Weekender: July 15, 2017

Weekender: 07/15/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

Quote Worth Repeating: “It is precisely the man whose first concern is not culture but the kingdom of God that has the necessary distance from cultural aims and the necessary perspective to serve them in freedom, and to grasp that order which prevents the various sections of civilization from monopolizing the totality of life. Only from beyond civilization can its order and harmony come.” By Emil Brunner in his final Gifford Lecture, “The Christian Idea of Civilization and Culture.”

Blog Post to Read: Jason Byassee, guest contributor at Christian Century, writes, in his usual winsome style, about one Catholic parish’s attempt to rediscover Catholic discipleship in a surprising place: Protestantism. You can read the essay by clicking here. “Mallon started dreaming about a parish where encountering the gospel would be unavoidable. He took this idea to his first parish—and quickly smashed into a brick wall. ‘My congregation was like a zombie convention,’ he said.”

Video to Watch: I’ve heard from Kent and others that the first volume of Kate Sonderegger’s systematic theology is a must read. You can get a taste for her method and style in the video below in which Sonderegger ruminates on the Trinity for a lecture at Biola University.


In Case You Missed It:
Homebrewed Christianity is giving away TEN books by the renowned Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann. You can enter that giveaway here.

Recently Posted on Theology Forum:

  1. Nothing and Everything: Sacrifice, God, and Worship
  2. Biblical Preaching: For the Love
  3. Another “Not-To-Do” List: For Pastors and Theologians

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Weekender: July 8, 2017

Weekender: 07/08/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

Quote Worth Repeating: “Whoever believe, knows, and confesses that he cannot ‘by his own understanding and power’ in any way believe. He will simply perform this believing, without losing sight of the unbelief that continually accompanies him and makes itself felt. Called an illumined by the Holy Spirit as he is, he does not understand himself; he cannot help but completely wonder at himself. He will say ‘I believe’ only in and with the entreaty, ‘Lord, help my unbelief.’” Karl Barth in a lecture titled “Faith,” in Evangelical Theology (1979 ed., p. 104-105).

Blog Post to Read: Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli writes about sabbath play in “A Theology of Play.” “Thomas Aquinas concluded,” Galli writes, “as one scholar summed it up: “God plays. God creates playing. And man should play if he is to live as humanly as possible and to know reality, since it is created by God’s playfulness.”

Image to Contemplate: “The Prophet Jeremiah” by Michaelangelo. In the Sistine Chapel.


In Case You Missed It:
Two giveaways (and they are good giveaways!) are still open for entry. Theology Curator is giving away 30 books by N.T. Wright and Greg Boyd. You can sign up here. Homebrewed Christianity is also giving away books by the renowned Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann. You can enter that giveaway here.

Recently Posted on Theology Forum:

  1. Biblical Preaching: For the Love
  2. Another Not-To-Do List
  3. Don’t Say Nothing: Preaching and Racism

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Weekender: July 1, 2017

Weekender: 07/01/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

Quote Worth Repeating: “To insure the greatest efficiency in the dart / the harpooners of this world / must start to their feet from out of idleness / and not from out of toil.” Herman Melville quoted on the inside cover of Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson.

Blog Post to Read: Again from the Christian Century. This time a post reviewing the exciting publishing career of Kathryn Tanner. It will make you want to dive right in. Describing the widespread influence Tanner has had, Pauw writes, “At a session on Tanner’s theology at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Religion (where scholars typically disperse into narrow interest groups) the panel of theologians engaging her work reflected her ability to bridge this common divide. It is hard to imagine another theologian whose work would attract commentators with interests ranging from ‘Christ’s Saving Death in Selected Greek Fathers’ to ‘Antiracist Activism.’”

What to Watch: I discovered, for the first time, Fred Craddock today. I understand that he caused some controversy over what kind of preaching is good preaching. But this is an excellent sermon, for thought and for laughter.

Questions to Ponder: As I draw near to taking my first pastoral position, I continue to think about efficiency. So this week’s questions are deeply practical.

  • What habits and practices have been essential for you throughout your ministry?
  • Do you have a weekly schedule that you follow or are you a take it as it comes kind of person?
  • How do you know when it’s time to call it a day?
  • Are there books you’ve read that you would recommend for faithful time management?


In Case You Missed It:
Theology Curator is giving away 30 books by N.T. Wright and Greg Boyd. You can sign up here.

Thanks for reading. If you haven’t subscribed already, do it! Have a great weekend!

Weekender: June 24, 2017

Weekender: 06/24/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

Quote Worth Repeating: “You must feel with sorrow all the dishonor done to Christ in his holy Word, all the misery of Christendom, all the unjust suffering of the innocent, with which the world is everywhere filled to overflowing. You must fight, work, pray, and — if you cannot do more — have heartfelt sympathy. See, this is what it means to bear in your turn the misfortune and adversity of Christ and his saints.” From “The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ” by Martin Luther (1519).

Blog Post to Read: Christian Century published an essay by Lutheran theologian Paul Hinlicky, reflecting on Luther’s understanding of the Cross. “Getting us out of the religious marketplace,” writes Hinlicky, “was exactly Luther’s point.”

Theology Forum Flashback: A year ago, I wrote a short essay on the theological significance of crying. Revisiting this post after a year was helpful for me — maybe for you too! “Jesus, you might notice, did not ask who this woman was or what she believed. He encountered a weeping woman and offered her compassion. It is my hope that Jesus, who dwells together with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, still sees all of us who grieve — without discrimination — and still meets us with compassion.”

Questions to Ponder: I was fortunate enough to attend part of Huntington University’s “Veritas Theological Institute.” First of all, well done to the people who planned the week, to the people who worked it, and to all of the top-notch scholars who participated. Veritas is an effort to help high school students who may be perceiving a call to ministry clarify and nurture that calling. This two-part question stems out of my experience with these students.

  • How did/do you discern your calling and how has it changed along the way?

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Weekender: June 17, 2017

Weekender: 06/17/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

Quote Worth Repeating: “The word ‘Eucharist’ means literally ‘act of thanksgiving.’ To celebrate the Eucharist and to live a Eucharistic life has everything to do with gratitude.” In With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life by Henri J. M. Nouwen.

Image to Interpret: “Road to Emmaus” by Duccio (which is also the cover art for With Burning Hearts).

Duccio’s “Road to Emmaus”

Interesting Insight: In The Bible in American Life (Oxford University Press, 2017: review forthcoming), Goff, Farnsley, and Thuesen note that 48% of Americans read Scripture (outside of a worship service) at least once per year. 9% of Americans (approximately 28,926,000 people) read the Bible daily. I’ve only read the introduction, but I am almost certain that this book is one every pastor should own, even if only to know what questions to ask about your specific congregation.

Here’s another freebie. The King James Version is still the most popular translation read in America.

Questions to Ponder:  How do you set learning objectives when teaching theology? For example, when considering an introductory Bible study for new Christians, what guides the kinds of things you hope they’ll know by the end? Do you do mostly intellectual learning objectives, or is there room for practical objectives? Do you find a specific catechism or method of catechesis especially helpful?

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend!

Weekender: June 10, 2017

Weekender: 06/10/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

Quote Worth Repeating: “It hardly needs to be argued that “kingdom” is a political term; the common Bible reader is less aware that “gospel” as well means not just any old welcome report but the kind of publicly important proclamation that is worth sending with a runner and holding a celebration for when it is received.” By John Howard Yoder in The Politics of Jesus (Eerdmans, 1994), p. 28.

Blog Post to Read: In “How Karl Barth Preached the Gospel in a Time of Crisis,” Walter Brueggemann reviews A Unique Time of God: Karl Barth’s WWI Sermons (translated and edited by William Klempa). “Barth’s time was indeed a ‘unique time of God.’ But Barth would surely have said that every sermon is a unique time of God. Beyond historical interest, these sermons invite reflection on preaching in our own context of crisis.”

Speaking of Walter Brueggemann, have you signed up for Homebrewed Christianity’s giveaway yet? Click here to enter to win TEN books by the highly acclaimed Old Testament scholar. (You will be redirected to Homebrewed Christianity’s website.)

Video to Watch: Some weeks, I need a reminder that God is good. This song takes me back to my time in Durham, worshipping with the folks at City Well UMC. Enjoy!

Questions to Ponder: In a review of two books about the pastors and ethics, I asked “How should we preach against racism in our congregations?” While we need to answer that question according to our own contexts, I think the insights could be valuable. How have you addressed racism in your own congregation? Whether in preaching, teaching, counseling, or activism?

Recent Posts on Theology Forum:

  1. Don’t Say Nothing: Preaching and Racism by Zen Hess
  2. A Pentecost Prayer by Zen Hess
  3. We Are Always Beginners: Barth on Discipleship by Kent Eilers

Weekender: June 3, 2017

Weekender: 06/03/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

This is a special edition of Weekender. Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreements has raised questions for many. The church needs to face these questions head-on. We worship God the Creator of All Things. What does that mean for us? How do we respond? How can we participate in the movement of God to make all things new? The resources offered below are not all specifically Christian. They are given for the sake of perspective.

Quotes Worth Repeating

“All life is interrelated…Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly…There is an interrelated structure of reality.” From “Letters from Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King Jr.

“Strange though it may sound, lament is something we need to learn to do…Scripture is altogether our best guide to prayer, but you have to ask: How can it guide us in this situation? How could an ancient text possibly shed light on a thoroughly modern oil spill? Of course the biblical writers did not know about this particular technological disaster. However, there is one biblical voice, the prophet Jeremiah, who teaches us to lament over the suffering we have caused the earth and calls us to be reconciled with both God and the created order. Jeremiah spoke to and for God in the face of a disaster as devastating as this one: a prolonged and deadly drought, which left animals and people desperate with thirst, and ruined the once-fertile land of Judah. We would be inclined to say that drought is a natural disaster, and therefore quite unlike this oil spill, but Jeremiah would say that the earth always and everywhere suffers as a result of human sin.” From a sermon called “Learning to Lament” by Ellen Davis.

Videos to Watch

  1. Norman Wirzba: “Why Theological Education Needs Ecology”
  2. Ellen Davis: “Christians and Creation”

Books to Read

  1. The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry
  2. From Nature to Creation by Norman Wirzba
  3. Shalom and the Community of Creation by Randy Woodley
  4. Making Peace with the Land by Fred Bahnson and Norman Wirzba
  5. Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis

Essays to Read

  1. Whose Earth is it Anyway?” by James Cone
  2. “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” by Wendell Berry
  3. “Jesus is Coming! Plant a Tree” by N.T. Wright
  4. “Globalization and the War against Farmers and the Land” by Vandana Shiva
  5. “The Uses of Prophecy” by David Orr

You might also find some of my (Zen) writing on the subject useful (and more accessible). Click here for a list of posts on Theology Forum. I’ve also written on these matters for The Other Journal and my previous blog Faith Commune. I’ve also abridged my thesis bibliography so that it contains only books, essays, and articles directly related to this topic. You can download the PDF by clicking here.

Websites to Visit

These websites are denominationally affiliated but are loaded with helpful resources.

  1. Mennonite Creation Care Network
  2. UCC Environmental Ministries
  3. PCUSA Environmental Ministries
  4. Catholic Creation Care

Add your resources, books, essays, videos to the list in the comments below!