In a slightly futuristic Los Angeles, a recent divorcee who makes his living writing personalized love letters for customers enters into a romantic relationship with the voice of his new operating system. I am alluding to the movie “Her.” What is the movie “Her” about?  Technology’s impact on our relationships? The merging of the real and virtual? Mind-body dualism or immateriality and materiality? Broken relationships and the difficulty of getting close and sharing life with people, especially those one loves? Something… Read more

What is a person? This is no easy term to define. I talk and write quite a lot about personhood and personal relationships and the need to guard against treating persons as things or commodities. But what is a person? One of my professors in Trinitarian theology once remarked that one cannot define “person(s)” when talking about life within the divine Trinity; the term “person” in such contexts is undefinable. Karl Barth preferred to write of “modes of being” (Seinsweise;… Read more

“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” You may have come across this statement attributed to Johann Tetzel, papal seller of indulgences. Whether or not Tetzel ever uttered these words, Christians have often thought of salvation as a financial transaction. Is salvation a financial transaction? Does the Bible speak in these terms? Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”… Read more

How Hegelian is Christianity? The reader might think this is an odd question in that Christianity was around a very long time before Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel arrived on the scene (1770-1831). The question is intended to provoke thought concerning Hegel’s assessment of Christianity. For Hegel, Christianity illustrates what his philosophy makes explicit about ultimate reality. Unlike Christian Aristotelianism with its emphasis on God as an unmoved mover, Hegel portrayed God as the moved mover. Unlike Kantianism with its emphasis on God as beyond history,… Read more

Contrary to what the word might sound like, ecclesiology is not a disease. Ecclesiology entails the doctrinal study of the church. The proper study of the church can help inform churches so as to nurture health and guard against spiritual diseases. This post originally appeared as “Between the Lines: a Conversation with Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger–Part 1” at The Brazos Blog on 2/17/2014. The post reflects facets and values of the book I co-authored with Brad Harper titled… Read more

This piece was originally published at The Christian Post on 7/12/12. I am reposting it in view of The Justice Conference Portland proceedings and its rightful emphasis on loving solidarity with people in their suffering. The “voiceless”  have voices. Are we listening? Sometimes I hear people say we are to be the voice of the voiceless. I certainly appreciate their commitment to advocating for those on the margins. Still, “the voiceless” do have voices. I don’t need to speak for them;… Read more

This article includes two responses from Christian friends who take further the pressing issues addressed in this post. *************** Over the years, I have noted criticisms Evangelicals make of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My glowing praise and affirmation of King over the years has raised questions and criticisms, too. In my experience, Evangelicals have often been quick to point out King’s acts of infidelity and plagiarism in his doctoral work without attending to and celebrating sufficiently the incredible landmark achievements wrought by… Read more

I oppose legalizing prostitution. While I appreciate the concern of those who believe that legalizing prostitution will bring about more favorable conditions for prostitutes, I am not convinced. In fact, I believe the opposite is the case most if not all the time (See the Prostitution Research & Education website for detailed information regarding prostitution, including resources on the effects of legalized prostitution). It is argued that legalizing prostitution will make it possible for prostitutes to come away with more income… Read more

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 creativity that leads… Read more

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 Generation of… Read more

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