The Problem with the Present Spiritual Consensus

fullsizeoutput_179b

The secular, post-modern world we inhabit has formed a consensus when it comes to a conception of god.

The consensus goes something like this:

Yes, I do believe in God. Or, at least, in a god. I do believe there is some kind of higher, transcendent power at work beyond the physical world. I am not merely a materialist, nor an atheist. I’m more of an agnostic. I do not believe we’re all here for just a few short years only to die and be gone forever in the most definitive sense. I believe there must be some kind of power that unites all humanity, and binds us with the created order. Whether we know it or not, whether our wars and violence veil it or not, we are all somehow connected.

Continue reading “The Problem with the Present Spiritual Consensus”

Dethroning Conversion: Correcting Evangelicalism’s Longstanding, Misplaced Priority

Kneeling

In any institution, behavior follows values. By “values”, I don’t necessarily mean morally praiseworthy values, but simply “whatever is valued” in that context. In addition, “values” do not necessarily correspond with the random posters hung around the office, nor the official company emails sent to the list serve.

Behavior follows actual values. If the senior leadership of a company values profit above all else, then employees will scramble to make the most money in whatever way possible and be noticed while doing so. If senior leadership values promptness and professionalism, then meetings will start on time, and everyone will be well dressed.

Continue reading “Dethroning Conversion: Correcting Evangelicalism’s Longstanding, Misplaced Priority”

Just Give Me Jesus…and Coffee…and a Couch

You can have all of this world,

just give me Jesus.

The lyrics of this beautiful old hymn communicate a classic Christian conviction: that the riches found in Jesus Christ are more valuable than all the riches this world has to offer. And by “riches”, we mean not only finances, but all material possessions and experiences. We know this life offers many delights we could chase. From seaside vacations to fine wines to an evening on Broadway, the landscape of the world beckons us to come and see, to sit and eat.

But this hymn directs our affections toward a different end. Instead of temporary pleasures, we seek the greater, more lasting delights found in a life faithfully given in pursuit of Jesus. He is the one great aim of a Christian life.

Continue reading “Just Give Me Jesus…and Coffee…and a Couch”

Home Visits, Gun Shots and Snitches

This is a re-post of a blog I wrote in 2009.  At the time, I was a High School English Teacher on the southwest side of Chicago.  The original post can be seen here.

Today I left school about twenty minutes early and headed to the home of one of my students.  If you have read my previous posts, then you know that this was a sixteen-year-old male student who had been beaten within an inch of his life.  Turns out he was hit in the head with a hammer.  Last week I visited his house and heard he would be coming home.  Today was my follow-up visit to check in and see how he was doing.  I was a bit afraid to see him, but for some reason I had begun to build a relationship with his family, even before this injury, and I felt I had to keep going down this path.

Continue reading “Home Visits, Gun Shots and Snitches”

Two Boys, Two Names, Two Places

Baby Jayber

Theophilus Dunkin; aka “Theo”

Theo, you are our metropolitan boy. You came to us amidst towering buildings, bustling roadways, and ambitious pursuits. I hopped the train to grad school every morning, while mom biked through four miles of city traffic down Damen Avenue to her nanny job. An automobile was nothing to us but a means of revenue for the city, and an opportunity to keep curse words fresh in our vocabulary.

Continue reading “Two Boys, Two Names, Two Places”

Why We Shouldn’t Imitate the New Testament Church

I often hear church folks state a frustration that goes like this: “if only we could be more like the New Testament Church!”

This lament usually follows a number of observations.  The church isn’t as unified as it should be.  The church isn’t as generous as it should be.  The church isn’t as tight-knit as it should be.  The church doesn’t disciple people as well as it should.

And so, as a corrective to these blemishes, preachers and lay people alike exhort us to get back to our roots.  To go back to “the early church”, or “the new testament church”, and there find inspiration to change.

But there are several problems with this perspective.  And they’re not just academic problems, either.  They are the kind of problems that can lead us to pursue the wrongs things as we seek to follow Christ.

Continue reading “Why We Shouldn’t Imitate the New Testament Church”