“I Love Jesus, But Not My Mother.”

Beautiful pregnant woman in the park

I originally posted this piece on March 6, 2012. As I prepared once again to teach ecclesiology this semester,  I reflected upon these themes and thought them pertinent in the present context.Much has been made of the video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” by Jeff Bethke . Even Time has entered the conversation. The video has been watched countless times since it appeared in early January. Regardless of what one makes of Bethke’s words, one cannot question his ability to connect with you … [Read more...]

Good Shepherds in an Age of Charismatic Preaching and Cutting Edge Marketing


We live in a church age that values charismatic preaching and cutting edge marketing. But do we value good shepherding? What makes for good shepherding?Jesus tells us a thing or two or three about good shepherding in John 10. Fresh off the confrontation with the religious establishment of his day over the man born blind whom Jesus healed (recorded in John 9), Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd, not like those religious shepherds who fail to care for God’s people (Compare this text w … [Read more...]

Which Does Jesus Like More—Old Wine or New Wine?


Which does Jesus like more—old wine or new wine? I’m not sure. While I have heard it said that Jesus actually turned water into grape juice at the wedding in Cana (recorded in John 2), it was new wine. I’m not sure of the alcohol percentage, though. All we know is that it was better than what they had been drinking. Then he tells us in Luke 22 that he will not drink from the cup of the Lord’s Supper again until his eschatological kingdom comes in its fullness. By that time, that cup’s nectar will … [Read more...]

How Does the Pagan Play “Rent” Bear Witness to Christ?

rent pink yellow orange street

What do we make of the relation of the sacred and secular? For example, what makes Christian art Christian, if it is Christian? Do certain Christian symbols like the cross make a piece of art decisively Christian? Do the lack of those symbols make it unchristian or non-Christian? If the latter were the case, what then would one make of the Book of Esther, where God’s name is not specifically mentioned? Esther is considered sacred literature traditionally to Jews as well as Christians.I r … [Read more...]

Christian America and the Cruciform Church

121119 P I Can't Wait for Christian America to Die

"Christian America" is that form of American Christianity that operates by way of seeking to show the importance of Christianity for culture at large in terms of its strength, sustainable solutions and resilience to gain and maintain control. But is this the way God in Christ always or even chiefly operates?Perhaps we can learn from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's approach to German Christianity and the surrounding culture in the mid-twentieth century. Bonhoeffer wrote about being dead to the "God of … [Read more...]

Why Is the West the Best?


Why is the West the best? Or is it?I asked my Japanese wife to respond to the question, “Why is the West the best?” She answered, “Because that's what the West says.” Edward W. Said has said as much, too, and more. The author of the highly influential and controversial work, Orientalism, Said claims that the West (Europe and the United States) has objectified the East, specifically, the Middle Eastern peoples, framing them as foreign, strange, and threatening.Said argues that Western … [Read more...]

On the Damaging Dualism of Proclamation vs. Demonstration


All too often I find Christians falling prey to the damaging dualism of proclamation vs. demonstration. We should not pit words (proclamation) against deeds (demonstration), for they are inseparably related in the person of Jesus Christ. The very Word of God through whom God created the world became incarnate and acted out God’s love in words and deeds throughout his public ministry. I fear that some use the statement attributed to St. Francis of Assisi—“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use w … [Read more...]