One of the frustrations of blogging is that no matter how good a piece is, it quickly gets buried under many other (often lesser) posts, and is rarely seen again. Here are a few of the posts that I would like to reclaim for Internet obscurity; I hope you enjoy them:
There was a time when I was proud to call myself a “Jesus freak,” when I dreamt of becoming a missionary to some remote and hostile locale, perhaps even giving my life in a grand selfless spectacle. But these days I’d rather fit in than stand out, and I’ve long since embraced a middle-class lifestyle. I’d like to think that I’m more mature now, but I wonder what that means, and whether it’s really a good thing or not. See also “Practical” Christianity and Faith and Fear.
To trust the Bible is not to cling to a static and eternal collection of truths that must be accepted without question, but to embrace a text whose very tensions and “contradictions” challenge our complacency and pseudo-piety, forcing us ever and anew to face the God it reveals. See also Reading the Bible in Context–But What Context?, Objectivity and Biblical Interpretation and On Methodology.
I’m normally pretty easy-going, but driving stresses me out to the extreme. I yell and swear. I rage when people fail to go at least five over. Don’t they know that speed limits are the minimum acceptable speed?! Selfish as I am, it is easy to feel that if God were good, life would be smooth. But is it not rather those rough parts of life that force me to face what’s really wrong within me? See also Private Vice and Systemic Evil and Why Worship?
This post collects links to an extended conversation with James McGrath, Michael Halcomb, Drew Tatusko and several others on inclusivism, pluralism, universalism and many other questions surrounding the nature of salvation. This was my first introduction to “biblioblogging,” and produced a few of my favorite posts, especially Inclusivism and the Atonement and Inclusivism and Universalism: To Hell with Sin?
We know virtually nothing of the day between Jesus’ death and resurrection. No miracles are reported, no visions of God, no resurrection appearances, nothing. God, it seems, was absent that day – like so many days since, making this an appropriate day to reflect upon the tensions and difficulties both in the world and the Bible. See also The Simplicity of Jesus’ Miracles, Divine Invisibility, What’s Wrong with C.S. Lewis’ “Trilemma”: Liar, Lunatic or Lord? and the follow-up Narnia and the Trilemma.
Can justice be found in our “justice system”? Coming home from my first experience on a jury, I was impressed by the good people doing their best to pursue justice in a broken world, but I was also concerned that the system itself seems to perpetuate injustice. See also A Gracious Father or an Unjust Judge?, Happiness and Parenting, The Image of God and Self-Interest and Sacrifice on Stargate Atlantis.
Perhaps better than anything else on television, Battlestar Galactica allowed for the possibility of a genuine divine interaction with the world, while honestly exploring both the thrills and ambiguities of a theistic worldview. This post explores one of the more interesting questions raised by the series: the activity and justice of God. See also Science Fiction and an Interventionist God, Self-Interest and Sacrifice on Lost and Stargate, The Christian Story, and the Role of Humanity in the Universe.
When a Florida college student (apparently) received death threats for taking a consecrated Eucharistic wafer from Catholic mass, outspoken atheist PZ Myers offered his support by promising to publicly desecrate a the Eucharist, which he eventually did. See also Islam, Christianity and the Freedom to Insult, Humanity and Symbolism, Persecuted on Every Side.
On the surface, the book seems fairly simple: Job is a good man; God “tests” him with various tragedies; Job passes the test and God restores him. But under the surface Job is full of tension and ambiguity; much more interested in asking questions than answering them. This introduction to Job is based on my first experience teaching undergraduates. See also Was the Fall Necessary?, An Introduction to the Gospel of John and Replacement Theology and the Return of the King.
Nothing I have posted has drawn more traffic than this little book meme. I simply asked folks to name the five books that have most influenced their reading of the Bible, and improbably drew responses from nearly 100 blogs. Here is the post that started it all, here is a list of all the responses I received, and here are some summary observations, including a list of the most common choices.