The New Worlds We Stand Before

There is good news I can’t help but share, yesterday I opened my email to read,

Wess,
I’ve been given the go-ahead to officially welcome you into the PhD program…I’ve been assigned as your mentor, so I’m thrilled to be working with you for the next few years…I couldn’t be more pleased to have you in the program — I know you will make a strong contribution.
Ryan

So it all begins again, a new adventure, a new world of ideas, possibilities, and struggle lay before us.

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9rules Religion Community Ping Homily on Courage

Shawn over at LO-FI Tribe has put up a “Ping Homily??? for March.  He writes a short homily and then asks other to join in on writing about that theme.  This month he writes about Courage and I am struck by his brief yet powerful message, exclaiming that we know so little of what courage really means.

Taking his cue, I would like to share two ideas of courage: children are often very courageous and so are peacemakers; these two are closely related because their struggle is against those more powerful (in terms of size and might) in the world. Courage is a word that is overused in America, and often it is used in regards to our military and patriotism.  Those who fight for the “powers??? and who are themselves powerful are often seen as courageous.  This does not grasp a view of courage that I think God intends to encourage in creation.  In the Bible, the powerless baby Jesus, who lays wrapped in infant clothes, is both the sign of weakness, fragility, and dependence and the sign of peace and hope to come.  He is the one who was promised to bring a kingdom of peace and justice.  King Herod, a man of sheer power and military might, wanted to kill this helpless infant child.  The powers were colliding then as they are now.  There are many stories where peace triumphs over the powerful throughout all of history, and the Bible is no exception.

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Evangelicalism and Subcultures: Part V

I’ve been writing on Evangelicalism over the past few weeks partially as a theological exercise and partially to work out a my own critiques and vision for this movement. I would not consider myself a spokesperson for the movement, nor do I want to be, but I do recognize that I am in many ways a product of it and have been deeply influenced by Evangelical churches since a very young age. Finally, there is something especially unique about my reflecting on it as a theologian that aligns myself with the theology and history of the Friends Church, and has interest in that tradition’s longevity (it too has been deeply influenced by Evangelicalism).

I invite you into this conversation – to add to it, challenge and/or resonate with these views. I’ve embarked on this quest in order to offer critiques and possibilities for the larger discussion that surrounds this.

Visit my “Series on Evangelicalism” under the Featured page for the rest of the posts on this topic.

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Critiques and Possibilities: Evangelicalism Part IV

This is the continuation of a larger discussion I am working on, here is part I, part II, and part III.

Spiritually Transformed Life
#5 – The spiritually transformed life has become for many the end all be all of Christian existence. Of course again there is nothing unbiblical about a spiritually transformed life, and I believe that it’s God’s will to radically transform our spirits. However, with this understanding many other things have been pushed to the wayside. Conversionism, or the importance of getting people to “believe in Jesus??? is one major practices within the Evangelical church. Unfortunately this has focused almost completely on converting from one belief system to another, without focusing on the changes of behaviors and vocations that need to take place within a Christian’s life. Christianity is a way to live not a way to believe. As a sidenote I would say that there appear to be a number of examples including Peter himself who don’t always believe but continue to live and follow the way of Christ. Its in this living out the ways of Christ that people become believers.

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How a Small Blog Made a Big Difference

The Canton Repository’s Todd Porter has published two new articles on the Xzuberant Faith Basketball scam that happened in northeastern Ohio.  For other stories from the Canton Rep and the work I’ve done on the situation visit my XFBA resource page.

  1. Father of XFBA administrator reaches out to ‘prodigal son’
  2. Prosecutor gives XFBA a final shot at avoiding day in court

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Critiques and Possibilities: Evangelicalism Part III

I’ve been working on a series of posts concerning Evangelicalism and when I get to it Quakerism.
Visit my “Series on Evangelicalism” under the Featured page for the rest of the posts on this topic.
In the last post I explained two different definitions which arise, the sociological standpoint of understanding a movement and the propositional way. The second way is to compile the main sayings and practices of a movement in order to identify core values for that group. Within this second way – I offered a definition from Evangelical Historians George Marsden and David Bebbington.

Within these two different sets of definitions there are some really good things and some things that have created trouble for the American church. I want to level two critiques that lay quietly within Marsden’s #1, and #5. Those two are, “The Reformation doctrine of the final authority of the Bible??? and “he importance of a spiritually transformed life.??? I say quitely because when one reads over these things quickly most Jesus following Christians would and should agree. But there are some real problems that underly an Evangelical’s understanding of these things. I limit critiques to the two due to time and space.

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What Evangelicalism is: Part II

I have a disclaimer to make, I’ve been working on these posts for the past week, and as of last night I’ve had to rewrite and change course for this discussion. This is largely due to a conversation that I had with two good friends James Pitts and Kent Davis Sensenig. Because of this conversation, I’ve reframed my initial intent.

Who is Evangelical?

Big ‘E’ evangelicalism is as elusive a term as there can be. Many churches and church organizations have it in their titles but if you asked the people of those church communities few would be able to tell you want it means. Most independent non-denominational churches are Evangelical, but many denominational churches are as well. It is a large category that encompasses people from the super large “purpose driven??? mega-churches to the small “Independent, Fundamentalist, KJV only??? churches. It also contains within its walls Christians as conservative as Pat Robertson and as socially conscious as Jim Wallis.

 Images Pat Robertson Is The Devil  Law Images Jim Wallis

I am not sure where I fall, nor do think it matters all that much, in the Evangelical rubric, but I can affectionately repeat what Brian McLaren says about Evangelicalism in his book A Generous Orthodoxy,

“Big E Evangelical refers to a segment of the church that I love and from which I hail, but which I don’t thin I understand so much anymore, and in which I may no actually be wanted anymore (116).???

I must confess I personally have grown weary from the many constraints of theological assumptions that make up much of the Evangelical movement, and I agree with a number of scholars that many of those presuppositions and its core values have limited the work of the Church. But still I recognize that I am within the Evangelical umbrella of the church and have chosen to remain there for the time being. And because of this its important to be able to constructively critique what lays before us.

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