May 9, 2020

The Problem with Calvinism is Fundamentalism I have long studied varieties of Calvinism—from mainline Reformed theologies to nearly cultic Calvinist theologies. From those that have pretty much discarded TULIP to those that make TULIP part of the gospel to those who believe that “indiscriminate evangelism” (such as what Billy Graham did) is unbiblical because it usurps (or attempts to usurp) God’s sovereignty. What I have concluded is that every Calvinist theologian at least slightly differs from every other one. Let… Read more

May 5, 2020

Does God Ever Make Us “Worthy?” Recently I heard a contemporary worship song that expresses the idea that a person is never so “dirty” that God cannot make him or her “worthy.” It reminded me of a very old gospel song from the 1950s entitled “Worthy.” The latter song expresses the idea that, although I am unworthy of God’s grace, he makes me worthy by his mercy.” When I heard the first song being sung in an online worship service… Read more

May 3, 2020

Toxic Religion Last evening my wife and I watched Dateline (May 1, 2020)—an American “news magazine” television program that usually focuses on crimes with mysteries attached to them. “Whodonit?” If there’s an answer, it’s usually “the husband” or “the boyfriend.” (For me, after a while, the similarity between all these American TV crime shows gets boring. If I say “the husband” or “the boyfriend” at the beginning of the program I’m almost always right about who turns out to be… Read more

April 28, 2020

What Is “Prayer?” Very few subjects provoke my thoughts more than prayer. Of course, praying is more important than thinking about praying. But, setting that truth aside, I turn to a theology of prayer because I have encountered so much confusion about prayer among even evangelical Christians. No theologians has influenced my own thoughts about prayer more than the late Donald Bloesch (d. 2010). In fact, I would say that no single theologian influenced me more than he did. I… Read more

April 24, 2020

“Unchurching”   I recently viewed a Youtube video of a TedTalk given at Palo Alto College by Richard Jacobsen. Here is the whole title: Unchurching: The Exodus from Institutional Forms of Church|Richard Jadobson|TEDxPalo Alto College. (I am not sure if copying and pasting that URL will work simply because I don’t know where the spaces are. So type it into Youtube’s search box.) I also heard the following statistic (not from Jacobson): During the 1950s approximately 3% of Americans claimed… Read more

April 20, 2020

What Makes a Group of People “Church?” Part 2 Let’s get something out of the way—right away—to head off a predictable but unwelcome response. I have studied American churches for many years. I am the editor (really author) of the 14th edition of the Handbook of American Denominations in the United States (Abingdon Press). I have studied and visited literally hundreds of “Christian” churches over the years and been a faithful attender—often member and sometimes leader—of about thirteen individual congregations…. Read more

April 17, 2020

What Makes a Group of People “Church?” Part 1 Let’s get something out of the way—right away—to head off a predictable but unwelcome response. I have studied American churches for many years. I am the editor (really author) of the 14th edition of the Handbook of American Denominations in the United States (Abingdon Press). I have studied and visited literally hundreds of “Christian” churches over the years and been a faithful attender—often member and sometimes leader—of about thirteen individual congregations…. Read more

April 12, 2020

Christianity and Economics For good reason economics is traditionally labeled “the dismal science.” Even the best economists in the world radically disagree with each other about how best to predict a society’s economic future and how best to program its distribution of goods so as to promote universal well-being. One reason for that is radically differing presuppositions about wealth (defined here as the “goods” of a society). For example, is wealth limited or can it grow? Is distributive justice a… Read more

April 9, 2020

Calvinism Is Impossible Obviously by “impossible” I don’t mean it doesn’t exist. Here I am using the word “impossible” in a very unusual sense, but one I borrow from Calvinist theologian Charles Hodge (1797-1878). Hodge was by most accounts the most influential American conservative Protestant theologian of the nineteenth century and a convinced and somewhat aggressive Calvinist. His three volume Systematic Theology (1871-1873) is still in publication well over a century after it was first published. I doubt it ever… Read more

April 4, 2020

Where Is God in This Pandemic?   Several people have asked me “Where is God in this pandemic?” One person rather pointedly put me on the spot and said “You’re a theologian; you ought to know.” I understand that. If anyone ought to know, I ought to know. But, of course, that question and statement could mean two different things. One is where is God in this particular disaster, this particular pandemic, out of all disasters and epidemics? The other… Read more




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