Category Archives: ethics

My Confession of Faith

For Now

In a few weeks, I begin my twentieth-eighth year teaching, my twentieth at BTSR.  The realization has given me occasion to reflect on a number of matters.  How has my thinking changed?  Has my faith deepened? Continue reading My Confession of Faith

“Be Angry and Sin Not”

Eph 4:26 (Ps 4:5 [4])

My parents had a mixed marriage of sorts.  My mother had Quaker and strict Methodist heritage; my father was (still is, he would say) a United States Marine.  Mother taught me that I should avoid conflict, bear insult and injury with quiet grace, and, above all else, maintain control of my temper.  In her view, anger was always and only as dangerous and Continue reading “Be Angry and Sin Not”

Render Unto Caesar

Matt 22:21

The political season began in earnest yesterday.  It seems to me that politics represent “an attractive menace” for Christians. What can be more important than determining the values and policies that govern everyone’s everyday lives? Christians must be interested and involved. On the other hand, of course, lie the temptations to exercise control over others, to mistake temporal concerns for eternal, to compromise the core of Christian identity, and a host of others.  I addressed these concerns in a series of lectures entitled “Baptist Polity, Biblical Theology, and Responsible Citizenship” delivered as the Solon B. Cousins Lectures at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond March 29-30, 2016.  Below is an excerpt outlining what I believe to be the principle temptations.  The full text of the lectures is available under the “Sermons and Lectures” tab on this website.

Continue reading Render Unto Caesar

Hamas!

 

And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh is coming before me because the earth is full of violence (hamas) because of them.  Now I am about to destroy them along with the earth.  (Gen 6:13, my trans.)

 

The Priestly authors of portions of the Genesis narratives of the beginnings of the human race did not clearly elucidate their understanding of humanity’s responsibility for “subduing” the earth, but they did include statements that rule out any notion that this responsibility could include exploitation. In the Genesis 1 creation account, for example, Continue reading Hamas!

Crossword Two Down – A Seven Letter Word for “Nostalgia”

Amnesia

“Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt for free, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic…Now we languish; there is nothing in sight except manna.”  (Num 11:4b-6)

Beginning in Exodus 19 and continuing through all of Leviticus and on to Numbers 10 (all or significant parts of three of the five books of the Torah), the Bible records the Continue reading Crossword Two Down – A Seven Letter Word for “Nostalgia”

The Judge of All the Earth

                                                  God’s bodykins, man, much better:  Use every man after his                                                         desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?     (Hamlet II, 2, 500-501)

In addition to proclaiming God’s message to God’s people, Israel’s prophets traditionally also fulfilled the role of intercessor on behalf of the people with God.  Moses interceded for Israel after the Golden Calf incident, for example (Exod 32:11-13), arguing that, although the people had flagrantly violated their covenant relationship with God almost

Continue reading The Judge of All the Earth

Ignorance and Globalism

A Dangerous Cocktail

Growing up in the 1960’s in small-town Appalachia, I did not encounter significant cultural variety.  As a member of the Baptist majority, I found Episcopalians extremely exotic.  I was in high school when the first pizzeria opened in town.  Of course, the only things Italian about it were the spices in the sauce.

Continue reading Ignorance and Globalism

Poor Happens

And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” (John 9:2 NAS)

Poverty is not (proof of) sin.  Poverty is not a character flaw.  Poverty happens to people.

John’s Gospel records an episode in Jesus’ ministry in which his disciples revealed their sadly respectable conventionality.  Two prominent strands of theological tradition running throughout the Old Testament converged in their question concerning the identity of the sinner responsible for an unfortunate man’s blindness.

Continue reading Poor Happens

Eager to Exclude

Ezra 9:1

Political rhetoric this election cycle has called attention to the undercurrent of exclusionary sentiment flowing throughout the U.S. population.  Events abroad surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis attest to the universal character of this sentiment.  Everyone, even believers, it seems, wants to exclude someone from access to something and somewhere.

Continue reading Eager to Exclude

Food and Faithfulness

Keeping Kosher from a Contemporary Perspective

For a period when he was small, one of my children would regularly ask at mealtime, “What was this when it was alive?” His question expressed an attitude remarkably near that of ancient Israel’s priests about food that must be addressed in a life of faith.

Continue reading Food and Faithfulness