Another blog

For a long while Kris and I have been saying the prayers from Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours. It is hard for us on most mornings, but we do them nearly every evening. We took photocopies to Italy with us and read them from our room as we looked over the Umbrian hills.This fall I am scheduled to write a small book called Praying with the Church, which plans to be an explanation of how The Book of Common Prayer… Read more

Grenz, Bacote, and the Gospel

Bob Robinson, in his collection of pieces about Emergent theology, calls our attention to a piece by Vince Bacote, Professor of theology at Wheaton, on Kuyper’s sense of common grace and Bacote suggests this idea undergirds the Emergent concern with a gospel that transcends (what I call) the Good Friday Only Gospel — that Jesus came to die for my sins so I could be forgiven and go to heaven.Kuyper sees common grace operating at several layers of our existence,… Read more

Final accountability

The recent discussion about the rhetorical nature of language about heaven and hell leads me to reflect some on a classic, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progess. Our BTS Dept at NPU is writing a monthly column in The Covenant Companion and mine (on Bunyan) is schedule to appear in August or September. (I just know the deadline.)Let me put Bunyan’s theory of the Christian life as this: it is rigorous life of life-as-life-before-God. That is, every moment of every day… Read more

Blogger culture

In the most recent Commentary magazine, there is a fine article by Terry Teachout on culture and blogging. If you are not aware of this magazine, largely a conservative Jewish think-tank magazine, it has some of the finest expositions of the neo-conservative viewpoints around. Pieces by Norman Podhoretz, Editor-at-Large, are noteworthy. But so are many others.Terry Teachout is the magazine’s art critic; he has a splendidly-written biography of that crusty Baltimore writer, H.L. Mencken; and he also has a blogsite…. Read more

Orvieto and Rome

I had never heard of Orvieto, I confess, before Kris and I begain reading Rick Steves’ guide to Italy. It is one more of what Italy is full of: cities on the top of some hill, a city of stone buildings, stone, narrow walkways, and composed of what appears as an endless maze of little pathways.But every Italian city has its story, and most of the stories go back to the Medieval age. Orvieto’s story got its push when a… Read more

Rome and Assisi

We couldn’t stay away from Assisi, the home of St Francis and St Clare. We planned to visit Assisi for one day, but found our way back two more times and, could we have justified not seeing other places (like Siena, Orvieto, Civita, Montefalco, Trevi, and Norcia), we may have spent our entire week peering into the history of what Paul Sabatier dubbed a reformation before the Reformation — namely, the Franciscan revival.The difference between Rome’s ruins and Assisi’s continued… Read more


We have been to Rome for just a few hours, but I loved the Forum and could have spent days walking amongst the ruins.Today we are in Assisi, and must admit that Francis continues to impel a sense of detachment from the world — even when the streets are lined with trinket shops and sales. Seeing the crypt of Clare, with Francis’ garb and rope, is a sight to behold.Thanks for all the blogs; I’ll get back to you when… Read more

Why is sin urbanized?

The question comes to me as to why I think it is that we so often see sin most systemically in the urban context. Good question. Here are my thoughts:Because the operative word for defining systemic sin is “social justice.”Because, when we define “justice” in general terms and “social justice” in sociological terms, we bifurcate the two and see the biggest problems in the urban context. This is a mistake.Here’s why: the word “justice” is no different than “social justice”… Read more

McLaren: A Response to The Last Word and the Word After That

McLaren’s The Last Word and the Word After ThatThis is a slightly edited version of an earlier blog.In this blog I will interact with Brian McLaren’s helpful and provocative new book that seeks to deconstruct “hell” language as a rhetoric that sets people on edge in order to persuade them to embrace a gospel that creates a community of persons who live a life of love of God and Others for the good of the world. Overall, I could not… Read more

Pilgrim’s Progress or The Last Word?

I’m not quite done with McLaren’s The Last Word and the Word After That but I’ve come to a point where I want to put some of his book in perspective. Two observations tonight.First, a smaller one but one that needs to be said. McLaren’s essential stance in this latest novel (or whatever one calls a book where we’ve got two fellas sorting out their theology) is rhetorical. That is, he’s trying to get a conversation going about hell and… Read more

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