Refugees & the Church

Early this morning I read this article in today’s NY Times about Syrian refugees who have been settled in Michigan. After having experienced relief and being grateful for safety and some measure of security, many in this Michigan community are becoming fearful in the wake of growing anti-refugee sentiment and the reactionary rhetoric from public figures. After our church […]

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Worldliness & the Social Scandal of the Cross

One of the many benefits of John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift is the manner in which he captures how for Paul the effects of the cross are seen in the social ordering of churches. The cross is a world-shattering and world-creating event, refashioning the cosmos, effecting a new creation. This cosmic upheaval brings about […]

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The Cross Shatters All Norms

I am thoroughly enjoying John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift. He has developed a unique vocabulary and grammar to articulate the shape of Paul’s theology. It’s simply beautiful to read and I find myself re-reading and savoring many of his paragraphs. In his discussion of Galatians 6:11-16, he powerfully captures Paul’s argument regarding the power of […]

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Inadvertent Servants

Commentators make much of the two massive feedings in Mark 6:35-45 and 8:1-10. The narratives are pregnant with significance. From one angle, the two episodes can be read as failures on the disciples’ part. The first comes just after their initial mission as agents of the kingdom’s miraculous power (6:13), yet they fail to imagine […]

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A Markan Mystery

“Mark wants to insist on two things: Jesus does not want to be known in his true identity until it will be clear that suffering rather than power lies at the core of that identity, but Jesus’ charismatic accomplishments are so great that they cannot be hidden. There is an inevitable tension between those two […]

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Mark’s Offensive Messiah

Clifton Black on Mark’s subversive presentation of Jesus: The deeper question with which Mark’s readers must come to terms is whether she or he can follow a Christ so offensive as to die by crucifixion (15:22-41). An inescapable dimension of this Evangelist’s Christology is the Messiah’s repulsiveness. Jesus flummoxes everyone who boxes him into conventional […]

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Pastors & the Cross

While the cross is the freest possible place from which to minister, there are endless reasons to avoid cruciform pastoral ministry. It feels so terrifyingly vulnerable, so threatening and precarious, so foolish and irresponsible, so unproductive and inefficient, so pointless and inconvenient. The cross is not manipulable, it demands death, calls for complete surrender, is immune […]

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Evangelicals & the Republican Party

In American Apocalypse, Matthew Avery Sutton gives an account of the gradual alliance of American evangelical Christians with the Republican Party. An excerpt: As fundamentalists reacted to labor unrest and the communist menace, they evolved from occasional critics of monopolistic corporations into apologists for free market capitalism. For Billy Sunday, securing the nation’s Christian foundations […]

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Smartphone Addiction

Yesterday’s NY Times carried this very interesting article, “Addicted to Your Phone? There’s Help for That” (“Put Down The Phone” in the print edition) pondering smartphone addiction and attempts to overcome it.   I don’t have a smartphone (and didn’t realize it was one word until yesterday), and my family think it’s because I’m somehow […]

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The Racist Roots of Evangelicalism*

I’m currently finding it difficult to put down Matthew Avery Sutton’s excellent work, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism. Among other things, he traces the movement’s strong anti-Semitism and racism in the early 20th century. Shockingly, fundamentalists had an ambivalent relationship with the Ku Klux Klan, which Sutton documents through debates and discussions in the […]

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