Conformed or Transformed? (Romans 12.2)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  During my first year of graduate school, I read A Black Theology of Liberation by James H. Cone. For me—a conservative, white, suburban kid—reading Cone’s book was an unsettling experience. Cone thought about God and society very differently than I did. Indeed, he argued that my theological methodology and conclusions served racist purposes. One of the most formative moments in my theological education happened when I stopped and asked myself whether he was right.  Why am I telling you about my unsettling experience? It’s not because I came to agree with Cone’s specific conclusions … Continue reading Conformed or Transformed? (Romans 12.2)

Living Sacrifices (Romans 12.1)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  In August 1991, I traveled to the Qinghai Province in northwestern China with my family. We visited various cities where my missionary grandparents had planted churches prior to the Communist Revolution of 1949. While in the city of Xining, I saw a butcher kill a goat on the sidewalk in front of his store. Until then, I’d never seen a butcher at work. But now I had, and it gave me a new perspective on Romans 12.1. Here’s what Paul writes:  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies … Continue reading Living Sacrifices (Romans 12.1)

Graced Attitude (Romans 12.1)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  Today, I would like to meditate with you on ten words from Romans 12.1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy….”  Whenever you read the word therefore in Scripture, you should ask what it’s there for. In Romans 12.1, therefore connects religion and ethics. According to Gordon Fee, religion in the New Testament is grace, while ethics is gratitude. Romans 1-11 is a powerful exposition of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. Romans 12-15 is an equally powerful exposition of the spiritual and moral work of the justified.   In … Continue reading Graced Attitude (Romans 12.1)

Theology and Worship (Romans 11.33-36)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  About halfway up the 286 spiraling stone steps of the Oleviste Church tower, I began to wonder whether the view it afforded of Tallinn, Estonia, was really worth the heart-pumping, lung-burning, knee-buckling effort. Construction on the Oleviste Church began in the 13th Century. At one time, it was the tallest building in Europe. And the only way to the top was one unevenly sized, medieval stair at a time.  I thought about the Oleviste Church tower when I read Romans 11.33-36. Romans is Paul’s most theologically systematic and rigorously argued letter. About halfway through … Continue reading Theology and Worship (Romans 11.33-36)

Hardening, Softening (Romans 11.25-32)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  I have made a pilgrimage to Israel several times. First-time Christian pilgrims inevitably come away with an epiphany and two questions. The epiphany: Jesus was here! He walked and talked then where we can walk and talk today. The questions: Why didn’t the Jews believe in him then? And, by extension, why don’t they believe in him now? Those are very good questions, and Romans 9-11 is Paul’s very good answer.  Over the past several weeks, I have walked you verse by verse through Paul’s argument about the unbelief of his fellow Jews. In Romans … Continue reading Hardening, Softening (Romans 11.25-32)