The Role of the Bible in the Church of the Future (On the Road to Easter, #7)

Dear Kathryn:

I know you are eager to explore some of the specific topics and issues where my current thinking shows marked change from the positions I held a few years ago. I am too. Before we go there, however, just a bit more about the change in my attitude toward the Bible.

The Bible, especially the New Testament, is really the church’s book. The church produced it, in the sense that real human beings, presumably active in the life of the early church, wrote the documents that have been compiled into the form we have today. They each wrote at a particular moment in history, and their thinking was shaped by the political, religious, and cultural influences of their day. Continue reading

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I Do What I Can

There is very little I can do about anything these days. I have no wealth, and I own no property. Financially, my net worth is roughly zero. I have no power and an extremely limited sphere of influence. Seven years without a paying job will do that.

I do have a loving wife who has stood by me without complaint for more than forty-two years, even when things have been really rough and our circumstances difficult to comprehend. I also have an eight-year-old grandson, whom I adore, and a beautiful daughter who is making me proud as a hard-working nurse and single mom. I am trying to do everything I can to pour myself into their lives and to use my limited means and resources to help make their lives richer. Their happiness is my reward. Continue reading

Some Thoughts About the Bible: Authority

I grew up with great respect for the Bible. Even more than that, really. I regarded the Bible with reverence. My grandmother would not allow anything to be laid on top of the Bible, and although I didn’t go that far, I understood her sentiment. After all, the Bible was a sacred book. Even though humans had produced the written the text of the Bible, it was somehow a record of what God had said. It was the Word of God.

As a Bible college student and then as a minister for many years thereafter, I championed the cause of “Biblical inerrancy.” If God is perfect, I reasoned, and if the Bible was the Word of God, then the Bible must bear the character of the God whose word it was. In its relation to God, the Bible was the literary equivalent of Jesus. As Jesus was the Word of God in human flesh (cf. John 1), the Bible was the Word of God in written form. I could no more consider the possibility of an error in the text of the Bible than I could imagine Jesus, during his earthly life, snatching a woman’s purse to get money to buy beer. Continue reading

The View from the Other Side

I’ve recently begun to think of my life as a long train ride to a destination about which I know very little for certain, but my impression is that it is a good place to go. Arrival time is not announced, but the older we passengers get, the more the conductor encourages us to be ready to disembark at any time.

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One thing I’ve noticed. For most of this journey so far, I could observe the passing countryside through the windows on one side of the train only. The windows on the other side were obscured in some way. I could see movement through them, but the images appeared blurred or distorted. Continue reading

Donald Trump, Women’s Equality, and a Long-Overdue Confession

Despite all our problems and shortcomings, I love the United States of America, the land of my birth. I understand why people sometimes risk their lives and jeopardize their family relationships to come here. Donald Trump, on the other hand, exemplifies everything that’s 1wrong with this nation.

It was bad enough when he was simply flaunting the fabulous wealth he has accrued (despite the fact that he has declared bankruptcy four times, leaving his creditors to eat the debt he legally incurred then walked away from). But now this brash boaster, who seems to love nothing so much as the sound of his own name, wants to be president. Continue reading

An Open (And Very Personal) Letter to the Mennonite Church USA

Columbus, Ohio

June 21, 2015

Dear Friends:

There are two things I need to say to the Mennonite Church USA. The first is “Thank you.” The second is “I’m sorry.”

You (the Mennonite Church) came into my life in 1981 when, as a result of God’s providence, I enrolled as a student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia. At the time I had not, as they say, “darkened the door” of a Mennonite church building. One year later, in the summer of 1982, I (along with my wife) was received as a member of Harrisonburg Mennonite Church, was installed as an associate pastor of that congregation, and received ordination credentials with the Virginia Mennonite Conference, all on the same Sunday in July. Continue reading

Of Revival and Rolaids—Apologia, Part 2

I read a lot these days about our culture’s need for a spiritual revival of some sort. That assessment is generally accompanied by a recital of the ways we are, collectively, failing to reflect or exhibit certain qualities or characteristics which the author associates with righteousness. I used to agree with that. In fact, I used to write that kind of article myself.

For Illustration Purposes Only

For Illustration Purposes Only

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