Osteen preaches "your best life ever" to 30,000 faithful at his church in Houston. He talks about his elegant home, his well-adjusted kids and his wife—his adoring "partner in ministry." "Be positive," says Osteen, "and you too can have all of these things."
Even Stanley Hauerwas’s friends have their criticisms of his work. Richard Hays wonders why he so rarely pays close attention to the specific words of scripture. Robert Jenson asks why he so infrequently deals with particular Christian doctrines.
Hell wants him, heaven won’t take him, earth needs him.” So proclaims the poster for Constantine. It sounds like an ad for a previous Keanu Reeves movie, the ridiculous Devil’s Advocate. Yet some of the same publicists who promoted Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ are promoting Constantine—and for similar reasons.
Racial reconciliation has been the central theme of Chris Rice’s life and ministry. It is also the subject of his two books. More Than Equals (InterVarsity, 1993) was coauthored by his friend Spencer Perkins, a fellow member of Voice of Calvary Church in Jackson, Mississippi, and the son of the civil rights leader John Perkins, founder of Voice of Calvary.
It is hard to be moved anymore by films about concentration camps. The grainy images of scarecrow figures; maniacal guards firing pistols on a whim; parents dragged away while children stare—Hollywood has managed to turn such horrors into stock visuals. It has made the unspeakable not only speakable, but almost rote.
When award-winning documentary filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond set out to make The Congregation, they may have imagined they were taking a respite from the hot topics of their previous films—wartime Bosnia, New York police, and homosexuality in America.
Think of the standard theological debates in Western Christianity: Is conversion a matter of divine grace or human free will? Are theological disputes to be arbitrated by appeals to the Bible or to church tradition? Do the church’s authority and unity cohere in the pope, in a set of bishops, or in assemblies of the faithful?
Brian McLaren’s two most important books—A New Kind of Christian and the recent A Generous Orthodoxy—both open by raising the specter of an evangelical pastor leaving the ministry or the church altogether.
What do philosophers do? Do they, like other academics, get doctorates, publish for fellow academics, strive for tenure and advance up the academic ladder? Alain de Botton defines a philosopher not as an ambitious academic, but as one who asks hard questions. Why do people work? Why do we travel? Why do we love?
For many years Stanley Hauerwas has been attempting to return the church to the center of Christian theological and ethical reflection. He argues that “liberal” and “conservative” voices in the church tend to mimic the groups that share those labels in the wider political culture.
Is there anything laypeople can do to get themselves kicked out of the United Methodist Church?” My question stumped the speaker, expert on Methodist church law though he was. He had just delivered a detailed list of offenses that could get Methodist ministers cast into outer darkness. Wanting to democratize the misery a bit, I wondered if the church disciplined anyone other than ministers.