Bible: With love, our divisions fall away

Aug 13, 2018 by

These texts from Paul provide an excellent coda to our conversations about ethics, justice and the Christian life. Although Romans is rightly considered Paul’s most important theological writing, he most of...

[read more]

Bible: Generosity abolishes judgment

Jul 30, 2018 by

For the final sessions of the quarter we turn from Jesus’ teaching to the Apostle Paul’s. Yet the basic picture of Christian faith and life remains mostly the same. In the first part of his letter to the...

[read more]

Bible: Look who isn’t coming to dinner

Jul 16, 2018 by

In the ancient world you could learn a great deal about people at mealtime. What people ate and who they ate with were quite revealing. Luke 14 certainly tells us a lot about Jesus — and about those who set...

[read more]

Bible: Through the narrow door

Jul 2, 2018 by

A key moment in Luke comes at the end of chapter 9 when Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem” (9:51). In the following chapters, we read stories of Jesus and his followers heading toward the big...

[read more]

Bible: Complicated commands

Jun 18, 2018 by

Matthew seeks to trace how Jesus prepared his followers to spread his good news to “all nations” that they might obey what he has commanded (28:16-20; for the commands, see especially the Sermon on the...

[read more]

Bible: Blinded by wealth

Jun 4, 2018 by

Jesus engaged in numerous conflicts and controversies, leading ultimately to his crucifixion. The Pharisees were his most prominent adversaries. We should note that Jesus often took the fight to the Pharisees....

[read more]

Bible: Conflict over the Law’s meaning

May 21, 2018 by

This quarter we look at the justice of God, primarily in the message of Jesus with a bit of Paul. The Gospel of Matthew, more than the other three Gopels, tells us about conflicts Jesus faced with religious...

[read more]

A positive reading of the New Testament

Oct 12, 2017 by

There are some standard assumptions that Christians tend to have about the Bible — the Old Testament is old, outdated, primitive, problematic, violent and judgmental. And the New Testament is new, fresh,...

[read more]

Opinion: Exorcising the ghosts of fundamentalism

May 22, 2017 by

I often encounter Christians who once were fundamentalists but now distance themselves from that kind of faith, which they found to be spiritually oppressive. Often, this distancing has to do with the...

[read more]

The book of Revelation on living in Empire

Dec 22, 2016 by

The book of Revelation does not have a positive reputation these days. For many Christians it is seen as hopelessly complicated and obscure. In my opinion, it is indeed the case that understanding Revelation...

[read more]

Why, in the end, I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton

Nov 4, 2016 by

Few of the people I know, even those who strongly supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, are agonizing about their presidential vote next week. It is clear to just about everyone in my circles, it seems,...

[read more]

A simple way to world peace? Recognize America as ‘beast’

Sep 22, 2016 by

I offer what follows as a thought experiment, an attempt to flesh out a recent late night rumination. I finished reading a fine book by Douglas Fry, Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace. Fry, who is an...

[read more]

Bible: Boundary-shattering generosity

Aug 15, 2016 by

The key to understanding Paul’s wrestling with the “what about Israel?” question in the Book of Romans is to recognize that he concludes with a strong affirmation of God’s saving intentions. In their...

[read more]

God’s sovereign, healing love

Aug 1, 2016 by

Romans 8 concludes the first half of the letter with a powerful message that affirms the good news (gospel) of God’s sovereign mercy. Paul counters two competing “gos­pels” — the gospel of the Roman...

[read more]

Bible: Slaves to sin or righteousness?

Jul 18, 2016 by

One issue Paul confronts in Romans is “boasting” — the inclination to claim a special place in the universe due to one’s religious status. He writes about the people who boast in their relationship...

[read more]

Bible: Gospel of liberation from idols

Jul 4, 2016 by

Romans 3 famously contains a dense theological argument. Paul discusses the need for and provision of salvation in Jesus Christ. Paul has a simple purpose: That his readers, Jewish and Gentile Christians...

[read more]

Bible: No better than the Romans?

Jun 20, 2016 by

The impact of Paul’s letter to the Romans on Christian theology cannot be overstated — though different Christian traditions disagree profoundly on how to interpret and apply Romans. It is always worth...

[read more]

Bible: Judgment and a faithful remnant

Jun 6, 2016 by

In just three chapters, the Book of Zephaniah does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the Old Testament prophets. He offers a sharp critique of the kingdom of Judah, focusing on its leaders. And he...

[read more]

Bible: From corruption to reform

May 23, 2016 by

The prophet Zephaniah ministered in Judah about two generations after Isaiah and Micah. He may have been a direct descendant of King Hezekiah (1:1). However, by his time, Judah’s leaders had long forgotten...

[read more]

God of ‘will’ or God of love?

Jun 22, 2015 by

The question of how to understand the peaceable message of Jesus in relation to less-than-peaceable pictures of God in the Bible and in the Christian tradition has challenged ethically concerned people of...

[read more]