something about it that we can still use today? Some scholars claim chiastic structures are “circular” and so don’t reflect the “linear” narrative of the Bible. Is… Read more

I understand the desire for purity and the stain of association. But the church is no mere institution; we are family. We don’t always choose our family. Read more

Here is SESSION TWO of 4 training videos I will release this summer. Below, you’ll find links to the video, audio as well as an accompanying study guide. SESSION TWO HOW DOES THE BIBLE CONTEXTUALIZE THE GOSPEL? This session considers the question, “How does the Bible frame the gospel?” To answer the question, we survey various ways that biblical writers explicitly presented their gospel. Amid a diversity of presentations, readers find that a distinct set of themes frames them all. These… Read more

The following is one of the most significant quotes I’ve read in a long while. It comes from Francis Chan’s talk at Facebook last month. Recalling a sober moment he had while at Cornerstone Church, Chan said he baptized a kid from a gang but that kid later left though he was quite involved in the church. “One of my friends asked him, ‘Hey, how come you’re not at Cornerstone anymore?’ He said ‘I didn’t understand church. When I was… Read more

Today, I’m releasing my recent conference talk “Saving Us from Me: Cultivating Honor and Shame in a Collectivist Church.” The honor & shame conference at Wheaton was an amazing blessing. The various plenary talks and other resources will soon be released at honorshame.com. Check out the conference tweets at #honorshame. For just the audio, click here. For the written presentation, click here.   Below are some questions to guide your listening and/or group conversation.   Introduction How does dystopian literature… Read more

Dystopian stories contextualize the anxieties of Western culture. If so, how might the Bible address concerns of a genre that is relatively young and distinctly Western? Or is it? In this post, I suggest the Bible itself tells a dystopian narrative. That might sound odd. Isn’t the Bible more utopian by nature? This point is relevant for anyone influenced by Western culture. Reframing Dystopian Stories Before I explain, recall a key point from my previous post. Scholars typically interpret dystopias… Read more

Dystopia is a distinctly Western genre. It also is one of the most popular story genres of our day. The explosive growth of dystopian stories is no accident. In effect, they contextualize a worldview perspective that is prevalent in Western culture. I am convinced of at least three benefits to understanding dystopian thinking. By seeing dystopian narratives as a form of contextualization, we gain insight concerning the underlying assumptions and concerns that mark Western society. Inasmuch as Western culture influences… Read more

In the coming weeks, I will release 4 full length training videos. The audio comes from the 2016 theology conference hosted by Singapore Bible College. I have overlapped the audio with visuals to assist groups who might want to use the material for training purposes. Session 1: Reinterpreting Contextualization Session 2: How does the Bible Contextualize the Gospel? Session 3: How does the Bible Explain the Gospel? Session 4: A Practical Approach to Biblical Contextualization These videos explore a practical… Read more

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