Greater than Jesus

I have been thinking a lot lately about why I call myself a progressive Christian. It could be that I’m getting close to ordination in a progressive denomination, or that I’ve spent the past two years hosting a “post-evangelical” podcast, or maybe it’s this election and the distance that I feel from the conservative church I once called home, a distance I feel sharply whenever I scroll through a Facebook news feed.

At any rate, I’m thinking and so I’m writing.
(and, secretly, I probably hope to close the growing distance a little)

I’m progressive because Jesus said his followers would be.

Not in those terms, of course, but clearly.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is depicted comforting his disciples in preparation for his departure “to the Father.” He promises not to leave them orphans, commands them to trust in the miracles he did whenever they doubt his words and, with a hand under their chins (as I imagine it), he lifts their heads and says,

“Verily truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father” [John 14:12]. Read more “Greater than Jesus”

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

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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.
[Lectionary: Jer 28:5-9   |  Mat 10:40-42]

Good morning, friends.

Thank you, James, for this opportunity to speak and, as he says, “it’s better when we’re together.” It’s good to be with you all.

My name is Allen and, as some of you know, I am a recent seminary graduate. In my past life I was a youth pastor, had even received my bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, but attending Seminary has given me a  new (and ever growing) appreciation for the significance of what we do.

It’s a big thing to speak the words of God.
It’s a big thing to identify as a Christian and claim to know that God would have us do “X” or that God would have us do “Y.” Read more “The Christian community validates Jesus’ legitimacy (or at least it should)”

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 by the outward markers of faithfulness, but by an inclusive ministry of the Spirit that moved past traditional boundaries (some of which were set up by Scripture itself).

Because in Christ the Christians are Law-completed (Rom 10:4).

Because the only covenant marker of any value is “faith expressed through love” (Gal 5:6).

ThouShalt

Yet some of these preachers and theologians will turn around and fashion a law code from Paul’s own words. Obviously they don’t call it a “law code,” because they’ve been trained by Paul to look beyond law; Faith alone! Christ alone! they shout from the mountaintop, yet quickly descend to hand out copies of their commandments, fresh and updated. Read more “Let’s Make A New Testament Law Code!”

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.

Leaving Cage BehindI myself read all 16 of the Left Behind books in high school and college. Voraciously. With pleasure. Read more “Leaving Behind Left Behind Theology”

A Rule For Every Preacher

Preacher

Whenever you preach, preachers, for the love of God –

Represent the opposition fairly.

Standing in front of an assembled congregation and making claims about God, the world, and what God has to say to this world will inevitably place certain ideas, practices, and people on the opposite side from your propositions.  Depending upon Read more “A Rule For Every Preacher”