The Dilemma of a Certain Pilgrim: To Stay or Leave the Church

It is an uphill battle being an evangelical and a gender egalitarian. As an evangelical I believe Scripture is authoritative. As an egalitarian, I hold that the full equality of women and men is not a concession to be cleverly wrestled from Scripture, but the goal toward which its inspired contents actually point.

Why is the struggle for equality still so difficult? Lots of reasons, but one of them may be this. In most conservative evangelical churches, and in their largest theological society (the membership of which is about ninety-eight percent male), the “gender issue” is essentially an exegetical debate, an intellectual exercise, an occasion for sparring. There is not a lot of visceral pain, and there are never any tears. The bombs are dropped from high altitude.

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StrengthsFinder: Look before You Leap

StrengthsFinder is a new assessment device that is enjoying blockbuster popularity. It is based on the philosophy of Walt Disney’s cartoon rabbit Thumper, who famously opined, in the movie Bambi (1942), “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all.” StrengthsFinder is being marketed as a powerful instrument for quickly (please take a few minutes to fill out this questionnaire) clarifying who you are, what you’re good at, and the tremendous potential that lies hidden within you. Despite all the hype, Christian folk would be wise to look before they leap.

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The Power of National Repentance

The word “repentance” has an antique ring to it. To many it belongs with top hats, sailing ships, and snuff boxes. To others it sounds as psychologically unhealthy as self-flagellation, hair shirts and the shaming of children. But most people will agree that even today, if someone’s done something really bad, they should admit it and express sorrow for it. Repentance is essential because it increases the chances that a behavior won’t be repeated, and it helps the healing and reconciliation process for everyone involved.

But do only individuals repent, or can whole nations? Suppose Americans reach a consensus that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a wrongful use of its superpower. Might it help for the United States to repent?

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Is God Green?

Our planet is in peril. Christianity is the world’s largest religion. A crucial question of our times is whether this faith will have a constructive or destructive impact—or end up an indifferent factor—in how the global environmental crisis will play out. So far, when it comes to ecology and environmental care, Christianity is sending very mixed messages. It is proving to be an ambivalent religion.

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Liturgy of the Rolling Stones

Shine a Light, a film about the Rolling Stones, opened last week. It’s a rollicking tribute, by Academy Award winning director Martin Scorcese, to one of the most legendary rock groups ever. For over two hours viewers are in the front row of a high-decibel Stones concert in New York City. I may not know a lot about rock and roll, but I know a liturgy when I see one. And this was a liturgical celebration of the raw vitality of life.

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Our Current Worship Crisis

Our worship problems have been looming for awhile. But they aren’t looming any more. Churches in America are into a full-blown worship crisis. This is serious, because worship is the God-directed, soul-nourishing center of the Christian life. When worship is not functioning well, it’s like a deep-sea diver getting a kink in their oxygen supply line. It’s not good.

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