Fluid worship practices?

To say that something is fluid envisions flux, change and perhaps substantial differences. Just how fluid or homogeneous was the early church?

A recent presentation led me to ask some historical and theological questions. To what degree did cultural forces shape the early church? Did it possess a mooring prohibiting divergent practices? Can we know? Does it make any difference for us today, whether they were quite fluid or solidly homogeneous?  Continue reading “Fluid worship practices?”

Danger Will Robinson

“Danger Will Robinson” is more intriguing than, “The influence of hermeneutical goals.” How dry!

What follows is a true story. For me, it is a sad narrative illustrating several principles, such as the powerful influence desire and fear can wield over our understanding of scripture. It also underscores how institutions, like individuals, can seem to get caught between serving Christ and pursuing either legacies or self-preservation. Continue reading “Danger Will Robinson”

Inventing the reason why: Galatians 3:28

As they opened their front door, immediately their eyes fell upon the shattered vase on the floor. The babysitter was sleeping soundly upon the sofa. One of their two young boys greeted them with, “the dog broke it.” At that moment their other son was nowhere to be seen.

Like most parents, an innate detective gear kicked into action. The dog was still in his doghouse in the backyard. In spite of the rain, no muddy dog prints were on the kitchen tiles. The babysitter had slept through the crash and could offer no insight.

Explanatory stories are powerful. Explanations answering “why” empower attitudes and action. Accurate explanations point us in the right direction! Continue reading “Inventing the reason why: Galatians 3:28”

Bonhoeffer, Culture & 1 Corinthians 11

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is frequently praised within Christendom for standing up against the prevailing culture of Nazi Germany in support of biblical principles. I recently witnessed a celebration of Carl Spain, whose chapel speech in 1960 at an all white college condemned racism among Christian colleges.

The question invariably comes to mind, why were there not many others, who profess Christ, standing with Bonhoeffer or Spain? Seriously? Continue reading “Bonhoeffer, Culture & 1 Corinthians 11”

Neither male nor female once again

The request was unusual. “I am working on a college assignment regarding the role of women in the church. Would you have any resources?” After lending her some books, I began to reflect upon the phrase, “neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). Disputes, some heated, others congenial, have swirled around those words.

I believe a simple story can assist everyone to accurately understand, agree upon, and draw application for today. OK, I concede this is too optimistic since people value different goals. Nevertheless, if we place priority upon an authored-centered meaning, as opposed to a reader-centered one, “neither male nor female” would seem rather straightforward.

Continue reading “Neither male nor female once again”

Gifts and talents

Walking through my vegetable patch in midsummer is like Christmas! The garden is full of nice surprises. It overflows with delicious, fresh, organically grown food. There is no candy on earth that can give more satisfaction than a ripe cherry tomato popped off the vine and right into your mouth, warm from the sun and bursting with flavor!

But we cannot devour every wonderful gift that the garden provides. Many are made into preserves, jams, or pickles and then “re-gifted” to others to enjoy. Sadly, many sit on the kitchen counter and do not get used quickly enough.

There is not much wasted in my kitchen, actually. Most excess food goes to my waist, rather than goes to waste. But in any garden, some perfectly good things go unused. It is part of the natural order. If we and the birds miss a tomato or zucchini, there will be seeds sprouting in the spring for a new crop. The rotting produce feeds the worms, which aerate and fertilize the soil.

Sometimes gifts are meant to be used in a different way than we envision. Continue reading “Gifts and talents”