The Sunday Assembly – A Non-Theist Response to Religion

For well more than a century freethinkers, and religious skeptics, have gathered, talked and participated in various forms of social interaction without any expression of formal religion. In 1882 the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago was founded to provide a meeting and fellowship for just such a gathering. The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago describes itself as a democratic fellowship … Read More

What Does Christ’s Victory Mean for Understanding His Death?

The New Testament is filled with material concerning the victory of Christ over the powers of evil, a victory finally accomplished, and announced, through his death and resurrection. One of the seminal texts that comes to mind here is in Matthew’s Gospel. 22 Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that … Read More

How the Enlightenment Took the Church Away from Jesus & Him Crucified

The ancient church did not debate ideas about “appeasing the wrath of God through Christ’s death.” The Christ they worshiped, as we’ve seen, was the victor over the powers. They expressed this in their worship. This can also be discovered in their hymns, in baptism, in their preaching, at the eucharist, and in the recorded prayers of the earliest Christians. … Read More

Seminaries, Pastoral Training and the Future of the Church in North America

I visited the campus of Northern Seminary in nearby Lombard (IL) last week to meet with Greg Henson, the chief of institutional advancement for the school. Greg and I were connected by three mutual friends within the short span of three weeks. We felt it important to talk face-to-face since so many friends had suggested that we meet. Greg is … Read More

Non-Voluntarist Protestantism and the Dangers of Secular Modernity

There are two types of churches which constitute the visible expression of  Christianity in the modern age. For the sake of simplicity let me call these two expressions of the church the non-voluntary and the voluntary models. If these seem initially confusing they should be clearer as soon as you read what follows. Non-Voluntary Churches The decline of non-voluntarist Western … Read More

Living as Aliens in Post-Christendom Culture (5)

Christian sociologist James Davison Hunter has written one of the most important studies of what it means to be faithfully present in the modern, increasingly post-Christendom world that I have been describing over the last two weeks. His magisterial book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford, 2010, has helped … Read More

Living as Aliens in a Post-Christendom Culture (1)

I suggested in my series last week, “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” that Christians were called by God in Christ to live as “a colony of heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Because of this calling we are to live as God’s new creation, thus as “aliens and exiles.” This is clearly the same point made by the apostle Peter when he … Read More

The Babylonian Captivity of the American Church (4)

A Colony of Heaven James Moffatt’s translation of the New Testament translates politeuma, in Philippians 3:20, as: “We are a colony of heaven.” The Jews in the Dispersion, and living in Babylon, understood this very well. They knew what it meant to live as “strangers” in a strange land. They understood that they were aliens trying to live on someone … Read More

The Babylonian Captivity of the American Church (1)

If the Bugle Gives an Indistinct Sound, How Will We Be Awakened? Over the last month or so I have done a series of twelve blogs on the “The Spiritual State of the Nation.” I wrote these after reading the results of several exit polls following the November election. I sought not so much to explain the political landscape as … Read More

My Theology is Getting More Complex – My Faith Is Growing More Simple

On Thursday evening I engaged with a long thread of discussion on my Facebook page about a post made by a popular author by the name of Jim Palmer. Jim lives in Nashville and is a former evangelical pastor who left the pastoral ministry several years ago. He writes some helpful and genuinely provocative stuff. I have not read his … Read More