Evangelical Christian living in Southern California. I live with my wife and whatever foster children happen to be in our home at this moment. I love photography, baseball, movies and I'm fascinated by Mormonism.
The word “evangelical” is quickly getting stretched into incoherence thanks in large part to lazy reporting about the Trump Presidential campaign. This is an excellent argument about the need to imagine a new word.
So it’s time redefine—or better, reimagine—what “evangelical” means. If the very heart of the evangelical movement is actively living out the Bible’s message that the world can have hope in the person of Jesus Christ, then nothing could be further from the heart of a true evangelical then siloing off from the rest of the world in order to advance a political agenda. True evangelicalism is not about maintaining a particular earthly kingdom, but about calling people into the kingdom of God.
In a 2014 interview with Religion Dispatches it was reported that the post-Evangelical author Rob Bell and his family are not part of a local church:
Now resettled near Los Angeles, the couple no longer belongs to a traditional church. “We have a little tribe of friends,” Bell said. “We have a group that we are journeying with. There’s no building. We’re churching all the time. It’s more of a verb for us.”
Based on other interviews it seemed the Bells felt called to move to Los Angeles to pursue opportunities in television. Meanwhile Bell has refashioned his message into a psuedo-spiritual, Self-Help, Moralistic, Therapeutic, Deism much more inline with the other prophets in Oprah’s spiritual stockade.
What’s strange to me about the Bells move is that they have not found a church home. Continue reading →
I think Robert George and Cornell West offer an important message to today’s culture. With the impulse to shame and silence anyone who disagrees with us at an all time high, the ability and willingness to listen and seek a common truth is important.
LDS President Dieter Uchtdorf delivered a talk on Easter morning that I found to be different than the way Mormons typically discuss grace. I reached out to a number of Mormon friends and message boards to gain an understanding out how they viewed his talk. I’ve come away with four general reactions
1) At Last
This is the reaction of those who have become convinced by the writings of Stephen Robinson and Robert Millet or have appreciation for a talk by Brad Wilcox. They clearly hear a difference and are grateful to have the understanding pronounced by someone in the First Presidency at General Conference.
2) No Difference
Some hear no difference between what President Uchtdorf said and what they have always heard in Mormonism. I would classify these respondents into two camps Continue reading →
I’ve been asked a couple of times to share my thoughts on this talk given by LDS Apostle Dieter Uchtdorf. I just watched the talk and I have to confess it was amazing. It’s like someone snuck an Evangelical pastor into General Conference and taught him how to deliver a sermon in a manner that Mormons can hear it. If I had to choose only two things that Mormons should accept as authoritative teachings (in contradiction to what they have traditionally been taught) this would be one of them.
(the embed code is not working on WordPress, I’ll fix this if possible. click image for video)
I don’t have the transcript of the talk yet but here are some quotes that really stood out to me. I’m so encouraged that Mormons must now view these as reliable interpretations of scripture.
Salvation can not be bought by the currency of obedience. It is purchased by the blood of God.
We obey the commandments of God out of love for him
We misunderstand the words “after all we can do”. “After” does not mean “because”.
It seemed very clear to me that Elder Uchtdorf was teaching that grace is the path to obedience not the prize for it. Congratulations to those Mormons who have long agreed with this sentiment but lacked the authoritative voice to stand on it with confidence in their wards. I agree that grace has the power to transform and as Mormons encounter it with a correct understanding they and the LDS will meet God in new and powerful ways.
I don’t have the time to look up dissenting Mormon voices to this talk but I’m interested in how they may now justify their positions.
At last, Part 5! This is what we call in blogging “rounding third.”
I was sad to discover that this is not the first attempt at answering 50 bull dog questions. FAIR, the Mormon apologetics organization took at crack at answering those 50 questions for Mormons. I also discovered that someone else is working at answering Trimble’s list. What I learned from both sites is that reading these answers is even more boring than reading the questions. Holy cow that’s bad news for you Greg. That means I’m going to have to redouble my efforts at creative insults. I assure you, they’re not meant for you, just the people who love to hate you.
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post. These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
Trimble, you sly dog. In my first post I suggested that people would probably be inclined to respond with a list of 51 questions that would cause someone to leave Mormonism. Sure enough, Runtu put together such a list. You won’t want to click on it though because it’s much better than your list (and I don’t say that not because he’s no longer a Mormon).
But then I found something. A list of 50 questions for Mormons that dates back to 2001. You cranked a prankster. You wrote your list of questions in response to THAT list. And then you added one more so that a web search for your list wouldn’t bring up that original list. [stands up and claps] I haven’t learned anything new about Mormonism, but I am learning somethings about you. You’re crazy like a fox.
I think I’m ready for Part 4. But are you?
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post.. These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
31. The Jews prepare for Elijah’s return every year during passover. On April 3, 1836 Elijah returned to the earth and appeared in the Kirtland temple on the exact day that Jews around the world had prepared an empty chair for Elijah at their Passover meal? Is that a coincidence? [More]
No, of course it wasn’t a coincidence. It’s not like Joseph Smith knew nothing about modern Judaism. Less than a month beforehand Joseph and a number of his followers had just wrapped up 7 weeks of Hebrew lessons from a Jewish professor they had hired. In the “if he were making all of this up” line of questioning is it possible that Joseph was quite intentional about what day Elijah appeared? Of course it is.
What’s NOT a coincidence is that both Elias AND Elijah showed up on at the same time. That’s freakin’ unbelievable. (for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Elias is just another way to say Elijah). And by unbelievable, I mean I don’t believe it. Like literally. I literally don’t believe it. And not in the figurative way people use the word literally these days. I mean I actually don’t believe it. Continue reading →