Christians and Wealth: An Argument for Downward Mobility

Christians and Wealth: An Argument for Downward Mobility

Church and Theology, The Christian Life
Great news! If you only have a minute to read about wealth, here's my argument in a nutshell: Outline of My Argument Main Claim: American Christians should reduce their standards of living to what is necessary for human flourishing and give their excess resources beyond this standard to the poor and oppressed. God is the firmest advocate for human flourishing. The pursuit of wealth is spiritually dangerous and crippling. Our culture’s inclinations toward upward financial mobility go against the message of the New Testament and the life of Christ. God is revealed in Scripture to have a special concern for the poor and the oppressed. Christians will be held accountable for how they treat the poor and the oppressed. Objections: This line of reasoning is advocating asceticism and is unbiblical.…
Read More

Give Thanks!

The Christian Life
I'm not the most thankful person. However, I am a follower of Jesus, and one of the lessons I've been learning this semester is that praise, thanksgiving, and gratitude are closely intertwined. Worship should involve the public proclamation of who God is and what He has done -- including specific, personal declarations of thanksgiving for God's grace and good gifts. If, like me, you have a hard time cultivating this worshipful practice of gratitude, then allow me to suggest the following prayers from the Book of Common Prayer to help get us started. The first one is the simplest: a prayer for Grace at Meals. Perhaps this is an easily-overlooked truth, but we can ask God for grateful hearts! That is, instead of merely asking him for things...for which we…
Read More

My 2014 Regional ETS Paper: Reconciliation and the Lack Thereof

Church and Theology, The Christian Life
If you're interested, here's the latest version of the Regional ETS paper I will present today at 5:00pm at Beeson Divinity School, room S009. If you're able to attend the presentation, that's great! If not, feel free to give my paper a read and get back to me with any questions, comments, or suggestions. Atonement theology and the unity of the Church are two things about which I am very passionate, and intend to devote further study to these areas in the future. Thanks ~Josh
Read More

My Regional ETS Presentation: Reconciliation and the Lack Thereof

Church and Theology, The Christian Life
If you're in the Birmingham area from March 21-22, 2014, and you're interested in evangelical theology, please consider attending the Evangelical Theological Society's Southeastern Regional Meeting at Beeson Divinity School! This year's theme is "the theological interpretation of Scripture," and the plenary speaker is Wheaton's Daniel J. Treier (incidentally, Dr. Treier and I are both alumni of Cedarville...go figure). Furthermore, if you're free from 5:00-5:30pm on Friday, March 21, consider swinging by room S009 to hear me present "Reconciliation and the Lack Thereof: Atonement, Ecclesiology, and the Unity of God." The atonement and the unity of the Church are topics that I'm passionate about, and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to give my first ever conference paper. Here's the abstract: This essay endeavors to demonstrate the theological and exegetical legitimacy of viewing…
Read More
The Epistle to Philemon: Analysis and Application

The Epistle to Philemon: Analysis and Application

Bible and Scripture, The Christian Life
  As the briefest member of the Pauline corpus, the epistle to Philemon is a letter of recommendation for the sake of reconciliation in which the apostle Paul brings the gospel truth of mutual participation in the body of Christ to bear on an estranged relationship – making a delicate request of his friend Philemon to receive back a certain Onesimus into full fellowship as a brother in Christ.[1] Comprehension of the passage’s contemporaneous Greco-Roman epistolary landscape facilitates a knowledgeable analysis of its constituent parts.[2] Subsequently, the interpretive insights yielded by this examination facilitate an application of the letter to the contemporary Christian church. Greco-Roman Letters Originally referring to “an oral communication sent by messenger,” the Hellenistic ἐπιστολή eventually encompassed a wide variety of documents – from commercial to legal,…
Read More

Black Friday Book Recommendation: The Economy of Desire

The Christian Life
Black Friday proves that the progress of (post)modernity has failed to eradicate the ills of idolatry. Lest we denizens of the "highly-developed" world think that we have left the primitive vestiges of wood, rock, and gold idolatry behind, our shopping patterns (and indeed our shopping identities as consumers) should remind us of our consumerism's dark side -- a lethal one. As I've put in "Reconciliation and the Lack Thereof": "Although physical idols may not be as universally common today as they once were, invisible idols are as prevalent as ever, especially within the context of Western materialism, where money, possessions, influence, and power are the modern-day Baal."If you DO happen to find yourself shopping on Black Friday, or really at any point during the upcoming shopping/holiday (an increasingly blurred line) season --…
Read More

Silence and Violence

Church and Theology, The Christian Life
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300"] Silent Cross by Margot Krebs Neale[/caption]   "Violence is not human destiny because the God of peace is the beginning and the end of human history... "Granted, pushing the stone of peace up the steep hill of violence ... is hard. It is easier, however, than carrying one's own cross in the footsteps of the crucified Messiah. This is what Jesus Christ asks Christians to do. Assured of God's justice and undergirded by God's presence, they are to break the cycle of violence by refusing to be caught in the automatism of revenge." (Volf, E&E, 306) "Silence," a sonnet for Remembrance Day written by Malcolm Guite: November pierces with its bleak remembrance Of all the bitterness and waste of war. Our silence tries but fails to make…
Read More

Down With the Pacifists!

Church and Theology, The Christian Life
The past week has been a great one for slipshod attacks on pacifism. First, from First Things (Stephen H. Webb) on October 15 ---- "John Howard Yoder and the Violent Power of Pacifism" (emphasis added below): "Nevertheless, pacifists, at least the ones I know, can be very enthusiastic about the rightness of their cause. Since there is no rational justification for pacifism, defenders typically turn their rhetoric against their critics by casting them as stooges of the status quo. Since pacifists are against all forms of violence, anyone who disagrees with them must be in favor of violence. What this ploy misses is obvious. In a fallen world, not only is violence pervasive but it is also a toxin that, when legitimately used, can cure as well as kill. [...] "So…
Read More
Scripture: What The Bible Is And Why It Matters

Scripture: What The Bible Is And Why It Matters

Bible and Scripture, The Christian Life
INTRODUCTION: THE NATURE OF SCRIPTURE As the illocutionary act which testifies to the Son of God1 as the ultimate redemptive and revelatory locution of the the triune God, Scripture is used by the Spirit of God to accomplish the perlocutionary end of redemption of, in, and through the people of God.2 [Ahem, in order to understand my first paragraph, you must first be familiar with the basics of Speech Act Theory. If you've never heard of it before, click that link, and then come back here. It will be worth it, I promise!] The written Word of God is, therefore, the authority for followers of the living Word of God precisely because of its providential role in the divine speech-act, of which it is a necessary – yet not a…
Read More

King Jesus' Kingdom Gospel

Bible and Scripture, Church and Theology, The Christian Life
I highly encourage the following: 1. Read Scot McKnight's The King Jesus Gospel.2. Check out Tim Gombis' insightful series of posts on The Gospel of the Kingdom, pt. 1, 2, and 3.Gombis hits the nail on the head here:Over the last several months, I’ve had several conversations about how the Gospels’ language about “the gospel” should shape how Christians conceive of the gospel.  Whereas the New Testament mainly envisions a broader announcement of a larger reality, many evangelicals associate “the gospel” with a brief presentation, or information about the mechanics of an individual transaction that can secure divine forgiveness and the establishment of a personal relationship with God.The Gospel is more than a checklist, more than a five-minute "yes-or-no" conversation in which you can make a new Christian... its a narrative…
Read More