Jacob’s Ladder and Stairways to Heaven

Escalator to the cross

It has been said that the lyrics at the beginning of the song “Stairway to Heaven” refer to a woman who gets everything she wants and doesn't give back. No matter how much money she has, no matter how much she accumulates, she will not get into heaven. Whether or not that is the true meaning of the opening lines to this mysterious song, what is true is that so many of us are trying to buy a stairway to heaven; in other words, we are often trying to rise up and secure our own salvation. However, n … [Read more...]

Do You Want to Make a Million Bucks as a Christian Writer? Consider Writing Your Own Religion.

Christ and Money

If you want to make a million bucks as a Christian writer, you might want to script your own religion. However, you won’t find the Apostle Paul standing in line to buy a copy of your best-selling book.One of the qualities I admire in the Apostle Paul was that his Christian faith owned him. It shows up in his writing. He wasn’t a writer who happened to be a Christian. The faith scripted him and moved his pen.All too often I hear that Paul recreated the Christian faith. Certainly, Paul tal … [Read more...]

Ecclesiology Is Not a Disease. Informed Churches Help Guard Against Spiritual Diseases, Part II

Exploring Ecclesiology--for Use with Patheos Blog

Contrary to what the word might sound like, ecclesiology is not a disease. Ecclesiology entails the doctrinal study of the church. The proper study of the church can help inform churches so as to nurture health and guard against spiritual diseases. This post originally appeared as "Between the Lines: A Conversation with Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger – Part 2" at The Brazos Blog on 2/24/2014. The post reflects facets and values of the book I co-authored with Brad Harper titled Exploring Eccl … [Read more...]

Corporate Takeover: Reflections on the Movie “Her”


In a slightly futuristic Los Angeles, a recent divorcee who makes his living writing personalized love letters for customers enters into a romantic relationship with the voice of his new operating system. I am alluding to the movie “Her.”What is the movie “Her” about?  Technology’s impact on our relationships? The merging of the real and virtual? Mind-body dualism or immateriality and materiality? Broken relationships and the difficulty of getting close and sharing life with people, e … [Read more...]

What Is a Person?


What is a person? This is no easy term to define. I talk and write quite a lot about personhood and personal relationships and the need to guard against treating persons as things or commodities. But what is a person? One of my professors in Trinitarian theology once remarked that one cannot define “person(s)” when talking about life within the divine Trinity; the term “person” in such contexts is undefinable. Karl Barth preferred to write of “modes of being” (Seinsweise; not to be confused with … [Read more...]

From Indulgences to Indulgent Love: Beyond Johann Tetzel and Marilyn Manson

Christ and Money

"As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs." You may have come across this statement attributed to Johann Tetzel, papal seller of indulgences. Whether or not Tetzel ever uttered these words, Christians have often thought of salvation as a financial transaction. Is salvation a financial transaction? Does the Bible speak in these terms?Romans 6:23 states, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6: … [Read more...]

How Hegelian Is Christianity?


How Hegelian is Christianity? The reader might think this is an odd question in that Christianity was around a very long time before Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel arrived on the scene (1770-1831). The question is intended to provoke thought concerning Hegel's assessment of Christianity. For Hegel, Christianity illustrates what his philosophy makes explicit about ultimate reality.Unlike Christian Aristotelianism with its emphasis on God as an unmoved mover, Hegel portrayed God as the moved mov … [Read more...]