January 8, 2019

Donald Trump would not be fixated on building a wall on the southern border of the United States if this were not the issue that won him the presidency and gave him the most visceral connection to his supporter base of which the most predominant demographic bloc are white evangelicals. So it doesn’t seem far-fetched to ponder how white evangelical theology builds walls. A wall expresses a commitment to an uncomplicated view of reality. The innocence on one side of… Read more

January 2, 2019

No, I’m not going to say Donald Trump is the anti-Christ. Because I don’t believe that the Bible’s role when it speaks about an anti-Christ is to predict future events. But I think the term can still be useful. I would use it to signify the greatest adversary the church faces in a particular age. And I think the ideology Jerry Falwell Jr. laid out in a recent quote captures that adversary quite perfectly. Why have Americans been able to… Read more

December 30, 2018

We took a risk when NOLA Wesley started the Labyrinth cafe. Meaning we did something that involved a high likelihood of failure. That’s what a risk is. And that’s what all the higher-ups in the church encouraged us to do. Risk-taking mission is one of the five practices of fruitful congregations according to Bishop Robert Schnase. Dr. Elaine Heath told our Louisiana Conference to “fail our way forward.” The greatest risk is that our funding will dry up before we… Read more

December 28, 2018

Fred Hartley’s Dare to Be Different was one of the books that defined my evangelical teenager years. It indoctrinated me with the idea that that the most important thing about being a Christian is to be different from non-believers. And to be fired up about that difference. The gist of the book and others I read like it by people like Michael W. Smith was that there were three basic ways I was supposed to be different: no drugs or… Read more

December 24, 2018

Jesus is God’s rebellion against humanity. That statement is as offensive as the real Christmas was before the privileged elites of the world turned it into a lawn decoration and cute children’s pageant. How can God be a rebel? God’s in charge (like we’re in charge). Our God is a God of order (who endorses the way things are currently ordered). Rebels are evil by definition (because we’ve never had to rebel to get our needs met). Wouldn’t our world… Read more

November 24, 2018

Yesterday my friend and mentor Brian Zahnd got a lot of flak for tweeting about his church having both ICE agents and undocumented immigrants in its pews. The same day, dozens of members of the CityWell church in my hometown of Durham, NC were arrested for blocking an ICE van when ICE agents captured a church member who had been living in sanctuary in the church for almost a year. So what does it look like to be a faithful… Read more

November 20, 2018

I debated whether to call this a love letter or an open letter. Love letter feels like a very southern white evangelical thing to call something that involves critical reflection and wrestling with concerns. But open letter feels too adversarial. We write open letters to celebrities with big platforms who might not engage us in direct conversation otherwise. If you’ve been active in ex-evangelical Twitter lately, I imagine you already know what I’m going to write about. I’ve watched two… Read more

November 9, 2018

Last weekend was the first-ever global legislative assembly for the Wesleyan Covenant Association, the United Methodist traditionalist caucus group. It was for all practical purposes, the inauguration of a new denomination. At their assembly, they adopted a resolution saying they would be “forced to leave” the United Methodist Church if the One Church Plan which allows for regional LGBTQ inclusion is adopted at the February 2019 General Conference. There has been talk from traditionalists for at least the past decade… Read more

November 2, 2018

I am Cain; And my altar doesn’t burn. Oh it burns some As long as I’m holding the lighter And scorching my thumb But it never catches on its own. I went with my brother Abel to the woods; We gathered the same sticks; We used the same amount of lighter fluid; And his offering caught fire and multiplied. Abel started a church in his living room With five of his friends And they prayed in circles around their neighborhood… Read more

October 31, 2018

The continuous meta-debate within the United Methodist debate is to ask: what are we really debating about? There are many ways to answer that question, some more deceitful and cynical than others. I would propose that one way to understand our disagreement is that it’s a question of whether John Wesley’s 18th century theological presuppositions are permanently normative for United Methodism. Does whatever the Methodist historians tell us about what John Wesley believed have to be what we believe also?… Read more

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