How can the church guard against a fortress mentality that closes the door to the surrounding community? It’s not so easy to be missional. It’s much easier to close ourselves off from the world, where the church ends up looking like Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of the Church at Auvers.Why do I refer to Van Gogh’s art piece in this context? If you take a look at the painting of the church, you’ll find that there’s no door showing. The peasant woman walking toward the church is straddling the f … [Read more...]
In The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls (IVP Academic, 2014), Elizabeth Gerhardt offers probing theological reflections that flow from Luther’s theology of the cross and that aptly address the growing, global evil of gendercide. The crucified God confronts gendercide.Two themes that stand out to me from this important work are Luther’s emphasis on the ascent of faith coupled with the descent of love (which Luther refers to as Jacob's lad … [Read more...]
The human race is an endangered species, or at least women and girls are.In The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls (IVP Academic, 2014), Elizabeth Gerhardt provides a timely and important response to this problem that is grounded in Luther’s theology of the cross and Bonhoeffer’s cruciform witness. I hope to write several blog posts on the subject that the book addresses. In what follows, I will take to heart Gerhardt’s emphasis on ident … [Read more...]
Have you ever met people with messiah complexes? Such individuals are scary. They often end up making a mess of things as they throw their good will around.Unfortunately, I am often tempted to cultivate such a complex. I have to catch myself trying to help people who appear to be weaker and who seem to possess less resources than I, but yet who have not asked for my help. I am often blind to the fact that they are often relationally richer than I am and could help me in significant ways. I … [Read more...]
Manifest Destiny and the Kingdom of God: How Do You Discern the Spirit of the Age from the Spirit of Jesus on Mission?
How manifest was Jesus’ destiny as King of God’s kingdom? Not very. Unlike America’s destiny which was proclaimed or made manifest to the nations as exceptional and second to none, Jesus’ kingdom was not very visible or exceptional by human standards. After all, John the Baptist only knows Jesus is the Messiah because of the Spirit’s descent as a dove upon Jesus at his baptism of repentance in the wilderness (See John 1:33).A dove? A baptism of repentance? In the wilderness? (See Luke 3:1-22) … [Read more...]
Jesus exhorted his followers sent out on mission to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves in their missional activity. It was important that they combine the traits of both creatures in their witness given that they were being sent out as sheep among wolves. They would face severe danger and persecution for their witness to Christ: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16; ESV).What do the images of shre … [Read more...]
If you drive quickly through Luke 3, you might miss the significance of Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:21) and genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) for his identity and mission. Jesus undergoes John’s baptism of repentance (See Mark 1:4) and Luke’s gospel makes a point of tracing Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam (whereas Matthew, given the author’s Jewish emphasis, traces it back to Abraham; see Matthew 1:1-17).The long and the short of it is that Jesus does not drop down to earth and do drive-by evangeli … [Read more...]