Colossians: Introduction

This summer, I’ll be teaching an adult Bible class on Colossians and Ephesians. I’ve decided to start with Colossians, because I’m very familiar with Ephesians and not so familiar with Colossians.

In fact, it’s a letter that’s not studied that often in the Churches of Christ. It’s a little too short for a quarter, and much of its content is treated more extensively in Ephesians. And so I’ll start in Colossians. Continue reading

To Change the World: A Reader’s Comment

I get emails —

I assume when you say “show me a Christian college that …”, you’re referring to CofC Christian colleges. There is no more cutting edge university in music than Belmont; Wheaton is pretty darn good in liberal arts and philosophy; Furman does cutting edge biology research; and even Pepperdine (CofC) has quite a movie making background. And Baylor is pretty good in all of the above, plus it has very fine grad programs. And don’t forget other pretty good schools, like St. Olaf, Calvin and Trinity.

But if you’re talking about CofC Christian colleges, I wholeheartedly agree – that with minor exceptions (e.g., Pepperdine and movies), “[w]e’re all about trade schools and not about the study of God’s creation.”

I think a bigger issue I’ve never heard you touch on in all the culture war stuff has to do with evangelical Christianity’s small Jesus. So small that we have to put him in a cage to “protect” him from the secularists. Isn’t this mostly what the so-called culture war is about? Continue reading

To Change the World: Essay 2, Summary, Part 2

[This series of posts won’t be a traditional book review. Rather, I’ll summarize parts of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter, and then I’ll add my own thoughts. I may criticize the book here and there, but I don’t have much to criticize.]

In response to the Christian Left and Right, there has arisen a neo-Anabaptist movement, led by such theologians as Stanley Hauerwas and John Howard Yoder.

It provides a credible, even compelling, script for those who find the account offered by Christian conservatives distasteful if not dangerous and the narratives offered by Christian progressives unconvincing and irrelevant. …

[The Christian Left] is committed to a strong State and is willing to press it to realize its agenda in law and policy, while [the neo-Anabaptist movement] keeps its distance from the State, maintaining a basic distrust toward its structure, action, and use of power. Continue reading

To Change the World: Essay 2, Summary, Part 1

[This series of posts won’t be a traditional book review. Rather, I’ll summarize parts of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter, and then I’ll add my own thoughts. I may criticize the book here and there, but I don’t have much to criticize.]

Essay 2 is “Rethinking Power.” Here Hunter criticizes the methods of the modern American church to change contemporary culture on scriptural grounds.

Yet as Christians seek to fulfill the creation mandate, perhaps the central factor determining the effectiveness and the outcome of their engagement with the world is the dynamic of power. When faith and its culture flourish, they do so, in part, because it operates with an implicit view of power in its proper place. When faith and its cultures deteriorate, they do so, in part, because it operates with a view of power that is corrupt.

Continue reading

The Fork in the Road: Parsing Words

I get emails —

Hi Jay,

I’m a devoted follower of your blog and I’m always thankful for everything you’ve written. I often pray that God continues to bless you with strength and wisdom to keep on doing what you’re doing.

I’m writing this email because I’m desperately hoping for your insight on a fellowship issue that persists in my conversations with other members in my congregation. I’ve noticed this insidious issue for some time now and it has pushed me to the limits of my wisdom on how to deal with it. I’ll try to give you the context of the problem and then explain the problem to you below. I’m praying that you’ll be able to see a way through this that I’m just not able to see. So here’s the situation: … Continue reading

To Change the World: Readers’ Questions

I’ve been talking to some people involved with marketing this book about arranging for an interview with James Hunter to post here. I think it will happen.

Rather than the usual “why did you write this book?” marketing fluff, I thought I’d open the floor to the readers. What questions do you have of the author?

Now, I’m not nearly finished with the series. I’ve got two more of his essays to cover, plus adding my two-cents worth. Therefore, I’m keeping this post at the top of the screen for a few days to remind you to post your questions as they come to you.

MDR: A Very Interesting Question

I’ve been corresponding with reader Dan Knight regarding Dan’s intriguing theory for how to read the “divorce” passages in the Gospels. I’ve read extensively on the subject, and I’ve never run into his theory before — and it just might be right. I’m writing to ask the readers whether any one can offer any additional evidence in support of it.

Let me explain. The word translated “put away” in the KJV and “divorce” in some more modern translations is apoluo. Suppose that it doesn’t mean divorce but means to send away or put away — that is, to put out of the house without a certificate of divorce? Now imagine that it was in fact a common practice for Jewish men to put away their wives without a certificate of divorce in order to, for example, avoid having to repay the wife’s dowery? Continue reading