September 25, 2023

“The Upside-Down Kingdom,” Chapter 3: “Temple Piety” According to our author Donald Kraybill, Jesus was an “upside-down Messiah.” Most of the Jews of Jesus’s day expected a powerful messiah who would throw off Roman rule and liberate the people of Israel from all foreign domination. They hardly expected a suffering messiah or one who would reject the formal piety and legalism of the popular and established religion of his people. (Note: It is interesting that in his description of the... Read more

September 22, 2023

  The other day I was musing about American church life and the many, many churches I have had to do with (pastoring, serving, attending, speaking, watching, etc., etc.). I felt a strong impression that the Christianity of my childhood and youth has by-and-large disappeared. Something else called “Christianity” has taken its place. I kept my musings to myself because they seemed likely to be the nostalgic musings of an old man. The desire for “the good old days.” Then,... Read more

September 20, 2023

The Almost Forgotten Story of Non-Liberal Feminist Christian Women Influencers By “non-liberal” here I mean theologically conservative, even if sometimes unorthodox in some beliefs. Many books about the forgotten history of women influencers in Christianity focus on mystics and later, modern feminist theologians. I have sometimes made a point of emailing or directly asking, face-to-face, knowledgeable Christian feminist historians and theologians about certain conservative women Christian influencers. In most cases my questions have been brushed aside. I remember reading a... Read more

September 18, 2023

The Upside Down Kingdom: Chapter Two: Mountain Politics Just before re-reading The Upside Down Kingdom my wife and I watched the TV series “The Man in the High Castle.” It’s based on a book of the same title. The various plots of both the book and the series rest on the fiction that Germany and Japan won World War 2 and occupied America. Much of the story has to do with various resistance fighters against the Japanese and German occupiers.... Read more

September 15, 2023

Belong, Believe, Behave? Some years ago I began to hear this motto especially among those associated with the so-called “emerging churches.” I spoke at several such churches, had students affiliated with them, spoke at conventions where they gathered. The “new idea” often floated around in those circles was to allow people to belong (to the church) before they believe and certainly before they behave. Here, “believe” most often meant believe in the gospel and traditional truths of evangelical Christian orthodoxy.... Read more

September 13, 2023

Unsafe Sects: Understanding Religious Cults Yesterday I received my complimentary copies of this, my newest book: Unsafe Sects: Understanding Religious Cults published by Wipf & Stock under their Cascade Books imprint. I have described the book here before. What surprised me was the two absolutely stellar recommendations on the book’s back cover. I have posted a pic here of the back cover showing them. Both are by former colleagues of mine. In case you don’t know who Philip Jenkins is,... Read more

September 11, 2023

The Upside-Down Kingdom: Chapter One: Down Is Up Before I begin commenting on this book I want to tell a true story. Many years ago my wife and I were members of a Baptist church in an Upper Midwest capital city (USA). The state’s capitol building was about two miles away, but we could see it straight down the freeway near the church. The church was a medium-sized one that straddled the “line” between city and suburb. Most of the... Read more

September 9, 2023

Our Next Book Discussion: The Upside Down Kingdom It will begin this coming Monday, September 11. I will comment on Chapter One and invite those of you who read it to participate with comments. Those who do not read with us may ask questions only. I am very much looking forward to this book discussion as I judge that the author, Donald Kraybill, has swept away philosophical ethics from Christian ethics and gotten back to Jesus with more than just... Read more

September 6, 2023

Hegel in a Nutshell Hegel In a Nutshell Many years ago I took a doctoral seminar entitled “Kant and Hegel” at Rice University. On the first day, the professors said that nobody understands Hegel so the whole seminar would be about Kant’s philosophy. I was disappointed. So, I have spent many years, on and off, studying Hegel’s philosophy especially at it bears on religion and theology. Here is my offering of Hegel’s philosophy “in a nutshell” for those who are... Read more

September 5, 2023

What Are “Miracles” and Is Belief in Them Contrary to Science? It seems the word “miracle” is being stretched out of shape. I hear it all the time on TV. I have developed the view that there are three meanings (uses) of the word “miracle” in today’s American culture: 1) something surprising to an individual or small circle of people, 2) something truly amazing to a large number of people, 3) something whose only cause could be God (or possibly... Read more

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