Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Cult of Personality

What do you make of the following point about “brilliant personalities” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together? “The church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote these words in the section “The Ministry of Authority” in Life Together. Based on this brief section, I am not sure what Bonhoeffer would have made of personality tests. I certainly think they have a place in discerning who we are and how we operate. Moreover … [Read more...]

Karl Barth & Genies in Bottles

One of the striking features of Karl Barth’s theology is his emphasis on God’s freedom. For Barth, God always remains Lord in revelation. We never master God. Barth’s adherence to this emphasis helped to safeguard against presumption. While God tabernacles in the flesh, he never resides in my back pocket as a good luck charm; nor is he a genie in a bottle—my wish is not his command.Barth’s emphasis on God’s freedom bears significance for such subjects as individual and ecclesial parochialism … [Read more...]

Globalization: A World Full of Seinfeld’s Close Talkers?

What is globalization? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides popular as well as precise considerations. On a popular level, globalization is viewed as the liberalization of the world economy and westernization of vast domains of culture, including economics and politics; moreover, it involves the spread of innovative technologies and the cessation of main causes of strife and unification of communities across the globe. On a more in depth level, globalization involves “fundamental c … [Read more...]

Will Jesus Return as Alec Baldwin’s Character in the movie “Glengarry, Glen Ross”?

Will Jesus return as Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake, in Glengarry, Glen Ross? Blake came down from the corporate office to shame the company’s salesmen with his brass balls and talk of real men being closers (selling houses). He sought to shame the salesmen into submission and squeeze from them higher rates of production. Blake could care less about finding faith on earth, only money. The ABC's of Blake's Great Commission to the employees of the real estate firm were: As you are going, “Always B … [Read more...]

Nietzsche—Christians’ Friend or Foe?

"Sometimes our worst enemies are our best friends." This was the response of one of my Christian colleagues to Friedrich Nietzsche's claim that the doctrine of the crucified God is the most despicable teaching and Christianity  is the greatest misfortune in human history. Before explaining the basis for my colleague's claim, let's take a look at what Nietzsche actually wrote: The Christian movement, as a European movement, has been from the start a collective movement of the dross and refuse ele … [Read more...]

The New Phariseeism—Performance-Based Spirituality?

The Apostle Paul struggled with Phariseeism. Phariseeism, as I am defining it in this context, signifies fixation with external religious practices and confidence in one’s own “Superman” or “Superwoman” performance; such fixation replaces authentic confidence in God as the basis for one’s salvation.In Paul’s day, certain religious leaders were getting inside the hearts and minds of Christians and getting them to move away from relational trust in Christ to confidence in the flesh. These relig … [Read more...]

The Big 50—Sober Birthday Reflections

Spending one’s 50th birthday weekend on one’s back in bed as I did can be quite a sobering thing (it had nothing to do with drinking). I came down sick Saturday afternoon after returning home from speaking at a writers conference. Perhaps I had burned the candle on both ends for weeks on end. Exhaustion has a way of getting to you. Instead of writing a birthday poem or counting candles on my cake on Sunday, I tried numbering my days so that I might grow in gaining a heart of wisdom.The Psa … [Read more...]