I have always been struck by Mark’s account of Jesus and the rich young ruler. It is one of those passages to which I turn for consideration of the impact of sin on people’s lives. The rich young ruler knows Jesus is a person of sound substance and wise. Thus, he refers to Jesus as “Good Teacher” (Mark 10:17; ESV). When he asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life, Jesus directs him to the Law’s commands (Mark 10:19). In response,… Read more

The following is an interview with Pastor Mike Hayes. I first heard of Mike from John Walter Matthews, former President of the International Bonhoeffer Society, English Language Section. John informed me that Mike is a retired pastor working on a book on Bonhoeffer for evangelicals. So, who’s Mike? In answer to the question, Mike packed 55 years of his life as a follower of Jesus into one paragraph: “I live in Red Wing MN, retired after ten years as a… Read more

The Christian life is best done on the back foot, or with one leg tied up in the air. This point came home to me during a conversation yesterday with Dr. Thomas Hastings, Executive Director of the Overseas Ministries Center in New Haven, Connecticut. We were discussing how theology is best done on the back foot. I completely concur with this claim, though the statement is seemingly counter-intuitive at best, if not absurd to many. The idiom “to be on… Read more

At best, we settle for moralistic therapeutic deities whose daily performance are subject to our review: “What have you done for me lately, God?” Read more

You learn a great deal about someone from looking at their checkbook and calendar. You find out what they prioritize. Read more

What stories illumine our imaginations and shape our lives during Christmastide, the New Year, and beyond? Is it the story of the Sun God? Is it the biblical story of creation and the Son of God? Is it the story of Evolution? Is it the story of the Market? Something else, something more? Why the Sun God, you might ask? It was at this time of year that many ancient peoples celebrated the god Saturn as well as the Sun…. Read more

The Advent Season is all about preparing for Jesus’ coming. A great deal of anticipation and hope mark the season. Is the build-up worth it? Do all the great expectations find fulfillment on Christmas Day? The answer depends on the expectations wrapped up in the question. Ironically perhaps to many, the New Testament does not wrap up all expectations for the Messiah in Jesus’ birth. In fact, only two of the four canonical gospels about Jesus’ life feature birth narratives… Read more

There was not much peace at the time of Jesus’ birth. After all, the “Pax Romana” or Peace of Rome blanketed the known world in war and bloodshed. How else could Rome impose its rule on various lands whose people longed for independence and freedom?  Here’s a telling account of the Roman “Peace” in the form of a summary of Adrian Goldsworthy’s recent book by Yale University Press titled Pax Romana. The Pax Romana was: the famous peace and prosperity brought… Read more

  We hear a lot these days about tax relief. Talk of taxes is often a real downer, especially at Christmas time. And yet, the very first Christmas was embroiled in the subject of taxation. Caesar Augustus set out to take a census of the world over which he reigned, no doubt in large part to get a more accurate assessment for the purposes of imposing taxes. The Roman Empire and its census for taxation loomed large at Jesus’ birth… Read more

An Interview with Nancy Haught, Author of Sacred Strangers: What the Bible’s Outsiders Can Teach Christians. One of my favorite writers is Nancy Haught, an award-winning journalist who penned enriching articles on spirituality and religion for The Oregonian until her retirement. Her writing is always fair, decent, and humane. These are rare qualities and virtues in our society today. Never one for partisan polemics that dismisses those of different perspectives, Ms. Haught writes about her subjects respectfully and charitably. There… Read more

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