“The Buddhists Are Coming! The Buddhists Are Coming!”

To those of you who are American Evangelical Christians, what do you feel when you read these words “The Buddhists are coming! The Buddhists are coming!”? Consternation? Fear? Joy?This summer, I was invited to share a few words at a groundbreaking event for a Zen Buddhist temple where my dear friends, Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson, serve as abbots. I have worked with them and their community for several years now in Portland, Oregon, on matters pertaining to spirituality and the common good. Whe … [Read more...]

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Perhaps you have heard stories of authority figures such as parents or teachers or police officers and judges saying of certain youth that they will not amount to anything and that they are bad to the bone. Sometimes, their projections become self-fulfilling prophecies.I am glad that Paul does not view the Corinthian Christians that way, though one might think he had reason to do so. After all, they were a very carnal church--given to factions centering on alignment with various Christian … [Read more...]

On Ayn Rand: Is Rational Selfishness Rational and Self-Affirming Enough?, Part 2

In my first post on Ayn Rand, I concluded by saying that In my estimation, her ethical model of objectivism depends upon the ability and imperative of reasoning apart from emotional or experiential stimuli that otherwise impact rationality and upon a view of the self as autonomous. Can one reason in this pristine manner, and should one? And should one view the self as autonomous? If one answers in the affirmative, one would likely tend to affirm Rand’s objectivism as sufficiently rational and s … [Read more...]

Beyond Cultural Monopolies to the Multifaceted Gospel

At our intentionally multi-ethnic church, a discussion has arisen from our examinations of Paul's epistle to the Galatians. We have been interacting about the characteristics of our particular gospel-centered community, trying to describe what it is like and what defines its culture. We've been considering what it looks like to give the gospel precedence in our hearts and minds over our cultural customs so that there is no cultural monopoly.The late, great Lakota Sioux Christian leader R … [Read more...]

Was Moses a Feminist?

As you may know, I edit a journal for The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins called Cultural Encounters. We have a new issue out and I'd invite you to take a look. I've reprinted the Editor's Introduction here, giving you a sampling of what is in this issue. If it piques your interest, head on over to the journal, subscribe, and read! Was Moses a feminist? It all depends on what texts from the Torah one emphasizes and what one means by feminist. If one takes to heart … [Read more...]

On Ayn Rand: Is Rational Selfishness Rational and Self-Affirming Enough?

Ayn Rand was a most provocative and radical thinker, whom many leading Americans have claimed influenced their political and economic views.Ayn Rand's objectivist ethics frames morality in terms of rational self-interest or rational selfishness (Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, Signet, 1964, p. xi). Among other things, she confronted altruism and hedonism (The Virtue of Selfishness, 33). Her interview with Mike Wallace reveals her convictions in precise and startling terms. Whether one … [Read more...]

Are We Called by God, Coerced or Coercing?

Paul starts out all his letters with "Paul," not "Dr. Paul" with a long resume of accomplishments attached, just Paul. He often refers to his being called by God to be an apostle--one sent by God (See for example 1 Corinthians 1:1). His calling and sense of identity were shaped dramatically by his Damascus Road experience and his time away in Arabia (See Acts 9:1-19; Galatians 1:11-24).What shapes our identity and sense of mission? Do we sense God's call? Or do we feel God has coerced us, or … [Read more...]