Monthly Archives: March 2007

John Paul II: A Tribute

Those who know me are not surprised to learn that I sincerely admired Pope John Paul II for many years. At first, like many Protestants, I saw him only as the pope, thus as a person standing in some kind of opposition to my own Christian faith. After I began to grasp what I believed about the Creed’s affirmation regarding "one, holy, catholic church" I found my heart melted to love all Christians everywhere. It was not hard for me to love John Paul II when I spent time getting to know more about him and spoke with some who knew him. The real clincher was George Weigel’s masterful biography, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1999). Karol Wojtyla loved Christ very deeply and was a monumental figure in the twentieth century. He also genuinely inspired people to live better lives.

John Paul II made his final public appearance two years ago yesterday, March 30, sitting in complete weakness on the balcony overlooking Vatican Square where thousands expressed their deep love for him. A

By |March 31st, 2007|Categories: Roman Catholicism|

What We Do Really Matters

What we do in this life truly matters. Many Christians live and act as if this were not so. Somehow we have so severed faith from real life that we have millions of evangelicals who now insist that they are Christians based upon a once-in-time decision. This must be one reason why we see the high numbers of evangelicals in all the polls who demonstrate no consequent connection between what they believe and what they actually do. We really do not live as if "faith without deeds is useless" as James clearly teaches. To some extent, maybe to a very large extent, mistaken and incorrect evangelical teaching is responsible for this huge problem.

A biblical scholar, and good friend, recently pointed out to me that with the possible exception of Philemon every book in the New Testament makes eternal salvation or damnation contingent upon what we actually do in this life. See, for example, passages like Matthew 6:15; 7:21; Luke 13:3, 5; Romans 2:13, 16; Galatians 6:8; Hebrews 10:36 and James 2:24. These types of passages once troubled me profoundly because they

By |March 30th, 2007|Categories: Biblical Theology|

Marriage & Family: The Words We Use Still Matter

Everyone who is not comatose knows that a huge debate is unfolding in this country about the legal basis, and definition, of marriage. Is marriage between one man and one woman, or simply a relationship between two consenting adults (e.g., same-sex marriage), or perhaps more than two adults (polygamy is making a legal comeback, no joke)? The Washington State Supreme Court, in November 2005, ruled in favor of de facto parenthood. This concept is a growing popular option, for courts in about out ten states, to decide the visitation rights and legal relationships between children and adults who are not biologically related and not legally married. The particular case in Washington involved two lesbians who ended a relationship and then debated their respective rights to the child that one of the women had conceived through artificial insemination more than six years ago. Her partner assisted in the process and thus now claims parental rights to the child they were rearing together.

Judges can now award legal status to an adult who filled the “function” of a parent for “a sufficient length of

By |March 29th, 2007|Categories: Marriage & Family|

More on Global Christianity

I was particularly struck by Philip Jenkins’ concerns, in the address that I heard him give on Monday, by the rising opposition in the West to the Christianity of the global South. I have in mind the hate crimes issue in Canada that I mentioned yesterday. Recently Brazil has actually begun to go down the same road and Britain is already moving that way at rapid speed. The United States is not far behind. Congressman Barney Frank (D.-MA) has been working in this area of legislation for some time, which is no real surprise. Friends in New England assure me that at the local level there is already some serious movement to create such a legal atmosphere there as gay rights issues are moving more and more into the arena of "hate-crimes" ideology.

In Great Britain, African churches are being accused of sacrificing their children and they are called "witch churches" because of their aggressive spiritual warfare orientation. Laws against prophetic churches that practice exorcism are particular targets of this reaction, with the media painting an ugly picture of abuse. There can be

By |March 28th, 2007|Categories: Renewal|

Will It Stop at the Anglicans?: The Propsects for Global Christianity

I had the pleasure of hearing Professor Philip Jenkins, author of numerous award-winning books on the globalization of Christianity, speak yesterday at the board meeting of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. I have taught Jenkins’ books in several classes, heard him lecture in-person previously, and had several brief discussions with him about matters related to church renewal around the globe. He is a scholar, an accomplished historian and a good critic of the good and bad about the coming globalized impact of Christianity in our lifetime. No one I know has spent more time on these issues and thus has more to say that is important for real lovers of Christ’s kingdom.

Jenkins’ address yesterday began with several comments about the impact of global schism upon the whole Church. He reminded us that the first great global church schism came in 1054. He then quoted an African bishop, serving in Rochester, New York, who concluded that we now have "two different religions" within the visible Christian Church, especially in the West. The focus of Jenkins’ comments was upon

By |March 27th, 2007|Categories: Renewal|

The Strange Story of an Injustice

The ordeal of Eric Volz is presented in the following seven minute You Tube link:

My friend Shayne Wheeler, pastor of All Souls Fellowship in Atlanta, tells me that the story is true. One of the witnesses in Eric’s trial was a founding member of All Souls in Atlanta, a church where I will be speaking this summer. Shayne has asked me to help spread this story more widely through the blogosphere, thus I pass it along for readers to pray and act in whatever what they feel that they should. Pray for Eric and his family as you watch this tragic account.

By |March 23rd, 2007|Categories: Personal|

The Debate Global Warming Alarmists Do No Want

I have tried to read everything that I can find the time to digest on the subject of global warming. I saw Al Gore’s award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and even had some nice things to say about it. I have always been put off by the use of terms like "environmental whackos" and "earthist nut balls" from the political right. There is, in my humble opinion, little doubt that the earth is getting warmer. What is in great doubt is almost everything else. How warm will the earth become and how soon? Why is it really warming? What can we do about this problem now? How fast should we respond? And will radical responses, the kind that Al Gore argued for yesterday in the House hearing room on Capitol Hill, make a real difference? Bottom line: Will these alarmist responses help or harm the overall state of things on the earth? I am presently a skeptic when it comes to proving most of the claims being made by the alarmists. Something inside of me wants to agree with the climatologists who have deep

By |March 22nd, 2007|Categories: Politics|

Jesus Changes Everything

Bishop William Temple once said, "Christ was not a man, but Man, he was not a god, but God." Pilate, when he looked at Jesus to examine him, concluded "Here (Behold) is the man" (John 19:5). There is more in this confession than perhaps he knew. Pilate recognizes, in ways beyond the ordinary, that this was not just any man, but rather this was: "The Man." He was not a man among many other men, a prophet, a great teacher or a moral leader among others. Jesus was Christos, the messiah, "the man of God’s own choosing" as Luther put it. He was, and is, unique.

E. Stanley Jones, one of my favorite twentieth century writers, once wrote, "In him we see what man is and how far he has fallen, in him we see what God is and how far we may rise. He is the universal meeting us personalized. Since I am a person, the universal must meet me pesonalized." And Jones adds, "Jesus changes everything he touches. Call him a man, and you will have to change your ideas

By |March 21st, 2007|Categories: Lordship of Christ|

Loving and Listening Without Condescension

Learning to listen well is necessary in all healthy relationships. And learning to listen well is both a grace and an art. It is something that we should seek from God and it is something that we must develop much the way an artist develops a story or a picture.

Everyone who would learn to listen to others must work very hard against the way we are taught to cultivate the all too common attitude of condescension. Condescension makes us we feel better than others. It is a way of feeling superior and then of lowering ourselves to the place where we begin to think someone else is less important than us, at least in our estimation. This is why Paul says, "Knoweldge puffs up" (1 Corinthians 8:1). And this is why theology can become a knowledge that is used to destroy relationships.

The question we should ask, when we desire to really hear someone else, is this: "How can I listen well?" Can I keep my faculties of reason and good judgment and also highly regard others enough that

By |March 20th, 2007|Categories: Personal|

Delivered from Darkness

Last evening we held our first ACT 3 Forum of 2007. It was a great blessing for many who came. Comments and responses were almost all positive. We also attracted the largest crowd for such an event that we have ever had in Chicago. We hope to build on this beginning and see these types of forums grow in their impact upon Christians and churches. The next one will be held May 6, at 6 p.m., at Lutheran Church of the Master in Carol Stream. (Details are on our Web site at The speaker for that evening, retired physician and author Dr. Charles McGowen, will address the issue of stem cell research. The event is free and all are invited.

Ron Nollet’s story last evening was moving and inspirational. It revealed the bondage that a person lives in day-in and day-out under the authority of a cult like the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. If you know a little or a lot about Jehovah’s Witnesses you would find his presentation extremely helpful. He and his wife,

By |March 19th, 2007|Categories: Apologetics|

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