The story of Jesus, at least the way John tells it, begins unspectacularly. “There was a man sent by God, and his name was John.” What does John do for a living? He is a preacher. We can’t get to Jesus without going through a witness, no epiphany without preaching.
My father-in-law said that when he began ministry six decades ago, pastors were expected to visit the sick, preach and do a little teaching in the congregation. Now it takes me an entire semester just to skim the surface of “must-have competences” in an Ordained Leadership class. And the list is growing.
Jesus descends into the baptismal waters as an opening act of messianic obedience. Obedience may not be the most glamorous of the Christian virtues, but it’s the one that I’d like to highlight in this Sunday’s account of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan.
For the last three decades, Lamin Sanneh has been a reliable and perceptive guide for those of us trying to think through interfaith issues, rethink missions and understand Christianity in its global reach. When I discovered Sanneh, I found his angle on Islamic/Christian conversation to be a provocative and refreshing relief from some of the fluff we were getting on that topic. Sanneh’s was also the first voice I heard to renovate the commonly accepted negative view of Christian missions.
you enter the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham—one of Alabama's
great institutions—you are welcomed by Fred Shuttlesworth. You will be
welcomed to this shrine of the Civil Rights Movement by a preacher.
What do you get when you take an attractive, intelligent kid born into a loving, happy, Midwestern family and relinquish him for baptism, telling him he is now "engaged to profess Christ"? Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, that's who.
Last year Professor Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina cranked out yet another book, God’s Problem. Dr. Ehrman breathlessly announces that he has discovered that God has a big problem – suffering.
Ehrman dismisses various futile attempts on the part of God to explain
why there is suffering, pain, and disaster in the world – the Book of
Job, Ecclesiastes, and Jesus.
I feel sorry for those who never
got to hear Peter Gomes work a congregation while a biblical text worked
him. He was a teacher, raconteur and best-selling
author. But his primary vocation was as a preacher.
didn't take our new governor long to stumble with his comment that if
you haven't accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, "You're not my brother and
you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother." It took the
governor a long time to apologize, saying he didn't mean to offend. I've
heard from lots of United Methodists who are not so much offended by
the governor's remarks as concerned that he - perhaps unintentionally -
misrepresented the Christian faith.
If you share my concern about the theological thinness of much of the
current craze of construing Christianity as a practice, get Roger
Owens's book. Even more, if you care about the theological identity of
the church, you will find The Shape of Participation to be this decade's finest work of ecclesiology.