Faith in a Wounded World

The Healing of the Paralytic Mark 2.1-12

The Healing of the Paralytic Mark 2.1-12

I want to reflect on the healing of the paralytic in the next few posts. One of the intriguing features of Mark’s narrative is the connection between the forgiveness of sin and the physical restoration of the man that was carried to Jesus by his friends. This passage represents the only time in Mark when Jesus explicitly tells someone that they are forgiven and released of their sins. The pronouncement of forgiveness is controversial here because Jesus acts with the… Keep reading

Revised Posting on the Dimensions of Health

Revised Posting on the Dimensions of Health

My friend Sharlene Craig helped me think through some of the content of the last post on 8 dimensions of health. I have reduced the number of dimensions to seven. I have also tried to show that a problem of specialized care is that we concentrate on one dimension of well-being to the exclusion of others. Trusted friends and spiritual advisers play an important role in helping us to redefine and reshare our expectations of what it means to live… Keep reading

Biomedical issues are only one dimension of health

Biomedical issues are only one dimension of health

Bible study or home groups meetings are part of the life of many churches between Sundays. In preparation for a shared time of prayer, group members often talk about health concerns of individuals and lift these people up to God for his grace and healing. Three observations may be made; (1) health issues are a common concern of people in a church community; (2) the working definition of health is often limited to bio-medical dysfunctions or injuries; and, (3) there… Keep reading

Resiliency in Bearing Witness to God’s Rule

Resiliency in Bearing Witness to God’s Rule

There is dramatic showdown between a prophet and state religion supported by the royal palace narrated in the Old Testament. 1 Kings 18 tells the account of a faithful person of God in conflict with the 450 representatives of Baal on a mountain of Israel. We need to remember that the worship of Baal was promoted by King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. The royal palace issued orders to seek and kill prophets of Yahweh. The Biblical account narrates that… Keep reading

Stress

Stress

2017 has been a rough year for many people around me. I understand. It is hard to be optimistic about the world around us, and, at times, our own participation in it. We all deal with different forms of stress. The tensions we feel may come from troubled relationships, employment demands, health issues, financial difficulties, and the general state of the world. Under stress, most of us function at a reduced level. We may find ourselves going through the motions… Keep reading

When was the last time you heard a sermon on racism?

When was the last time you heard a sermon on racism?

Racism and prophetic protests against racism are part of the Biblical message. I wonder why we hear so few sermons in our churches about this moral issue. Perhaps Stassen and Gushee (2016) are correct that the dominant white culture (to which I belong) has taken a social evil and neutered it by reducing it to the level of individual relationships while protesting that we are nice people. That argument does not work in groups where we hear the stories of… Keep reading

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership Part 2

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership Part 2

Students in my Christian Ethics class at Ambrose discussed an excerpt from Vaclav Havel’s book Summer Meditations (1992) on Monday. I was not surprised that no one had previously heard of Havel. The relative lack of public recognition of is not surprising. We do not pay much attention to political leaders outside of North America unless they threaten us or represent a major power. Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until 1992 (when the Slovak region separated to form… Keep reading

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership

I am teaching a course on Christian Ethics at Ambrose Seminary. Next week we will discuss ethical issues of political leadership. In preparation for the class, the students are reading an assigned excerpt of Vaclav Havel’s book Summer Meditations ((1992). Havel was a playwright, essayist, and dissident under the communist regime of Czechoslovakia. He spent several years in prison. His movement, the Civic Forum, played an important role in the Velvet Revolution that brought communist rule to an end in… Keep reading

WOA Approach to Ethics: Parts 3&4

WOA Approach to Ethics: Parts 3&4

Part 3: Jesus and the WOA Principle The WOA principle drives the mission of Jesus. He constantly moves to meet people on the margins of the social world of Galilee and Judea. The lack of direct references to widows, orphans, and aliens as vulnerable social groups does not negate our premise that the ethics of the gospel requires us to consider moral issues from the perspective of people in the borderlands. The following examples show the two features of WOA… Keep reading

WOA Approach to Ethics: Part 2

WOA Approach to Ethics: Part 2

Part 2: Defining the Widow, Orphan, and Exile   The traditions contained in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures span a period of almost 2000 years.[1] The mega-narrative has stories of creation, the early patriarchs, delivery from slavery in Egypt, settlement in the new land, the monarchy, a divided kingdom, exile and national humiliation, the return to Palestine, the domination of Greece and Rome, the mission of Jesus, and the birth of the early church. Life is contested and fragile at every… Keep reading