October 20, 2017

What About the Flag in the Sanctuary? (Or How To Get Fired Really Fast.)

Sometime when I was in seminary, I first heard the term “civil religion” and started to understand that some people had a problem with the American flag in a church sanctuary. The flag- and its companion, the “Christian” flag- have been in every church sanctuary I’ve ever been in, and both flags are in the […]

The Wrong Song For the People of God

[Check out the previous IM post, “With God On Our Side.”] One of the results of working with international students, and especially of having them in worship services you’re leading, is a new appreciation of how some commonly accepted elements of American Christian culture sound to those who aren’t Americans. Take, for example, those patriotic […]

Jesus and My Stuff

My men’s Bible study has been reading and discussing John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life. If you aren’t familiar with DWYL, it is a small book that Piper wrote to persuade college-age young people to live missional, Kingdom-building, God-glorifying and passionate lives. If you want to give the “Piper” experience in short form, this […]

Riffs: 12:29:06: The Christian-Industrial Complex

A good friend mailed me a note the other day, asking my opinion of a book that was all the rage in his megachurch. It’s not the first time we’ve had that conversation. We’ve covered this ground many times because his church, like most of American megachurch evangelicalism, often behaves like a group of consumerist […]

Riffs 12:17:06: Dan Edelen and a Gospel That Speaks To Failure

Dan Edelen is on one of the best bloggers I know of, and his post We Need A Gospel That Speaks To Failure is outa the park, center field. Your church is looking for new elders. Which of these two 40-year old men has a better chance of becoming an elder, the self-made man who […]

Robert Short on The Partial Jesus of the Nominal Christian

The BHT has a regular banner quote, and this one was so good I wanted to share it with my readers over here. The nominal Christian, then, will see Jesus as a name, a representative, a symbol, a personification, a prototype, a figure, a model, an exemplar for something else. The nominal Christian pays homage […]

Real Ministry…Not the Ad

II Corinthians 6:3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy […]

Do Chinese Students Need An American Jesus?

This post is important. If you keep up with my journey, read this because what is going on with my ministry to Chinese students is becoming a major chapter in the deconstruction of my American Evangelicalism. American Christian. You didn’t like that did you? I don’t like it either. “American Christian” sounds idolatrous. It makes […]

Ruin the Ski Retreat for Jesus

I’m looking at a promotional flyer for a typical American youth ministry ski retreat. I used to get these all the time when I was in the youth ministry biz at large Southern Baptist Churches. I don’t get this much anymore, which probably counts for how I started looking at this one with a different […]

Osteen Redux

As far as this blog goes, Joel Osteen posts have been good business. The largest traffic in the history of IM came from my original posts about “the smiling preacher.” I have it on good authority that, sometime in the near future, my famous Joel Osteen post is going to be getting some large attention. […]