Christians should be creating safe spaces, not ridiculing them

Well, the University of Chicago has been all over my feed lately because of a "welcome" letter they sent to incoming students informing them there wouldn't be any "trigger warnings" or "safe spaces" on their campus. Naturally, the pundits have been tripping over themselves to crank out a new round of think-pieces about how ridiculous those hypersensitive millennials are to need a safe space. It seems a bit ironic to me when these manifestos defending the so-called "intellectual rigor" of a … [Read more...]

Is Jesus the only way to God?

This week's Crackers and Grape Juice episode addressed the question "Is Jesus the only way to God?" We answered this question as we answer most questions by saying it depends on what you mean. The most common Bible verse that people cite when they make a claim about Christ's exclusivity is John 14:6, where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." Like many biblical proof-texts, this one is usually taken completely out of context.When … [Read more...]

The orthodoxy of the blues

The seventh chapter of my book How Jesus Saves the World From Us is about Christian orthodoxy. I gave it the title "Communion Not Correctness," because the ultimate purpose of having orthodox Christian theology is to gain the deepest possible communion with God, not just to have correct answers. In my book, I used the metaphor of a blues open jam to describe the healthiest understanding of orthodoxy. Here's an excerpt from that chapter.My favorite blues bar in North Carolina was a place … [Read more...]

My conversation with Shane Blackshear

A couple of weeks ago in Austin, I got to talk about my book on a live podcast event with Shane Blackshear for his podcast Seminary Dropout. You should definitely subscribe to his podcast! We covered a lot of ground in scripture including the Garden of Eden, Jesus' battles with the Pharisees, God's whirlwind speech at the end of the book of Job, and a whole lot more. We also talked about the way that orthodoxy is like playing improvisationally in a blues open jam. … [Read more...]

Does love really trump hate or is that just a hashtag?

For the past week, I've been haunted by a moment that occurred during some dead time before my speaking event in New York City last weekend. I was at a Presbyterian church in Riverdale, the wealthiest part of the Bronx that doesn't look anything like the rest of New York City, and most of the audience were older African American women. I was feeling super-awkward to be the young white guy giving a presentation about why (my white evangelical) Christianity is toxic to people who surely had … [Read more...]

American exceptionalism (a poem inspired by Ryan Lochte)

You know that we're the only real democracy; Other countries are corrupt; They don't have tap water you can drink; They don't have interstate highways; They don't have supermarkets; They don't have air conditioning.You know that we're the only country that has real laws; All the cops are rogue in other countries; They set up roadblocks for no reason; They beat filthy people in filthy, broken streets; They make their money collecting bribes; If you can't pay, they throw you into … [Read more...]

Can the gospel be orthodox and inclusive?

One of the tragedies of our civil war in United Methodism has been the bifurcation of the terms "orthodox" and "inclusive" according to whether one opposes or supports LGBT inclusion in the church. Both sides are operating with a caricature of the other. Does supporting orthodoxy mean that you're innately pharisaic? Does supporting LGBT inclusion mean that you no longer have a coherent gospel? A recent Confessing Movement newsletter asked "What is the gospel?" So I wanted to take a moment to … [Read more...]

What is the gospel?

In our latest podcast on Crackers & Grape Juice, we respond to the question in a recent Confessing Movement newsletter: "What is the gospel?" As is often the case, I was put in the strange position of defending the conservative evangelicals. As much as I critique them, they are my people. I think Jason, Teer, and I all want to see a robust Christ-centered gospel at the center of United Methodism. Too often, United Methodists think that being nice is gospel enough. So we agree with the … [Read more...]

It’s time to put the knife down

At our joint book event this weekend, Liz Edman read a passage from her book Queer Virtue that makes a powerful analogy between the story of Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac and the relationship between the church and queer people. God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and Abraham unquestioningly prepares to do just that. The dramatic tension builds and builds as we wait to see whether Abraham is actually going to do this dreadful thing. At the very last moment, with Abraham grasping the knife, … [Read more...]

My conversation with Queer Virtue’s Liz Edman

Today was the big day. I got to have a public conversation with Liz Edman, the author of Queer Virtue, at Riverdale Presbyterian Church. We made a super low-fi video recording with the pastor's iPad and uploaded it to Facebook Live on my profile. So if you'd like to take a look, two embedded videos are below. Unfortunately the second video cuts out after 35 minutes.This first video is both of us introducing the basic concepts of our books.This second video of our dialogue cut out … [Read more...]