A Ministry of Encouragement

All month my family is joining others in our congregation and denomination in reading through a version of the New Testament that has no chapter or verse markings and has been resequenced in roughly chronological order. In part, that’s to get you to notice things you’d otherwise miss. For example, I’d never noticed that Luke occasionally switches to the first … More A Ministry of Encouragement

Starting to Think Through a New Course: Christians and Unity

I won’t be teaching it for several months yet, but I’m starting to think through a new course that I’ll be teaching this fall at Bethel University: “Christians and Unity.” It’s going to be one of the first sections offered in a new first-year general education course called Inquiry Seminar, in which [w]hile exploring a specific topic of … More Starting to Think Through a New Course: Christians and Unity

Parables: Roots

One more parable, also from Mark 4: Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. … More Parables: Roots

Further Thoughts on the Impact of Christian Intellectuals (Sean O’Neil)

Last Thursday I reached a point where I wondered aloud whether evangelical support for Donald Trump ought to make Christian intellectuals like me (many of whom have publicly criticized Trump and his evangelical enablers) question if we exert any significant influence. Yesterday’s news that Books & Culture will cease publication didn’t alleviate that angst. But fortunately, many of you wrote helpful comments … More Further Thoughts on the Impact of Christian Intellectuals (Sean O’Neil)

Beyond Books: Hymns as Christian Writing

As longtime readers know, I love Christian hymnody, especially that of my own tradition, Scandinavian Pietism. So I was happy for the excuse to revisit those songs as I kicked off a new Anxious Bench series today: on looking beyond books to other types of Christian writing. It’s a kind of belated response to the top 25 Christian writings list that Christian … More Beyond Books: Hymns as Christian Writing

Glad Hearts: Some of My Favorite Voices from the Covenant Church

As I begin work on a book with one of its pastors about its theological heritage, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Evangelical Covenant Church. So with delegates from its congregations gathering in Phoenix, Arizona for our denomination’s annual meeting, I thought I’d share a few quotations from a few of my favorite Covenanters, clustered around our denomination’s … More Glad Hearts: Some of My Favorite Voices from the Covenant Church

“Tell It Like It Is”: How the Church Should Respond to Trump

During our travels over the holiday weekend, we visited a church and witnessed an odd, telling moment. Looking for a negative sermon illustration at one point, the pastor spontaneously mentioned “the presidential candidate who says he doesn’t need God’s forgiveness.” As best I can recall, the pastor didn’t even say Donald Trump’s name, but he clearly thought he had crossed … More “Tell It Like It Is”: How the Church Should Respond to Trump

Of Libraries, Churches, and the Importance of Welcoming

Happy as I was to see our Pietist Vision book reviewed in The Cresset, it’s another article that’s the real highlight of that publication’s Easter issue. Written by a friend of mine, Katie Koch, it starts with one of my favorite places — the public library — then quickly moves to a theme that has come up time and again for … More Of Libraries, Churches, and the Importance of Welcoming