©October 6, 2022 Randall J. Greene. All rights reserved.
Proudly designed and built by RG Creative in KCMO.

Christian Faith

I am unapologetically, critically Christian, and this channel is where I consider the complexities of my faith and the ways I live it out in my day-to-day existence. I often write about nonviolence, anti-nationalism, and what it means to follow Christ in a country that is steeped in a version of Christianity that is more cultural than transformational.

  • 2 (Non-)Resolutions for 2019

    I usually hate New Year's resolutions, but I’ve been making some deliberate changes in my life over the past few months that I want you all to know about. Here are two of them that have been really meaningful for me.
  • The Humiliation of Wisdom

    At the cross, God gave the ultimate demonstration of reorienting the world, a revelation of the ways in which God’s priorities often did not align with the priorities of humanity. By yielding to the cross, Jesus Christ embodied a narrative that Israel’s prophets had proclaimed centuries before—that God’s ways were not the ways of humanity, and that God had chosen the path of weakness to shame the strength of the world.
  • Rejecting or Reforming Institutions of Abuse

    In recent months, nearly every week has contained a stark reminder of the immorality running through Hollywood. But are there other institutions we support that we should be challenging? Are there other industries that tolerate or glorify abuse that we should be speaking out against?
  • Exploring the God-Breathed Nature of Scripture

    In the book of Joshua, God commanded the Israelites to take the land of Canaan by conquest and utterly destroy its native inhabitants. If a nation attempted to do that today, we'd call it mass genocide. If someone said God had told them to do it, we'd call them a religious terrorist. How can we make sense of the violence of the Hebrew Bible in light of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ?
  • The Evolving Identity of Holiness

    How has our understanding of holiness evolved from the laws and regulations of the ancient Israelites? Do the life and teachings of Jesus Christ change our perspective on what it means to live a holy life?
  • What an Emo Band Taught Me About Reading the Bible

    One of my favorite rock bands from high school recently released a new album. When I listened to it, I was not expecting to get a lesson on how to read the Bible, but that's exactly what happened. This post is all about assumptions and perspectives.
  • The Symbolism in my Tattoo

    I recently finished a tattoo on my forearm. In total, I spent about 18 months working through the design and I get a lot of questions about what it means, so I thought I’d put together a quick blog post explaining some of the details.
  • Condemn the Bigotry, Not the Bigot

    Bigotry is unequivocally wrong. But as we work to achieve justice for all, let's be careful that we don't fall into the same snares of prejudice that we condemn.
  • Diversity Is How We Let God Shine Through Our Cultures

    What is culture, and how does it impact our faith? How do we measure the positives and negatives of a particular point of view? In this post, I explore the value of understanding our own culture and the cultures of others as we examine our lives.
  • What the Nashville Statement Actually Says

    The CBMW, an American evangelical group trying to revive destructive patriarchal norms in our society, recently released a statement on “biblical sexuality” called the Nashville Statement. Much of their language is cloaked in allusion to help them gain an audience within mainstream evangelical Christianity, so I've provided a line-by-line interpretation based on my (critical) following of the CBMW and my personal background in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.
  • What Israel Teaches Us About the Idolatry of Security

    Christian in the United States today grapples with a desire to control and preserve its own future. Illustrated by the rise of the Religious Right in the past few decades and a recent resurgence in Christian governmental politics, we are concerned with how God works in, through, and outside of our national structures of government. But perhaps the question we should be asking is where our hope comes from. Do we rely on God for our security, or do we seek it instead through our own systems of safety and predictability?
  • Still Crusading

    The Crusades, one of the darkest stains on the Christian Church in all of its history, still echoes in Christianity today. Many of the systemic abuses at the root of Christian warfare are gaining traction in American culture today. The life of Jesus Christ shows us a different way to live – we must know the darkness of our own past if we hope to live into the light of Christ today.
  • Losing Christ Within the Empire

    Today is the eve of Independence Day, the peak of the American Christian's tendency to conflate the worship of God with the celebration of our national heritage. One of the most important conversations in this era of our culture involves two problems set up by the early church: the rise of politics within the body of the church, and the wedding between the Christian faith and the empire of the world.
  • Questions About the Masculine God

    The words we use carry deep meaning – far beyond the dictionary definitions of the words themselves. Are masculine terms for God the best, most helpful words for us to use today? Over and over, Scripture refers to God as "Father" and other male depictions, so is there a justifiable, biblical reason to do anything different when we talk about God?
  • God’s Chosen: Wrestling with God and Humanity

    Time and again, God seems to have chosen the screw-ups of the world to change history. Why is it that those who wrestle against God and humanity are so often the bearers of God's promise? In this post, I look at the story of Jacob's wives, Leah and Rachel, who were far from what we would consider "good Christians," yet became the mothers of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • An Evangelical Crossroads

    A message like that of Jesus would get you kicked out of most evangelical churches today. He didn’t teach us to vote based on our own sense of relativistic morality. Followers of Christ don’t have the privilege of refusing to subsidize healthcare for others, even if it’s sometimes used in ways they don’t agree with. We must value every life, whether it’s the life of an unborn child or the life of a black man murdered on the street or the life of an immigrant who follows another religion.
  • Death and Life Before Christ

    Last week, Justin, one of my best friends, shared his concern that Christianity necessarily means that those who lived before Christ are eternally damned. This post is a direct response to the questions Justin posed about how people are made right with God.
  • Emerging into a Community of Believers

    This post is about as close a thing as I've ever written to my personal testimony and Christian calling, from the fundamentalism of my youth to the deconstruction and reconstruction of my faith upon Jesus Christ, the revelation of God.
  • Skittles and Sheep

    "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem." That message, posted by Donald Trump Jr. yesterday, should be deeply concerning for Christians. The call of the gospel is not to protect ourselves, but to protect the abused, the broken, the exiles.
  • Interpreting “The War is Coming!” and “Falling on the Sword”

    I never do this. I don’t explain my stories. The story behind this one, though, is special to me. The idea first hit me in early 2015 and, as I tend to do, I stewed on it for a few weeks before putting it down into poetic form as “The War is Coming!” and recently rewrote it in prose form as "Falling on the Sword." Read the story behind the story here.
  • Winds of Change in the Church of the Nazarene

    The Church of the Nazarene is a small denomination, a true community where everyone knows everyone, yet there is a significant gap between the doctrinal interpretations of the predominantly "holiness" branches and those of the predominantly "Wesleyan" branches. These two descriptors are not exclusive, but the two seem to be drifting farther and farther apart these days. We are better than this.
  • Three Reasons I Broke Up with the Baptist Church

    In the first 21 years of my life, I regularly attended somewhere around 10 or 11 different churches. They all bore the name “Baptist,” but they varied in their doctrine on the scale from almost-Westboro-Baptist legalism to praise-band-can-include-an-electric-guitar conservatism. All along that scale there was a healthy dose of KJV-only-ism, complementarianism, and inerrancy-or-die elitism, but none of those things were the cause of my breakup with the Baptist church. There were three main issues that I found irreconcilable with the way I understood my faith and my life.
  • The Problem with “Biblical” Opposition to John Piper’s Pacifism

    About a month ago, John Piper published an article called “Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?” in which he confronted the evangelical enthusiasm for carrying firearms. Personally, I rarely find myself on the same theological page as Piper, but as I read his piece, I found that he expressed many of the same ideas that I had come to believe. For perhaps the first time in my life, I was nodding in agreement as I read a Piper article - I was pleasantly surprised. Not so surprisingly, his post unleashed a firestorm in evangelical circles. Pastors and writers across the country (several of whom I sincerely respect) took up their pens and responded with what they usually called a “biblical response” to Piper in which they detailed everything they thought he’d gotten wrong. Since I’m always looking to better understand viewpoints that oppose my own, I was genuinely curious to see how they could biblically refute the theological depth of John Piper’s article. I was utterly disappointed at how unbiblical all of the responses I read were. The arguments against him seemed to fall into 3 main categories. 1. The Bible doesn’t actually forbid us from arming ourselves, so who are you to say we shouldn't? The essence of this argument is that Scripture never explicitly says “Christians shouldn't carry weapons.” In fact, it’s often pointed out that Christ tells the apostles to take a sword with them as they go out into the world sharing the gospel (Luke 22:35-38). I can only assume that the writers using this to rebut Piper didn’t actually read his article. Piper thoroughly covers the breadth of the scriptural case for pacifism, mankind his case using everything from specific verses to broad narratives. He addresses verses that deal with responding to evil and adversity (Matthew 5, Luke 21:12-14), the perils of responding with violence (Matthew 26:52), and rejoicing in affliction (1 Peter 2-4), and he even addresses the passage in Luke that is often used to support the carrying of arms. He discusses the sweeping themes of the gospel that demand our commitment to self-sacrifice, trusting in God for our protection, and holding loosely to the joys of this world. To be sure, there is no soundbyte of Jesus forbidding arming oneself, but Piper's point is that the entire narrative of the gospel compels us to reject the human desire for self-preservation. Conclusion: The Bible does not contains a one-liner condemning firearms, but the entire focus of Piper’s article was on providing the biblical case to oppose a call to arms. Piper makes his case about as thoroughly as anyone can make a case for anything in Scripture. 2. The Bible tells us that government is God-ordained, and the government gives us the right to bear arms, so we have an obligation to do so. First, let’s be clear that as Christians, our citizenship is first in the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:17-21). As we examine the narrative of Scripture, our aspiration should be to live as…
  • Discerning Fear with the Help of Faith

    We live in a scary world. Every time we turn around, we discover something new that causes us to fear for ourselves, our families, or our friends. At the same time, there’s no shortage of cheesy Christian memes on Facebook reminding us to “Fear not, for I am with you always!” and chastising us any time we feel anxious. The idea that we don’t have to fear anything because we have God the Mighty Warrior on our side sounds great on paper, but it doesn’t feel real when we are face-to-face with the dark sides of life. For the single mother who has no job and a growing pile of debt... For the parents whose child is laying on a hospital bed awaiting surgery… For the driver gripping the wheel for the first time since the nearly-fatal accident… For the student whose ability to afford college hinges upon one exam... ...for them, in that moment, the understanding that God cares for them feels superficial. Fear is what feels real. I cannot sit here behind my computer and tell you that I have this fear/faith thing figured out. I don’t have any answers. But I think that as we grapple together with what fear is and how it relates to faith, we learn how to keep fear in its place and nurture faith instead. I’ll lay out some of my thoughts, but I hope that you join in the conversation via the comments section at the bottom of the page so we can work through these questions together. Fear is not the same as caution. This is an excuse we use all the time. “It’s not that I’m scared… I’m just being cautious.” Ninety percent of the time, that’s a load of bull. Caution, we all agree, is important. It’s the preparation that enables us to live full, confident lives. For example... We lock our doors at night. We buckle our seatbelts when we get in a car. We check our blind spots before we merge. We get vaccinated against deadly diseases. Living cautiously simply means that we’re able to actively engage with our community because we are using common sense to avoid unnecessary disaster. Fear is a natural emotion. A friend of mine described fear this way: “Fear is about my perceived lack of control. Life has messed with my circumstances. I feel out of control.“ Being afraid is an emotion that, at its foundation, is no different than happiness, sadness, or excitement. When we find ourselves in certain circumstances, our bodies and our minds respond by making us feel scared. When we are in situations in which we don’t feel we have control, it is entirely natural for us to be scared. I don’t want to gloss over that, because I think it’s vitally important for us to understand that it’s okay to feel fear. We should never be ashamed of it. In this crazy world that we live in, fear is real. A couple of months ago, Shannon…