Two different ways to define orthodoxy

What does it mean to be orthodox? It depends on which definition of the Greek word doxa you're using. Ortho always means straight, right, or true, but doxa has two possibilities. For Aristotle and the other pagan philosophers, doxa meant "opinion" so orthodoxy would mean "right opinion," which is what it means today for most Protestant Christians who use the word. But there's a different meaning. Because something strange happened when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek. The Hebrew word … [Read more...]

Why I can’t dis Memorial Day

I was 32 years old before I had a personal relationship with an active duty military person. I knew guys who were in ROTC in college and my uncle was Navy reserve, but other than that, my life just didn’t intersect with military culture. At Burke United Methodist Church where I first served out of seminary, the backbone of the congregation was military families. And some of my best friends today are in the military.This Memorial Day weekend, I’ve seen a lot of social media conversation in pro … [Read more...]

Survey shows Christians prefer making fun of people to sharing the gospel

A recent survey shows that Christians today prefer making fun of people to sharing the gospel by a large margin. Perhaps most surprisingly, a majority of respondents would rather share sarcastic articles with no spiritually edifying purpose on their Facebook page than quotes from the Bible.Professional Facebook troll Josh Gilligan explains, "I used to just tell people on the internet they were going to hell, but that got boring. Now with the help of the geniuses at Babylon Bee, I've got so … [Read more...]

What would it look like for love to win in the United Methodist Church?

Love wins. Ever since Rob Bell wrote the book in 2011, it's been the battle cry of progressive Christians everywhere. We make bumper stickers and memes and t-shirts. It's such a beautiful ideological concept. It's how we define ourselves against people on the other side. But one of the things I've been convicted by recently is whether I actually live and speak as though love really does win. Is love really my strategy, my agenda, and my goal? Or is it just a code word that I'm using for a … [Read more...]

An open letter to Timothy Tennent

Dear Dr. Tennent,Thank you for your open letter and your follow-up post. Three years ago, I sat down to write a book, thinking it was my job to save Christianity from conservative evangelicals like you. My most popular blog post at the time talked about how Ted Cruz was the perfect embodiment of the misanthropic nihilism of evangelical theology. I was a rising star in the rapidly growing ex-evangelical blogosphere. Armed with my critical race theory and postmodern deconstruction, I was … [Read more...]

When United Methodists behave like Galatians

My fellow Patheos blogger Eric Smith has a provocative blog post pairing the May 29th lectionary epistle reading with all the Twitter drama from the United Methodist General Conference. The reading is Galatians 1:1-12, where Paul launches into a tirade against the Galatians.Eric makes the gutsy move of saying that Paul is like a first-century version of the proverbial know-it-all United Methodist pastor trolls on the Twitter feed: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to yo … [Read more...]

The three essentials of the Wesleyan gospel

I came across an article by a woman named Carolyn Moore that puts forward "three non-negotiables for the United Methodist Church." They are the exclusive nature of Jesus Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the global nature of the gospel. I don't dispute any of these per se, but it seems like there's nothing particularly Wesleyan about these three non-negotiables. They are generic non-negotiables of conservative evangelicalism. So I wanted to offer briefly what I consider the three ess … [Read more...]

Two ways of being moderate: bridge-building and equal opportunity scorn

Moderate United Methodists are having a tough time right now. People on both the left and the right are digging in their heels for different reasons. While I’m obviously more sympathetic to the left side of things, I think moderates have a crucial role to play in helping us move forward. The key question is whether they’re going to be moderate in a helpful or unhelpful way.One way to be moderate is to heap equal opportunity scorn on conservatives and progressives alike. Scornful moderates are … [Read more...]

Three options for the United Methodist Church moving forward

As expected, the conservative evangelicals at General Conference have a solid majority. It is likely that they will not only reject every possible compromise for our Book of Discipline, but also tighten the noose by instituting a mandatory minimum punishment for LGBT clergy and clergy who officiate same-sex weddings. As I wrote in a previous blog post, this would represent the crossing of a red line for progressive United Methodists like me. We have a very unique situation in the United … [Read more...]

The one verse the church should have been reading for the past 2000 years

 Order. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about Pentecost, the infinite harmony of the Word of God being translated into every possible dialect and identity. There’s a verse that I’ve been meditating upon a lot in the last couple of decades as Christians have our great debate over gender and sexuality: Galatians 3:28. It reads, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” There is no lo … [Read more...]