culture

Junia Is Not Alone in the Church – Scot McKnight

It was a privilege to attend Dr. McKnight’s original lecture at Fuller Theological Seminary on October 26, 2011. His was a cogent, scholarly presentation shedding light on the misogynistic history of biblical interpretation regarding a prominent apostle named Junia referred to by Paul in Romans 16:7.

I understand he has released a small eBook: “Junia Is Not Alone” based on his lecture and, although I have not read the eBook yet, would highly recommend it for those interested in the debates about female leadership in the church. The lecture does not of course address the whole gamut of issues but concentrates on Junia and how she has been understood and misinterpreted via the lens of a specific socio-cultural agenda. Regardless of where you stand on the current complementarian/egalitarian debates, this is a must read. I for myself am not ashamed to stand squarely within the egalitarian camp. I believe, taking the scriptural witness as a whole, that where the Spirit of God indeed is, there is freedom…

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Designer Faith

USA Today just reported recently on their blog site that more Americans are tailoring their religion to fit their needs. This was based on George Barna’s research on which I posted an earlier blog.

It doesn’t surprise me at all in this postmodern, fragmented culture.

Professional “church” leadership such as me could lament the good ole days when the pastor was revered and the church was held in high esteem by society. But, to be honest, there’s no lament from me! There’s no rejoicing either. Just cold, hard reality. This is a consequence of reformation ideals. We protest, we diversify, we democratize, we rail against the system, and we split up. I am a consummate Protestant!

It is the reality of the priesthood of all believers. (more…)

Schweitzer, Eschatology & Matthew 10:23

“But when they persecute you in this city, flee to the next one; amen I say to you, you will not have completed the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:23 My translation)

Matthew 10:23b is a theological quagmire that has caused endless controversy especially since Albert Schweitzer’s seminal book, “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” (1906). His book in effect ended the “First Quest for the Historical Jesus” that had begun in Germany with scholars such as H. S. Reimarus, D. F. Strauss, Johannes Weiss, and William Wrede.

The so-called “First Quest” (circa 1700-1900) rose out of the Enlightenment Age with its emphasis on reason. It was an optimistic age. Western Civilization had “come of age” so to speak, and there was broad confidence that humanity would eventually solve every problem through the application of reason and modern science.

The original “questers” were confident they could uncover the true, historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, solely based on historical inquiry using scientific methods, rather than relying on faith or church tradition. They sought to distinguish the Jesus of Faith from the Jesus of History. (more…)

The Barna Group – Barna Examines Trends in 14 Religious Factors over 20 Years 1991 to 2011

The Barna Group – Barna Examines Trends in 14 Religious Factors over 20 Years 1991 to 2011.

Some of Barna’s findings affecting the State of the Church, 2011:

  • Bible reading undertaken during the course of a typical week, other than passages read while attending church events, has declined by five percentage points. Currently an estimated 40% of adults read the Bible during a typical week.
  • Church volunteerism has dropped by eight percentage points since 1991. Presently, slightly less than one out of every five adults (19%) donates some of their time in a typical week to serving at a church.
  • Adult Sunday school attendance has also diminished by eight percentage points over the past two decades. On any given Sunday, about 15% of adults can be expected to show up in a Sunday school class. (more…)

Richard Mouw’s Response to PCUSA Amendment 10A

Many of you may be aware that PCUSA has ratified Amendment 10A on ordination standards that will take effect July 10, 2011. This opens the door for homosexual and lesbian ordination in local PCUSA congregations. As far as I know, this is the third major American denomination in recent years to do this; the others being ELCA (Lutherans) and Episcopalians (Anglicans). (more…)

Love Wins, My Take on Rob Bell’s New Book

I chose not to make any comments on Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins” until after I had read it myself. So after reading it, let me state from the outset that Rob Bell is not a universalist; at least, not in the popular conception of what universalism entails: the salvation of all human beings everywhere regardless of whether they were an Adolf Hitler or a Mahatma Gandhi. Most people’s concept of universalism means that eventually everyone ends up in heaven. That’s not Rob Bell’s view.

Having said that, I don’t think this is Bell’s finest book. “Velvet Elvis” was a much better book. I think every Christian living in the 21st century should read that one! This book is more polemical, written to combat an extreme fundamentalist view of the afterlife. You know, you’ve seen those people carrying signs on the street corners proclaiming hell and eternal damnation. Frankly, they do more harm than good.

The book began when Bell’s Church had an art show regarding what it meant to be a peacemaker. Someone had included a Gandhi quote in her art piece to which someone else attached a piece of paper: “Reality check: He’s in Hell.” (more…)

Sympathethic Resonance

Samuel Becket is famous for the play “Waiting for Godot,” which a critic once noted “achieved a theoretical impossibility—”a play in which nothing happens.” (Vivian Mercier, Irish Times, 18 Feb 1956). The play follows two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, who are waiting for Godot, but he never arrives.

It is hard to tell what Beckett’s intentions were and the play is remarkably open to all sorts of interpretations. However, it seems that Beckett (who was well versed in scripture) was commenting on the seeming absence of God. Godot is a French diminutive term obviously in reference to God—and Becket may well be implying how pathetic a thing it is to be waiting for this character who should save the day, (more…)