Posts

This isn’t a list of every article I’ve published, Rather, the “articles” described below are the pieces I’ve written for various websites that are freely accessible. This list includes a summary of each article and a link to where you can find it on the Web. Further below, at the bottom of the page, you can find tags and categories to help you browse and sort.

Uncategorized

Summary: The Acts of the Apostles often proves to be a challenging book for preachers. Acts contains so many larger-than-life stories that it can leave congregations incredulous and dismayed. In this article I offer advice for preaching from Acts. Preachers do well to embrace the wonder, adventure, and hyperbole that pulses through Acts, for those features are part and parcel of the book’s attempts to celebrate God’s commitment to bringing new realities into being. Acts is a book whose mood matches the magnificent claims of Easter. It is a book that aims to unleash imagination. In doing so, it provides a vital counterbalance for our more cautious and prudent tendencies. It corrects us when we mistake the status quo for God’s true intentions for humanity’s flourishing.

Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers

Summary: There are preachers who are apprehensive about broaching social and political issues in their sermons, especially during times in which polarization abounds. How does a commitment to biblical preaching equip those preachers to speak convincingly about the gospel’s implications for the church’s witness and Christians’ public priorities? This article offers three suggestions for preachers who seek ways to make connections.

Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Christianity and culture

Summary: Numerous biblical stories describe apparent “outsiders” who have clear vision and insight. Because of those people, the supposed “insiders” gain a new, better, or enlarged perspective on the values and virtues they hold dear. Such stories can also remind a nation that an insular approach to the wider world and cultures is liable to degrade our most cherished values.

Read the full document, which is part of the American Values Religious Voices letter-writing project, here.

Bible commentary: general audience

Summary: Images of exile and displacement are key aspects of the New Testament’s ways of describing Christian faith. There is a tragic irony at work, then, when Christians lend their support to policies that discredit and reject refugees.

Read the full post, which is part of a collection of reflections by a variety of authors involved in the ON Scripture–The Bible project, here.

Bible commentary: general audience

Summary: When Jesus tells a parable about a widow who engages in a tireless campaign to get the justice she deserves, he offers an illustration of Christian faith. In the parable, the woman continually beseeches an unjust judge who finally grants her requests because he grows tired of her endless appeals. The parable associates Christian faith with an unflagging commitment to see justice become a reality. Christian faith complains about injustice and advocates for those who need justice. Faith does so because it takes God’s promises seriously, believing that God is indeed a God of justice. This depiction of faithful advocacy is especially important to consider during election season. Christians can advocate for candidates who will create just laws and policies, but Christians also equip themselves to persist in advocacy after elections are complete.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on ON Scripture.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible

Summary: This is an annotated list of ten compelling books about the New Testament and about New Testament studies, generally. All of the books are good choices for those who are engaged in ministry or who have a modest background in studying the New Testament. They were published roughly between October 2015 and October 2016.

Read the full article at The Christian Century.

Books and films

Summary: When Jesus heals a woman’s debilitating and oppressive spinal condition on the sabbath, his action draws a rebuke. His sharp retort to his critics implies that his action was totally appropriate, since honoring the sabbath entails reiterating God’s commitment to freedom from oppression. The theological logic that drives this passage and justifies Jesus’ urgent concern for the anonymous woman’s well-being resonates with what Martin Luther King Jr. argues in his famous book Why We Can’t Wait. Well-meaning religious people seem to have a habit of impeding God’s commitment to justice and liberation. Our problem goes beyond ignorance or a lack of compassion. Sometimes our theology, security, and idealism are to blame. We need to rediscover the priorities to which God is committed, such as delivering people from suffering.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on ON Scripture.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible

Summary: The book of Acts tells a story about two traveling evangelists, Paul and Silas, as they encounter severe resistance in Philippi, a Roman colony. After the pair are dubiously accused, savagely beaten, and shamefully incarcerated, an earthquake miraculously frees them from their chains and cells. What might look like a story of supernaturally aided escape is really a story about vindication, a means of God exposing the futility of Roman attempts to obstruct the preaching of the gospel. The whole scene has a burlesque quality to it, for its aim is to expose the powerlessness and peevishness of an imperial culture that sets itself up to resist God’s presence, with violence if necessary. The passage speaks about more than ancient Roman realities, however, for its portrait of imperial abuses looks uncomfortably similar to the ways in which modern societies protect their interests and prerogatives. In the end, the story suggests that God offers a different reality, one beyond our ways of suppressing outsiders and clinging desperately onto our attempts at self-preservation.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on The Huffington Post and ON Scripture.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible

Summary: According to the book of Acts, when the temple-based authorities in Jerusalem command Peter and his associates to stop preaching and teaching about Jesus in public, the apostles refuse. With a pithy reply, “We must obey God rather than any human authority,” they declare their intention to honor their spiritual convictions no matter what consequences may result. The apostles’ heroic and bold resolve stands in a long tradition in which people have pondered when it is right to insist on honoring one’s conscience in the face of political and legal pressure to do otherwise. Given the contours of the current cultural discourse in America, when many are quick to demand laws and concessions that respect their “religious liberty,” this episode from Acts and the travails of other Christians who have paid a price for resisting tyranny remind us how we should conceive of “religious liberty” in the first place. Such liberty in a civil society should not become a license to do whatever one wants or a legal basis to deny rights and hospitality to others. Rather, it is a free determination to do what’s necessary to promote our neighbors’ well-being, even if those actions invite uncomfortable repercussions.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on ON Scripture.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible

Summary: Lent provides opportunities to reflect on our experience of encountering God and God’s salvation in embodied ways — in our bodies’ abilities to perceive familiar realities and to interpret new ones. I prepared a five-part series that invites us to think about Jesus’ ability to make God known in tangible, sensory ways. The series explores selected biblical passages that permit us to reflect on who we are and how we bear witness to the gospel — not so Lent causes us to denigrate this life, but so we learn to encounter God among us and to know Christ through our bodies.

I wrote this series to spark the creativity of those who are preparing to preach or teach during Lent, although individuals might also use it for devotional purposes. Read it at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: general audience Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary