Televangelist Kenneth Copeland is now facing flack over an interview gone wrong where he is pressed about his lavish lifestyle.
Much can be said about this interaction, but I want to bring to the surface something he said at the start; refering to global missions, Copeland stated, “It takes a lot of money doing what we do.”
Copeland is known for unashamedly identifying the cross with money and wealth, in essence with power. The New Testament writers seem to take a very different approach, unapologetically tying the gospel to weakness and to shame, mainly the weakness and shame of Roman crucifixion. (One hymn writer calls death by crucifixion “The emblem of suffering and shame.”)
Identifying Christianity with power is not something new and is certainly not something found only within charismatic circles (many point to Constantine for paving the way for a Christianity of glory, devoid of weakness)…
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I had the great honor of asking John Stackhouse (Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies & Dean of Faculty Development, Crandall University) a few questions regarding hell and its nature, namely, is it eternal? My questions are in bold.
Can you describe in brief your views on hell and what is commonly referred to as conditionalism or annihilationism?
John: Hell is the consequence of human sin. It isn’t something devised by God as a chamber of torture. Hell is what each person experiences to atone for his or her sin. Atonement is the act of making right what we have made wrong, and the global intuition is that suffering is appropriate experience to make up for damaging the universe through evil. The gospel is that Jesus’ suffering can be substituted for our own if we will realign ourselves with God, accepting his great gift of forgiveness, reconciliation, justification…
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I had the great honor of conducting an interview with Dr. Cherith Fee Nordling (of Northern Seminary, Chicago) regarding the kingdom of God and some of its everyday implications. This is part one of a transcript of an hour-long phone conversation (stay tuned for part 2). My questions are in bold.
The kingdom of God is a phrase that gets thrown around so often. Do you feel that it’s used in its proper sense, and in your mind what does Jesus mean by this?
Cherith: How about you give me some examples of conflicting ways that you feel it’s used?
Sure. Some view the kingdom of God more as social justice, whereas some might see it more as soteriology, and a certain dichotomy is created. I’m wondering if this dichotomy exists in the Gospels, or if it’s something that perhaps we impose on the Gospel texts?
Cherith: That’s a great…
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It’s becoming increasingly clear that within the American church there is a growing fascination with “progressive theology,” or at least aspects of it. Names like Rachel Held Evans, or more recently Rob Bell, seem to constantly be stirring the waters of evangelicalism; some think this is for the better of the American church, and others think this paves the way for her downfall. (See here for a recent and short post by Scot McKnight: Why Are So Many (Young) Evangelicals Now Progressives?)
Here’s what pastor John Mark Comer (of Bridgetown Church, Portland, Or) has to say about it.
Note: Comer is not exactly known for being a fundamentalist; some actually put him in the same boat as Progressive Christians.
It may be hard for Christians who revere Jesus as divine (as God) to think of God as ever being needy or vulnerable. And yet the Bible is not the Bible if it doesn’t shock us (even those, or especially those steeped in Christian tradition). Jesus’ relationship with his mother certainly has many elements of mystery, but here’s what we do know: Jesus needed his mother.
Why might this shock us? It may have to do with the fact that we view vulnerability as a sign of weakness, and we dare not put God in that same boat. It also may have to do with the lens through which many of us view the Jesus of the Gospels: as a sort of superman Jesus who never tripped as a boy, or who never broke a jar by accident, or who never cried as a child.
The Gospels beg to differ…
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