Rob Bell fights every impulse in our culture to domesticate Jesus, reminding
readers that Christians do not believe in Christianity; they believe in
the Christ who wants to "draw all people" to himself.
I am not a particularly confident pastor and preacher. I
don't think I am neurotic about it, but I do harbor my own sense of doubt. It's
not that the doubt freezes me in place and keeps me from functioning. It's more
the kind of doubt that sits off in the corner somewhere, creeping up now and
then to poke at me, asking questions like, Does anything you do really make a
When mission organizations send out promotional
materials, they don't usually include missionary ruminations like Heather Hendrick's. She exposes her faith, doubt, frustration and hope with equal courage.
This week is the Second Sunday of Easter, aka "low Sunday." There
is in the life of a church a movement and momentum toward Easter Sunday, and
then inevitably a scattering, a rest after the intensity. And yet the gospel
lesson does wrestle with the implications of belief, unbelief and doubt.
Randy Beckum, chaplain and vice-president of community formation at MidAmerica Nazarene University, was relieved of some of his duties for a “controversial sermon” he preached in chapel at the Olathe, Kansas, school. His audience was riled by the suggestion that Christians should take seriously Jesus’ injunction to love one’s enemies and by his questioning of Christians’ use of violence. MNU’s president issued a statement intended to protect academic freedom, but which had the effect of distancing the college from the teachings of Jesus: “At MidAmerica Nazarene University we encourage the exchange of ideas and individuals are free to express their individual perspective and opinions, even when those opinions may not reflect the official policy or practices of our university, our core values or our affiliations” (Patheos, March 6).