Pope Francis, the Gospel and Theological Clarity

Pope Francis created quite a stir recently when he made the following statement: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!” Someone then asked the Pope if this statement applied to the atheist. The Pope responded, “Even the atheists. Everyone! And [...]

Three Gifts for the People of God

I would like to highlight three special gifts of God for Christians which I hope we can fully reclaim in our day. These are three gifts which the world does not possess but are graciously given to the people of God. 1. The Gift of Spending Time in God’s Presence. The first gift is the [...]

The Grammar of the Gospel: The Difference between the Subject and Object of Salvation

What is more fundamental to the structure of English grammar than knowing the difference between the “subject” and the “object.” When we say, for example, “John hit the ball,” it is really important to know that the sentence is about something John is doing, not something the ball is doing. The “narrative” of the sentence [...]

Must We All Clap Loudly? Thoughts on Phil Robertson, Legalized Marijuana, Obamacare and the Dignity of Dissent.

Americans love to disagree with one another. The right of dissent is crucial to our identity as a people. We all learned with horror on December 12th that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle Jang Song Thaek executed. This uncle had been a long time regime loyalist and supporter of Un’s father [...]

On Saving Mr. Banks and the contextualization of the Gospel

Over the holiday break I had the opportunity to watch the film, Saving Mr. Banks. I didn’t log onto Rotten Tomatoes and look at any reviews on the simple grounds that any film starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson is well worth seeing. Tom Hanks already proved that he can save Private Ryan, so why [...]

The Annual Christmas Pageant

I remember the time when our youngest daughter Bethany first appeared in the annual children’s Christmas pageant in church.  Even though I was the pastor, I was not involved in selecting who would play the various parts.  I knew that our daughter, Bethany, was in the Christmas pageant, but I had no idea what her [...]

What Is the Church?

The church is the joyful company of all those who have been redeemed and brought into right relationship with God. Jesus declared that he was going to build a new community known as the church. Jesus did not use the more common expression of a “congregation” or a “synagogue” to describe his new community, but [...]

Toronto Mayor’s “Drunken Stupor” Self

Last week Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finally admitted to smoking crack cocaine.  A video tape had surfaced which made the previous denials difficult to sustain.  When the Major finally spoke publicly about the incident his explanation was, in some ways, more surprising than the original admission.  Mayor Ford said that the incident happened about a [...]

Bishop Talbert Defies the Discipline

Those who follow United Methodist news will be well aware that on Saturday, October 26th, retired Bishop Melvin Talbert defied the Discipline of the United Methodist Church, the Scriptures, and the pleading of the resident Bishop of Alabama, Debbie Wallace-Padgett, and performed a same sex marriage between Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw near Birmingham, Alabama. [...]

One Way to Remember the World in Prayer

The date was 2009, shortly after I became President of Asbury Theological Seminary. I had my head bowed and my eyes closed trying to listen to the prayer being prayed by a student from the pulpit in Estes Chapel at Asbury. Like most Christians, I earnestly want to become a participant, a kind of co-pray-er [...]