May 19, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a Cult? Part 3 (Final) Before reading this blog essay you really ought to read Parts 1 and 2. In them I lay out my credentials for explaining the contemporary meaning of “cult” in Christian theology and religious studies (apart from its technical us for any form of worship). It is simply not possible to avoid the word “cult” altogether or even to offer a very simple definition. I am asked on a regular basis… Read more

May 16, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a Cult? Part 2 If you haven’t read Part 1, please do that now. Some, perhaps much, of what I write here in Part 2 assumes knowledge from Part 1. Before Jonestown the word “cult” was used in America almost exclusively of highly unorthodox religious groups. Its main meaning was theological—although behavior came into view to help label a group a cult when groups like the Unification Church (“Moonies”) and the Children of God (“the… Read more

May 13, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a “Cult?” Part 1 One of the questions I am asked most often is whether a specific religious church is a cult. Most often the questioner is not satisfied with my answer. That’s because they want a simple “yes” or “no” and, is so often the case in matters religious (and other matters), there is usually no such simple answer. And a big part of that is the change in the meaning of the word… Read more

May 10, 2019

A Great Evangelical Theologian to Read: Donald G. Bloesch   Very few, if any theologians have influenced me as profoundly as the late Donald G. Bloesch (d. 2010). Fortunately, many of his books are still in print or readily available through used book resellers on line. I realize that many Christians who are deeply interested in theology cannot avail themselves of a formal theological education. For you I strongly recommend that you read Bloesch’s books. Here I will mention a… Read more

May 6, 2019

“Womb of All Creation Flowing?” Progressive Christian Feminism Today? Far be it from me, a man, to critique feminism. That’s not a personal confession; it’s what I’ve been told by both women and men. Namely, that, as a man, I have no right to critique feminism. I simply don’t buy it. I think men and women on this planet are interdependent and both sexes have the right to ask questions and critique as well as support the other. As a… Read more

May 3, 2019

Whom to Blame for the Thin Gruel that Is Most of American Christianity Today? Over the past several decades many of us in the evangelical theological community have noticed and talked among ourselves about what I call the “thin gruel” of contemporary evangelical Christianity. What I am talking about could also be called the “dumbing down” of contemporary evangelical Christianity and its shallowness. Of course, this complaint is not really new; theologians have always complained about this phenomenon of “thin”… Read more

April 30, 2019

What Is “Evangelicalism” Again? Another Twist in the Knotty Conversation Over the past years I have been involved in numerous conversations about “evangelicalism.” I’ve done my best to contribute constructively to these conversations and have gained some notoriety for it. I’ve written books and chapters and articles and spoken at many public gatherings. I’ve blogged about the subject many times here. I thought I’d heard it all—until recently when I was surprised by a scholarly idea about evangelicalism that absolutely… Read more

April 26, 2019

For Fellow Arminians and Quasi-Arminians (Non-Calvinists): Prevenient Grace I recently had a very interesting discussion with a non-Calvinist Baptist theologian and denominational leader. He interviewed me for his podcast about soteriology. (I believe his “show” is called “Soteriology 101.”) I enjoyed the hour long conversation very much; he is very friendly to Arminians and Arminianism, but, like many Baptists, he prefers to call himself a “traditional Baptist” and “non-Calvinist” rather than “Arminian.” I’ve had this discussion before with several Southern… Read more

April 23, 2019

Why Do We (Christians) Put People on Pedestals? It seems that every month or two another Christian leader is “exposed” as a sinner. Why is this such a surprise? That is my question. It seems to me there is a “background problem” here. By “here” I mean the shock, the outrage, the disappointment, the disillusionment when a Christian leader, whether a television evangelist or bishop, is discovered to be a sinner. Now don’t start to get me wrong! (If you… Read more

April 18, 2019

Are There Two Trumps or What? Further Thoughts about Trump’s Christian Status Recently I suggested that, in my own opinion as a Christian theologian, Trump cannot be a Christian if it is true, as he is quoted by reliable sources as saying, that he has never needed to repent and has never repented. One reader and frequent commenter responded with a citation of another quote from Trump where he allegedly said, in effect, that he has repented. I have not… Read more

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