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.
We Christians believe that we have a moral obligation to point to the pain that the rest of the world can’t see. Others may stroll past the suffering, but we stop and stare, take up an offering, make an appeal and collect blankets, sighing as we do our bit to alleviate some of the misery. That life may not actually be rotten in our part of the world today only increases our guilt for our occasional lapses into joy. How dare we sing when others are sufffering?
Few things are more humbling for a professor than to hear your classroom assertions parroted back to you. In the student’s puerile response you hear an echo of your own pronouncement—but on undergraduate lips the thought sounds unbearably stupid.
She was the best confessedly Christian writer of the 20th century, maybe one of the very best of any time or place. With dark wit, always tinged with a threat of horror, she packed into her stories the guilt, blood, violence, blinding light and costly redemption that is our encounter with the living Christ, though she seldom made explicit reference to Christ. Her stories are parables of a world with everything out of balance, not just because most of them occur in the unbalanced American South, but because she deeply believed that we have been whopped upside the head by a God who is determined to have us—even if God has to venture into inhospitable rural Georgia to do it.
This past Christmas, I wished for and received a chainsaw. On New Year’s Eve, while I was engaged in a woodworking project, the chainsaw slipped, grabbed my left sleeve, threw me to the ground, and in a matter of seconds dug into my arm, cutting my hand and wrist to the bone for about six inches. I began bleeding profusely.