Lord, I pray that you would comfort and protect members of the LGBTQ community who are often targeted by violent acts of hatred. I also pray that you would protect innocent Muslims as well as refugees and immigrants who are often labeled as would-be terrorists. I pray that politicians and clergy as well as the media would be wise in their public pronouncements, and law enforcement and medical professionals would be diligent in their protection and care. Above all,… Read more

Muhammad Ali insisted people call him by his chosen name, and not his “slave name,” Cassius Clay (See the video “What’s My Name?”). It cost Ali PR in certain circles outside the boxing ring for insisting on his chosen name; it seemingly cost others inside the ring (though one should note this deconstruction of the legend surrounding Ali’s fights with Floyd Patterson:) for not desisting in calling him Clay. One might argue that Ali the showman chose to make money as… Read more

One would be hard-pressed to determine the meaning of Bob Dylan’s song, “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.” The lyrics are mysterious and haunting. Dylan sings of dreaming about St. Augustine. Which one? St. Augustine of Hippo, the great African theologian and bishop? Augustine the missionary to Britain who became the very first Archbishop of Canterbury? What does the blanket stand for? Why is Augustine wearing a coat of solid gold? Why the reference to there being no martyr among… Read more

The American television panel game show To Tell the Truth features three people claiming to be the same person, two of whom were pretenders. In the show, four celebrities try to discern which of the three is telling the truth. At the end of the show the real person is asked to stand up and be identified: “Will the real [person’s name] please stand up?” To Tell the Truth has aired in various incantations since 1956. The 2016 version will… Read more

In his reflections on Psalm 2, John Calvin speaks of the nations’ rebellion and rejection of God’s Anointed One, the Messiah or Christ, whom Calvin believes is Jesus. Calvin asserts that although “the Lord shall have for a time apparently taken no notice of the malpractices of those who oppose the rule of his Son, he will suddenly change his course, and show that he regards nothing with greater abhorrence than such presumption.”[1] Calvin references Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel:… Read more

Is it a fundamental human right to live off God’s grace as borrowed capital with no intent of paying back? Often, we live as if God will be gracious to us, no matter how we live. Voltaire, the deistic critique of orthodox Christianity in the 18th century, was reported to have quipped, “God will forgive; it’s his business.” Is it? How do we know? Was Voltaire living in light of borrowed capital from the Christian tradition he rejected without paying… Read more

“Sola Scriptura”—Martin Luther’s teaching of Scripture alone—does not signify solitary confinement, but that the Bible is the fundamental written authority for the church’s life in service to Christ.[1] While tradition has an important place to play, it must never eclipse Scripture, no matter how close they are related. The Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, took quite seriously Scripture’s call to live together in community. The written Word must take on flesh and blood existence in service to the Living… Read more

How important would it be to you that a therapist you are seeing or a butler or bellhop who serves you were guilty of tax evasion or cheating on their spouse? As long as the therapist or butler/bellhop weren’t cheating you, would that be okay? What about God? As long as a God who cheats others weren’t cheating you, would that be okay? How did God come into the picture? According to sociologist of religion Christian Smith, many young people,… Read more

In our moralistic, therapeutic deistic age, one often hears “If it feels right, it must be right.” If feeling determines rightness, the Bible must be wrong—at least much of the time. Fortunately, not everyone agrees at every turn with this assessment. Here I am reminded of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie, where he and his poodle Charlie set off on a cross-country journey in his truck. Soon after beginning the trek in New York, they stop in Vermont on a… Read more

What gives God the right to be God? That he makes us happy? And if he doesn’t? Did someone higher upstairs or those of us downstairs give God the green light to be God, or did God take it upon him or herself to be crowned the Almighty? Beyond these questions, does God’s official status grant total access to do with the world and us whatever he, she or it pleases? Does God have permission to smash babies’ heads against… Read more

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