Theology Archives - Where Faith and Culture Meet

What If Shopping Malls Are Really Sanctuaries?

The mall in my town looks more like a religious sanctuary than I ever realized.  I mean, its presence is literally cathedral-like. In fact, the mall itself is a nod to medieval Christian architecture in its “cruciformity” (the building, from… Read More

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Hunters in the Snow (Winter) - Google Art Project

Guest Post: Our Christmas Hope – An Advent Reflection

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday during the winter? Have you ever wondered why we celebrate his birthday at all? It is not as if we know Jesus’ actual date of birth. All we know… Read More

My Life With Night Terrors, Demons, And “Alice In Wonderland Syndrome”

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,”… Read More

Why We Love The Rapture

“I know you all want answers, and believe me, so do I.“ – Captain Rayford Steele, Left Behind 2014. I was a child of the late 90’s and an evangelical Christian so, naturally, I read the wildly popular Left… Read More

The Cure For “Racial Tensions?”

Answers in Genesis emailed me ten days ago. They claimed to have found the cure for “racial tensions” (and yes, they used quotation marks). “Racial tensions” manifested by the likes of street demonstrations in Ferguson, use-of-force inquires, the shooting… Read More

The Christian community validates Jesus’ legitimacy (or at least it should)

This is the transcription of a sermon that I preached at Elk Grove Congregational Church on 6/29/14. It is, in fact, the first transcript I’ve ever shared and the form is different from what I normally post on an irenicon…. Read More

Let’s Make A New Testament Law Code!

Out with the Old and in with the New, let’s figure this stuff out; those who are in, those who are out. Preachers and theologians routinely tell me that Paul argued for a post-Law community of Christians united not… Read More

Leaving Behind Left Behind Theology

Nicolas Cage is slated to one-up Kirk Cameron in the latest Left Behind movie this October. The movie is based on a novel based on a theology based on Darby’s method for reading prophecy in the Bible. I myself read… Read More

Call it Complementarianism all you want, but this is what it looks like.

  despot[Complementarian]ism: a form of government in which a single entity, individual or group rules with absolute power.

“God Isn’t A Man, But He’s Male?”

Someone at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood recently read an article that Rachel Held Evans wrote back in 2012. In it, Evans referred to God as “She.”

Purity Culture, Jesus, and the Markan Narrative

The evangelical obsession with purity. Reminds me of ritual purity law. Especially when it determines who is inside the circle. And who is not. The Gospel of Mark is full of little devices I like to call “Markan… Read More

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Jesus Denies Having Wife, Says Foreknowledge of Followers’ Sexual Repression Assured His Perpetual Bachelorhood

In response to the verification of the ancient papyrus popularly dubbed Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, the Lord himself issued a statement denying that he ever married: “I know that Dan Brown and a fourth century scribe have suggested that I… Read More

Noah

The Definitive List of 2014’s Attacks on Christianity Which, Um, Aren’t That at All.

1. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. Surely Aronofsky’s adaptation of Israel’s adaptation of Babylon’s adaptation of a great flood story is an affront to God.

90’s Chain-Email-Turned-Movie Convinces Atheists They Are “Just Angry At God”

A philosophy professor lifts up a piece of chalk, eyes his students, then dares God to prevent it from breaking.  The class watches as he opens his hand and the chalk breaks on the ground, falsifying the God-hypothesis…. Read More

Mark Driscoll’s Publishing Tactics Trigger A Golden Age For Christian Publishing

First he published the book that inspired Christian sex everywhere, now Mark Dirscoll’s methods are inspiring what some have called “a golden age for Christian publishing… and for the Gospel.” It turns out that

5 Ways Creationism Is Bad For Christianity

Sure creationism makes us look silly, but it does so much more than that. I fancy myself a creationist in the sense that I believe God is the initial cause of the universe, but I am not a… Read More

Reuters

Vatican Discovers Pope Is Actually An “Everyday Variety Christian” Posing As Church Leader

The story has all the elements of a Dan Brown novel:  secret meetings, falsified information, and a magisterial cover-up  sure to shock faithful people around the globe. It all started when Nathan Paduka, a mid-level Vatican Aide II,… Read More

Talking About War: American Mass Media and Christian Theology

This project centers on mass media portrayals of military and warfare in the United States and seeks to reflect upon them through the application of practical theology.  Elements of the Christian theological tradition will serve the current project… Read More

We Need A Better Term For Male Feminists

You could call me a feminist, if indeed you agree with certain proponents of feminist ideology, but labeling men “feminists” might be the worst kind of misnomer, as many others have pointed out. A basic premise of feminism considers… Read More

Strange Dispensations

  Have an opinion? There’s a conference for that ™

MacArthur Strange Fire

Come Down, Dear John. The “Strange Fire” Thing Isn’t Worth It.

You and I met in 2008.  I had watched you speak and read what you wrote for some time, I even received your scholarship. But in 2008 I graduated from your college with a B.A. in Bible and… Read More

Tractor

3 Reasons Why We Don’t Study Kingdom-ology

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Jesus “Thy kingdom come.”- Everyone Else It was a decent question. He had just reviewed 1st century Greek terms like pneuma and theos, then wondered aloud to the class, “if… Read More

Malala

Malala Yousafzai Is Great And All, But She Isn’t A Christian?

I just can’t do it. I was going to write this satirically, but I will not. I won’t write it because Malala Yousafzai’s remarkable story is filled with strength, hope, and love… the very characteristics of the God… Read More

Love for the Bible Led Me to Evolution [Part 4: Consequences]

This is the final post in a four part series on evolution and Christianity. Part 1: Fundamentals Part 2: Scripture  Part 3: Science Part 4: Consequences Consequences. Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise… Read More

Love for the Bible Led Me to Evolution [Part 3: Science]

This is the third in a four part series on evolution and Christianity. Part 1: Fundamentals Part 2: Scripture  Part 3: Science Part 4: Consequences Science. I don’t have ”faith in science.” I have made a conscious, intellectual decision… Read More

by Olfert

When your faith is up and down like a roller coaster, but trying harder doesn’t cut it

“I’ve been struggling with doubt.  Maybe not doubt, but I just don’t feel God’s presence like I did before.” You might have said these words.  And if you haven’t said them, at least you’ve heard them.  And if you… Read More

Bible

Love for the Bible Led Me to Evolution [Part 2: Scripture]

This is the second in a four part series on evolution and Christianity. Part 1: Fundamentals Part 2: Scripture  Part 3: Science Part 4: Consequences Scripture. The lover affirms the reality and the otherness of the beloved. Love… Read More

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Love for the Bible Led Me to Evolution [Part 1: Fundamentals]

This is the first in a four part series on evolution and Christianity. Part 1: Fundamentals Part 2: Scripture Part 3: Science Part 4: Consequences Fundamentals. The lover affirms the reality and the otherness of the beloved. Love… Read More

by Andrew Mason

Speaking of God

A word is dead when it’s been said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day. -Emily Dickinson In nearly every instance, speaking of God requires the use of metaphor.  We don’t have a whole… Read More

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Sometimes It’s Hard To See The Execution For All The Pomp

Christian worship is somewhat morbid.  At least it used to be.  I have smoothed over the story of Jesus’ death so often that it has lost some of its texture, some of its content.  I regularly sing songs… Read More

RE: “Distracted” – Satan Didn’t Post That Picture, I Did.

DEAR CAITLIN, Your post blew up today. Christians on Facebook and Twitter have been reposting your article like crazy, which I’m sure has pleasantly surprised you. You are probably both a kind and intelligent person, but your article is neither… Read More

5 Reasons Why Atheism Should Be Illegal

Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe… Read More

A Little Birthday Theology Pun

For my birthday, my family showed me that it’s sometimes ok to be a dispensationalist.

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And God Blessed The World With The Babel Incident

…from there the LORD dispersed them over all the earth. -Genesis 11:8 The Tower of Babel is not about human pride and divine judgment.* Crazy, I know. But before we get there, read the 11 verse story again

The Creation of Adam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “Divine Coin Flip”: A Perfect God Using Less-Than-Perfect Means

Work smart, not hard. -Anonymous It is entirely uncontroversial in Christian circles to suggest that God communicates through culture; we believe that God speaks through written books and human mouths. Suggest for a moment that these tools of… Read More

God Uses Means: Or, How to Avoid Complete Cynicism

There was a moment in worship at Winter Camp last week when all I could think about was change. I was thinking about how I could change myself, how I would change the camp experience if I could,… Read More

“St. Jerome” by Caravaggio

Jerome was responsible for completing the Vulgate – the first Latin translation of the Hebrew biblical text.  Latin translations before Jerome were based off of a Greek translation (Septuagint) of the Hebrew, making them essentially third hand. Jerome… Read More

Halloween: An Epic Christian Holiday

Thanks to a long history of apprehension toward Halloween, calling it a “Christian holiday” might sound rather absurd- and understandably so.  What is more anti-Christian than celebrating terror, death, and the demonic? Nothing… but that could be the… Read More

(photo credit: David Hayward)

Not Good?

The topic was unity. It was World Communion Sunday this last weekend and we celebrated Jesus’ final meal by eating and drinking together, thinking about the Christians from all the different tribes of the world that were eating… Read More

Israel Part 3 [of 4]: Early and Medieval Church

This is the 3rd in a 4 post series of a few pictures I took in Israel while traveling with Fuller Seminary’s ANE department. Part 1: Sites from the Old testament Part 2: “Intertestamental” and New Testament Part… Read More

Astronauts, Spacewalking, and a Universe Too Big For Our Gods

The euphoric visions experienced by some space-walking astronauts might speak profoundly of the panentheism which I wrote about earlier– that all things exist within God.

What the Gospel Is Not, In Seven Words or Less

Inspired by Nick Ahern’s contribution, “The Gospel In Seven Words Or Less“, to the previous Christian Century post, I’m christening a contest of my own.  In the original post, people come up with a sentence (no more than… Read More

All Things In God, A Christian Panentheistic Vision

“In him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 In the beginning, God opened up a space within God’s self and created the universe. Then people, in an attempt to revere God as transcendent (something… Read More

“Corpor-a-munion”

  ————————- Related Articles Some words for Christians on both sides of the Chick-fil-A war (Rachel Held Evans) 5 Reasons Why the Church Failed Yesterday (Matthew Paul Turner) Royal Confusions about the Support of Chick-fil-A (J.P. Moreland) Why I’m Not… Read More

Go Into All The World[s]: Evaluating Christian Presence in the Online Gaming Community

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” Mark 16:15 INTRODUCTION The online gaming community is one quickly growing “unreached” subgroup of society and, as with any social… Read More

The God of Place and Time

As we approached the western face of the Temple Mount, the atmosphere struck me as an odd mixture of relaxed piety and harried activity.  Birds were flying gently overhead and roosting in the higher strata of rock while… Read More

11 People Who Shaped Me

These eleven people never knew me, but shaped me in irreversible ways (see if you can name any of them).

The Avengers and Incarnational Churchiosity

The Avengers hulk-smashed the box office last week with its mixture of intense action and slap-stick humor. Movie-goers everywhere left their theaters ecstatic and well pleased with the film,  I walked away both happy and stunned by the… Read More

When “God’s Will” Becomes A Rubber Stamp

I sometimes stop talking about things that are central to what I believe. I avoid them and cringe when I hear someone invoking them- not because I don’t believe they are important or true, but because I’ve seen… Read More

Dan Savage’s Bible-Speech is Wrong, and Kind of Right.

A short video of several highshcool journalists walking out of a lecture by Dan Savage is going viral and it’s eliciting intense responses; I believe Savage’s main point is correct, but his approach and the presmises which lead… Read More

How to Become a Popular Christian Blogger

by a less-than-popular Christian Blogger 1. Upload a picture of yourself drinking a cup of coffee.

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The Cave – Looking at the Philosophy Behind One of Mumford and Sons’ Best Songs

Some of you listen to songs and analyze their different parts, I let them wash over me in an uncritical bliss.  On the occasion that I enjoy a song enough to think about it, I’ll listen to the… Read More

“Cessationism”

————————- Related Articles “Cessationism” (Wikipedia) Cessationism versus Continuationism (Wikipedia) Are Prophets Foundational to the Church? (Sam Storms- WordPress)

Contracting MTD

MTD stands for Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – a technical diagnosis of Christianity that has devolved into a much more palatable religion, featuring a God that teaches people to be nice, might save them from trouble, is patently uninvolved… Read More

“Donated By”

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Repost this or Burn in Hell

Thank God you found this article.  Whoever you are, I love you deeply and care for the destination of your soul.  That’s why I’m glad that you’ve stumbled across my blog and have heard TRUTH.  You now have… Read More

The Baby-Makin’, Prone-to-Evil, “Other” Gender: Woman.

When I set out to write this I didn’t think that it would be relevant for some of you.  I had thought that unless you grew up in the type of town, place, and community as I did,… Read More

Rose Parade Jesus

We went to the Rose Parade this year.  It was fascinating. Thousands of people camp out over night (some of them for several nights) on the sidewalks and medians of Colorado Blvd in anticipation of this internationally known… Read More

Keeping Christ in Christmas

I chuckle when my friends lament the steady advance of Christmas music onto the turf of the “regular” year.  I chuckle because my feathers get ruffled during the holidays too, but it isn’t the sounds of carols in… Read More

Thomas Aquinas depicted in stained glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Light Rain and An Ancient Prayer For Studying

It’s cold and cloudy this morning; beautiful weather for doing theology.  Such weather and theology are sublimely furnished by an 800 year old pre-study prayer–

The First Step Of Christian Ethics Is Out Of Your Shoes

My politics and ethics tend to side with the poor, the outcast, the convict, the disenfranchised, and the oppressed because I believe God has sided with me, an outcast.  Such an understanding is at the heart of Christian… Read More

Mark Driscoll and Lisa Frank Walk Into A Church…

You remember them, those dazzling neon colors of bold-faced creativity brightening the 90’s like they were going out of style.  Those multicolored pandas and teddy bears were hugging dolphins on every elementary school binder, dancing around the cylinder… Read More

Create Your Own Caption: Nifty Gifty U.S. Military Crosses

The irony here is strong.  In order to explore the depths of meaning behind these souvenirs recently discovered at a shop in Gorman, California, we’re having a caption contest.  Create a caption for this picture and leave it… Read More

Ripping the Rug Out: How I’ve Come To Understand the Bible and the Atom

Sixth grade was bulky desks, black tops, and best friends, cool teachers, commanding yard duties, and cheeky principals.  Sixth grade was the year we figured out homework actually sucked and parents weren’t cool.  Our ideas about reality began… Read More

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Addressing Our Heart Warming Practice of Self-Interest in 300 Words or Less

We respond to a discussion starter in 300 words or less each week in our Christian Ethics class. This week’s topic was particularly beautiful, so I thought I’d share it:

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Pin the Tail on the Death Penalty

“Justice is blind,” or so the saying goes.  If justice were blind in the United States of America, why are blacks who kill whites twenty-two times more likely to face execution than blacks who kill blacks?[1]  Why does… Read More

UnEducated UnBelievers

I don’t know how to put this tactfully, so I’m just going to say it.  At its most innocuous my Christian undergrad perpetuated a highly critical spirit of non-Christian scholarship among students and distastefully discounted “outsiders” (possibly even… Read More

Trickle on Down, Oh Lord, Trickle on Down

Who are the poor? According to the 1996 United Nations report “On Human Development,” we live in a world where the top 358 billionaires are wealthier than the combined annual income of countries that contain 45 percent of… Read More

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Scary Abortion Movie a Microcosm of American Christianity

I’ve spoken of theology and culture as an entertaining intersection before, but sometimes we cringe in the aftermath of a particularly ugly collision.  This is one of those times.

The Infantilization of Women and a Theology of Aging (Getting Age Wrong Part 2)

Click here to see part 1: “Growing Up Way Too Fast.” THE INFANTILIZATION OF WOMEN If you’ve never heard of the “infantilization” of women, allow me to introduce you; it is an incredible phenomenon by which our society… Read More

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Growing Up Way Too Fast (Getting Age Wrong Part 1)

This is Part 1.  Click here for Part 2: “The Infantilization and a Theology of Aging.” We are making men and women out of babies.  I know that’s eventually the point, but we’re doing it entirely too fast. … Read More

For God so Loved… America?

Vicky and I visited a well-known Christian bookstore recently. After purchasing the things we needed, our unofficial (but usual) game of “who-can-find-the-Christian-thing-that-will-make-us-laugh-and-weep-simultaneously” began.  I found a book I was fairly confident would win, but when I heard Vicky… Read More

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

When Faith, Patriotism, and Ignorance Meet Fur Coats

A group of Americans/Christians/Concerned Individuals gathered at the White House to protest a scheduled Sharia Law Rally last March.  Well, the Sharia people were a no-show, so the crowd took interest in a single Muslim praying in their… Read More

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Our Beliefs About The End Times Might Be Poisoning Us

Popular Christian belief about the future might be preventing us from obeying Jesus.  Even if you haven’t heard of premillennialism, chances are your church subscribes to some form of it (for Evangelicals, anyway). This particular brand of end… Read More

Failure And The Image Of Christianity

There is good coming of the Harold-Camping-Judgment-Day fiasco.  Sure there were families destroyed, life savings squandered, and endless public embarrassment, but… The Church is taking stock of its image. Our society has openly mocked the idiocy of Camping’s… Read More

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Theological Glass Ceiling

One month before college graduation I realized that my theological training had been futile.  I confided in one of my professors, telling him that I didn’t see what there was left to do in the field; all of… Read More

The End Is Near

The world as we know it ends this Saturday; May 21, 2011… according to Harold Camping, Family Radio, and thousands of his followers.  They are selling all earthly possessions and spreading the word that Judgment Day is around… Read More

Real Religion

[I wrote this article for my church’s publication, The Messenger.  I am grateful for their support and tireless patience] We settle for far too little far too often in our lives, perhaps most often with religion.  Hearing a… Read More

Selling God Out… One Pearl At A Time

Christian phrases are everywhere these days.  You can find them on cars, clothing, jewelry, and a myriad of other places.  You might even sport a sticker yourself, as they are often provocative, prophetic, and most certainly pervasive (at… Read More

Anguished Coptics and Loving Muslims

[I wrote this article for my church’s publication, The Messenger.] The shooting in Arizona this past week placed two things solidly in my mind; the fragility of life, and the veritable blessing it is to live in a… Read More

Renewal

[I wrote this article for my church’s publication, The Messenger.] From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold,… Read More

How to Successfully Ruin the Image of Christ in America

Few issues divide our culture more than the topic of gay marriage.  On one side of the divide people see increasing acceptance as an attack on marital institution and evidence of a degrading society, while the other believes… Read More

Match Tips, Cortizone, and Human Nature

Last Tuesday I woke up slowly.  It was one of those mornings that begin with a prolonged, thoughtless inspection of my ceiling.  As the fog of the night’s dream cleared from my mind, I realized that a strange… Read More

Babies, Not Guns.

My cousin recently posted this photograph of a cop with my mother’s face superimposed and a baby covering her gun.  Although the joke wasn’t aimed at the American psyche, an idea immediately formed in my gray matter. Babies,… Read More