Review of ‘Ministry in the Digital Age’ by David T. Bourgeois

 David T. Bourgeois, Ministry in the Digital Age: Strategies and Best Practices for a Post-Website World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2013). $15.00, 144 pages. The purpose of Ministry in the Digital Age is “to provide churches and ministries with the guidance they need to successfully embrace and use digital technologies as means to fulfill their mission” (8). The book identifies three elements of a “digital ministry framework”: technology, people, and process (chapter 4). Too often, churches and ministries make decisions about what digital platforms to use before they take into account who will use them or how their digital … Continue reading Review of ‘Ministry in the Digital Age’ by David T. Bourgeois

Review of ‘Christianophobia’ by Rupert Shortt

 Rupert Shortt, Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012). $26.00, 328 pages. Christianophobia is the story of “a faith under attack,” in the lapidary words of the book’s subtitle. Around the world, but especially in Muslim-majority countries, Christians are persecuted for their faith by agents of the state, by lawless mobs, and sometimes by the former in collusion with the latter. Some of the persecution may be blowback for the post-9/11 American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, but not all of it. As Rupert Shortt writes: “Looking beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, and on a time frame stretching … Continue reading Review of ‘Christianophobia’ by Rupert Shortt

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

On this Memorial Day, which began as a commemoration of the Civil War, I am posting the most profound meditation on that war ever written, in hope that we always remember its lessons about war, partisanship, and the divine will. Fellow-Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on … Continue reading Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

The Resurrection (Mark 16.1–8)

If you are reading the New International Version of Mark 16.1–8, you will find a note after verse 8 that says, “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9–20.” A note in the NIV Study Bible further explains: “Serious doubt exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark. They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark. His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost.” I mention this all this for … Continue reading The Resurrection (Mark 16.1–8)

Forsaken (Mark 15.21–47)

Mark 15.21–47 narrates the death and burial of Jesus Christ. It is a sparse, unsentimental narrative. The only theological comments are ironic. A sign placed on top of Jesus’ cross proclaimed, “The King of the Jews.” When Christ died, a Roman centurion exclaimed, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” A crucified king. A murdered deity. What little explicit theology Mark includes in his narrative undoes most of the theology we have learned. Martin Luther distinguished the “theology of glory” from the “theology of the cross.” The former emphasizes God’s greatness, power, and invincibility. The latter draws attention to … Continue reading Forsaken (Mark 15.21–47)

Review of ‘Welcoming But Not Affirming’ by Stanley J. Grenz

Stanley J. Grenz, Welcoming But Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998). $30.00, 224 pages. Together with North American society, North American churches are wrestling with the moral meaning of homosexuality. At the outset of Welcoming But Not Affirming, Stanley J. Grenz frames the ethical question this way: “Should the church continue to condemn homosexual behavior, or has the time come for it to affirm gays and lesbians in its midst?” (p. 2). As the title of the book states, Grenz’s answer is that the church should welcome homosexual persons without affirming their … Continue reading Review of ‘Welcoming But Not Affirming’ by Stanley J. Grenz

Four Failures (Mark 14.32–72)

Mark 14.32–72 narrates four events in the horrific hours leading up to Christ’s crucifixion: his agonizing prayer in Gethsemane, his arrest, his trial before the Sanhedrin, and Peter’s denial of him. Taken together, these four events reveal an interesting dynamic between Jesus and us. Let’s take a closer look. First, Christ’s agonizing prayer in Gethsemane: To the disciples, he said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.” As Christians we confess that Jesus is God incarnate, the deity in the flesh. But we also confess—and Jesus’ statement confirms—his total humanity. Facing … Continue reading Four Failures (Mark 14.32–72)

Poured Out for Many (Mark 14.12–31)

Food is biblical. Consider how often the Bible uses food to mark a spiritually significant event. Passover commemorates God leading the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12.1–20). The Lord’s Supper remembers Christ’s death on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11.23–26). We look forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb when Christ returns and raises us to eternal life (Revelation 19.6–9). In each of these cases—and in many more throughout Scripture—the salvation God provides is celebrated with food, and not skimpy hors d’oeuvres either, but a full feast. Why is that the case? It seems to me … Continue reading Poured Out for Many (Mark 14.12–31)

A Beautiful Thing for Me (Mark 14.1–11)

Have you ever seen the bumper sticker, “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”? It makes me sick. It’s full of the 1960s hippie sentimentality that I love to loathe. Unfortunately for my 1980s preppie cynicism, it’s biblical. Mark 14.1–11 describes a beautiful kindness that a woman performed for Jesus. While Jesus was dining at the home of Simon the Leper, “a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.” Now I don’t know about you, but the woman’s act … Continue reading A Beautiful Thing for Me (Mark 14.1–11)