Life Together in the Land of Lewis and Clark: Reflections on Donald Miller and the Northwest Church

This piece was originally published at Christ & Cascadia on 2/18/14.The Pacific Northwest is known in many circles as the land of Lewis and Clark. These two men were rugged trailblazers, progenitors of rugged individuals, and risk-taking entrepreneurs. Their spirit is in the air and in the variety of scents and tastes in cafes and bistros, tea rooms, and microbrew pubs. We even find their entrepreneurial spirit alive in our churches. Moreover, the same individual and entrepreneurial … [Read more...]

Ideological Totalitarians—Kiss and Make Up

Fundamentalism comes in all shapes and sizes. Not only have I met conservative Christians and Muslims who are fundamentalists, but also I have met liberal fundamentalists. A fundamentalist spirit is present in those who will not seek to collaborate with people on the other side of an issue. The fundamentalist mentality is reflected in “Take no prisoners—or else.”Here I call to mind USA TODAY religion columnist Tom Krattenmaker’s book, The Evangelicals You Don’t Know: Introducing the Next Gene … [Read more...]

Moving Beyond Extremes to Gospel-Centered Love

Extreme positions often get the biggest hearing. It seems like you have to be liberal or conservative or pro-choice or pro-life to get people to listen. People so easily close their ears and hearts and shut the door when complexity enters the conversation.I am pro-life. In fact, I am pro-all life. Please allow me to unpack what I mean. It is important to care for the sanctity of human life for the unborn. But what about bringing those little ones into the world? Shouldn’t our care for the s … [Read more...]

On Matters of Religion Today, Is Everyone from Missouri—“Show-Me”?

No matter where one lives today, it seems like everyone’s from Missouri—the “Show-Me” state. Missourians are often characterized as non-credulous: they are not easily convinced; sufficient evidence is required. When it comes to matters of religion today, many people are increasingly suspicious of religious claims, unless they are backed up by actions. One has to back up words with deeds.Perhaps the author of James in the New Testament was from Missouri, too. Notice how he talks about the need … [Read more...]

Is God a Child Abuser?

Is God a child abuser? Did God pour out his wrath on his Son? If God abused his Son, what’s to say he won’t abuse us? I don’t take these questions lightly.Many theologians have claimed that Christ’s atoning work removed our sin (expiation). On their view, Christ’s death did not remove God’s wrath (propitiation), since God is not wrathful toward sin.I contend that God is wrathful toward sin. He satisfied and removed his wrath in the atoning work of his Son. In all that God did, there was n … [Read more...]

Targeting “Target Audience” Language in Church Growth

What do churches mean by talking about “target audience”? No doubt, one would have to ask each of the churches using such terms what they mean. Perhaps not all of these churches have thought through the associations often bound up with these words. This post is designed to stimulate thought on our use of such terms and what they might signify for Christian community in a market society. Here's one question to consider prior to beginning: if one comes to the conclusion that “target audience” prove … [Read more...]

Are We Really More Than Matter? Reflections on Kant’s Two Story Universe

In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant claims that he had to deny knowledge to make room for faith through his critical philosophy. In this work, Kant sets out to challenge the metaphysicians who fail to critique pure reason and whose dogmatism he believes wars against morality (Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, in Kant Selections, ed. Lewis White Beck, The Great Philosophers series {New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988}, pp. 103-104).It is not any kind of faith that … [Read more...]