Years ago I led my small-group discussion on Christ’s troubling parable about Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19–30). It’s a harrowing story about a poor man named Lazarus who’s ignored every day by a very wealthy man. When they both die, they experience a biblical Freaky Friday. It’s the rich man who suffers torments while Lazarus is comforted. The message is clear. We can make sacrifices for others today, or have the choice made for us later. Imagine my disappointment when—instead of wrestling with… Read more

I have a lot of atheist friends, and I’m never defensive when they talk about their disbelief. I get it. There are a lot of days where I dance back and forth between struggling theist and part-time atheist myself. I don’t wrestle with the same questions that they do. After all, I have an incredible ability to live with ambiguity (but I’m not entirely sure if this is a superpower or a character deficiency). I’m comfortable with unresolved tension and flourish… Read more

Remember in the 90s when those cloth WWJD bracelets were all the rage? I worked in Christian retail at the time, and we couldn’t keep those little inspirational bacteria magnets in stock. The bracelet was supposed to be a constant reminder to ask yourself “what would Jesus do” before having premarital sex, smoking meth, or putting pineapple on pizza. The bracelets are long gone, but debates about social issues among Christians still seem to boil down to figuring out what… Read more

If you ever watch someone like Ray Comfort do street evangelism, you see a perfect picture of western salvation. His job is to prove to bystanders that they’re sinners in need of a savior, and he does this by quizzing them on the ten commandments. “Have you ever told a lie?” he asks them. Inevitably they admit that they have, and he informs them that they’re guilty of bearing false witness, guilty of breaking God’s commandments,  and need to accept Jesus… Read more

If you think about it, every one of us is trapped in our own mind and has constructed a unique story about the world and our place in it. This story defines how we think about ourselves, others, and the very nature of truth and reality. And while we tend to think about our stories as being either true or false, most of them fall on a sliding scale of accuracy. Our interpretation of some circumstances are more (or less) accurate than others,… Read more

There’s been a lot of discussions lately about who’s more susceptible to “fake news.” In a Slate article from November 2017,  John Ehrenreich pointed at the gullibility on the right and asked “Why Are Conservatives More Susceptible to Believing Lies?” And a February 2017 article in The Atlantic, “Why Fake News Targeted Trump Supporters,” wrestled with the reasons why conservative voters are more likely to fall for bogus news stories like Pizzagate or Obama’s secret Muslim identity. Both articles bring up good points, but I think they… Read more

There’s a growing polarization in America. As the gulf between the partisan left and the right continues to expand, there’s very little middle ground to be found. The Pew Research Center has tracked data since 1994 which clearly demonstrates this growing entrenchment. In 1994, Democrats and Republicans were gathered pretty closely in the middle. In fact, 23 percent of Republicans were more liberal than the average Democrat, and 17 percent of Democrats were more conservative than the typical Republican. Today, the middle… Read more

I fear that churches in America are being run like corporations. And like many companies, they have to appease the shareholders who make their stock payment every Sunday morning. The collected funds from this offering maintain the facilities and keep the staff paid. But what happens when a church is full of people of similar race, economic position, and politics? What happens when many of them get their news and information from the same sources? What happens when their social views have… Read more

It always strikes me as funny when I hear Gen. Xers bad mouth Millennials (which seems to happen on the regular). My peers forget the early 90s when we were seen as the world’s entitled jerk generation. We’re just lucky that social media didn’t exist while we were the world’s scapegoats. The irony generation When angry boomers and their “greatest generation” elders talked about my generation, they’d always accuse us of caustic irony and cynicism—it seems we had ushered in… Read more

The first church I attended went through a huge split when I got there. A number of people were leaving because the church was pushing Gary Ezzo’s Growing Kids God’s Way curriculum. It was a parenting course that was heavy on discipline and scheduling the behavior of children until their naturally rebellious spirits were broken. The curriculum philosophy echoed John Robinson’s 16th-century advice to his pilgrim parishioners, “And surely there is in all children . . . a stubbornness, and a stoutness… Read more

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