December 4, 2023

Announcing a New Book Discussion Beginning on Monday, December 18, God willing, I will begin discussion here of The Essentials of Christian Thought: Seeing Reality through the Biblical Story (Zondervan, 2017). I am the author. Here are two recommendations of the book of which I am especially proud: “Olson offers his readers a timely and powerful defense of a distinctively Christian metaphysics and teases out its implications for theology, apologetics, and cultural dialogue. It is a rich and rewarding read... Read more

December 2, 2023

Are American Christians Persecuted? According to some new reports, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative, Mike Johnson, one of the highest officials in the country, recently commented that American Christians are persecuted. Naturally, this drew negative responses from some left-leaning commentators. One was a woman who wrote a column about Johnson’s claim for the Religious News Service. I read it in The Anabaptist World. Mike Johnson is a conservative Christian, probably, almost certainly, a self-identified evangelical in both... Read more

December 1, 2023

An Even Stranger Thing… The Youtube documentary shocked me and shook me to the core of my being. Why have I never head of this before? To see and hear what I heard and saw go to this Youtube video: “The Rise of the Crisis Actor Conspiracy Movement.” Have I been living under a rock or have I had my head in this sand? Before watching this video I had no idea such people or their ideas existed. But I... Read more

November 28, 2023

How Do You Know You’re Not Brainwashed? First, let’s define two words. What do I mean by “know?” Well, really just the usual sense of the word except I exclude absolute, total, incorrigible certainty. I don’t think that’s humanly possible. The mind can always possibly be shaken by new experiences. So by “know” I mean have “proper confidence”—knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt. Second, what do I mean by “brainwashed?” It’s a word with a large element of subjectivity. Here, however,... Read more

November 26, 2023

The Upside-Down Kingdom, Chapter 12: Successful Failure There’s much in this chapter to “talk” about. But I’d like to focus on one main point: the meaning of “bearing one’s cross.” As I read Kraybill’s explanation, I was reminded of John Howard Yoder’s discussion of this in The Politics of Jesus. According to both Kraybill and Yoder, “bearing one’s cross” does NOT mean putting up with suffering, mental or physical. Bearing one’s cross is about sacrificing one’s own pleasure and personal... Read more

November 23, 2023

Does God Save Everyone He Can? This is a question for Christians and evangelical Christians in particular. A friend recently asked me a theological question. He knows I am a Christian theologian in the evangelical tradition. His question was “Does God save everyone he can?” I don’t recall ever being asked that before, so I reflected on it in the light of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience (the so-called “Wesleyan Quadrilateral”). Many questions must be parsed out and examined in... Read more

November 20, 2023

The Upside-Down Kingdom: Chapter 11: Low Is High According to Donald Kraybill, an Anabaptist theologian, Jesus abolished hierarchy among his followers. And his followers today, the church (the body of Christ and its faithful congregations and organizations) ought to follow his teachings and example about status and power. Kraybill more than amply demonstrates this in Chapter 11. For those of you who read it, I don’t need to quote from it. For those of you who did not read it,... Read more

November 18, 2023

Should Christians Practice Yoga? The question came to my mind when I saw that a pre-school operated by a Methodist church is teaching “Yoga for Children.” Of course, I’ve thought about yoga many time before. I have never practiced yoga and would not. I believe yoga is intrinsically linked with Hindu beliefs—no matter how hard some might try to secularize or even Christianize it. Here I find myself uncomfortably in agreement with many fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christians with whom... Read more

November 15, 2023

Evangelical Thoughts about Pope Francis As an Anabaptist, ecclesiologically I’m about as far from the Catholic Church (and here I mean the Roman Catholic Church) as possible. (There are other Catholic Churches such as the Old Catholic Church and the Polish National Catholic Church that do not recognize the primacy or infallibility of the bishop of Rome.) Over the years of my academic life in evangelical circles I have known or known of many evangelicals who joined the Catholic Church.... Read more

November 13, 2023

The Upside-Down Kingdom Chapter 10: Inside Outsiders Here, in this chapter, Donald Kraybill argues from the New Testament that Jesus defiled himself, knowingly and deliberately, by associated himself closely with people many Jews of his time and place considered impure—at least for close, personal interactions. I don’t think there can be any serious doubt about that. Then Kraybill extrapolates from that to a stringent criticism of the “birds of a feather flock together” paradigm of church growth today. Those old... Read more

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