Advent Justice: Little People Loom Large to God

I never cease to be amazed that God chose insignificant Israel to be his very own people, that he chose the shepherd boy David over Saul and all his brothers, that he chose the little town of Bethlehem for the birthplace of the Messiah, that he chose the barren Elizabeth to bear the forerunner and young Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, that he chose the lowly shepherds to receive the lofty angelic proclamation, the aged Simeon and… Read more

Advent Justice: Embrace the Mystery

One of the reasons why many of us love Christmas so is because there is magic in the air. We just can’t get enough of it. Some of us would like to celebrate Christmas all year round. Businesses promote it earlier and earlier in many places, long before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Still, others of us fear that celebrating Christmas all year round would get old; the magic of Christmas would wear off in August and perhaps never return… Read more

Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Makoto Fujimura’s Faith

How often do reductionistic assumptions keep us from encountering God in Christ and experiencing robust biblical faith? This question loomed large the other night at the Portland Art Museum during a feature presentation of Makoto Fujimura and his work. My wife Mariko and I attended the Portland premiere of the short documentary film, The Golden Sea, which chronicles Mako’s story as an artist in the United States and Japan. We soaked in the film and listened intently to Mako’s ensuing… Read more

Downward Mobility and Trickle-Up Economics: A Trinitarian Reflection on Money and Power

Evangelicalism has struggled to address the structures of racism and poverty, and has often uncritically embraced money and power in pursuit of problematic versions of upward mobility and the American Dream. In view of the political and cultural challenges the movement has faced in recent years, the time is ripe to reevaluate our kingdom allegiances. Rather than being known for desiring power politics and material prosperity that fail to challenge racialization and economic disparity, we ought to be known for… Read more

Green Christmas: Richard Dawkins, Meet John of Damascus

I doubt there was snow on the ground that first Christmas, so I don’t think Christ’s advent in the cavernous mangers of our hearts this Christmas is dependent on snowfall either. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Christmas will likely be very green, as it often is. Whether it is green where you live or not, my Christian faith entails that greenery and all things natural are dependent on that first Christmas. Recently, I told my theology class students that… Read more

Nelson Mandela: Troublemaker for Peace

A troublemaker for peace died yesterday. The man born with the name “Rolihlahla”—which literally means “pulling the branch of a tree” and which is colloquially rendered “troublemaker”—died in peace. Nelson Mandela brought peace to South Africa by making trouble. One cannot always make peace without conflict. Those who would shy away from conflict involving injustices are not about peace, but the status quo, for peace always entails advancing justice. Having been an advocate in his early years for non-violent resistance… Read more

What Can Dave Ramsey’s Evangelicals Learn from Ebenezer Scrooge?

In a recent article on Dave Ramsey on the subject of poverty, Rachel Held Evans quotes Ramsey as saying, “There is a direct correlation…between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth.” She then goes on to claim that this teaching flirts with the prosperity gospel, which can be construed as God blesses those with wealth who bless God. Among other things, Evans also writes of how Ramsey’s view does not account for the structures… Read more

Ayn Rand, Christians and Altruism

What is the standard of value in this or that ethical system? Is it some transcendent immaterial ideal? A personal God? The community at large? One’s self? According to Ayn Rand, “The objectivist ethics” which she promotes “holds man’s life as the standard of value—and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man” (The Virtue of Selfishness, Signet, 1964, p. 27).  Rand goes on to unpack what she means by standard and purpose and value. For our… Read more

Why Do We Call Today “Black Friday”?

I have come across a few answers as to why people call the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.” One answer is that “Black Friday” was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department based on the overwhelming and chaotic influx of traffic and pedestrian activity associated with Christmas shopping on the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. “Black Friday” is also associated with the economic upturn involving the shopping cycle leading to Christmas where retailers turn from being in the red to going in the black and… Read more

A Thanksgiving Reflection: God’s Gracious Love Fosters an Ethic of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is upon us. This year, I find myself reflecting upon God’s generosity in Christ for which I am most thankful. I wish to take this opportunity to reflect upon how God’s generosity in Christ shapes the Christian life. A theology of God’s gracious love fosters an ethic of gratitude. I preached on Philemon this past Sunday at Ascension Presbyterian Church and believe this passage in Scripture reveals this orientation. Now some may see in Paul’s letter to Philemon a… Read more

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