The New Phariseeism—Performance-Based Spirituality?

The Apostle Paul struggled with Phariseeism. Phariseeism, as I am defining it in this context, signifies fixation with external religious practices and confidence in one’s own “Superman” or “Superwoman” performance; such fixation replaces authentic confidence in God as the basis for one’s salvation.In Paul’s day, certain religious leaders were getting inside the hearts and minds of Christians and getting them to move away from relational trust in Christ to confidence in the flesh. These relig … [Read more...]

The Big 50—Sober Birthday Reflections

Spending one’s 50th birthday weekend on one’s back in bed as I did can be quite a sobering thing (it had nothing to do with drinking). I came down sick Saturday afternoon after returning home from speaking at a writers conference. Perhaps I had burned the candle on both ends for weeks on end. Exhaustion has a way of getting to you. Instead of writing a birthday poem or counting candles on my cake on Sunday, I tried numbering my days so that I might grow in gaining a heart of wisdom.The Psa … [Read more...]

Jacob’s Ladder and Stairways to Heaven

It has been said that the lyrics at the beginning of the song “Stairway to Heaven” refer to a woman who gets everything she wants and doesn't give back. No matter how much money she has, no matter how much she accumulates, she will not get into heaven. Whether or not that is the true meaning of the opening lines to this mysterious song, what is true is that so many of us are trying to buy a stairway to heaven; in other words, we are often trying to rise up and secure our own salvation. However, n … [Read more...]

Do You Want to Make a Million Bucks as a Christian Writer? Consider Writing Your Own Religion.

If you want to make a million bucks as a Christian writer, you might want to script your own religion. However, you won’t find the Apostle Paul standing in line to buy a copy of your best-selling book.One of the qualities I admire in the Apostle Paul was that his Christian faith owned him. It shows up in his writing. He wasn’t a writer who happened to be a Christian. The faith scripted him and moved his pen.All too often I hear that Paul recreated the Christian faith. Certainly, Paul tal … [Read more...]

Ecclesiology Is Not a Disease. Informed Churches Help Guard Against Spiritual Diseases, Part II

Contrary to what the word might sound like, ecclesiology is not a disease. Ecclesiology entails the doctrinal study of the church. The proper study of the church can help inform churches so as to nurture health and guard against spiritual diseases. This post originally appeared as "Between the Lines: A Conversation with Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger – Part 2" at The Brazos Blog on 2/24/2014. The post reflects facets and values of the book I co-authored with Brad Harper titled Exploring Eccl … [Read more...]

Corporate Takeover: Reflections on the Movie “Her”

In a slightly futuristic Los Angeles, a recent divorcee who makes his living writing personalized love letters for customers enters into a romantic relationship with the voice of his new operating system. I am alluding to the movie “Her.”What is the movie “Her” about?  Technology’s impact on our relationships? The merging of the real and virtual? Mind-body dualism or immateriality and materiality? Broken relationships and the difficulty of getting close and sharing life with people, e … [Read more...]

What Is a Person?

What is a person? This is no easy term to define. I talk and write quite a lot about personhood and personal relationships and the need to guard against treating persons as things or commodities. But what is a person? One of my professors in Trinitarian theology once remarked that one cannot define “person(s)” when talking about life within the divine Trinity; the term “person” in such contexts is undefinable. Karl Barth preferred to write of “modes of being” (Seinsweise; not to be confused with … [Read more...]