Producers, Consumers and Communers

I originally posted this piece on February 1st, 2012. In preparing to teach on the subject of Trinitarian communion and its import for ecclesiology this semester,  I reflected upon these themes again and considered them pertinent in the present context.There is a great deal of talk about production and consumption in American society today. Such talk is found inside the American church as well. In fact, a noted pastor has called on men to be real men by moving from being consumers to being pr … [Read more...]

Religion, Church and Private Language Games

Is religion a private affair best kept to very quiet times in prayer closets, or should religion and the imperatives of the gospel impact every sphere of life in a public way?In my reading of Immanuel Kant's "What Is Enlightenment?" he privatizes religion, or at least the church. The scholar of religion is to stick to the script and not critique religious symbols in his or her private duties, which entails his work as an ordained minister of the church; however, he or she is to engage … [Read more...]

Gospel Freedom: How Free Are We? Beyond Entitlement Thinking

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that God’s saving grace is free of charge to all who believe; but how free are we who share it with others? The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ frees us to move beyond entitlement thinking in our outreach to others. Paul was so free he laid aside his rights as an Apostle to be served and to have certain entitlements so as to serve others. He did all this for the sake of the freedom of the gospel and others’ freedom in Christ.The Apostle writes, … [Read more...]

Recapitulation: Jesus Is No Bobble-Headed Doll or Dashboard Crucifix

Jesus is no bobble-headed doll or dashboard crucifix. He sums up all things in himself, as Irenaeus emphasized in his doctrine of recapitulation, and which the Bible makes exceptionally clear (Ephesians 1:10; ESV). Jesus Christ is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15) and the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead. God's aim is that in everything Jesus might be preeminent (Colossians 1:18).  All the fullness of God dwells in him (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9) and we have been g … [Read more...]

How Seriously Do We Take Jesus’ Words on the Need for Christian Unity?

How seriously do we who are Christians take Jesus’ words recorded in John 17:23? Here we find Jesus praying to the Father on the eve of his crucifixion: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:23; ESV) Given the suffering that awaits him in John’s account, we should realize just how important unity among his followers is to Jesus; it occupies his thoughts and prayers during his most tr … [Read more...]

What Is Enlightenment? Dare to Think!

Immanuel Kant’s famous exhortation “Have courage to use your own reason!” (“Sapere aude!”) stands out as a defining statement of the Enlightenment. For Kant, daring to thinking for oneself is enlightenment. In his catalytic essay “What Is Enlightenment?” he calls on his readers to free themselves from “self-incurred…tutelage,” where they take their direction from others. (See Immanuel Kant, “What Is Enlightenment?” in Kant Selections, ed. Lewis White Beck, The Great Philosophers series {New York: … [Read more...]

Unfinished Business

I originally delivered this as a keynote address for The Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service at Allen Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon on January 15, 2012. As we reflect on Dr. King's legacy together today, I wanted to share these words again.This evening, we have gathered together to remember, celebrate and act upon the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We have unfinished business to which we must attend. God is not fi … [Read more...]