Niebuhr or Wink? “The Paradox of Progressive Political Theology,” Yes—But “The Powers Can Be Redeemed”

Richard Beck has written a series of blog posts that have been churning in my thoughts for many days. The essential thrust of his posts is that progressive Christian political theology thinks it is Anabaptist when in actual fact it is Niebuhrian—or perhaps should be. Here’s how he states the paradox: Rhetorically, the political theology …

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You Know, “Love One Another” Really Is Enough

The 4th-century theologian Jerome tells a story about the Apostle John. John was old and frail, unable to walk, so his disciples would carry him into the gathering of believers on the Lord’s Day. Every week these were his words to the congregation: “Little children, love one another.” This went on week after week, until …

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Michael Pahl’s Handy-Dandy Handbook of Christian Words and Phrases

Have you ever had two people understand something you’ve said in two very different ways? It happens to all of us sometime. I’ve had it happen to me when I preach, more than once. This happens even when I use common Christian words or phrases derived from the Bible—maybe especially when I do so. It can …

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“Jesus Died for Our Sins”: Sketching Out Atonement

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus’ death lately. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the journey we’ve just been on through Lent, following Jesus to the cross. As I’ve thought about Jesus’ death, both recently and over the years, I keep coming back to the “gospel tradition” the Apostle …

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Do Christians Really Need to Believe in Jesus’ Resurrection?

It’s a question I’ve heard many times over the years: “Do Christians really need to believe in Jesus’ resurrection?” It is, after all, a pretty difficult idea to accept. And this is not just a modern difficulty—it’s been obvious to humans for a very long time that dead people stay dead. It can also seem …

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“How do we know?” and “Whom do we trust?” Some Thoughts on Experts and Expertise

I lead an occasional, informal discussion group at our church called “CoffeeTalk.” Each time we gather I remind us that CoffeeTalk is not about the coffee but about the conversation, a conversation rooted in loving others the way we want to be loved, which means doing our best to listen to each other and to …

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