How to Use Hymns as “Teachable Moments”–Even When You Disagree with the Lyrics

How to Use Hymns as “Teachable Moments”—Even When You Disagree with the LyricsRecently someone asked me to give some examples of how I would use hymns as teachable moments in a congregational setting. The background to this request (for those of you who didn’t read my earlier blogpost about hymn lyrics) is this. Several times here I have argued that hymn-singing is problematic in contemporary American church life. For one thing, it has largely dropped away in favor of “praise and worship” cho … [Read more...]

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? I’m not an expert on Islam; very few non-Muslims are. However, many years ago, while a graduate student in Religious Studies at Rice University (a national, “tier one” research university), I taught an undergraduate “mini-course” on Islam. (A “mini-course” was a graduate student-led unit of Religion 101.) I went out of my way to learn as much as I possibly could about Islam: its history, theology, and varieties. I visited a mosque, enga … [Read more...]

Can We Dispense with the “Wrath of God?” (And Some Thoughts about Changing Hymns)

Can We Dispense with the “Wrath of God?” (And Some Thoughts about Changing Hymns) Because some of my readers are not Christians I will say “up front” that this post is meant only for Christians. Others may listen in, but I am here speaking into a conversation among Christians.Recently I sang the popular contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend—with a group of students. It’s one of my favorite contemporary hymns. In fact, I like almost all of their hym … [Read more...]

The “Upside Down Kingdom”: Christians Should Care for the Weak

The “Upside Down Kingdom”: Christians Should Care for the Weak This is not a book review but I do strongly recommend The Upside Down Kingdom (1978 and 2003) by Donald Kraybill. It’s a modern Christian classic of social ethics. Its basic thesis, well supported from Scripture, is that the Kingdom of God is a social order of reverse values—from popular, “common sense” values that tend to reign in everyday life outside God’s kingdom. In essence, although this is never stated as such, it … [Read more...]

Let the Debates Continue But…Don’t Waste Your Time If…

I enjoy the debates here and most comments get posted--even those that strongly disagree with what I have written. However, I have a couple strong rules and then a request--to would-be commenters:Strong rules: Keep your comments civil and respectful--of me and other people. Comments that contain insults will not be posted. Also, do not embed hyperlinks in your comments.Request: Keep your comments brief. I do not have time to read or respond to very lengthy comments. Keep your comments as … [Read more...]

Capitalism: An Economic System that Requires Us to Think and Act As If God Does Not Exist

Capitalism: An Economic System that Requires Us to Think and Act As If God Does Not Exist In my immediately preceding post I asked whether a Christian ought ever to think, decide and act as if God does not exist. Ever since Hugo Grotius, the great seventeenth century Dutch theologian, philosopher and statesmen, modern societies have increasingly asked people of faith to set aside their religious belief in God when they enter the public, pluralistic spaces of life and think and act … [Read more...]

Should a Christian ever Think or Act as If God Does Not Exist?

Should a Christian ever Think or Act as If God Does Not Exist? The “father of modern international law” Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), who happened also to be a Dutch Remonstrant, argued that, for the sake of viable international law, people of faith ought to set aside their religious beliefs and craft such laws “as if God does not exist.” This has become a standard, assumed approach to creating laws for most modern, Western people—especially in societies with some degree of separation of … [Read more...]


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