Weekly Thoughts

The Irony of Freedom

Great truths often subsist in great ironies, the Cross of Christ being the supreme example. Among the many blessings that follow from the Cross is genuine freedom. I like the way Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) describes it: “Every pressure and weight involved in [God’s kingdom] has been put not on our shoulders but on those of[…]

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The Challenge of Preaching

This week is the annual Workshop on Biblical Exposition at College Church, what we fondly call “spring training for preachers.” I find myself thinking about the challenges that we face. The following quote from E.M. Bounds provides helpful insight into how gospel preachers navigate such challenges. Edward McKendree Bounds (1835 – 1913) was an American[…]

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Developing a “Heart” for God

In modern parlance, “heart” and “vision” are often distinguished. We tend to associate vision with the mind while the heart is concerned with emotions. However, in the language and logic of Scripture this is not so. The heart functions as the locus of thought, the place where vision is developed. For example, the Psalmist writes,[…]

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The Dawning Light of Redemption

Let’s face it, we naturally find the crucifixion of Jesus repulsive. After all, who enjoys pain, abandonment, and despair? In the words of Jürgen Moltmann, the Cross is a “profane horror.” Perhaps this is why Moltmann says in the first sentence of his work The Crucified God, “The cross is not and cannot be loved.”[…]

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Talking with Nominals about the Gospel

The homemade cannoli and Napoletani rivaled the artistry of the Sistine Chapel. And the coffee—mama mia! Since Rosa’s café, located in downtown Bologna, was merely a bocce ball roll from my residence, I visited often. Her congenial personality made it easy to broach the subject of God, which I did after the third visit. In[…]

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My Song Is Love Unknown

It will soon be Good Friday, a time to read Scripture, poetry, hymns, and events from church history that probe into the wonder of Jesus’ cross. One of my favorite poems is one that we’re planning to sing on Friday evening at New Covenant Church, My Song is Love Unknown. Let the lyrics sink into[…]

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Hope in the Shadowlands

Having begun his professional life believing in the promise of communism, British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) abandoned his utopian dream in the 1930s. Coming to Christ in 1969, he emerged as a cultural critic who saw groundless vanity in suggestions that human achievement or human error could save or ruin everything. Lord Jesus was the[…]

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The Courage to Be Meaningful

In his book The Courage to Be, Paul Tillich memorably divides theological periods of history into existential struggles: the fear of death marked the early centuries of the church; the late medieval and Reformation eras struggled with moral anxiety—the question of how one can stand before a holy God; and in our modern period we[…]

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A Lenten Friday: What Separates Catholics and Protestants

I am often asked, “What is the fundamental difference between Catholic and Protestant belief?” There are numerous ways to answer the question. Sometimes I use the following illustration. During my early twenties, I worked for a fundraising firm that conducted campaigns in Catholic parishes and diocese across the country. On one occasion I attended a black-tie[…]

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How Is Faith Alone?

During this year of commemorating the Reformation, we are enjoying conversation about the gospel with all sorts of people. These interactions are especially interesting among Catholic friends. But such discussions are not always easy. Consider a classic landmine on which we often step: our message that justification is by “faith alone.” From an evangelical Protestant[…]

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