My Response to Peter Berger’s book The Many Altars of Modernity

Below you will find my response to Peter Berger’s recently published book The Many Altars of Modernity: Toward a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age (DeGruyter, 2014). I read this response at a special event at Baylor University on Tuesday, November 18. Berger was there by Skype. (He was unable to travel to the event as originally planned due to health problems.) He spoke about his book and the research that led to it for about fifty minutes. The other respondent was sociologist James D … [Read more...]

Follow Up to My Immediately Preceding Post (Re: Marriage)

Apparently some people who would never otherwise visit my blog came here only to argue with me, accuse me (without knowing anything about me), and even insult me based on unfounded assumptions. Due to the avalanche of responses I must ask you not to post comments that simply repeat what has already been said. Personally, I agree most with the very well-reasoned, reflective and articulate response of "Otto Telleck."Here are some general responses from me to some of the arguments offered among … [Read more...]

Why Not Polygamy? A Question to Advocates of Gay Marriage

Why Not Polygamy? A Question to Advocates of Gay MarriageTraditional marriage and family arrangements are changing. (I am talking here primarily about Western societies where Christianity and Judaism have been strongly influential—mostly European-based societies and those affected by them via colonialism and/or missionary endeavors.) For centuries monogamous, heterosexual, lifelong marriage has been the norm with other arrangements, including marriage between close relatives, forbidden. D … [Read more...]

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...]