If I Weren’t a Christian, Perhaps I’d Be a Pagan

Max Weber wrote that the “progressive disenchantment of the world” marks modernity. This is indeed the case, even though some have sought to demonstrate a potent counter-trend in modernity to provide forms of re-enchantment compatible with secular reason.[1] I discussed the theme of disenchantment and re-enchantment with a Pagan during a recent dinner event involving Pagans and Evangelicals. We were gathered together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah. My Pagan friend drew my attention… Read more

The French Connection—The Human Connection: The Law of Relational Gravity

Last night, our monthly Buddhist-Christian dialogue took a sudden turn in view of the deeply disturbing news reaching us from Paris. We decided to change the focus of conversation after dinner to share how we process such violent tragedies as humans and as adherents of our particular faith traditions (For more on our dialogue project, refer here). There was almost a mystical bond that formed around the table. Perhaps we all sensed more than most times our need for connection… Read more

Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels With a Buddhist Friend

An Interview with Dr. Paul Louis Metzger conducted by Olivia Lovern: Dr. Paul Louis Metzger — Professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture and Director of New Wine, New Wineskins — has released his latest book, Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend (Patheos Press, August 2015). The work features Metzger’s late friend, Zen Buddhist Priest Kyogen Carlson, who wrote the foreword and responded to Metzger’s essays. A book reading for Evangelical Zen is set for… Read more

Is Religion a Biologically Determined Neurosis?

Is religion a biologically determined neurosis? Yes and no. Before seeking to answer this question more fully, I will summarize some basic tenets of someone who viewed religion in this way—Sigmund Freud. Freud has been called a ‘biologist of the mind.’ While there is a line of distinction between the brain and mind for Freud, the distinction does not pertain to reality, but concepts. There are not two independent substances—brain and mind. Thus, Freud was a materialist. He was also… Read more

Church and Science: Partners for the Common Good

Recently, I corresponded with Dr. Steve Baker, a medical doctor who oversees New Heights Clinic in Vancouver, Washington. We discussed the Barna Group’s findings that many young people are leaving churches today because they see churches as antagonistic to science. Dr. Baker provided a very striking and thought-provoking response that can help churches bridge the gap. In Steve’s estimation, churches can help foster a vital connection between faith and science in people’s minds and hearts through providing medical services and assistance… Read more

Access to Clean Water: Clearly There’s No Debate, Right?

A student asked for prayer for his mother yesterday. She lives in Oregon and is without a sufficient supply of water. I can’t recall ever receiving a prayer request like that in the past. Given dramatically changing weather patterns, it may become a more frequent prayer request in my immediate circles in the years ahead. My immediate circles are rather insular. I don’t have enough discussions with Native Americans, who have dealt with these and related issues since white settlers… Read more

All Saints’ Day: We Need Saints in an Age of Cynics

Cynics are everywhere today, even in the church. This point came home to me when I was doing a Bible study on leadership for a local church group. One of the lay leaders took issue with Saint Paul’s words: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1; ESV). The person pushed back with a hint of cynicism. In short, he said: we should not exhort people to imitate us today; nor is it possible for us… Read more

Reformation Day Prayer: “God, thank you that I am not like this Pharisee”–Not

Jesus challenges self-righteousness at every turn. For example, he told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax-collector going up to the Temple to pray. Jesus said, “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'” (Luke 18:11-12; ESV) If Jesus were here today, perhaps he would say, “The tax collector,… Read more

Unmask Halloween and Humanity

By Paul Louis Metzger and John W. Morehead* Masks and costumes shroud people at Halloween. Halloween is also shrouded in many circles, albeit in ignorance and superstition. For example, Ronald Hutton claims in an article titled, “Halloween: It’s More than Trick or Treat,” that in the 1980s, “some American evangelical Christians” condemned “the festival as a glorification of the powers of evil (thus missing all its historical associations)….” What were the historical associations that were/are often lost on Evangelicals?  … Read more

Don’t Compromise on Multi-Faith Dialogue

Don’t compromise on multi-faith dialogue. Go all out. Multi-faith dialogue entails thick narrative descriptions that allow for each tradition to emphasize distinctives as well as similarities rather than minimize those differences for the sake of thin harmony. Moreover, while multi-faith engagement seeks to safeguard against manipulation and bait and switch strategies of evangelism, it also seeks to provide compelling reasons why one would/should become an adherent of a particular religious tradition. This is what the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and… Read more

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