Why Theology? A Question for Disciples of Christ

A friend and I, both of whom are Disciples of Christ ministers (and now both of us having Ph.D.s), have had conversations over the past few years about the need for ways of encouraging Disciples to engage in serious conversations about theology. We've talked about the need for resources that can be used in congregations. That's one reason why I decided to put together me brief book on the Trinity (The Triune Nature of God), which is a topic that many Disciples steer clear of (often claiming support from Barton Stone, who famously denied being a Trinitarian, though he also denied being a Unitarian, Socinian, or an Arian, all of which he had been accused of).. I understand why Stone felt the way he did, but my hope is that my contribution will stimulate some conversation. 
From conversations over the years, and from watching social media more recently, I have discerned a reticence to have deep theological conversations. Maybe it's because we're non-creedal, which means …

Woe Is Me -- Elijah's Lament -- A Lectionary Reflection for Pentecost 2C (1 Kngs 19)

1 Kings 19:1-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get …

The Church of Us vs. Them (David E. Fitch) -- A Review

THE CHURCH OF US VS. THEM: Freedom from a Faith that Feeds on Making Enemies. By David E. Fitch. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019. Xi + 202.

We live at a moment in time where you’re either against us or for us. If you’re not for us, then my must be against us. There is no middle ground. The lines have been drawn and you pick sides, and if you’re on the wrong side of the line you must be evil. Such is true even in the church. We have become adept at creating banners around which we can rally against our enemies. We talk over each other but rarely speak with each other. So, congregations, denominations, even families are divided amongst themselves. I understand the importance of standing up for what is right and what is true. Sometimes, perhaps often, that will create division in the ranks. I also understand that moderation is often a path to the status quo, and not to the common good. But is everything up for grabs? Is there no room for conversation among those who disagree on important…

Wisdom Calls - A Sermon for Trinity Sunday (Proverbs 8)

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 

In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy joined his father, Henry Jones, Sr., on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Just like with Raiders of the Lost Ark, they’re in a race against forces aligned with Adolph Hitler. If you know the Indiana Jones movie series, you know it’s filled with many twists and turns, pitting good against evil, and of course, lots of booby traps to be avoided. According to the movie, legend had it that an ancient order of knights protected the cup, which was hidden in a cave. Henry Jones, Sr., had made the Grail his lifelong quest and had a notebook filled with research that would help lead them to the Grail. At one point or another, both sides get possession of the notebook, and in the end, those on both sides who survived the booby traps ended up in the room where the cup of Christ was hidden. This chamber was filled with many cups and chalices. Most of the cups were exquisite in their beauty and value. So, which of these cups …

The Triune Nature of God -- A Book Announcement

In two days churches will gather for worship on a day designated liturgically as Trinity Sunday. It's one of those Sundays that might seem anti-climactic after Pentecost. For traditions that struggle with the doctrine, it's one of those Sundays to do something else.

As for me, I am a Trinitarian by confession. I'm also a Disciple of Christ pastor, and so I serve a congregation and a denomination that is non-creedal and struggles with the doctrine of the Trinity. As you can see by the paragraphs that follow from the introduction to my new book on the Trinity, I recognize the challenge we face. This little book, which I'm inviting you to purchase and read, was born out of a larger project that I've been working on that is designed to further our theological conversations within congregations. Who are we? What do we believe? How does what we believe fit within the larger Christian community? This is as much an ecumenical question as it is a denominational one. So here…

Sustaining Hope in an Unjust World (Timothy Charles Murphy) -- A Review

SUSTAINING HOPE IN AN UNJUST WORLD: How to Keep Going When You Want to Give Up. By Timothy Charles Murphy. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2019113 pp.

Pursuing justice in the world can be a fulfilling experience, but it can also be frustrating. It always feels as if we move a couple of steps forward, and then we get pushed back three or more steps. So, why bother with pursuing justice if it doesn’t seem as if you’re getting anywhere. Taking a broad view, the “arc of the moral universe” might be long, but as Martin Luther King and others before him declared, it does “bend toward justice.” But in a world filled with injustice, where do we begin? What causes should we pick up? Is it immigration, climate change, racism, sexism, heterosexism, economic inequality? It is true that many of these issues intersect, but where do we start? Answering this question is not easy, and can be overwhelming. We may feel compelled to act, but then we become paralyzed by the immensity of the problems around us, a…

The Death of Politics -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

Politicians have, at least in my lifetime, been a bit suspect. The political system is fragile and at different times pundits will pronounce its doom. So, in this essay, Martin Marty takes note of two works, published fifty years apart that carry the title The Death of Politics.The two works are very different. One took an anarchist bent (the one from 1969), while the one written in 2019 seeks to offer a prescription that might bring healing to a fractured system. Marty takes note of the differences and the suggestions, noting the similarity between the new book by Peter Wehner, which Marty suggests shares some similarities in vision to Jon Meacham's recent The Soul of America. Take a read. Consider whether politics is dead or can be reclaimed. 
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