Hearing stories of transforming moments offers hope that there is something beyond routine living day by day. James Loder provides a helpful explanation. He had his moment early in his career as a professor at Princeton Seminary. He spent the rest of his academic years explaining it in biblical and psychological terms. His moment came […]Read More
I derive satisfaction from figuring out how Christ’s Spirit can change and even transform human personalities. Some of my insight on this comes from listening to a Learning Company recorded lecture by Dr. Andrew Newberg. Then I read his book The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience. Better yet was when he teamed up with […]Read More
At a retreat, I was sitting next to a physician who was the radiologist at the local community hospital. The speaker told about the miracle that happened when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. Just before surgery, they took another X-ray. The cancer was gone. I asked the radiologist, “Does that really happen?” “More often […]Read More
According to Jesus, the Spirit really does influence humans and their behavior. As he explained to Nicodemus, pneuma “influences” pneuma (John 3: 6). The Greek pneuma is used in English to mean wind or air, as in pneumatic tools that work with high air pressure. In context, it is clear that Jesus was talking about […]Read More
“Music is an outstanding gift of God and next to theology. It is an endowment and a gift of God, not a gift of men. It makes people cheerful; one forgets all anger, unchasteness, pride, and other vices. I place music next to theology and give it the highest praise.” So observed Martin Luther. Music […]Read More
We Lutherans make a big deal about the Reformation. We celebrate it on October 31, the date in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. These very scholarly statements challenged the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church at that time, which was the only institutional […]Read More
What will church cultures look like in America as it transitions into the post-Christian era? Pivotal for my understanding of a fresh perspective on church life was the study of Gordon Fee’s 967-page book God’s Empowering Presence (1994)—his careful and thorough study of the 169 references to the Spirit in the Apostle Paul’s letters. He […]Read More
Most traditional mainline Christians are still in the Sacred-Canopy Culture that prevailed through previous American history. After World War II the Modern Scientific Culture challenged the traditional. Mainline ministers oriented themselves to addressing that new culture. Traditional churches were on the defensive. But in recent decades young adult Americans have moved on to the Post-Modern […]Read More
A life without a heart is not worth living. Our hearts are the key to the Christian life. It is in the heart that we come to know him and learn to live in his love. And yet life has taught all of us to ignore and distrust the deepest yearnings of our heart. These […]Read More
Standing on the sidewalk outside a church after its worship, I asked a young, professional-looking woman why she came to church that morning. Her answer was immediate: “I feel the power of God here.” She also explained that this church had reached out to her when she was in juvenile detention.
If you were asked that question, how would you answer and how long would you need to think about it? I suspect many traditional Christians from historic church bodies would struggle, only to come up with some version of, “That’s what we do on Sunday mornings,” or “This is where my friends are.”
When my family and I were members of a large Lutheran congregation that finished an impressive new sanctuary 35 years ago, I noticed that the average attendance reported in the weekly bulletin went down. Almost always a new sanctuary attracts more people. I asked the pastor why he thought fewer were attending. All he could come up with was, “I guess our people are losing the habit.” Habit is a very weak motivator for participating in anything . . .Read More
A seldom-referenced New Testament passage helps explain why so many young adults are not in Christian churches today. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians not to associate with sexually immoral people (1 Corinthians 5:9).
Then he clarified that he did not at all mean the people of this world who are immoral and sinners. “In that case, you would have to leave this world. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Exercise judgment on those inside. God will judge those outside.”
In the last several decades a critical balance shifted in the United States. While the majority of Americans still consider themselves Christian, less than half are churched. Yet many preachers continue to operate as if the United States is a Christian nation where Judeo-Christian ethics still apply to all. It is time to teach ourselves to think like Paul and the early Christians living in the pagan Roman Empire.
The current movement toward applying equal rights to homosexuals and marital status to same-sex couples happened quickly in terms of social movements. Young adults take these rights as self-evident. Yet what they hear from so many church leaders is, to them, extremely prejudicial, old fashioned and anything but loving. The result is predictable.Read More