December 6, 2021

The Joker Begins: Why Do Almost All Pastors Urge Congregants to “Build the Kingdom of God?” I recently announced that I will be posting a series here—about what I would ask pastors, Christian congregational leaders, leaders of Christian organizations and institutions if I could—without negative repercussions. I argued that every church and Christian organization should have a person whose function is to raise critical questions (not in a hyper-critical way) about customs, practices, beliefs, forms of worship—even songs sung—when they… Read more

December 3, 2021

Every Church Needs a Joker (And the Joker Cometh) At least according to legend, during the so-called Middle Ages, every monarch had at his side (or somewhere nearby) a person called a “joker” (or “jester”) whose job it was to make the monarch laugh and sometimes even make fun of the monarch. Actually, from what I have read, the joker’s job was also to ask questions. He was the only person in the royal court who could challenge the monarch’s… Read more

November 26, 2021

Let’s Talk about Original Sin—Theologically This is more than just a book review, but I will now mention a new book about original sin—Original Sin in the Twenty-first Century by Richard J. Coleman (Wipf & Stock, 2021). In the Preface Coleman writes that he would be amply rewarded (for taking up the challenge of writing a book about original sin in this time of peril) if someone wrote a book review that began: “I did not believe anyone could write… Read more

November 23, 2021

Let’s Talk about Near-Death Experiences—Theologically Someone asked me to reflect on so-called “near-death experiences.” I will attempt to here while noting that many books and documentaries have been made about the subject. I can’t possibly do justice to it in such a brief space as this. First, “near-death experience” (NDE) is a misnomer. I don’t know who coined it for the phenomenon under consideration. Perhaps the famous researcher and author of the subject, Raymond Moody who published one of the… Read more

November 10, 2021

What Is “Progressive Christianity?” I keep hearing this label “progressive Christian.” What does it mean? I answer as a theologian and scholar of American Christian varieties—ecclesiological and theological. The trouble is that there is no historical tradition of “progressive Christianity.” There are no prototypes to point back to or to now. This is in contrast to, for example, “liberal Christianity” which is a historical-theological tradition well documented and described by theologian Gary Dorrien in his three volume history of the… Read more

November 8, 2021

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way, Even of Theology! Dear Blog Friends, thank you for your patience and for “staying tuned” here. Don’t worry, I haven’t died or dropped this blog (the two events will almost certainly coincide but hopefully not for a long time). Theology interests me nor more than ever. I am currently conducting research on several subjects related to theology. However, recently, several life events have interrupted my research and my work on this blog. Again, thank… Read more

November 2, 2021

Answering a Question: Can There Be a Church without Doctrines? This question (Can there be a church without doctrines?) interests me a great deal. I have been asked it in various ways many times over the years. In fact, I have twice been a member of churches that claimed to have no doctrines other than “the Bible” – which I took to mean whatever the Bible says. Both churches flatly rejected attempts to establish even minimal statements of faith to… Read more

October 26, 2021

Answer to Question: What Must a Person Know/Believe to Be Saved (or to Be a Christian)? Recently I invited questions and this (or these) was one asked by several people. I’ll put their questions into my own words and hope to do justice to their thoughts. “What must a person know (cognitively) in order to be saved?” And “What must a person know (cognitively) in order to be a Christian? I think it is safe to assume that the questioners… Read more

October 20, 2021

Answering a Question about the Trinity: Is “Social Trinitarianism” a Heresy? I am informed that some evangelical (and perhaps other) theologians are again labeling social trinitarianism a heresy. To put it bluntly and “up front,” this is nonsense. But, as you should be aware, there are conservative theologians who specialize in identifying heresies. They seem never to be satisfied; three is always another heresy lurking just around a corner. They get “points” from colleagues and “higher ups” (in their denominations… Read more

October 16, 2021

Answer to a Question: Philosophy and Theology In my considered opinion, there can be no more important question for Christian theologians, than this one: What should be the relationship between philosophy and Christian theology? When I invited questions, this one popped up and that didn’t surprise me. Even “ordinary Christians” who think about Christian beliefs must touch on something like this issue—even if not in a technical or scholarly way. The Christian debate about the relationship between philosophy and theology… Read more

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