No, the Bible Doesn’t Claim that the Israelites Killed All the Canaanites

Originally published at PCPJ. Quite a few media outlets have recently claimed that science has disproven the Bible. They point to a recent study showing that the DNA of modern Lebanese people match 90 % with the DNA of five Canaanites that died 3 700 tears ago. They then go on claiming that the Bible … Continue reading → Continue Reading No, the Bible Doesn’t Claim that the Israelites Killed All the Canaanites

It was kind of amusing and revealing at the same time

The church I attend is part of a denomination which, based on the teachings of Paul, doesn’t allow women to be the senior minister in a congregation or to preach to a mixed gender audience. A few weeks back a young woman, bare-headed and wearing casual clothes, led the prayers in the Saturday evening service … Continue reading It was kind of amusing and revealing at the same time Continue Reading It was kind of amusing and revealing at the same time

Interview: Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God (Part 1)

Brian Zahnd joins the podcast to discuss his new book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. In part 1, they focus on Brian’s story and the nature of the Bible: Brian’s work with Word of Life Church in St. Joseph’s, Missouri. (1:09) Writing theology at a pastoral level. (4:39) The artwork on the cover of Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. (9:21) Brian’s fascination with the infamous sermon of Jonathan Edward, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, including how that sermon is not representative of Edward’s ministry. (12:59) Why we should not see...

The Powerlessness of Pain

The Powerlessness of Pain
The worst moment of my life was listening to my mom moaning in pain (later diagnosed as interstitial cystitis) and knowing I couldn’t do anything.

When someone is hurting, I want to do something. I want to take casseroles to the friend whose dad just died and be at the funeral. I want to change my FB profile pic along with everyone else in support of Weston from my home church who was in an extremely bad accident last week. And when a friend is moving a couple hours away due to cancer, I’m disappointed when I arrive too late to help load the moving truck (even if I would have probably just been in the way of the guys loading furniture).

I hate watching from afar. I hate feeling helpless.

Six months after his mother’s death, Henri Nouwen wrote the following to his father: “When we experienced the deep loss at mother’s death, we also experienced our total inability to do anything about  it. We, who loved mother so much and would have done anything possible to alleviate her pain and agony, could do absolutely nothing” (45).
It’s not only the friends who feel powerless, but often the one suffering as well. I recently talked to a gentleman about how the loss of his independence was the hardest part of having a stroke.
Yet, I wonder if that is perhaps one of the purposes of pain? To remind us that we are powerless?
“Death indeed simplifies” Nouwen states, and I would argue that suffering does as well. He continues, “Death lays bare what really matters” (41). We tend to think that we control our lives by working hard, purchasing comforts, or planning our calendar, until a painful situation devastates our lives and reminds us that we “are a bit of smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes” (James 4:14b).
Suddenly, we have no other options but God.
The Power in Pain
Recently, I was asked about my depression a couple years ago. In talking about it, I was again amazed that I’m now actually grateful for it! No, I definitely don’t want to go through anything like that ever again. No, I would never have asked for it. But my increased empathy for others and desperation for God, my gratitude for joy, my deeper love for the church, and my lack of desire for empty pleasures cause me to worship God for that painful experience.
I’ve again been astounded by God showing up in the church as I watch (from 6 hours away) my home church gather around Weston Shank and his family after Weston had an extremely bad accident. Even though I’m not present, the church’s love is obvious. Profile pictures and statuses are changed to express support. When updates are texted to out-of-state friends, everyone gathers to hear the latest. In-state friends regularly travel the hour to the hospital. The church is evident in pain more so than normalcy.
Some people may look to reason to prove the existence of God. But I know God exists when I see a wife praising God the day after her husband dies. I know God is real when my friends who have cancer care how their experience affects my faith. God must be good if my friend can experience a huge emotional and spiritual attack on her family and still say, “Yes, I want God with all my heart!”. I know there is a God when I see Him loving through His Church.
God has shown up over and over in the painful circumstances of my own life as well. And I too can join those who testify that God is worth it even when life hurts.
Pain is powerful because there we experience God.
Works Cited:
Holman Christian Standard Bible. Nashville: Holman, 2006. Print.

Nouwen, Henri. A Letter of Consolation. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. Print.

Continue Reading The Powerlessness of Pain

Boundary Training that Moves Beyond Sexual-Misconduct Problems

In the context of Christian ministry, boundary training is often presented as training to prevent sexual misconduct. In my denomination for example, all new pastors take a Relationships with Integrity seminar, with a refresher course every six years. Given the seriousness of professional sexual misconduct and abuse, such training is essential. At the same time,… Continue Reading Boundary Training that Moves Beyond Sexual-Misconduct Problems

N.T. Wright is right & wrong on Paul – Chris Heilig (EP-56)

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This is an interview episode with emerging biblical scholar, Christoph Heilig. We spend much of our time discussing a new volume, which engages the work of NT Wright, called God and the Faithfulness of Paul. Seriously, get this book!

Here’s a full bio: 

Together with his wife Theresa, Christoph Heilig has studied theology in Gießen, St Andrews and Göttingen from 2009-2014 with a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation. He has received a Master of Letters in “Biblical Languages and Literature” from St Mary’s College (University of St Andrews) with a work on lexical semantics of the New Testament. His research aims at combining insights from the philosophy of science with the study of the New Testament books within their cultural contexts. Since October 2014, he has been working at the University of Zurich on a research project funded by the Swiss National Fond on narrative structures in Paul’s letters. His publications include Hidden Criticism? Methodology and Plausibility of the Search for a Counter-Imperial Subtext in Paul (Mohr Siebeck 2015 and Fortress 2017) and Paul’s Triumph: Reassessing 2 Corinthians 2:14 in Its Literary and Historical Context, (Peeters 2016). He blogs about his research on the “Zurich New Testament Blog,” which can be followed on Facebook. Some of his works can be accessed on his academia-page.


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Continue Reading N.T. Wright is right & wrong on Paul – Chris Heilig (EP-56)

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