Sainthood Is Not Pretty (1 Corinthians 4:10-13)

  Several years ago, I bought a Jesus icon at a Greek Festival near my house. (My interest was artistic, not liturgical.) Since then, I purchased another icon of my namesake, St. George. And I looked into buying antique icons, although so far their expense has priced me out of the market. The interesting thing about the icons I’ve looked at is the otherworldliness of their subjects. Typically, the saints – whether biblical or traditional – are presented “in glory,” as it were. In my Jesus icon, for example, Jesus is Christos Pantocrator, “Christ Almighty,” the Son of God enthroned … Continue reading Sainthood Is Not Pretty (1 Corinthians 4:10-13)

Wisdom Chaser

Nathan Foster, Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2010). $16.00, 185 pages. The father Nathan Foster finds at 14,000 feet is none other than Richard J. Foster, author of The Celebration of Discipline and other titles on spiritual formation. It turns out that Richard wasn’t much of a father in Nathan’s early years, at least not from his son’s point of view. He was “a serious, silent ghost.” In rebellion, Nathan started smoking, dabbled in drugs and alcohol, dropped out of school, and otherwise made bad decisions. But when, in his early 20s, … Continue reading Wisdom Chaser

Rulers or Ruined (1 Corinthians 4:8-10)

  In 1 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul paints a portrait of himself and the Corinthians that is a study in bold contrasts. Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings — and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as … Continue reading Rulers or Ruined (1 Corinthians 4:8-10)

Giving Church Another Chance

Todd D. Hunter, Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2010). $18.00, 190 pages. I have been going to church my entire life. I am a pastor, my father was a pastor, and his father a pastor before him. The weekly rhythm of Sunday worship and midweek Bible study is the only rhythm I have ever known. And, truth be told, I’m a bit tired of it. Perhaps you are too. If so, take a look at Todd Hunter’s new book, Giving Church Another Chance. Todd Hunter grew up Methodist, converted at … Continue reading Giving Church Another Chance

Against All Gods

Phillip E. Johnson and John Mark Reynolds, Against All Gods: What’s Right and Wrong about the New Atheism (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2010). $15.00, 119 pages. Toward the end of Against All Gods, Phillip Johnson writes this: “[E]very position about the nature of life and its origin has difficulties. Therefore, the question is not whether we can find a position that has no difficulties, but rather, which set of difficulties we prefer to embrace.” For several years now, the “New Atheists” have highlighted what they believe are the “difficulties” in theistic worldviews, especially the Christian theistic worldview. For many … Continue reading Against All Gods

Hell Under Fire

Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, eds., Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004). $19.99, 256 pages. The doctrine of eternal punishment is firmly established in both Scripture and the Christian tradition, but it also has its detractors within the church, from Origen in the early third century and Arnobius of Sicca in the early fourth to Thomas Talbott and Edward William Fudge today. The principal alternatives to eternal punishment are universal salvation and the annihilation of the wicked, the former represented by Origen and Talbott, the latter by Arnobius and Fudge. Hell … Continue reading Hell Under Fire

Holier than Thou and Uppity Christians (1 Corinthians 4:6-7)

  If you can’t view today’s video, click here. There are two kinds of Christians that I try to avoid: holier-than-thou Christians and uppity Christians. Holier-than-thou Christians think they are spiritually better than others. Uppity Christians think they are socially better than others. The two groups are distinct, but they can overlap. In other words, holier-than-thou types may consider themselves spiritually better than others, but not socially better. Uppity types may consider themselves socially better than others, but not spiritually better. It seems that the Corinthians considered themselves both spiritually and socially better than others, including Paul. The Corinthians were … Continue reading Holier than Thou and Uppity Christians (1 Corinthians 4:6-7)

Five Statements about Politics That Are Obviously True

I do a fair amount of reading about how Christian faith should shape a Christian’s involvement in politics. Based on my reading, I’ve come to five conclusions that I think are obviously true. God is not a Republican. Jesus is not a Democrat. The Holy Spirit is not a moderate. The church in America exists to make better Christians, not better Americans. America is not the kingdom of God. What do you think? Continue reading Five Statements about Politics That Are Obviously True

Ony One Opinion Counts, and it’s Not Yours (1 Corinthians 4:3-5)

  If you can’t view today’s video, click here. About twenty years ago, my family attended a religious conference. The speaker at one of the evening meetings wasn’t very good, so my dad passed me a note explaining how he would’ve preached the same text. I jotted down my own thoughts and handed the piece of paper to my sister, who did the same. Only my mom had the good sense to stay above the fray. Now that I am no longer a senior pastor, I often find myself evaluating what’s happening in church services. Are the buildings clean and … Continue reading Ony One Opinion Counts, and it’s Not Yours (1 Corinthians 4:3-5)