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Theology

For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

My all-time favorite YouTube comment has to be this one, left underneath a clip of the penultimate scene from 1982’s film, Blade Runner. Taking place immediately after an epic battle between Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, we are witness to a self-delivered eulogy:

boxerking1000
Best…Death…EVER!!! I sometimes sit down in the shower naked and quote this line as the water falls down my face…I’m not allowed at 24 hour fitness anymore…sigh.

Legos make everything better, don’t they?

Comedian Jimmy Pardo is fond of saying, “You know me, I’m an open book — but, I have secrets.” I’ve kept something from you, dear readers;…

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When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

Of all the questions I get in the ministry, “Why aren’t there miracles anymore?” is one that has dumbfounded me for a long time. We read the Gospels and see Jesus enacting one miracle after another. A banquet of food is made from a lunch pail. Healings come one after another. People are raised from the dead. To be honest, I have not really had an adequate answer for the why-don’t-we-get-miracles-anymore question.

Not until Fred Rogers entered the zeitgeist (again).

I have been struck by revisiting his old shows and remembering how remarkable he felt to me as a child. He explained…

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The Trauma of our Empty Hands

The Trauma of our Empty Hands

During Lent, we ponder our sins. We begin with a reminder of being but dust. We sing in minor keys, which stirs in us lament and grief. We remember our desperate need to repent. We look to what Christ endured and grieve the passion of our Lord. And it is meet and right so to do.

But, as we come careening toward Maundy Thursday every year, it is not only the unjust suffering of Jesus or even lament over our sin that throws us to the ground. There is something else — something just beyond. This week, I have actually taken…

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The Most Compelling Argument for the Truth of Christianity

According to Fleming Rutledge, that is. From her stellar collection of reflections on Christ’s Passion, The Undoing of Death, pgs 142-144:

“Religious figures are not usually associated with disgrace and rejection. We want our objects of worship to be radiant, dazzling avatars offering the potential of transcendent happiness. The most compelling argument for the truth of Christianity is the Cross at its center. Humankind’s religious imagination could never have produced such an image. Wishful thinking never projected a despised and rejected Messiah. There is a contradiction at the very heart of our faith that demands our attention. We need to put a sign on it, though, like the signs on trucks carrying chemicals: Hazardous material, highly inflammatory cargo. Handle at your own risk.”

It Is Good: Waiting on Our New Creation — A Conference Breakout Preview

In preparation for our annual conference in NYC, we’ll be taking the next few weeks to share previews of our upcoming breakout sessions, which cover a variety of topics both personal and spiritual. Here’s the first, from Laurel Marr, staff member with our gracious hosts at Calvary St. George’s.

This breakout will look at where the 12-steps of recovery intersect with Martin Luther’s theology of the cross. We will be connecting The Rev. John Zahl’s book Grace in Addiction and Dr. Simeon Zahl’s dissertation, Pneumatology and Theology of the Cross in the Preaching of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt: The Holy Spirit between Wittenburg & Azusa Street. You don’t have to be an addict in recovery to identify with this subject in the least.

Come and hear the theology of the German Preacher, Christoph Blumhardt (1842-1919), the son of a renowned healer. He eventually departed from his father’s healing ministry and belief that supernatural forces were opposing the return of Christ and the Kingdom of God, and adopted the theology that it is the sinful heart of mankind that is in opposition to the Kingdom of God. “Die, so that Jesus may live!” was Blumhardt’s call to his congregation.

This call to death is patterned after the cross of Christ. It is here that we are humbled, that we truly suffer, and that our will is thwarted. The recovering addict must die daily if he or she is to maintain sobriety. Blumhardt believed that this dying “belongs at first only to a few.” Only a few are first called to take on this dying work that opens a pathway for Christ to spread His message and His will. In a day where Christianity seemed to have lost its way, Blumhardt believed the Kingdom would move forward once again when a “little flock” of faithful men and women came to understand the problem of the flesh and put it in its rightful place, in the care and keeping of God.

For more, join Laurel on Friday April 27, at 3:00pm at Calvary St. George’s church in NYC.

You can register for the 11th Annual Mockingbird Conference here! We hope to see you there!

Through Thick N' Thin: Imputation in Paul

Through Thick N’ Thin: Imputation in Paul

This piece comes to us from Charis Hamiltonius.

To survey much of theology and biblical scholarship nowadays, you’d think that “imputation”, or the idea that God gives/reckons a moral status of righteousness to the otherwise ungodly believer, is a passé relic of former ignorance. On the biblical studies side, N.T. Wright has made half of a career out of refuting imputation. Peppered throughout his otherwise circuitously Reformed theology (surprise!) are direct refutations and veiled damnations of this reformational doctrine. For Wright, imputation is a grave misunderstanding of Paul’s theology and aims; imputation is “mistaken” (Paul in Fresh Perspective, p. 25), “misleading”,…

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Closer Than You Think (The Trouble With Deconstruction)

Closer Than You Think (The Trouble With Deconstruction)

Deconstruction is having a moment.

There are podcasts and books galore about the process of deconstructing (usually damaging or negative) religious belief. Take one step back from deconstruction and you have the phenomenon of doubt in modern Christian writing. At some point in the last ten years, doubt began to be the prerequisite for an “authentic” Christian life.

Charles Taylor wrote about this in his 2007 book, A Secular Age. In this seminal work, Taylor argues that authenticity is the hallmark of the secular age, which is why doubt is in. Authentic doubt or disbelief is better than inauthentic faith…

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Altered Carbon and Why We Hate Our Bodies

Altered Carbon and Why We Hate Our Bodies

A quick note: Altered Carbon is a show with real theological insight, but the road to those insights is marked by lots of nudity and violence. It’s as bad or even worse than Game of Thrones or Westworld. Even though a hard-R rating applies, the sex and violence is a part of the show’s Flannery O’Connor style commentary on the misplaced desire to escape the body. St. Paul’s admonition not to cause fellow Christians to falter in their faith is one easily parodied and misapplied, but in this instance, it’s worth taking seriously. Also, this write up is spoiler free.

In Altered Carbon’s…

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How to Annoy Jesus ~ John Zahl

Excited to start sharing videos from our recent conference in Tyler, TX! (You can catch all the recordings here.) First up, the inimitable John Zahl, with how to annoy Jesus:

From Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Sanctification Through Song

Sanctification Through Song

I am a poor singer. Like amusingly bad. I know it is amusing, because those nearest and dearest often actually chuckle at me. No bucket is big enough for me to carry a tune in it. Though I read music well, that has never translated to making my voice do what it’s supposed to do. I’ve never had any vocal training, and my Creator did not endow me with much natural ability. I don’t even understand the vocabulary behind the use of one’s voice to make music. I am very fuzzy on the difference between finding the correct pitch and…

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Jet Ski Carrots and Oscar Night Incentives

Jet Ski Carrots and Oscar Night Incentives

Of the Mbird readership who watched the Oscars last year, about one-fifth of us decided not to watch them this year. So say the Nielsen numbers, anyway, which showed a 19% decline in the show’s broadcast over previous years. I like to think that’s because of the growing popularity of Sunday evening church services, but alas, we all know that’s not the case. The growing trend of limited release passion projects (who in Ebbing, Missouri, would ever watch Three Billboards?), the expected and deserved victory lap over Harvey Weinstein’s exile, cord cutting, you can pick your favorite poison for this year’s…

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It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

A blogpost went viral last year with an explosive headline: “If it doesn’t stem its decline, mainline Protestantism has just 23 Easters left.” The article, written by Ed Stetzer, first appeared on the Washington Post’s blog and quickly made the rounds in the echo-chamber of church social media. Some dismissed the article as over-the-top, while others accepted it as gospel and began packing their church offices.

This blogpost came to mind recently as I began looking ahead to the sermons I will preach during Holy Week and Easter. I thought to myself, “What am I called to say on the 23rd…

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