Written by Derek Cooper Friday, 31 January 2014 00:00

Christian Narratives

The American essayist Wendell Berry writes in “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” that “The significance—and ultimately the quality—of the work we do is determined by our understanding of the story in which we are taking part.”

One of the ramifications of living in the twenty-first century is that we are entangled in a myriad of unrelated and, oftentimes, unwelcome “stories.” In addition to the honorable vocational stories in which I have elected to participate—as a Christian, a husband, a father, a friend, and a teacher—I am simultaneously entangled in countless unwanted stories relating to consumerism and materialism, evolutionism, sexism and racism, and many other narratives that endorse greed, waste, and an unbridled “pursuit of happiness.”

What I have learned about God through teaching is that not all narratives are created equal.


Written by Philip Monroe Monday, 27 January 2014 00:00

Naked Gospel

Okay, before you assume I wrote only a title to lure you in…this is the question raised by the late Father Vincent Donovan, author of Christianity Rediscovered. Father Donovan spent nearly 2 decades evangelizing the Masai in Tanzania. First published in 1978 and republished in 2003, the book explores the challenge of mission, of bringing the Gospel to another culture. His goal with the book is to, “[describe] an attempt to empower a particular people with the freedom and total responsibility of that gospel.” His goal is not to evangelize the Masai into Western models of Christianity but to bring the bare Gospel and to allow the people to form their own expression of worship, church, community, etc.

Some Context:


Written by Philip Monroe Friday, 24 January 2014 17:17

Dog in trash and addictions

An old dog can learn a new trick. After having lived with us for over 1.5 years, our cocker spaniel has figured out that she can open the pull-out cabinet drawer that contains our trash. This only happens when we leave her penned in the kitchen. I suspect we left some wonderful smelling meat scraps in it one night and the desire enabled some higher level problem-solving skills (she’s not the brightest dog in the world) to kick in. Now that she has learned how to do this, we’ve taken to bungee cording the drawer when we leave the house. A few days ago, we forgot and came home to a mess of coffee grounds and torn up trash all over the floor.

Interestingly, our dog responds in quite a predictable manner. Normally, when we come home, she is at the door to greet us by dancing around and putting her front paws on our legs. But each time we have come home to a mess she has made, we see her cowering and ready to bolt. The last time we came home to this mess, she squeezed out the door before we could get into the house so she could run away. No, we don’t beat her. She knows she has done wrong.


Written by Drew Hart Monday, 20 January 2014 00:00

Martin Luther King

Everybody loves Martin Luther King Jr., or at least they love the idea they have of him. There is nothing provocative about naming him as one of your favorite American heroes, quoting lines from his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, or referring to him in one way or another to suggest how we can become that “beloved community” he often spoke about. In fact, our usage of Martin Luther King Jr., more times than not, would be in direct conflict with Dr. King himself, and the actual life and commitments he held to.

“Our” Dr. King that we celebrate each year has been completely co-opted by the right and the left to further the shallow partisan ideological work in American society. Dr. King’s legacy has been thoroughly domesticated, like a house cat after being de-clawed and neutered. He is now safe. Safe to mold into our projections of who we want him to be. Dr. King is no longer a radical prophetic voice of a Christian preacher crying out in the wilderness. Instead, after he died, we built him a monument to adore, after our liking, and gave it a seat at the emperor’s table. However, the prophet never sits and fellowships at the table with an imperial ruler. The prophet is not accepted by the social order it speaks life into because he is always seen as a threat.


Written by Kyuboem Lee Friday, 17 January 2014 00:00

Where the Poor are Welcomed

I have lived and ministered in inner city Philadelphia for almost 20 years now. During those years, I’ve had a number of encounters with my neighbors who were “unchurched.” When I had the opportunity to do so, I would invite them to a church service. Some accepted; many declined. The number one reason for declining, by far? It wasn’t “I don’t share your doctrinal position,” or even “I don’t believe in organized religion.” But rather it was this: “I don’t have the right clothes to wear.”

The easy, and most obvious, response to this is to say, “We are not a stuffy, dressed-up traditional church. We have a casual dress code; come as you are.” Indeed, this fits nicely with the ethos of mega-churches that sprang up in the US suburbia during the 80’s and 90’s, as well as with that of emerging/missional groups of the new century. “We got that area covered; no need to stay away.”

However, I believe the “no proper clothes” response in my neighborhood is indicative of something far deeper than the church dress code.


Written by Susan Disston Wednesday, 15 January 2014 00:00

teaching at a missional seminary

This is the third installment on teaching at a missional seminary. Last year Biblical’s faculty reflected on how we teach our missional curriculum. The impetus for the project was to give careful attention to the delivery of theological education and how it is shaped by theological commitments. Here are some more responses of the faculty to the question “How do your missional commitments shape your teaching?”

Professor Steve Taylor:

Because, as a New Testament teacher, I am very interested in developing a hermeneutic that supports a missional theology and outlook, I teach the NT from a redemptive-historical stance, drawing heavily on the Old Testament. Because the Old Testament is patient to a relatively coherent Jewish reading (in which the Law and Israel defined by it are the very meaning of the Hebrew Bible), I stress to my students that a Christian reading has to be Christotelic, namely that the stories, institution, ethical injunctions, and motifs of the Old Testament (and this would include Israel herself) have to be read first on their own terms in order to grasp (second) how Jesus Christ is the ultimate goal or meaning of it all. I hope to train students to recognize the powerful particularity of each text, but also the unity and ultimately universal application to be found in Christ (“Christ is the telos of the Law,” Rom 10:4). This serves the “missional” agenda by reminding the student at every turn that God’s mission is ultimately summed up in Christ and that normative Christian use of the Bible must be tied to the Gospel.


Written by R. Todd Mangum Monday, 13 January 2014 00:00

Family Traditions

Ending the old year with its holiday celebrations and starting a new year with its official and unofficial New Year’s resolutions has got me to thinking about family traditions in general. I’ll throw out to you my three most favorite traditions in our family, and my three least favorite.

Perhaps you could then post a most favorite or least favorite of yours in the comments section.

My three most favorite family traditions:

  • Christmas meal with my whole family (my parents, brother, sister, and kids). This is one that’s so easily taken for granted and one doesn’t realize how precious it is till it’s well in hindsight. How do I know? Because I can still remember, as a kid, having this tradition with my parents’ parents . . . who are now all gone.

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