Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Life and Witness of Brother Roger: An Icon of Love and Unity

1552dr09_w-655f3Yesterday I wrote about Brother Roger of Taizé in my post. I confess that Brother Roger was one of my genuine spiritual role models in helping form my view of life, love and ecumenism. 

There were a number of things about him I found attractive. For example, he believed that the spiritual leader should always keep a low profile. He rarely gave interviews and refused to permit any personality "cult" to grow up around himself. (How refreshing is that?) Prior to his death in 2005, he was due to give up his community functions because of his advanced age and ill-health. He had begun to suffer from incredible fatigue and often used a wheelchair.

Brother Roger was awarded a number of honors and wrote many books on prayer and reflection, always asking young people to be confident in God and committed to their local church community and to humanity. He also wrote books about Christian

Chicago Taizé: An Event You Should Know About

0505sl01cr_w-2-9c1b6The Taizé Community was begun after World War II by a young Reformed minister by the name of Frère Roger, or Brother Roger as we know his name in English. Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche (1915-2005) was the ninth and youngest child of Karl Ulrich Schütz, a Reformed pastor from Bachs in the Swiss Lowlands. His mother was Amélie Henriette, a French Protestant from Burgundy (France). 

From 1937 to 1940, Roger studied Reformed theology in Strasbourg and Lausanne. He was a leader in the Swiss Student Christian Movement, part of the World Student Christian Federation.

In 1940, Roger rode a bicycle from Geneva to Taizé, a very small town about 240 miles southeast of Paris. Taizé was just beyond the line of demarcation to the zone occupied by German troops. For two years Brother Roger hid Jewish refugees before being forced to leave Taizé. In 1944, he returned to Taizé to found a Christian monastic community which

The Problem with Nondiscrimination Laws and the Rights of Homosexuals

I hate discrimination. I believe that when it comes to barring people from public places civil rights laws are quite necessary. I also believe that discrimination against homosexuals, because of their sexual orientation or private practice, is wrong. We presently face a number of legal struggles about discrimination that will impact all of us in one way or another. Let me explain what I mean with an intriguing development out of Great Britain. 

Fifteen years ago Peter and Hazelmary Bull made headlines when some reporters saw their "stodgy guest policy" (Wall Street Journal, 3/16/12) in these words: "No double rooms for unmarried couples." Since 1986 the Bulls had been turning away unwed couples at their Cornish B & B. No one bothered much until very recently. They just considered the Bulls out of touch. But things have changed now and this change is happening all across the West. 

ImagesA British appeals court recently upheld a

A New Understanding of Mission and Evangelism

Since 1982 there has been only one official statement of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on mission and evangelism. Evangelicals have written their own statements and produced their own efforts at unity in mission. Now, in 2012, the WCC's Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) is preparing another statement to invoke a new understanding of mission and evangelism amidst our changing world and divided ecclesial contexts. This new statement comes at a unique time in Christian history. For nearly sixty years evangelicals and historic churches have been enmeshed in deep opposition to one another, especially when it came to defining and understanding Christian mission in the world. In the past five years there has been a growing thaw in this impasse. I welcome it for the good of all Christ's people. 

The statement, titled “Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes”, will be presented at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea, in 2013 once it is approved by the WCC Central Committee. This potentially landmark document draws on insights gleaned from Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox

A Conversation on Unity in Christ's Mission

As most readers of this blog know tonight is the long anticipated public ACT 3 conversation with Francis Cardinal George and myself. The time is 7 p.m. (CDT) and the place is Edman Chapel at Wheaton College. If you live in the Chicago area I hope you will come. If you cannot come, or live outside this region, you can watch the event live on video stream on your computer. If you go to you will find an icon that takes you into the event when it begins at 7 p.m. If you go to the Wheaton College site at (WETN radio) you will find a link that takes you to the broadcast as well. If all goes as planned sometime next week we will have the event on our web site for you to view if you miss it in real time. 

To say the least preparing for this event has been a huge ordeal. The ACT 3 staff consists of me and my daughter at the moment. Between us, with the help of

A Reminder About Monday's Evening's Conversation on Unity

Conversation wCardinal Poster WEB

The Tragedy of Syria: Christians in the Crossfire

Map_of_syriaIf you watch or follow American news, from the left or the right, you hear continual calls for our government, working with the United Nations, to engage militarily with the Syrian government in support of the rebels in that nation. I submit that the simple view held by the vast majority of Syria's Christians is very different from what we hear day-to-day. Their message is: "Please stay out!" Why? After all, some Christians have died in the present cycle of extreme violence. And this uprising is now nearly a year old. The images we generally see are of government oppression and open attacks on rebels that defy imagination. 

As with Iraq so it now is with Syria. If the secular government is removed the end result will likely be much worse for minorities, especially for Christian minorities. Syria's religions are as follows: 74% Sunni Muslims, 13% other Muslims, 10% Christian and 3% Druze. President Bashar Assad, an autocratic leader for

One of My Favorite Modern Authors

I have many favorite authors. Some are theologians. Some are pastors. Some are missiologists. Some are novelists. Not all are Christians. The ones I appreciate the most make me think the best. 

ImagesOne of my favorite writers is a United Methodist Bishop by the name of Will Willimon. I am not sure when I first began to read Willimon but it has to have been at least 35 years ago. I like Willimon because he is a contrarian and a provocateur. He's been a pastor, a university chaplain (Duke University) and now is a Methodist Bishop (Alabama). If you ask Willimon what he is he will tell you that he's a preacher first. He says that he is called to be a truth-teller of Jesus Christ. A Pulpit and Pew Research Center study discovered that he was one of the most widely-read authors among mainline Protestant pastors. Willimon feels most at home behind a pulpit. If you've heard

The American Church and the Problem of Passing Fads

For some years I have enjoyed a precious friendship with a dear brother by the name of John Paul Todd. John has served the church in many capacities and now lives in Kentucky after some years on the mission field in Latin America. He blogs about unity and Christ's kingdom at a great site. I encourage you to check it out and create a tab. Now and then John and I have shared rich private fellowship. I mention John Paul in my book, Your Church Is Too Small, because he helped me frame several of my ideas for that work. He has been a great personal encouragement. Occasionally we share email correspondence. He recently wrote me a personal email that I wanted to share. With his permission I share it here.



I just returned from a road trip with my daughter & husband to the Southwest — nine states in all. It was great to see some of the major national parks that I hadn't seen before such as the Petrified Forest &

How Christology Helps Us Find Unity in Christ's Mission

DietrichbonhoefferOne of the chapters in my book, Your Church Is Too Small, is taken from the title of a book by the German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Christ the Center. Here I argue that the Christian faith is first about Christ? "Who do you say that I am?" asked Jesus. Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Before we argue about the doctrine of the church, the nature and seat of authority or even about the nature of faith and grace in our salvation why not begin with this question. It is clearly the most basic and core question of them all. If a person says (with the faith that only God knows and really sees) "Jesus is Lord" and confesses openly that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, then Scripture is very plain about this matter. Such a person is to be numbered among his followers and


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