More Than a Command

Since the advent of Protestant missions, the dominant motivation for missions has been an appeal to the “missionary mandate.”  Thus, missions became a response of obedience to a particular set of commands, most notably those texts commonly referred to as embodying the Great Commission.  In contrast, Lesslie Newbigin has pointed out that in the New […]

The Boundaries of the Church

Nicea is a line in the sand about boundaries.  The original Nicea formulation contained all kinds of anathemas to protect the boundaries: whoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were […]

Being a ‘Glocal’ Preacher

All of us who are involved in regular preaching and pastoring know that preaching does not occur in a vacuum, but is a contextual event.  Authentic preaching must faithfully bridge the gap between the sacred text and the local context.  This is a challenge which all preachers of the gospel face.  However, today the forces […]

The Suffering and Advancing Church: A Look at Matthew 11:12

NASB: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” NIV: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” Is the Kingdom of heaven suffering violence […]

The Translatability of the Christian Gospel

The following is a message that I gave at Asbury’s Fall Convocation.  You can download both the audio and the video of the message for free on iTunes. In April of 1739 John Wesley was preaching in an upstairs room in London.  About halfway into his sermon the supporting post which held up the floor […]

Honest Theology

Many years ago I took a course on the theology of missions.   It was in the opening lecture of that course that the professor, a very wise and seasoned missionary practitioner turned scholar, said, “missions is what keeps theology honest.”  It is an insight which, I think, is self-illuminating for anyone who has actually taught […]

The World is IN my Parish

It is not uncommon to hear complaints about the lack of connectivity between ministerial preparation and the actual ministry settings our students our entering.  For example, David Tracy laments what he calls the “three great separations of modern Western culture,” all of which have served to separate the task of theological education from actual ministry […]

Scholars on Fire

Have you ever read something that you knew the minute you read it, you would never forget it.  I had that experience almost thirty years ago.  I read a statement in Christianity Today which I have never forgotten.  It was a letter to the editor.  Apparently, in a previous edition of Christianity Today, an article […]

Ordinarily Extraordinary

I follow the church year.  The very idea of re-tracing the life of Jesus during the course of the year absolutely sets my heart ablaze.  It is one of those great “checks and balances” which lovingly reminds the church to remember – and to remember well.   In today’s world of emails, Facebook, blogging, twittering, IM, […]

Passing the Torch

This morning, in my 2009 journey through the Bible, I found myself reading the opening chapters of Ecclesiastes. I’m an optimist, so I often find myself arguing with the man who wrote this book. I know why it is in the Scriptures but I still wish the author had been a bit more hopeful.