- Pentecostalism’s Wesleyan Roots & Fruit: The Wesleyan doctrinal tradition provides Pentecostals with an inclusive and expansive yet solid and substantive paradigm for doing theology in today’s world. It’s not the only model. However, we’re already at home with this theological tradition. And it offers, I think, a clear, consistent, and coherent trajectory. (Seedbed)
- Finding ways to be alone together is a new American pastime: It’s easy to bemoan the digital age and how it’s turned us all into self-centered addicts of individualism. But really, all this has done is made us much more American than ever before. (National Catholic Reporter)
- The New Monasticism Gets Older, But Will It Grow Up? God has been calling individual believers to the monastic life for nearly two thousand years—so why would we presume that he is not still doing so today, even among Protestant Evangelical Christians? If God is calling some to this life then the Church should provide them with the monasteries necessary to live out their calling. (First Things)
- Don’t Quote Me on This: Emerson didn’t hate quotation, not really. What he hated was our impulse to shortcut actual thought. The Internet didn’t create that impulse, but it has made it far more tempting and easier to satisfy. (New York Times)
- Focus and Food: A recent study explored the effect of multitasking on food flavor and consumption. The findings: taste perception is limited by our capacity to pay attention to multiple things at once. The result of this mindless eating is that food tastes blander, we crave stronger flavors (i.e. more salt and sugar), and we end up eating more. (Positive Prescription)
- 3 Ways to Recognize Bad Stats: To discern if research is of good quality, it may help to understand some of the process. It’s not that complicated and it will keep you out of trouble. (Ed Stetzer)
- 6 Things Every Extrovert Secretly Has To Deal With: I have no real problem with introverts and introversion, my issue is with the fact that people of the internet seem to have romanticized introversion in a way that turns any possible social impediments a person might have into desirable quirky traits. Not only this, but extroverts are suddenly the bad guys for not understanding introverts or mistreating introverts, etc, etc. (Thought Catalog)
- The Most Influential Reformer You’ve Never Heard of: Hannah More was one of William Wilberforce’s most beloved friends and part of a small circle who worked most closely with him to abolish the British slave trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She played so central a role in this and many other significant social reforms of the 19th century that she has been called “the first Victorian.” (Hermeneutics)
I hate plumbing. Dark spaces, pipes conveniently located just where they’re impossible to reach, and a body never intended to contort like that. But the worst part, the thing that makes me dread plumbing, is that sound. You know the one: the inevitable, excruciating, sanctification-challenging sound of water dripping from that just-fixed pipe. It doesn’t matter how minute the crack, water will find a way through. And its incessant dripping is impossible to ignore.
A good question functions much the same way. If I tell you something you don’t like, you can just dismiss it. We ignore inconvenient facts all the time, impervious behind our wall of preconceived beliefs. But powerful questions are like water, slowly working through the cracks and crevices before sending their incessant “drip, drip, drip” into the quite recesses of our minds. A good question is hard to ignore.
Jesus asked really good questions. Here are just a few:
“You’re a heretic.”
That’s a powerful claim, one with the ability to destroy. And like all weapons of mass destruction, it should be used with extreme caution.
A recent blog post highlighted 7 Heresies Inside the Church. As I read through the post, I noticed two things. Yes, the author correctly identified seven dangerous ideas that the church needs to watch closely today. But there isn’t a single heresy among them.
I think that’s a problem. Calling something a heresy when it isn’t contributes to other serious problems for the church today. To see why, let’s first take a look at what a “heresy” is. Then we can consider some reasons why it’s dangerous to label something as a heresy when it’s not.
- Coffee with Facepalm Jesus Calling: An earlier generation asked What Would Jesus Do? But these days, people are increasingly comfortable with skipping the hypothetical, shifting out of the subjunctive, and just telling us What Jesus Would Say, in their opinions. If he were really here, that is: if he were talking, if he were blogging, or meme-ing, or cartooning, or writing devotionals. (Fred Sanders)
- Income Gap, Meet the Longevity Gap: Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life. (New York Times)
- The Accidental Complementarian: Jen is a complementarian, we nod. I am described by the convenience of a category. One word makes me a friend or foe. I am a complementarian. But as is also true for my egalitarian sisters in Christ, that isn’t all there is to know. (Jen Pollock Michael)
- The Age of Individualism: In the future, it seems, there will be only one “ism” — Individualism — and its rule will never end. As for religion, it shall decline; as for marriage, it shall be postponed; as for ideologies, they shall be rejected; as for patriotism, it shall be abandoned; as for strangers, they shall be distrusted. Only pot, selfies and Facebook will abide — and the greatest of these will probably be Facebook. (Ross Douthat)
In my church history classes, I often ask students why the early church grew so rapidly. And we discuss non-theological factors like the pax Romana, a shared language, established trade routes, and the charitable endeavors of the early church.
Then someone inevitably asks, “What about God?” Surely God wanted the church to grow and the gospel to spread. So we can look back on history and see God at work making sure those things happened in the first few centuries of the church.
After listening for a few minutes, I ask the students to consider the near elimination of the church in North Africa and Asia Minor after the rise of Islam. What do you do with that? If God wants the church to grow and the gospel to spread, why did that happen? How do you find God at work in those historical events?
What about the Crusades? The holocaust? The Rwandan genocide?
How do you discern God at work in history? That’s really the question. How can we speak so confidently about God at work in growing the early church and then just stammer awkwardly when asked about more tragic realities of the past?
What is the relationship between divine providence and the study of history?
- Why We Argue Like Jerks: Diving headfirst into an endless vortex of insults and insinuations is incredibly tempting in the heat of the moment. I have felt the tug and I have regrettably given in many times to coarse tweets and ad hominems. Maybe considering the why behind our inability to argue well will help us move forward. (Christ and Pop Culture)
- St. Patrick: Reclaiming the Great Missionary: the factual accounts of Patrick, missionary to Ireland, are even more compelling than the folklore. Telling the true story of Patrick provides an inspiring lesson in God’s grace and mercy. (Gospel Coalition)
- Francis Has Changed American Catholics’ Attitudes, but Not Their Behavior, a Poll Finds: One year into the era of Pope Francis, a new poll has found that a broad majority of American Catholics say he represents a major change in direction for the church, and a change for the better. But his popularity has not inspired more Americans to attend Mass, go to confession or identify as Catholic — a finding that suggests that so far, the much-vaunted “Francis effect” is influencing attitudes, but not behavior. (New York Times)
- The Intellectual Snobbery of Conspicuous Atheism: vocal atheists reinforce this binary of Godly vs. godless, too—the argument is just not as obvious. Theirs is a subtle assertion: Believers aren’t educated or thoughtful enough to debunk God, and if they only knew more, rational evidence would surely offset faith. (The Atlantic)
In the fifth century, St. Patrick established his reputation as one of the most famous missionaries in Christian history. According to tradition, he was just a teenager when he was taken as a slave to Ireland. He eventually escaped, became a priest, and returned to Ireland with the gospel. After years of faithful service, he has long been remembered as the “Apostle of Ireland” and one of the key figures in establishing Celtic Christianity.
In memory of Patrick’s amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.