Learning & Literacy in Paul’s Churches

If you’re one of the 2 people out there curious about the kinds of things I’m exploring in my doctoral program, here’s an essay from my last seminar on scribes and literacy in the ancient world. This essay addresses the question: “To what extent did literacy play a role in the spiritual development of Paul’s converts?” Enjoy…

Disciples as Scribes in the Royal Court

Here’s a snapshot of my current research project I’m finishing up this week. I’m exploring ancient pedagogy and fresh angles on the task of discipleship in the church today.  POTLUCKS & POLITICS I hail from good Lutheran stock from the Midwest (Minnesota) where we shared potlucks (with an endless variety of “hot dishes”) in the…

Bonhoeffer & the Cost of Discipleship

I have been deeply influenced by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and have sweet memories of reading his ‘Cost of the Discipleship’ book for the first time in college. I have his portrait framed and hanging above my desk  — he watches over me as I write this (along with other formative influences). To underscore my admiration, I lobbied hard…

Martin Luther: Comforting the Sick

I know the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is over, but I just happened upon an old essay I wrote on Luther’s pastoral approach to the sick and dying I found interesting. Martin Luther’s book Comfort For the Sick and Dying provides a window into his faith and theology as it is worked out in the face…

Where Thou Dwelleth?

Like the angels ascending and descending on Jacob’s ladder, the person who “abides” or “dwells” in Jesus by faith will experience the grace and peace of God ascending and descending in our lives on a regular basis. We’ll experience grace as Heaven’s promises descend into our valleys of despair and need. We’ll experience the “peace that surpasses understanding” as our faith leads our hearts in worshipful ascent to where we are seated in heavenly places and given a God’s perspective on things (Eph 2:6-7). 

A Case for a Cruciform Justice

It seems hardly necessary to make an argument for the universally experienced suffering and injustice prevalent in the world. If pain really is God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world”, as C. S. Lewis argued, then the message is deafeningly clear and God might consider turning the volume down a bit. What then is the church’s appropriate response to the world’s injustice and suffering?

A City on a Hill: A Biblical Theology of Missions

“Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” – St. Francis of Assisi Modern readers tend to take the above statement as a kind admonition towards acts of charity and service in the name of Jesus.  But, they are usually quick to make clear that the primary means of evangelizing is through…

Jesus, Rabbinic Judaism & Personality-Driven Ministry Today

This is the concluding section of a research paper on “Rabbi Jesus & the Embodiment of Torah” exploring the Rabbi-Pupil relationships and dynamics in the ancient world — especially the role of charisma and personality in church teaching.  At First Church, Pastor Stern had the difficult task of succeeding the long-tenured and beloved Pastor Slick who…