Category Archives: poverty

Plain Language is Difficult to Misinterpret, but Easy to Ignore

For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deut 30:11-14 RSV)

This summer, I have been blogging about the harm done by propagating misinterpretations of scripture. In most cases, the scripture passages in question have at least been tricky enough to open the door for such misinterpretation – although not enough to excuse it.  Recent events at Charlottesville, just a few miles to the west of my Continue reading Plain Language is Difficult to Misinterpret, but Easy to Ignore

Perpetual Poverty?

“…you always have the poor…”

(Mark 14:7; Matt 26:11; John 12:8)

The two most recent entries in this blog have examined how people have used poor biblical interpretation of, admittedly, difficult texts to justify and undergird racism and misogyny. This entry turns attention to the ways in which some have perverted a saying of Jesus – who elsewhere called the poor blessed and equated how one treats the poor with Continue reading Perpetual Poverty?

Mere Christianity

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

Hermeneutics, Consistency, and “Christian Values”

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”

“Blessed are the peacemakers” – Matt 5:9

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

By our Fruits

Luke 16:19-31

Several years ago now, when I had been teaching undergraduates for a few years, I said something (demonstrably true) in class about the text-critical problems with a particular passage of scripture that caused a minor disturbance among students.  It soon reached the ears of the administration.  Nothing came of it in the long run, I am happy to say, except for Continue reading By our Fruits

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

“Outside Agitators”

In the previous entry in this blog, I argued that the most profitable approach to reading prophetic literature involves a variety of “pattern recognition.”  Yesterday, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, I took the opportunity to re-read Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, and the concluding chapter of his

Continue reading “Outside Agitators”

Christmas Prophecy

Christmas disturbs me this year.  Usually, I hear in the Christmas story the announcement that the prophetic insight encapsulated in the phrase “Immanu-el (Hebrew, “God is with us”; Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23) has found ultimate expression in the birth of a child. Christmas usually reminds me that God wants communion with human beings, created in God’s image, to such a degree that God was willing come to us as an infant child.  Christmas usually reminds me that we do not have to speculate about the character of the God, mysterious and majestic, who created the universe.  Instead, God so desires to reveal

Continue reading Christmas Prophecy