Biblical Theology

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When Christians Defend Jesus Why Do They Lop Off Ears?

My good friend Tom Tollet is an elder in a Baptist church in Memphis (TN). He is a faithful Bible teacher who became one of the best friends my late mom and dad had in their final years in Tennessee. He served for many years with FedEx and now operates his own family business. The following reflection was sent to me some time ago and I now use it with permission.

As I prepare to teach from Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God” I meditate on how the Lord was a friend of sinners while preaching an uncompromising Sermon on the Mount. How do I do that today? I suspect it won’t exactly look like August 1st.

I understand the call to defend marriage and oppose the power plays of certain city mayors, but doesn’t it seem like we simply respond in kind to the opposition ….power for power, rhetoric for rhetoric, manipulation for manipulation? In other words: did August 1st have the aroma of Christ? I’m sure Mike Huckabee would say: don’t be a disciple of mine but of Christ. But do we recognize the difference that makes in attitude

The Bible and Science Debate: How Shall We Interpret Genesis?

If I were to pick three highly skilled biblical scholars/exegetes, who also profoundly understand science (two of them – McGrath and Polkinghorne – have a PhD degree in hard science), to speak clearly about the way to properly read the Book of Genesis then I would pick these three theologians. I have met two of them and have read all three for decades now. Perhaps no debate has more unnecessarily divided the church than the raging debate over science and Bible. In particular, it comes down to this: “How do we understand Genesis?” My own thinking has changed about this question, in fact several times over the course of my lifetime. I would now line up well with what these three orthodox and confessional Christian ministers/teachers say in this outstanding video.

In some ways this is one of the most helpful and important videos that I have ever shared on my blog. I hope you will take the twelve minutes needed to watch it carefully. This video should not only disabuse you of the many numerous bad ideas about reading Genesis but it will also help you

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

22271147Several weeks ago I preached at the Saturday Vespers service at the Lutheran Church of the Master (LCM) in Carol Stream. The lectionary text was Matthew 25:1-14. This text is the parable of the wedding banquet. This text is also often misunderstood by Bible readers. This particular sermon is quite short. It may help some of you grasp the essential elements of what this account is really about in light of the kingdom of God and the gospel of good news.

I will be leading and preaching at LCM this weekend at the Saturday Vespers at 5 p.m. (November 29). I will also lead and preach at the two Sunday services (November 30) at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Friends in the area are welcome to attend. Lutheran Church of the Master is located at 580 Kuhn Road, Carol Stream, Illinois, 60188. You are welcome to take part in one of these services of worship this weekend. I’d love to see old friends and meet new friends as well.

You can listen to the sermon on Matthew 22 below:

Truth Is First a Person: Learning the Missional-Ecumenical Paradigm

Fr. BaimaDuring our recent Lausanne Catholic-Evangelical Conversation at Mundelein Seminary we had a presentation designed for the public that took place on the opening night. I intend to post this entire event in video format as soon as possible. I think we should have this video by the end of November, or sooner. It will be a well-made film and include questions and answers. (If you missed the same event in 2013 the video of that dialogue is also on our website.)

One of the respondents in this particular dialogue was my co-chair, and very good friend, Fr. Thomas A Baima. Baima is the Dean of the Graduate School of Theology. A professor in the Department of Systematic Theology, Father Baima is Vicar for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is nationally recognized as an specialist in these fields. Fr. Baima is one of the best missional thinkers that I know personally. In his response to the evening presentations he made several noteworthy statements, several of which I now share with you.

As Christians, we are standing

The Palestinian-Israel Debate Among Evangelicals and Why It Matters (Part Two)

10509610_10152989938635760_6272610025872651556_n-1My point yesterday about the assumptions of many Christian writers who defend Zionism, and attack younger evangelicals for their liberal views on this issue, is made quite well by Luke W. Moon’s final sentence in his article I cited: “American evangelicals should think very hard about whether they want to give up the opportunity to be a blessing to the nation that blessed us with Jesus Christ.” Wow! If we do not support the modern secular state of Israel then we are missing out on the opportunity to bless the Jews!!!

My response to this sentence is really quite simple: “Are you kidding me?”

I write as one who freely dialogues with rabbis, has some great relationships with Jews and really does believe that the modern state of Israel should exist politically. I also support the broad-based support for Israel against terrorism and extremism. I also write as one who believes that the history of Christianity reveals a tragic response to the Jews that has been anything but consistent with regards to the teaching of Christ, who was himself a

The Palestinian-Israel Debate Among Evangelicals and Why It Matters (Part One)

A growing divide between evangelical Christians, regarding the state of Israel and the Palestinian problem, has arisen in recent years. This debate, and the subsequent divide that grows out of it, is prompted by very passionate voices on both sides. Many conservative churches and leaders support Israel without equivocation. As I understand what has happened this support often comes without serious questions about whether or not injustice has taken place on the part of Israel. Others, often with a more progressive political agenda, support the Palestinian cause, sometimes in ways that reject the whole notion of Israel’s existence and future.

1237880_497673997002383_9782664491885697_nAn example of this growing divide recently came to my attention via a Christian political publication called Faith & Freedom (Fall 2014). Author Luke W. Moon, the co-director of the Philos Project on Christian engagement with Israel, contributed an article to this issue titled: “The Latest Threat to Evangelical Support for Israel.” By the title you can readily see the author’s intent. He argues, and it seems rightly, that only a small percentage of evangelical leaders actually challenge “support

Christian Unity Week @ Judson University, Part Three

IMG_4199We ended Christian Unity Week at Judson University on Friday, October 10. The final message was given by one of my dearest friends on earth – Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth. Fr. Ellsworth, pastor of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois, has been my friend since the 1980s. He came to Wheaton, from a pastorate in Kent, Ohio, to serve as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church. We have shared many times of ministry, and growing friendship, over the last twenty-five plus years.

Fr. Ellsworth and I have built a relationship over meals, prayer, conversations about theology and church, as well as special family events. We have celebrated birthdays, weddings and times of grief. We have given unique gifts to one another that we both value deeply. The intimacy of our friendship is something I treasure very, very profoundly. When Fr. Ellsworth began his private journey toward the Orthodox Church some years ago I knew of his direction long before it was made public. We entered into much healthy and engaging dialogue. Both of us learned a great

Love Alone Is Eternal (Part Eleven)

UnknownOne of the greatest contemporary spiritual writers I have happily encountered in the last few years is Carlo Carretto (1910-1988). Carretto was a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus, the order inspired by the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld. Through his best-selling Letters from the Desert, and more than a dozen other books, Carlo Carretto gave to Christians a joy-filled spirituality centered deeply in God’s love. Carretto showed us that it was possible to live a contemplative life in the midst of a very busy, modern world.

One of Carlo Carretto’s most moving reflections, which includes translations of his original Italian, reflects the sense of where I hope you will go with me as we discover that our love is too small.

Like God

If we are not capable during our lifetime of falling in love with God, we are lost.

Without love we are incomplete, immature, bored, missing paradise.

We would be doubtful and formulate the following equation: love of God equals peace, joy, bliss, fecundity, exultation, paradise; lack of love equals

Love Alone Is Eternal (Part Ten)

Most of us realize that life is more than our limited experience of day-to-day activity. We believe there is a God we believe that it is he who sustains the world. We further believe that it is God who made us. But moments of wonder and transcendence do not mean that we know God really loves us. Explaining the world, and especially our own lives, without a personal, sustaining and loving God seems impossible. The alternative is an accident, or worse yet, pure fate!

When John says “God is love” we are prone to think, “That’s really nice.” Then a dozen popular and cheerful songs flood our minds about love, sweet love, what the world needs a little more of we say. We conceive of someone who cheers us up by being sunny and happy. But the biblical writers didn’t sing these kinds of songs or conceive of this kind of sunny personality. They surely didn’t have these ideas in mind when they spoke of God being love. Love, for the biblical writers, is the will to do good for another person, even at great cost to

Moses: A Man Powerful in Word & Deed

In concluding a sermon series on the faith of our ancient fathers the Lutheran Church of the Master in Carol Stream (IL) completed a summer series with the story of Moses on August 24. I preached the last sermon in this series on Moses which included the story of the exodus of the children of Abraham from Egypt and the subsequent formation of the nation through the giving of the covenant and law at Sinai. It is hard to get much of this great story into thirty minutes but I did my best. The text for this sermon is Exodus 1:8–2:10.

By |September 15th, 2014|Categories: ACT 3, Biblical Theology|
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