December 13, 2018

God has wired humanity to exist as storied creatures. This conviction manifests itself in various ways and in a variety of disciplines. Take for example philosophy and theology. The Berlin University philosopher theologian Hegel sought to demonstrate that the Christian faith illustrates best in ordinary and historical language the conceptual reality of God’s own historicized being. The Danish philosopher theologian Kierkegaard countered Hegel’s assertion by arguing for the scandal of particularity. For Kierkegaard, Jesus does not illustrate a prior and… Read more

December 12, 2018

Those who believe they are being pushed out, marginalized and endure extreme suffering for their Christian faith may be tempted to retreat in the face of the apparent threat. We can fall back on the comfort of nostalgia bound up with memories of a national Christian heritage and election claims like “Make America Great Again” (Donald Trump, 2016) or “Let’s Make America Great Again” (Ronald Reagan, 1980). Alternatively, we can fill our emotional space with slogans of hope for the… Read more

December 8, 2018

Working out at a gym is quite telling—not only in terms of how physically fit or unfit one is, but perhaps how spiritually fit or unfit one is. Many of us invest a great deal of emotional space and energy in becoming physically fit, which can be a very good thing. However, fixation on one’s physical health and appearance must never outweigh concern for one’s spiritual health and how one looks before God. We must place physical exercise in proper… Read more

December 3, 2018

John Rosensteel is Lead Pastor of New Hope Church in Portland, Oregon. I reached out to John to interview him regarding his work as pastor and how he and his church minister in their community. This interview is part of a series dedicated to pastoral-missional endeavors here at this column. Paul Louis Metzger (PLM): John, you served as a pastor in Madison, Wisconsin before coming to Portland, Oregon. What are some of the unique pastoral and missional challenges you have faced… Read more

December 1, 2018

Bethesda Lutheran Communities has a phenomenal vision and perspective on supporting people with disabilities. Bethesda Lutheran Communities firmly believes that those with disabilities are indispensable to the church, which is the body of Jesus Christ (Go to this video link for their promotion of this theme). Of particular import is 1 Corinthians 12:22, which reads: “…the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (ESV). Here is the full context: The eye cannot say to the hand, “I… Read more

November 30, 2018

We hear a lot today about identity politics. To many, it suggests a zero-sum game, where the winner ultimately takes all. The Economist provides a very helpful video reflection on identity politics and how to guard against negative dynamics. The video is titled “Are Identity Politics Dangerous?” The Economist argues that it is not a matter of whether identity politics should exist, but what is the best form in which it should operate. The answer includes the following emphases: inclusive over… Read more

November 25, 2018

President Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts exchanged strong words over the past few days on the subject of justice. Ross Douthat summarized the initial interaction at The New York Times: After the president complained that an “Obama judge” from the Ninth Circuit had ruled against his administration’s asylum policy, the chief justice issued a highly unusual rebuke, declaring that “we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” and an “independent judiciary is… Read more

November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving is not simply a holiday, but a way of life that should carry on throughout the year. Or at least it should be. Here I think of Psalm 23, which is attributed to David. Here we find the psalmist marveling at God’s mercy and goodness. Although he walks through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), and though he is being pursued by his enemies, he is ever mindful of God’s goodness to him. In fact, he… Read more

November 15, 2018

Fear rages like a consuming fire. Unimaginable natural disasters strike close to home–or even closer, as has been true for some of my friends in California. Over sixty people have been found dead and over six hundred are missing on account of the terrorizing blaze. Will the firefighters ever be able to extinguish the flames, or will the fire keep running wild like our rampant worry? While some experience natural disasters, others experience the horrors of mass shootings. Given their frequent… Read more

November 13, 2018

Isaiah 53:3 reads, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (ESV). The suffering church throughout the ages has claimed that this text finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth. But how about our age? Do we take comfort in the ultimate man of sorrows? Or does the power of positive thinking Christianity stand in the way of our… Read more

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