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Of Preachers, Pastors and CEOs

Well, as you can see, I am taking a bit of a blog break. I’ve been slightly tired this week, and I need to get feeling better for next week. Tiredness affects my attitude about being at the computer — I get concerned about the possibility of vertigo. And, in addition to that, I have been doing some reading to prepare myself for next week — which will be a busy week, indeed.

VCI_LogoOne of the many things in which I’ve gotten involved these days is the Vital Church Initiative in the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. I have a Peer Mentoring session to lead next week on Tuesday, and directly from there I am off to Flint to participate in a Consultation Event at the Asbury United Methodist Church. That event will consume Wednesday and Thursday of next week. In preparation for the Peer Mentoring session (a meeting of clergy) I read the book Managing Transitions by William Bridgers — a very good and quite readable business management book. The session will be about managing transitions in the local church. So, having finished the book, I am now preparing myself to lead that session. And, yet ahead of me, I have some reading to do to prepare for the consultation event after that. (more…)

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Charles Wesley: Active Faith that Lives Within

Great words from Charles Wesley:

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

“Let us plead for faith alone,
faith which by our works is shown;
God it is who justifies,
only faith the grace applies.

“Active faith that lives within,
conquers hell and death and sin,
hallows whom it first made whole,
forms the Savior in the soul.

“Let us for this faith contend,
sure salvation is the end;
heaven already is begun,
everlasting life is won.

“Only let us persevere
till we see our Lord appear,
never from the Rock remove,
saved by faith which works by love.”

— Charles Wesley (See: “Let Us Plead for Faith Alone.”)

In this view, there is no separation between faith and works, or between faith and spiritual formation.

The same faith that sets us right with God is also the faith that: “conquers hell and death and sin, hallows whom it first made whole, forms the Savior in the soul.”

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My Journey With the Bible

I tweet a lot of links and many of them are critical of dictation and inerrancy approaches to the Scripture. I love the Scriptures and I love preaching and teaching the Scriptures, so this may seem strange. In fact, they are closely related to one another. In a sense, I don’t really have an intellectual campaign against Biblical inerrancy — my objections are empirical. My only objection to fundamentalist and inerrancy approaches to the Scriptures is that, in detail, they don’t work.

Greg Carey

Greg Carey

Recently Greg Carey, professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary posted a blog entry entitled “Where Do ‘Liberal’ Bible Scholars Come From?” It’s a good piece, and I think he is making a good point: Bible scholars become “liberal” (to the extent that they do) from reading and studying the Bible. The Bible itself undermines the fundamentalist view of the Bible. Carey writes:

Though I understand it differently, I love the Bible as much as I ever have. I’m just as passionate for Jesus and for the gospel as I ever have been, though I understand them differently too. But I can say this: Reading the Bible is a terrific cure for fundamentalism. That’s exactly how many of us so-called liberal Bible scholars got our start.

Then Peter Enns picked up on this and began a series at his blog: “I was always taught the Bible says X, but I just don’t see it.(more…)

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Charles Wesley: Unite Knowledge With Vital Piety

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

 

 

Unite the pair so long disjoined,
Knowledge and vital piety:
Learning and holiness combined,
And truth and love, let all men see
In those whom up to thee we give,
Thine, wholly thine, to die and live.

— Charles Wesley, A Prayer for Children.

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Charles Wesley: “O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done?”

eccehomo01This is one of my favorite of Charles Wesley’s hymns about the Cross — though I discover many congregations have never heard it and never sung it.

1. O Love divine, what has thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th’ immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

2. Is crucified for me and you,
to bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true,
ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood.
Pardon for all flows from his side:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified! (more…)

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How I Still Think Like a Methodist

hgbk-coverIn the early part of his 2012 book How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, N. T. Wright remarks on how the Church has not always allowed itself to hear the full witness of the Gospels to Christ. I won’t attempt to reproduce the argument here: read the book. (Or, maybe: read this review.)

Wright begins by discussing some ways that the Church’s teachings unintentionally got off track. And, as he is discussing how these various theologians of the past attempted to defend orthodoxy in a way that misconstrued some of the Bible’s teachings, he says on page 37 that “the eighteenth century saw great movements of revival, particularly through the Methodist movement led by John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield.” and, he goes on to say: (more…)

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