Holiness Is Relational

 Holiness is relational. Behavioral solutions don't solve relational problems. Otherwise, God could say "Take two moral pills and call me in the morning." God solves relational problems relationally.Where did I get this idea? No, I haven’t digested a hallucinogenic. Nor did I pull a rabbit answer out of a hat. Take it or leave it, but my perspective is based on my ruminations over reading the Bible.Jesus came to earth to live among us. The incarnation (John 1:14) is bound up … [Read more...]

Thank God for the Dalai Lama.

For all of orthodox Christianity's differences in belief from the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, we share many things in common. One of the things I admire most is his profound compassionate care for all of existence, most notably, his supreme regard for humanity. Such compassionate care is on full display in his volume, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (New York: Harmony Books, 2005). In his essay titled “Ethics and the New Genetics,” he addresses the … [Read more...]

Aristotle and Luther: On Justice, Virtue and the Reformation of Values

Do we become just by doing just things or by being made just? This is a key question in view of Aristotle and Luther.In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle writes that “by doing just things we become just.”[1] Luther took an opposing stance: we become good by being made good. Luther had harsh words for Aristotle’s Ethics.[2] According to Luther in his “Disputation Against Scholastic Theology,” the fallen will is not free to choose the good; it will bear bad fruit—choosing and doing only evil.[3 … [Read more...]

Grateful for the Dead

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Public Square on Remembering Our Dead: Ancestors, Rituals, Relics. Read other perspectives from the Patheos community here. Are you grateful for the dead—any dead? One of the major holidays in Japan is Obon or Bon. The holiday celebration centers on honoring one's ancestors who are believed to return home during the celebration in mid-August of every year.People in Japan don't walk away from the dead. There is a living bond or connection. The pictur … [Read more...]

Kyogen Carlson: Bridge-Builder over Troubled Waters

Zen Buddhist priest Kyogen Carlson (1948-2014) was a bridge-builder. He built bridges of understanding and respect over the dirty, murky, troubled waters of our nation's culture wars. It is a deep irony that a man with such an open heart and mind died of a massive heart attack. Whether one knew him or not, each person owes him a debt of mindfulness for what he risked and accomplished. Among other related practices, he helped bring liberal Buddhists and conservative Evangelical Christians … [Read more...]

What’s Behind Jesus’ Mask?

What’s behind Jesus’ mask? Jesus.Jesus is not a mode that a divine “nameless, faceless, omni-being”[1] puts on and takes off. What we see in Jesus is what we get with his Father. Together with the Spirit, they share the divine name in the sacred story of life (See Matthew 28:19). The Father's actions through the interpersonal mediation of the Son and Spirit in history reveal the eternal triune being of the one God.As I have written elsewhere, “God is greater than what he is in revelatio … [Read more...]

Are All Moral Problems Mental? Reflections on Christianity and Hinduism

What is the problem of our human condition? What is the solution? Many views of human nature can be set forth in terms of answering these questions. Historic Christianity and Hinduism answer these questions very differently. The ultimate problem of human nature for many, if not all, orthodox Christians is moral separation from God and one another. The ultimate problem for Hinduism is mental or psychological.[1] While one can never truly separate moral and mental issues from one another, this … [Read more...]