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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A Whisper, Stronger than the Storm

    The world is spinning for me right now. So much has happened in the past couple of months that I don’t even know how to begin processing it all: In South Carolina, an African-American man was shot in the back multiple times by a police officer. After killing him, the officer planted evidence to corroborate a story that he made up as a defense. Religious freedom legislation in Indiana has raised a firestorm of media (and social media) attention, leading many people on both sides of the issue to draw hard lines in the sand. A Vice President of a religious university was demoted, seemingly because of a sermon he delivered on peace. A few weeks later, at a separate religious university, a prominent and tenured theologian was laid off for questionable reasons. These situations, and many others like them, have led to some BIG questions, big discussions. They are conversations that need to happen. But instead of conversing like adults, many of us - on all sides of the issues - are making assumptions and shouting with vitriolic disdain. Then we’re surprised when the other side gets defensive and responds in kind, resulting in a multi-tiered escalation that can only conceivably result in destruction. Everyone, including myself, wants to be heard over everyone else. Thad Norvell pointed out that when we (Christians) approach a potentially divisive issue, we should focus less on our position and more on our posture. He stated it so: No matter how correct your position, if your posture toward a world you believe to be “still sinners” is anything other than a love that stubbornly refuses to condemn, but instead gives itself away to point to Jesus giving himself away, you are on your own. You are not standing on the truth of the scriptures or the shoulders of Jesus. Right position without the posture of God revealed in Jesus is not the Gospel. Carry on with the discussions.... We need those conversations. Just remember that if we claim the name of Jesus, we are not ambassadors of moral positions or good behavior; we are ambassadors of a transcendent reconciliation possible only in Jesus, who made God’s love for sinners known not by a posture of condemnation, but of cross-shaped love. I am convinced, along with Norvell, that we (I include myself in this) have become obsessed with our position on tough topics and have forgotten the posture that Christ took for us - and calls us to take as well (Luke 9:23). But I still keep catching myself defending my position on a topic instead of committing myself to a Christ-like posture. It’s easy for me to get caught up in shouting matches - particularly on outlets like Facebook, where it’s easy to conveniently forget that it’s a real person on the other side of the screen. From now on, I am committing to converse with love and respect instead of shouting my stance on an issue. That’s not to suggest that I don’t have a position or that I…
  • An Agnostic Search for Truth

    Personal Note: This post was written by an old friend of mine. He shared it with me in private, and though he wishes to remain anonymous, he gave me permission to publish the account here. His willingness to open himself up in this way is, for me, a much-needed affirmation: this is exactly the kind of conversation I had hoped this site would inspire. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I have. If his story inspires you to share your own, please let me know. I would be happy to publish anyone’s account as long as it is written with sincerity and respect. I grew up going to church in a family dedicated to God and his work. It was a strict Southern Baptist upbringing. No TV, no secular music in our house, etc. In fact, I knew about 9/11 before my parents did because there was no TV in the house for them to find out about it! I went to church every Sunday morning and evening, every Wednesday, and sometimes Fridays for youth nights, all up until the time when I got a job and was allowed to use that as an excuse to skip church. Hypocrisy. It is what drove me from the church, that and normal teen rebellion. I watched a church split up over foyer carpet and a bus. I am sure there were underlying issues but that is what I saw. People dividing into sects and clicks, old folks over young folks, pastors leaving, and none of the people in the church big enough to reason with one another and make decisions for the betterment of the church as a whole. Leaving the church and joining the army, being deployed to 3rd world countries multiple times has led me through interesting theological debates. There are times that I miss the oneness felt while singing praises to god during the worship service, but then I remember the people. The liars. All sinners who sinned on a regular basis with no sense of remorse except when they were in church, and even that is doubtful. I watched horrendous things in the name of religion, lost friends, and met people who I would befriend for a lifetime, and in all of this I wondered what was out there. Something is out there. Someone is out there. Is it the Christian God, Allah? Do the Buddhists have it right? The new age religions like Wicca? I have explored a lot, read the Quran, visited Buddhist temples, been to a coven meeting, and I found similarities in all of them. The thing that confuses me the most is the feeling of oneness you find in all of them. When chanting in a Buddhist ritual I felt the same oneness, connected with the universe, that I felt when singing during a Christian worship service. How do you know which one is right, and for that matter, which of the variety of Christian denominations is right? Is there one true religion?…