Archives For Culture

crisis chinese

Popularized in a 1959 speech by President Kennedy, it is said that when written in Chinese, “crisis” is composed of the two characters meaning “danger” and “opportunity.” Though the actual linguistics of such a translation are a bit shaky, the sentiment is a good one: crises are crucial moments with high stakes.

The church is not unfamiliar with crisis. Throughout its long and storied history, the church has faced despotism from within and from without. She has been both the persecuted and the persecutor. She has been both endangered by standing against kings and kingdoms, and she has been endangered by playing bedfellow to Presidents and Prime Ministers.

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future sunglasses

We are in the midst of some big changes within evangelicalism in North America. For many, the word “evangelical” means “right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalist.” So what are those of us who still call ourselves evangelicals, but are made crazy by right-wing fundie Republicans, to do? The course a lot of my peers have taken is to stop using that label, to call refer to themselves as “post-evangelical,” or to join the growing ranks of the Nones. I think that doing those things only serves to remove otherwise sane voices from an increasingly insane fundie evangelicalism, and it does nothing to witness to the long (and non-fundamentalist) history of evangelicalism. I’ve written about that history elsewhere, so I won’t rehash it here.

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mennonite dove

How would you define “true faith” as it relates to discipleship and christian living? I’ve been reading through Confession of Faith in Mennonite Perspective on my lunch hour for the past few weeks. Today, I came across this bit in Article 17:

Conformity to Christ necessarily implies nonconformity to the world. 1 True faith in Christ means willingness to do the will of God, rather than willful pursuit of individual happiness. 2 True faith means seeking first the reign of God in simplicity, rather than pursuing materialism. 3 True faith means acting in peace and justice, rather than with violence or military means. 4 True faith means giving first loyalty to God’s kingdom, rather than to any nation-state or ethnic group that claims our allegiance. 5  True faith means honest affirmation of the truth, rather than reliance on oaths to guarantee our truth telling. 6 True faith means chastity and loving faithfulness to marriage vows, rather than the distortion of sexual relationships, contrary to God’s intention. 7 True faith means treating our bodies as God’s temples, rather than allowing addictive behaviors to take hold. True faith means performing deeds of compassion and reconciliation, in holiness of life, instead of letting sin rule over us. 8 Our faithfulness to Christ is lived out in the loving life and witness of the church community, which is to be a separated people, holy to God.   Continue Reading…


“It’s important to note first of all that the right of self-defense is rooted in the teaching of Jesus himself. He once told his disciples that he would be “numbered with the transgressors,” and that as a result their own lives could be endangered because of their association with him. He therefore counseled them, “Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). You can’t get more legitimacy than that. A legal principle rooted in the teaching of Christ is pretty tough to beat.”

Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association,”When America HAD to Pack Heat to Church” 1

In the week since the tragic shootings in Oregon and Connecticut, there has been a lot of talk about violence in entertainment, access to mental health care, gun control, and other things that might be “part of the problem.” As we seek to find solutions that will make it increasingly difficult for these kinds of tragedies to be repeated, I’ve noticed Christians on all sides of these complex issues are turning to the Bible to find support for their particular point of view. Unfortunately, much of what I’m reading online and overhearing in conversation is little more than folk theology 2, which may make the conflicted individual feel better, but has little to do with trying to faithfully interpret the Bible and apply it in our context today.

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  2. I take this term from Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson’s excellent work, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. In it they define folk theology as “a kind of theology that rejects critical reflection and enthusiastically embraces simplistic acceptance of an informal tradition of beliefs and practices composed mainly of cliches and legends. . . . Folk theology is often intensely experiential and pragmatic–that is, the criteria of true belief are feelings and results” (Grenz and Olson, Who Needs Theology?, 27).


I’ve cast a ballot in every election for which I was eligible since turning 18. But this year, I’m choosing not to vote for any of the candidates running for President. Here’s why . . .

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I opened Saturday’s sessions by listening Cathleen Falsani talk about Anam Cara, a Gaelic phrase that means ‘soul friend.’ Falsani talked about how she gave up on involvement in Christian community after the church she was part of split over a doctrinal issue. The split was painful and it left her feeing jaded and disillusioned.

So, she became a ‘wolfpack of one,’ and counted herself among that growing number of ‘spiritual, but not religious’ exiles from organized Christianity. That all changed in the wake of the death of one of her friends from college.  Continue Reading…

Overheard at the Goose

June 23, 2012 — 4 Comments


Just a quick update after a full day of Wild Goose action… I’ll wait until sometime next week to post more thorough reflections on the experience…

The theme for Wild Goose 2012 is Exile and Return. From what I’ve observed and heard, both parts of that theme are present in nearly every conversation. There are plenty of people who are hurting, sad, angry, or cynical about “organized religion,” in general, and “institutional Christianity,” in particular. This is spirit was present last year as well.  Continue Reading…


My second guest post for Faith ON Campus explores reasons that you might consider seminary, especially if you have no desire to be a pastor. I’d love it if you would give it a read and leave me a comment there:…


My first ever guest post is up at Guy Chmieleski’s Faith On Campus site. I’ve known Guy in the online realm for years. I think we first met at the CCO’s Jubilee Conference when I was a campus minister. He runs a great site devoted to resourcing campus ministers. 

When I heard he was soliciting ideas for posts a Technology, Social Media, and Ministry blogothon, I shot him an idea I had and he jumped right on it. The post has garnered some great interaction on his site. Here’s an exerpt:

“As a campus minister, you need to be present where your students are, and this includes having an online presence. That, more than anything else, will determine the services with which you engage your students. Maybe it’s Pinterest or LinkedIn or Google +, or perhaps your students are in World of Warcraft or Second Life. Wherever they are, meet them there.”

Read the full post here:


“There are four qualities that have been the special marks of the Evangelical religion: conversionism, the believe that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and what may be called crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism” (Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, Kindle location 163).

In his attempt to circumscribe some basic features common to evangelicalism, D.W. Bebbington includes ‘biblicism’ as one of the four priorities in his quadrilateral. In recent years, biblicism and its adherents–biblicists–have come under attack. As Peter Leithart writes, “‘Biblicist’ is a fighting word.” Continue Reading…