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... 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

Sola Scriptura, Not Solitary Confinement

Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) does not mean and should not entail solitary confinement of the Bible from church tradition or reason. Rather, the phrase entails that the Bible is the final written authority in all matters pertaining to the church’s faith and practice (See this helpful introduction to the subject in Lutheran theology). For example, in his 95 Theses of 1517, Martin Luther challenged the use of “indulgences” granted by papal authority (See for example thesis 21 and thesis 27... Read more

We Are On Trial: Reflections on Kafka and The Bible

We are on trial. Unlike Franz Kafka’s Trial, the divine Judge revealed in the Bible issues particular laws by which to abide and specific charges and verdicts of guilt and/or innocence. The divine Judge also discloses his identity rather than hide in the shadows during court proceedings. In our day, many people find laws oppressive. Laws can be oppressive, when society operates like the one in Kafka’s Trial. The legal system in Kafka’s work is nebulous and open to distortion... Read more

Social Darwinism, Richard Dawkins and Down syndrome

People often wrongly connect Darwin’s doctrine of the survival of the biological fittest, including reproduction, with superiority in other spheres, such as morality, intellect, aesthetics, and spirituality. If anything, the moral to Darwin’s ethical stance is that people should have big families, wherein the children reach adulthood. What is termed Social Darwinism should probably be labeled Social Spencerism, following Herbert Spencer’s social philosophy. Darwin did not fully accept Social Darwinism or “eugenics,” which was coined by Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton... Read more

Gated Communities and the Visible/Invisible Church

I struggle with those gated communities and that form of gated community thinking where people associate only with people of their own ideological and cultural bent. Such isolation. I also struggle with churches that function as gated communities of various kinds. Perhaps some churches exclude people of other ethnicities, economic brackets, those with “disabilities,” the elderly or young or singles, the vibrant or dying, or those with different worship styles,  personality types, hobbies, IQ’s, and political perspectives. The list goes... Read more

What’s Wrong with Justice? Addressing Some Christian and Buddhist Concerns

I remember someone claiming there is too much talk of justice in Evangelical circles these days. From what I recall, this person felt that highlighting consideration of justice was distracting people from placing due emphasis on the gospel. This individual viewed justice as an appendix to the gospel at best, or possibly even extraneous to it. Certainly, Evangelicals must focus consideration on the proclamation of the gospel or good news of God’s grace revealed in Jesus Christ; even so, the... Read more

Can’t Pimp Jesus

Pimping involves the objectification and abuse of human bodies for profit. Pimping is an atrocious way for one person to treat another. Similar themes are found in the Bible. The Old Testament sometimes refers to God’s people as a prostitute (take Hosea for example). Their wayward hearts lusted after things other than God and they played the prostitute. God was their scorned lover who remained faithful and did not abuse or pimp them; their other lovers abused them, though (See... Read more

Who Is to Blame for the “Jihad Generation”?

Someone recently told me that “Diplomacy always fails; military confrontation alone is able to solve problems.” While the current crisis involving ISIS requires military intervention, efforts in diplomacy must never cease. While I cannot imagine governments negotiating with ISIS, I also cannot imagine a situation where diplomacy is abandoned. Governments must make sure that they do not disenfranchise and relationally disengage minority populations and religious groups. Afzal Amin, a former British military leader who is a Muslim, claims that British... Read more

Your Ultimate Concern Is Your God

Theology is the study of that which concerns each of us ultimately and its bearing on everything else. Paul Tillich wrote about the subject of “ultimate concern” at length, but not exactly in the same vein (See for example Paul Tillich’s treatment of this theme in his Systematic Theology, volume 1 {Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951}; refer here to a discussion of Tillich and the essence of religious attitudes being that of “ultimate concern”). One does not need... Read more