“Paul generally does not urge his readers to proclaim the gospel to their neighbors, nor to go to the ends of the earth with the saving message of Christ. Rather, he urges them and commands them to live a life of holiness, to walk worthily of their calling, to demonstrate in loving and harmonious unity the new powers which have entered into the world in Christ, to demonstrate through victorious living the present victory of Christ over the powers of evil. It has been suggested that the reason why Paul does not urge his readers to a life of verbal witness is primarily because the early churches were not deficient in this respect. Though this is possible, it should be emphasized that what Paul is really doing in his letters is stressing the significance and importance of the believer’s life as mission.” – Edwin Roels, God’s Mission: The Epistle to the Ephesians in Mission Perspective (Franeker: T. Wever, 1962), 57, quoted in John Howard Yoder, Theology of Mission: A Believer’s Church Perspective, ed. Gayle Gerber Koontz and Andy Alexis-Baker (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2014), 103.
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This assessment was offered by Ralph Wood, Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University, in a lecture delivered in Toronto in 2004 which compared the writings and sensibilities of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I had the opportunity to re-listen to the lecture this morning. Continue reading An Interesting Juxtaposition
“Sentimentality, not atheism, is the deepest enemy of the Christian faith,” the theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas has averred on numerous occasions. (This particular formulation is from Approaching the End (2013), 88.) Perhaps no time of year is as fraught with the danger of sentimentality for Christians as is Christmas. However, this seemingly owes more to the cultural observation of Christmas returning to its pagan roots in the winter festival of Saturnalia, then it does to the story of the Nativity. Continue reading An Unsentimental Christmas
In September 2012, just before Apple released the iPhone 5, comedian Jimmy Kimmel took to the streets to get the opinions of passersby on the new device. The only catch was that he was not showing them the new iPhone 5, but rather the older iPhone 4s. Nevertheless, people raved about how superior the new device was to the identical device they had in their pockets or, in some cases, their other hands. I’ve used the clip in a variety of settings to illustrate the power of worldview and the enduring influence of the Myth of Progress. Continue reading What’s Old is New Again
The Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson once published a delightful collection of theological conversations he had with his eight-year old granddaughter, entitled, Conversations with Poppi about God. While I may lack Jenson’s great erudition, my five-year old daughter certainly has no problem supplying the type of questions and comments that make for “book-worthy” theological conversation. (See, for example her question in the Advent sermon previously posted.) Her most recent question was raised the other day as we were driving home from a church Christmas event. Continue reading A Christmas Conundrum