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Category: The Church

Unequally Created Compassion

The combination of today’s (Nov. 23, 2015) lectionary text on the Widow’s Mite and the pile of sanctimonious, hypocritical rant lately emitted on behalf of the Syrian refugees has prompted me to the following disconnected observations: 1. Many surveys over the last fifty years have shown that the most benevolent sector of the American population by far are evangelical Protestants. And, of those, the most likely to give 10% or more of their income are not those of $200,000 plus incomes but rather middle and lower income families. Conservatives typically give their own money. Liberal, rich hypocrites give other people’s money and then try to take credit for that. The widow who gave her own mite was most likely an…

Preaching or Pandering?

Luther’s famous “Here I Stand” speech that launched Protestantism, responded to the Emperor’s demand that Luther recant his writings. Luther refused saying, some of his books attacked “… popery and assail[ed] men who have afflicted the Christian world and the bodies and souls of other men. If I were to recant those, I should be a cloak that covers evil.” Not nice. How ironic, 500 years later that a cheapened version of Luther’s “grace alone” should now become the “cloak that covers evil” and Roman Catholics the chief resistance. Luther professed his “conscience bound by the text of the Bible”. His heirs, like spoiled trust fund children, recant that heritage to license their own self-indulgence. Grace without repentance hardens the…

Work Another Network

“Don’t be afraid… Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes…” (2 Kings 16-17) Ahab and Jezebel voted Elisha least likely to succeed as prophet. No wonder — he neglected the basics; he neither believed in himself, nor did he ingratiate the powerful. He annoyed pagan dignitary Naaman, by keeping quietly at home, speaking only through his servant Gehazi.  Distrusting princes, (Psalm 146:3) Elisha worked another network. The old University of Chicago Divinity School library, in its last year of use when I arrived there as a student in 1980, included human-sized angels (I wanted to say life-sized, but who knows what that is?) carved in the rafters, so that…

Our Progress Under the Sun

“In short, everywhere there is nothing but misfortune: outside they persecute the word; among us they despise and neglect it; pastors almost die of hunger and receive no other reward for their godly labors than ingratitude and hatred. Where is the prosperity here? Certainly only in the spirit. Therefore rouse yourself. Do not give in to evils, but go forth more boldly against them. Hold on. Do not be disheartened either by contempt or ingratitude within or by agitation and raging without. But think as follows: ‘When I am weak, I am strongest (2 Corinthians 12:10); when I am suppressed, I rise up, as a palm rises under its burden.’ … when we are closest to despair, that hope rises the highest.…

Who Has Believed Our Report?

  “Who Has Believed Our Report?” (Isaiah 51:3) On the list of things that might discourage us, we can scratch these off: 1. That no one believes. The implied answer to Isaiah’s question is “no one.” When the Messiah appeared, no one got him right – including his own disciples and family. The only reason anyone believed is the Father drew their heart. (John 6:44) Small numbers are not to scandalize us. 2. That our circumstances are unpromising. God’s promises have always gone forward amidst unpromising circumstances — from Abraham, to Jesus, to Paul, to today. We are the early Church to someone. Stop complaining about the decline of the West and take up some useful work. Darkness is a great time…