Category Archives: blogging

Homebrew

Last week I sat down with Tripp Fuller of Homebrewed Christianity fame. He had told me that we were going to talk Reza Aslan, so out of stark fear and an overwhelming instinct of self-preservation, I highjacked the entire conversation, keeping him talking about progressive theology, God being as nice as Jesus, and how to be a Process theologizing youth pastor.

Really, Kirk, God’s love is at LEAST this big!

The proof of the pudding can be found here: “Kirk Have I Loved, but Tripp?

Lent and Our Incomprehensible Daring

Over at the Fuller website I have a blog post up, “Lent, Reconciliation, and the Mission of God.”

The great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber writes, as he reflects on the Christian celebration of God’s good news, “To the Jew the Christian is the incomprehensibly daring person, who affirms in an unredeemed world that its redemption has been accomplished.”

Lent brings us face to face with our incomprehensible daring… (Read the rest here)

Lying Fallow

This electronic land has produced good fruit.

And now, it will lie fallow for a season that it might resume such productivity at some point in the future.

Or, to move from metaphor of fields to metaphors of speaking: James advises that we be quick to listen, slow to speak. After a season of incessant speech, the season of listening is demanding its due.

And it shall have it.

Creating Space

Blosphere confessional: I rant here sometimes. More than that, some might say that I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about a couple issues that come around regularly.

To the point: I can be downright confrontational about the fact that the Bible is not inerrant or that the world as we know it is the result of an evolutionary process.

Why poke the hornet’s nest? (And, it is a hornet’s nest!)

Here’s the reason: one of the most important messages we communicate when we talk about our faith is what the borders are, outside of which one cannot be part of “us.” The ways people speak about inerrancy and creationism in some quarters communicates this: that if there is an error in the Bible or if we are here as a result of an evolutionary process then Christianity is not true.

When we communicate the either/or of Christianity or a Bible that has mistakes or of Christianity or a world that is 4.5 billion years old, we are setting up Christianity for an increasing number of people heading toward the door.

Here’s the script: if you tell a high school kid that it’s either inerrancy or bust, and this kid goes and takes an introduction to OT or introduction to NT course in seminary, this young adult is going to have to go for bust unless she can reconfigure her Christianity to make room for a Bible that is not, in fact inerrant.

Sometimes it doesn’t even take a class.

What if your student is particularly “diligent” (*ahem*) and decides while working at summer camp that during the time when the kids are off sailing during sailing class he will sit down and outline the last week of Jesus’ life according to the four Gospels? (I have a “friend” who did this once…)

That’s right: if your students actually read the Bible rather than just talking about what the Bible “is,” they will discover that the Bible that you have bundled up with Christianity does not exist. And then they will have to choose to either deny the actual content of the Bible, cling to the system they’ve been given, and stay Christian, OR to leave Christianity because the options before them are clear, OR to reconfigure their faith in light of the Bible we actually have.

This is an unbearable burden to place on Christ followers. It is a false choice to create a choice between inerrancy or atheism. In short, marrying inerrancy to Christianity is pastorally disastrous.

Why do I rant about “what the Bible is”? Mostly, because I want as many of us as possible to be creating more space within the world of faithful, Jesus-following Christianity for people to continue following Jesus whether or not they’ve found a mistake in the Bible.

Or, to put it another way: there is no reason that someone should feel as though their whole faith is called into question by Bart Ehrman’s NT Intro course.

I have a parallel agenda with evolution: I have read some about evolution. I’m no expert.

But what I do know is that by treating evolution as a scandal to the Christian faith we are creating choices for our college students that not only lead them to being unduly scandalized by their education, but also to fleeing from fields where they might be most useful to the world.

On the latter point: while we get our knickers in a wad about why evolution is demonic, I have an agnostic/atheistic friend who spends all day as an evolutionary biologist studying the evolution of cancer cells so as to help lay the groundwork for future more effective treatments.

He is making the world a better place (something I think God actually cares about) by helping push back the hold that a nefarious disease can take on our bodies (overcoming sickness–I think God cares about) by working in a field that we close off to our young people by raising all sorts of doubts about whether such activity is an active denial of the existence of God.

Seriously.

Here’s the deal: even if the most nuanced articulations of creationism over against evolution, or of what sorts of “creativity” we might find in the Bible could cohere with inerrancy, allow for the very things I’m talking about, most people will not hear the breadth of what is allowed in the nuance, and will hear, instead, the black and white either/or.

Part of my job as a biblical scholar who cares about the church is not simply to engaged in the finely nuanced positions of my colleagues, but the effects of what we say “on the ground.” And part of my calling as a seminary professor is to clear out the ground that people stand on from all the clutter that accumulates on any horizontal surface. In this case, it’s the clutter of what “chrisitanity” demands that Christianity does not, in fact, require.

So I rant about evolution. And I rave about inerrancy. In doing this, what I want to communicate is that you don’t have to make a choice between science and Christian faith or between history and Christian faith.

There are a lot of difficult choices you will have to make. I am not trying to make Christianity easy or conform it to the way of the world.

Instead, I am trying to clear out all this meaningless clutter so that we can hear, instead, that the real decision we have to make is this: “Will you lose your life for the sake of Jesus and the gospel? Will you take up your cross and follow?”

Atonement Begins… When?

Tony Jones is hosting a series of guest posts on the atonement in the lead-up to Good Friday and Easter.

Mine is there today:

“Jesus died for our sins.” Often, the problem with this core piece of our common Christian confession is that we think we know what it means. And so we limit our understanding of the fullness of the atonement…

Forgiveness is not merely about having guilt forgiven. Forgiveness becomes the means by which we are freed from an enslaving tyrant…
(read the rest at Theoblogy)

Creatio Ex Nihilo

Here’s the reality of my life: when I’m engaged in creative work, creativity ideas overflow into every other area. When I’m overwhelmed with administrative tasks, when I’m on extended periods of daddy duty, when my emotional and mental energies are sapped by conflict, when I’m thinking through the same things over and over again–in these times creativity stagnates.

Creativity has a very hard time springing up out of nothing.

Creativity, having something to say, feeds upon itself. It’s one of the few resources we have that increases the more we use it.

Want to have something to say? Start talking.

Want to have something to paint? Start drawing.

Want to have something to sing? Start strumming.

Want to have something to write? Start clicking.

Making something out of nothing is impossible. Really. We ascribe it to God as an action fitting God’s divinity.

So, if you’re not God, here’s my piece of unsolicited advice: wherever it is that you find yourself creating, feed that every day.

Homebrewed Podast

During SBL, I had the honor and privilege of doing a recording with the good folks at Homebrewed Christianity, Mark Scandrette, and Philip Clayton before a live studio audience at chez Scandrette. This was, in actuality, the fulfillment of a dream, as I had long hoped to bring my homebrewed beer with me to record a session of Homebrewed Christianity with Tripp, Chad, and Bo.

That discussion is now posted
over at Homebrewed Christianity (which you should be subscribed to through iTunes anyway).

Take a listen, relax, and have a homebrew.

Colossians Questions & Giveaway

I have some books to give away.

I’d also like some help.

Put the two together, and here’s your chance to help humanity and, possibly, nab yourself a book.

First, how can you help humanity?

I am writing study notes on Colossians for a Study Bible. As a NT Prof, I have my ideas about what I’d like to comment on, what I think is important.

But most people who will be using the Study Bible won’t be academics, and will bring different questions. So here’s what I’d like from you: Look over Colossians, in the Common English Bible if possible, and tell me: if you were reading through Colossians, either on your own or with a Bible study group, what passage, word, idea, verse, etc. would you want a study note on? Is there a confusing idea or word you’d like explained? Any piece of theological awesomeness you’d want to make sure everyone was dialed into?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you’d want to know if you were reading through Colossians.

I am also taking this opportunity to give away a few books. Suggest a passage for me to comment on, and you could win big!

Here’s what you do:

(1) Tell me a verse or two you’d like comment on if you were reading Colossians in a Study Bible.
(2) Next Friday I’ll randomly choose three winners.
(3) These three books will be distributed to those upon whom providence smiles:

So, let me know: what would you like to know about Colossians from your study Bible?