Unity: God or the Church?

Unity in the church is a very important notion, especially now. It’s the champion concept of nondenominational churches, and particularly applicable to the fragmented sects of Protestantism. Even so, I consider it one of the most misused and abused concepts in the faith. I’d like to bring one case in point to the forefront. I cannot know for certain the deepest meanings of the words of Jesus in John 17, but brash interpretations by many warrant confrontation. Jesus says in John 17:11 “[T]hat they may be one, even as we are one.” “Ah,” says the common reader, “He must be … Continue reading “Unity: God or the Church?”

Pruned Branches and Full Silos

The skies were smoky orange last week. That doesn’t have anything to do with today’s piece; I figured it was worth denoting. I love living in California. About a month prior, I listened to a sermon on Luke 12:13-21. While I haven’t tackled this chapter specifically, its themes echo through articles I’ve already written (“Salvation for the Wealthy,” “The Imperative of Work,” “Resolutions,” “On Haman and Pettiness”). It is perhaps my favorite passage in the New Testament, so one could imagine that I was salty that the sermon felt slightly off (albeit admittedly adequate). I’d like to take a shot … Continue reading “Pruned Branches and Full Silos”

The Majesty of Evensong

Over the past couple weeks, I toured Great Britain. There were a few wonders there, though I might say that there were few so universal yet so outstanding as the churches there: massive architectural wonders, even in the small towns. As someone who once attended church in a synagogue, I valued highly the Christian imagery wrapped around me. These monuments to Jesus and His glory are well past their age of peak attendance, with tourists outnumbering attendees by several orders of magnitude. Still, they maintain one tradition that I think would be quite valuable in the States: Evensong. Evensong is … Continue reading “The Majesty of Evensong”

Five Tips for Handling Agnostics

the peasant fight, 1547

Tonight was tiring. I was reviewing James 3 with my bible study. We had moved into the lounge of the host church’s foyer, which someone had already occupied. I wanted to discuss how James’s critique of the tongue was contextualized with a preface on teachers, and how his analogies for the tongue controlling the body could just as well apply to a teacher managing a student body. However, the stranger was invited to join the conversation. The stranger was an agnostic. The bible study almost completely abandoned James 3 and turned into a slogged debate on Christianity. Despite numerical and … Continue reading “Five Tips for Handling Agnostics”

On Haman and Pettiness

Our Bible study finished Esther this month, and we decided to celebrate it by watching the 2006 film One Night with the King. It was partly well acted and very well-funded but laughably inaccurate and overall rather bad. You know your film is a poor retelling of the biblical story when it’s based on a fiction book that’s based on the book of Esther, rather than just being based on the book of Esther. Don’t worry; I watched Big Idea’s Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen myself afterward and so did not go to bed angry. While I could fill … Continue reading “On Haman and Pettiness”

God Is Real: Surrender with a “Yes!”

Lionesses

When Sally was in elementary school, she was sharing God with her fellow students. Her teacher scoffed and walked up to her. “God doesn’t exist!” Sally responded patiently, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” The flustered teacher said, “There’s never been any evidence of God, so He can’t exist!” Sally remembered what her parents had told her. “Have you ever been to Zimbabwe?” “Well, no, but—“ “Do you know anyone from Zimbabwe?” “No—“ “Then by your definition, Zimbabwe doesn’t exist either! But you believe in Zimbabwe, don’t you?” I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of unbelief out there! Jesus … Continue reading “God Is Real: Surrender with a “Yes!””

Taking Up the Sword – On War and Revolution

battle scene

Honestly, I didn’t plan for this to coincide with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This has been in the back of my mind for years; I’m quite surprised that I didn’t write about this sooner. The final impetus was derived from a Bible study a couple weeks ago, the week before the invasion. We were going through the book of Esther. Somehow we got lost in the weeds, ending up in the citation of Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except by God, and those that exist are put in … Continue reading “Taking Up the Sword – On War and Revolution”

Food and Free Stuff Doesn’t Cut It

bountiful meal with wine and cheese

Earlier this week, I signed up for an experimental online bible study. The organizers were looking for gentlemen across the nation between the ages of twenty and fifty. It was quite a shock to me, then, to receive an email saying that they couldn’t find enough interest to organize a men’s group! I found the notion ridiculous. Just tonight, I attended a bible study with ten men in their prime, and this was apart from the separate all-men’s bible study in the same building! How could one organization excel so well while another organization falls so short? I figured that … Continue reading “Food and Free Stuff Doesn’t Cut It”

Resolutions

Fireworks on the Arno, Florence, 1949.5.192

Happy New Year! I have the honor of the first Morning Walk article in 2022. The twelfth day of Christmas has just passed, and it’s time to focus on the new year. We all want to be prepared for what lies ahead, so that we can capitalize on the positives and avoid the negatives. The time-honored tradition of resolutions is commonplace. Voices in the backs of our heads give us unease as we write them down, unless festive drink drowns those voices out. We get a slight feeling that this is wrong. I’d like to crystallize that feeling now, so … Continue reading “Resolutions”

Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be satisfied.” Where do we see righteousness? How do we measure faith? This is a question that transcends all times and all places. Philosophers have connected their personal faith to all aspects of their persons: to who they are, and to what they believe, and to what they do. What does the New Testament say about these things? Christianity, thank God, does not consider the aspects of who we are to have any role in righteousness or faith. Paul goes to great length explaining who he is in … Continue reading “Hunger and Thirst”