Paul’s Confidence in the Gospel

Why does Paul claim that he is not ashamed of the gospel in Romans 1:16?  And what does he mean by it?  And why does he say this in this letter to this audience? In reading vv. 16-17, we must keep in mind vv. 1-15 and Paul’s intentions in writing to Rome.  Paul’s statement in v. 16 is likely […]

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The Only Son from Heaven

The choir sang “The Only Son from Heaven” this morning as a communion anthem: The only Son from Heaven, foretold by ancient seers, by God, the Father given, in human form appears. No sphere his light confining, no star so brightly shining as he, our Morning Star.   O time of God appointed, O bright […]

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Identity Formation: Second Saturday after Epiphany

I occasionally opened our Midtown services with a welcome that reminded us of our identity as God’s gathered people. Welcome to Midtown Christian Community.  Welcome in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died to save sinners, was raised to life, conquered Sin and Death, and who is coming to reign on earth […]

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Paul’s Apostleship & God’s Mission

Readers of Romans may be tempted to race through the letter introduction in an effort to get to the really good stuff.  After all, it’s just a bunch of preliminary material to get out of the way before diving into the deep theology, right? Not at all!  The introduction of Romans contains a précis of […]

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Paul’s Ministry of Mutuality

Romans contains quite a long letter opening.  The opening consists of 1:1-15, since Paul transitions abruptly into what appears to be the first major section of his letter in 1:16.  It’s tempting to regard a letter opening as relatively less important than the letter itself, and this is especially the case with Romans.  Some feel […]

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Paul’s “Gospel” Ministry in Romans

In class yesterday we discussed Paul’s conception of his ministry to the Roman Christians.  I thought I’d repost this rumination on Paul’s gospel ministry. In Rom. 1:13-15 Paul tells the Roman Christians of his long-held desire to visit them.  He uses two expressions to speak of his ministry that are often misunderstood because of narrowed […]

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What Sort of Text is Romans?

I’m beginning a two-week intensive course on Romans today and thought I’d re-post this rumination on reading Paul’s text for what it is rather than for what many expect it to be. What sort of communication from Paul is Romans?  It’s been quite common to assume that Romans is a systematic treatise on the Christian […]

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Epiphany Identity Formation

I’ve mentioned before that I occasionally opened our Midtown services with a welcome that reminded us of our identity as God’s gathered people.  Here’s one for Epiphany: Welcome to Midtown Christian Community. Today is called “Epiphany,” a term that means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal.” In Western churches, this day is specially […]

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Epiphany Prayer for the Weekend

Our Father in heaven, you guided the wise men to the worship of your Son by the light of a star.  Give us light, give us life, and draw us ever closer to you by the light of faith.  Enlighten and enliven our hearts to search after you just as they did.  Give us the […]

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Fordlandia: A Parable

I just finished reading a Christmas gift: Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin.  It’s a fascinating account of Henry Ford’s disastrous effort from 1928-1945 to establish a rubber-producing plantation in Brazil. It’s a tale of overpowering arrogance and presumptuous folly, but also of the impossibility of reigning in […]

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