Monthly Archives: April 2012


Why Should Christians and Churches Act Together?

One of the best known contributions on unity that has powerfully helped in the modern development of ecumenism is called the Lund Principle. It is commonly believed that this principle says, very simply, that “whatever we can do together we should do together.” While this statement is partially right, if you read it in the original context it is not entirely right. Let me explain. 

On August 27, 1952, the third world conference on Faith and Order held a meeting at Lund, Sweden. Lund-cathedralThe delegates gathered there agreed on a text titled: “A Word to the Churches.” This text was released to the press immediately for world-wide publication. A key sentence posed the following question:

Should not our churches ask themselves whether they are showing sufficient eagerness to enter into conversation with other churches, and whether they should not act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel

Who Should Become an ACT 3 Cohort Member?

The most important question you should ask, if you have any interest in our new ACT 3 Missional-Ecumenical Cohort program, is this: "Who should invest the time and money in this process and apply to join an ACT 3 Cohort group?"

Alcoholics Anonymous operates on a rather simple philosophy with a bare bones amount of structure. To join an AA Group you must have a problem, namely the abuse of alcohol. Second, you must be willing to pay the price to change your behavior by investing your time, and thus to some extent your money, in a group process where there is real learning, accountability and life-long change. Finally, you must be willing to use the famous Twelve Steps to grow toward sobriety and then to maintain that sobriety. 

The ACT 3 Missional-Ecumenical Cohort groups operate in much the same way. To join a group you must have a recognized need. You must know that you need to grow deeper in your interior spiritual life. If you have this need then you must

Could an ACT 3 Cohort Group Come to a City Near You?

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive about our new ACT 3 Missional-Ecumenical Cohort Groups is how we determine where to convene a group? The answer is relatively simple.

I will begin a Cohort group where 15-25 people are seriously interested in being gathered together to form such a group. To know this I first need to determine initial interest. This is usually done by one or two people asking if they could host/help with a group in their area. If they have a network of friends who are interested, and if they are situated in an area reachable by a drive of less than three hours from others we know to be interested in the group, then we consider it. The size of the actual city is NOT a determining factor though I do need to be able to get there by plane (and perhaps a short drive after my flight). Location will play a definite part, at least in these early years. Once we have hundreds of graduates, and a dozen or

The Problem of Conservatives and Government

We loosely speak of conservatives and liberals when we talk about ideologies and modern politics as it relates to government. Besides the fact that these labels are often anachronistic, and even widely misused, we infrequently take care to see the downside of the views we personally promote. As in all areas we share in a kind of personal and corporate blindness to the weaknesses of the views we so stridently promote. While I might be labeled a conservative, at least on some issues, I am clearly more progressive when it comes to other modern debates over issues. I view the death penalty, and our modern wars and continual military buildup, with considerable suspicion. I also care for the environment in ways that are anything but consistent with the party line views of most political conservatives. I further believe that our personal liberties are being violated by an over-reaction to questions regarding terrorism and security. (I have named only a few issues to simply give you a sense of my problem with the label.) Yet, I am not a modern political liberal

When Jesus Met Mary: A Conference on Friendship with a Unique (and Controversial) Emphasis on Friendship with the Opposite Sex

6a00d8341c530d53ef01310ffcfbd3970c-800wiCan men and women be close friends without the sex part getting in the way?

Can men and women who are married enjoy opposite sex friendships?

What would our marriages, our friendships, our churches, and our communities look like if men and women were not afraid of connecting with each other in deep ways?

What would male-female relationships look like in marriages and friendship if every man and woman could know the spiritual richness and beauty of oneness between genders?

These are the kinds of questions that grew out of my reading of a fine book I reviewed extensively on this site, December 21-24, 2010. I wrote long blogs about Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions, a ground-breaking and courageous book written by my good friend Dan Brennan. I believed then that it had something extremely important to say about real friendship

A Book on Theology (Humor)

I do not recall where I saw the cartoon but it was one with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. 

Charlie said to Snoopy, "I hear you're writing a book on theology. I hope that you have a good title."

Snoopy replied, "I have the perfect title (as he sat on his doghouse with his typewriter)."

Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?

I have been dabbling with a book that is part memoir and part theological reflection. I am often tempted to use Snoopy's title. What do you think?

By |April 23rd, 2012|Categories: Humor, Theology|

Transitions: The ACT 3 Cohort Groups and Our New Web Presence

I am presently working on developing a new blog site as well as a new ACT 3 web site. I am also working on developing a separate site for the ACT 3 Missional-Ecumenical Cohort Groups. This site will provide information about this new training program but it will also provide an opportunity for students and graduates to enter private subsections of the site for updates and important on-going interaction. Graduates will become part of a life-long learning process through this site, and learn about future gatherings, which we will provide to those who finish this course. 

Our first ACT 3 Cohort class graduated this last Tuesday, April 17. Thirteen adults completed the first Cohort that we've done. We began last October in a classroom on the Wheaton College campus. I am praying for hundreds more to follow these thirteen in the next five years. I am also working to find and equip a group of very gifted leaders who can facilitate these groups across the country as this ministry grows. The goal is to find and teach

The Lund Principle

ImagesOn August 27, 1953, at the third world conference on Faith and Order, meeting in Lund, Sweden, a text was agreed upon titled: "A Word to the Churches." This text was released to the press for worldwide publication almost immediately. A part of this statement eventually became known (in ecumenical circles) as "The Lund Principle." The statement comes from a sentence which asks: 

"Should not our churches ask themsevles whether they are showing sufficient eagerness to enter into conversation with other churches, and whether they should not act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately?" 

The final part of this question, which I've put in italics, subsequently became known as The Lund Principle. This may be the most often quoted statement in the history of the Faith & Order Commission. It is often used as an exhortation but in the original context you

The Good Old Days That Never Were

ImagesIt seems like for as long as I can remember I've heard people talk about the "good ole' days" of the past. Whatever is happening now is worse than the past and somewhere else, at some time in the past, days were so much better than right now. Christians are particularly prone to this nonsense. They act as if history did not happen, humans are not mortal and the church never made a mistake, at least a serious one. Protestants romanticize the sixteenth century and Catholics romanticize about the days before Vatican II. Almost everyone acts like the Middle Ages were entirely bereft of anything positive and after 1900 Western civilization began a downward high slide from which it cannot recover. 

All of this kind of nonsense reminds me of a great quote from St. Augustine: "If you believe that former times are better than today, it is because you are not living in those times." Amen. 

By |April 17th, 2012|Categories: Church History, The Future|

Burning Questions for Missional Christians

Christianity began as a tiny movement of Jews who believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead. They spread this message to Jews and Gentiles and planted churches across the Roman Empire in the first three centuries of the common era. There is abundant evidence that these churches were generally small and that most congregations numbered something like 30-70 people. Issues regarding how to develop and govern these churches arose over time. It seems apparent that there is no extant blueprint that has been passed on to us regarding how this should be done down through the centuries. Christianity seems incredibly adaptable to various cultures and for this reason it could spead into all cultures. 

What we do know is that in spite of many faults the church acquired it eventually provided the basis for a new era of learning, industry and civil order that arose from the impact of the church upon society. In the sixteenth century the Reformation not only divided the church in the West but it led to renewal in the Catholic


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