Isreal: the Real Woman at the Well in John’s Gospel

Jacob and Rachel

I preached a sermon last time John 4’s story of the “Woman at the Well” came up in the lectionary, and it turns out that many in my audience (who are Educated) liked the novelty of the thesis I used. Sometimes it’s the familiar that surprises! As the Samaritans represent the Northern Kingdom, and the Pharisees represent ideals in Nehemiah / Ezra that remove them from Israel, Jesus rapprochement shows a new inclusion of the “lost tribes”

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The Theological Method of Augustine: “Slavery to Signs” in On Christian Doctrine

St Augustines On Christian Doctrine

In On Christian Doctrine, St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, promotes his view that the biggest error possible for an exegete can make is to take a figurative sign or narrative literally; to do so, betrays that one is only thinking in a “this worldly” carnal and nonspiritual sense and for Augustine is the root of idolatry and much error. The importance of this insight in my own personal theology, and its importance to Calvin’s view of the Eucharist, Luther’s ideas, etc. have made this, in my own opinion, arguably one of the strongest critiques of “human religion,” a powerful corrective […]

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Colonialist legacies, Globalization, and The American Influence on World Christianity

Pair of Globes, 1728 - 1730,

In The New Shape of World Christianity Mark Noll says “Christianity in its American form has indeed become very important for the world. But it has become important, not primarily because of direct influence.”[1] In contrast to Noll, I feel the situation is far too complex for Noll’s theory of a separate American form and “American influence” to stand. The idea that a direct influence and an indirect influence matters, is some cause for debate. From the new forms of colonialism to globalization, American influence in world Christianity is very real. Form and Influence There is no single place is […]

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How Trade and Popes wrecked India’s Thomas Christians.

Calcutta woman

When the Portuguese established the colony of Goa, they were seeking primarily to establish routes of commerce. Their machismo in simply eliminating the opposition served this end well. However, the Portuguese also felt a moral imperative to help the local “Thomas Christian” population they found there. The primary method of the Portuguese to further this goal was still to utilize political power and threats. While they had some success in this, the overall results are questionable. The Portuguese relied on political pressure, established by force of arms, to “Romanize” the Thomas Christians. In so doing they caused the non-compliant groups […]

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Do Christian’s have the Authority to Heal? Ken Blue thinks so

The Feeding of the Five Thousand; Jesus Walking on the Water, 1386

Ken Blue’s Authority to Heal is for me enjoyable on two levels. Topics of Christianity in application are particularly edifying to me; moreover, to Blue the assumption that God intervenes is a given. That alone makes the book an interesting read. That stated, as with all theology touching the Charismatic movement I remain slightly arm’s length with Blue. I am not a cessationist; however, I think that Pentecostal derived spiritual movements are suspicious, and as the former with its “Oneness” heresy, highly questionable “Apostolic” manifestations, and scorn for even traditional biblical education is a tree that bears as much bad fruit […]

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Why Satan is not Lucifer in Isaiah 14

The Archangel Michael Vanquishing the Devil, about 1530,

Isaiah 14 is the “source verse” for the identification of Satan as Lucifer. A theory very popular in television and movies; this is one time TV gets it wrong. The devil, it turns out is in the details. With a socio-historical reconstruction of Isaiah’s world, we might be able to cast this common historical trope out!

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Why Christian Pop Spirituality Sucks

The Vexed Man, 1771 - 1783

I am no novice when it comes to all the forms of spiritual discipline that Richard Forester outlined decades ago in his Celebration of Discipline. But, the way I see pop spirituality going these days, it’s a useless exercise in vanity. “Nothing is New under the Sun” – Ecclesiastes 1.9 Now, I’ve experimented and mastered a whole lot more of the techniques and special methods than Forester Discusses or promotes. Right now, there is a fad of Contemplative prayer, before that it was the Jesus Prayer (Hesychasm in Greek), and ever since the people of Israel returned from Babylon there […]

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