Have you ever read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter or seen one of the film adaptations? The story is set in Puritan Boston. The protagonist is a woman named Hester Prynne. She was sent to live in colonial America by her husband, who was supposed to follow her but was captured by the Indians. As a result, Hester lived alone, making a living as a seamstress. She found comfort with the
I was talking to a friend about the different views of the atonement in Free Grace circles. We came around to the issue of potentiality versus actuality. What did the cross actually accomplish? What did it potentially accomplish? I came up with an illustration for the differences of opinion that exist in Evangelical circles. Imagine if poisonous snakes escaped from a pet store and bit everyone at the mall.
Have you ever felt guilty for not evangelizing? Has evangelism ever been presented to you as a command that is impossible to fulfill? Here’s an example of the kind of pressure I mean. This is a testimony from the wife of a graduate of a fundamentalist college: “My poor husband got only 3 to 4
The Christian life ought to be characterized by freedom, not rules and regulations. Other religions will give you long to-do lists of prayers and practices and menus and pilgrimages, and you have to follow them to be a member in good standing. Christians basically have one command: to love. Augustine famously summarized it this way:
Religious superstition is a huge industry. Who knows how many billions of dollars are spent every year on amulets, statues, candles, medallions, icons, relics, special foods, holy water, special breathing techniques, anointed oil, prayer cloths, grave soaking, and pilgrimages? I’ve been watching Leah Remini’s documentary on Scientology, and I was shocked to find out how
“Luther’s doctrine of justification has frequently been attacked for being monotonous, empty, and even obsessive.” So notes Oswald Bayer in his article, “Justification as the Basis and Boundary of Theology.” Sound familiar? GES’s emphasis on the promise of everlasting life has faced the same criticism. Bayer continues to explain that Emmanuel Swedenborg caricatured Lutherans in
I belong to a Facebook group for small church pastors (see here). It includes pastors from every denomination. Theologically it is all over the place. But I still find it very helpful to see what other people are dealing with. I can tell you that, based on that group, there are many discouraged pastors out
There’s a scene in The Shawshank Redemption in which an old inmate named Brooks is about to be paroled after fifty years of incarceration. But he’s scared of getting out. Prison is all he knows. So he attacks another inmate in order to stay. Some of the other prisoners think that Brooks has gone crazy.
There was a time when I’d rather face a firing squad than speak in front of a crowd. Public speaking terrified me. But God has a sense of humor. I remember in high school history class, we did a re-enactment of the Estates-General during the French Revolution. I played the role of a Catholic priest.
I know a man who used to be a pastor, but over time he became bitter towards God and left the faith. I find it difficult to talk to him. We’ve tried talking, but it quickly turned into debate about philosophy, politics, Christianity, where we are polar opposites. It was unpleasant for both of us.