Lately, I have read about and heard directly from pastors who have been accused of being political from the pulpit although they thought that they were simply preaching the Gospel. We live in a time when people on both sides of the political spectrum stand ready to take offense. Continue reading Mere Christianity
For a couple of weeks now, I have been preoccupied with the perception that the public discourse influences even believers toward stridency, rigidity, and lack of compassion. Oddly, at the same time, I have been hearing again and again in my mind’s ear the lyrics of a children’s hymn I learned to sing in Vacation Bible School: “Jesus loves the little Continue reading America First or Not my Problem
“Hadst Thou taken the world and Caesar’s purple, Thou wouldst have founded the universal state and have given universal peace. For who can rule men if not he who holds their conscience and their bread in his hands? We have taken the sword of Caesar, and in taking it, of course, have rejected Thee and followed him.” The Grand Inquisitor, Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
President Trump has dangled the forbidden fruit before the church with his promise to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment that prohibits non-profit organizations, including the church, from taking overtly partisan political action Trump has complained that the effect of the amendment on religious institutions is that “their voice has been taken away.” To Continue reading Get Thee Behind me… (Mark 8:33)
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Cor 14:33 RSV)
Last week’s blog included the sentence: “Let the cacophony begin.” It has.
I have not intended to focus this blog on politics, but, like Moses’ experience with the burning bush, the current din of confusion in the political realm beckons me to turn aside to listen. When I do, I hear that a significant component of the confusion involves the mistaken identification of national interests in self-protection with Christian motivations. Continue reading Confusion: Rights or Love
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Eccl 1:4 RSV
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was born in February of 1957, when the union still had only forty-eight states, three years after the US Supreme Court handed down the historic Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483), and just a few months before the first nine black students enrolled in Little Rock Arkansas schools implementing the ruling. Local sit-in campaigns began at a Woolworth Continue reading Tireless Exertions
The concept of “Christian values” is playing a prominent role in the public arena today, but my Facebook® feed lately suggests very little agreement among those who call themselves Christian concerning the identification of these values or the definition of them individually. No one should wonder that people outside the church view it with suspicion Continue reading Hermeneutics, Consistency, and “Christian Values”
Saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace – Jer 8:11
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with nine “Beatitudes” that readers often unfortunately reduce to platitudes. The seventh, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” for example, can sound like a call to passivity and placidity: “Blessed are those who accept life with serenity, remaining calm, preserving calm, spreading calm.” Both the context and Continue reading “Blessed are the peacemakers” – Matt 5:9
“For God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound judgment” (2 Tim 1:7)
I went to vote first thing this morning on the way into the seminary for an early meeting. I cast my ballot. When I asked, the precinct workers reported that turnout was up somewhat over recent elections even at the early hour. I stuck my “I Voted” sticker on my lapel. I left. Continue reading What Now?
Eph 4:26 (Ps 4:5 )
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”
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.