Week after week, day after day, Christians pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But the kingdom doesn’t come. If heaven stands for the realm where God’s shalom reigns fully and freely, then the gap between heaven and earth never closes, and at times it only seems to widen.
When I sit with the Washington Post and my morning coffee, I have a sense that I’m hovering on a threshold; like many Americans, I remember September 11 and feel as if I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When Jesus tells a story, he compels us to look at holy things with new eyes, and he illustrates his stories with references to ordinary, homely things. If he were operating in the 21st century, I doubt that he would need a blackboard for complex mathematical formulas, or the arcane jargon of a modern expert—whether economist, computer maven, biochemist or theologian.
I have been increasingly concerned that much evangelical Christianity on both sides of the Atlantic has based itself on the epistles rather than the Gospels, though often misunderstanding the epistles themselves. In this respect, evangelicalism mirrors a much larger problem: the entire Western church, both Catholic and Protestant, evangelical and liberal, charismatic and social activist, has not actually known what the Gospels are there for.
Since Christians confess Jesus Christ as Lord, one might assume that most Christian ethics texts would ponder his teachings in detail. And since the Sermon on the Mount expounds Jesus’ teaching most comprehensively, one might expect such books to treat it thoroughly. According to Glen H. Stassen and David P.