Todd Starnes: San Antonio Proposal Could Bar Christians From City Council

I don’t like to relay stories like this and sound like a purveyor of doom. But this is what the new fascism looks like, all dressed up under the guise of enlightened tolerance, and its sick influence is growing at an alarming rate. We Christians had better wake up and hear the sound of the jackboots. Otherwise our necks will be under them sooner or later. This is very, very disturbing and it is a call for us to be politically vigilant, even as we ask the Lord to forgive these enemies of the cross and to heal them.

The proposed change would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s discrimination ordinance. It would protect gays, lesbians, transgender, and veterans – a move that had critics accusing the council of playing politics with the military.

“No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability,” the ordinance reads.

Critics argue that the ordinance could ban Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin from serving on the city council.

They also believe the ordinance would also ban the city from doing business with anyone who fails to espouse politically correct views and businesses run by people of faith would be subject to criminal penalties if they refused to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs related to homosexuality.

Read the whole disturbing piece.

Fr. Jonathan Morris: What Pope Francis Really Said About Gays — And No, It’s Not New

From Fox News.

The real issue of concern for me is the duplicity of the media which reported this story. See what you think.

When Pope Francis says “who am I to judge” he is saying—and I think we need to hear more of this from religious leaders—that active homosexuals deserve the same kindness, love, and mercy that all of us sinners would hope to receive from God and from others.

We don’t make judgments about anyone’s personal worth—God has already done that when he created us out of love.

I would hope next time Pope Francis offers to meet with the press, they would take to heart his message about fearless service and report to their readers what he actually said, rather than what they wish they had heard.

Read the entire opinion piece.

Of Whores and God’s Children: The Amazing Love of God

Sermon delivered on Sunday, Trinity 9C, July 28, 2013 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Columbus, OH. If you would like to hear the audio version of this sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Hosea 1.2-10; Psalm 85.1-13; Colossians 2.6-19; Luke 11.1-13.

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

In our OT lesson today, we are confronted with some graphic and colorful language that is even more shocking when we remember that it comes from the Lord himself via his prophet Hosea. Let’s face it. We don’t really expect to hear God engaging in this kind of name calling! But more importantly we are also confronted with an apparent enigma about God. How can God condemn his people Israel in one breath and then turn around and call them his children in the next? It is this issue I want us to look at briefly this morning because it gets to the heart of the nature of God and our relationship with him.

The first thing that grabs our attention in our OT lesson is God’s call to his prophet Hosea. God calls him to act out symbolically God’s prophecy, much like God called Jeremiah and Ezekiel to do. Hosea is to marry a whore and have children by her. We don’t know for sure if Gomer was a prostitute when Hosea married her or whether she was unfaithful to him later on. But that really isn’t the point. The point is that God wants Hosea to live in a relationship that is symbolic of the relationship between God and his people. If we can get past our initial shock of hearing God calling his people Israel a whore and not focus on the graphic language, we realize that the text is pointing us to the real problem of unfaithfulness on Israel’s part and we can understand this very well. Just this past week, for example, a mayoral candidate who had gotten himself in trouble before for texting graphic pictures of himself to other women was at it again. And once again we see this man’s wife standing by him as he confesses his sins to the public, making us scratch our heads in bewilderment and disbelief, among other things.

A similar dynamic is going on in our OT lesson. Hosea is to embody God’s faithfulness to Israel by remaining faithful to Gomer, despite her whoredom. Just as Gomer had (or would) dally with other men, thereby being unfaithful to her husband, so Israel had dallied (and would continue to dally) with false gods and idols, which had led them astray so that they were no longer being faithful to God or living as his called-out (holy) people to bring God’s healing love to the nations. As we think about the pain that Gomer’s unfaithfulness would have caused Hosea (and the pain Israel’s unfaithfulness clearly caused God), we are tempted to wonder why Hosea just doesn’t dump Gomer and move on. Why doesn’t Hosea just let her spend the rest of her life in the mess she’s created? After all, it would serve her right! But when we judge Gomer like this we bring judgment on ourselves because who among us has been entirely faithful to God? It would be just as easy for us to ask why God doesn’t just dump us and move on, leaving us to live with the messes we have created!

That’s why it is so easy for us to understand the significance behind the naming of Hosea’s and Gomer’s children because we understand that when one party is unfaithful in a relationship, it has the power to damage or destroy the relationship and our relationship with God is no exception. No wonder there was judgment in the names of the three children born! God has had enough of his wife Israel’s unfaithfulness and now judgment is coming. And that’s the scary part because if we are really honest with ourselves we know that we too deserve the same condemnation for our unfaithfulness to God. But then at the end of the lesson we read the most amazing thing. After telling his people Israel that they are no longer his people and he is no longer their God, God speaks of a startling reversal. Not only will Israel enjoy unheard of prosperity, they will be known as children of God! What is going on here? Is this another example of God going all schizo on us again?

Of course not. There is almost always an element of God’s grace that accompanies his judgments in the OT because it is God’s nature to be gracious and merciful. But the fuller answer is found in our epistle and gospel lessons this morning. Paul talks about God taking the record of our sins—sins typically caused by our unfaithfulness to God when we chase after other, lesser gods, including our own disordered desires, all of which God’s law condemns—and nailing it to the cross of Jesus. What makes this promise even more remarkable is the startling fact that Paul proclaims God himself arranged the condition for our forgiveness and pardon by becoming the man Jesus of Nazareth and dying for us so that we would be spared his just judgment on our unfaithfulness. Not only that, Paul makes the equally incredible statement that on the cross, God has disarmed the dark powers behind our sinfulness and waywardness.

All this is language that simply means that by becoming human in Jesus, God himself has broken sin’s power over us and the death that results from it, and instead has paved the way for us to have new life, free from the fear of God’s just condemnation (cf. Romans 8.1). There is no condemnation because when we are Jesus’ people, when God looks at us he sees Jesus’ faithfulness, not our unfaithfulness. This is why we don’t need to have our flesh cut away as a sign that we are God’s children. Instead, we are circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, i.e., by his death and resurrection, our Lord Jesus has cut away the power of sin over us so that we are able to live as God’s children, faithful and obedient to God, and this is the outward sign that we are God’s children through our relationship with Jesus. As we are healed by Jesus, we become jealous for God’s good name to be honored among all the nations, just as our Lord taught us to pray in his prayer. That’s what “hallowed (holy) be your name” is all about.

And how do we receive this gift? By believing it’s true and as a result, living our lives as if we really believe Jesus is Lord. This is what Paul calls being in Christ. We start this process of being in Christ at our baptism, which is the sacramental sign of our new and restored relationship with God in Jesus. Paul tells us that at our baptism we and all that keeps us hostile and alienated from God are buried with Christ so that we can also be raised with him to new life. This latter promise speaks to our current situation as well as our future living in the new creation. When we are baptized, we are initiated into God’s family and become his children through our faith in Jesus. Of course, like any relationship, our relationship with God requires our effort. There is nothing magical about baptism. Rather, it is an outward and visible sign of the inward and invisible reality that we are loved and rescued by God because of what God has done for us in Jesus’ death and resurrection. God has a history of rescuing his people and baptism is no different. What this means is that we no longer need to fear God or God’s just judgment because in Jesus we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.

But, you protest, even if this is all true and God has forgiven us in and through Jesus, we are still broken and fallen people. We still miss the mark and we have a track record to prove it. I’m glad you voiced this concern because it will allow me to finish this sermon in a timely manner. I am not suggesting that our relationship with God will be easy or automatic as a result of what God has done for us in Jesus or at our baptism because, yes, we are still weighed down by our body of sin. But there is good news even in this area because part of what Paul and Jesus want us to see is that when we come into a real relationship with God through Jesus, we no longer have to live life alone or solely under our own power. We are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in us to transform us over our lifetime into the very image of Jesus so that we can truly be the people God called and created us to be.

Yet even having the Spirit live in us won’t make us immune from hurt or failure. We live in a fallen world where things sometimes go wrong and as Paul reminds us in Romans 6.7, we are not totally free from sin until we die. But that should not discourage us because none of this negates what God has done for us in Jesus. When we truly believe that in Jesus, God has rescued us from sin and death and act like we believe it, we still don’t have to worry about facing condemnation, even when we are unfaithful on occasion, as long as we repent and return to faithful living. And when we have the Spirit living in us, we can be assured that we are given a power to live according to God that would simply be impossible without his healing and transforming presence. And as Jesus reminds us in our gospel lesson, all we have to do is ask for the Spirit to come and live in us. Are you praying this audaciously?

So what do we do with this? In a few moments we are going to baptize baby James into God’s family of redeemed people in Jesus. We have been reminded what happens in baptism and the wonderful hope and promise it symbolizes. But as we have also seen, this is only the beginning. Like a physical birth, there is much growth that will occur thereafter, God willing. And there will be great opposition to James’ new birth and to his new life in Christ as he grows and matures. So what are we to do? Well, as Jesus reminds us, we start by praying for the entire Sang family, that God will equip them to raise James faithfully. They will do that in large part by sound teaching and embodying Jesus in their daily lives. But the Sangs are not an isolated unit. They are part of our family and we are given the task of helping them raise their sons, not only by sound teaching and how we live our lives, but by how we love and support this family as they live their lives.

This is where paying attention to the context of Paul’s letter to the Colossians can help us. Paul tells us not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deceit. His arguments and word choice for captive suggest that the Colossians were being assailed by false teachers, most likely Judaizers who were trying to persuade them that Jesus wasn’t sufficient for healing, forgiveness, and redemption; neither was he sufficient for them to fully understand God. Instead, all of this would come only through their obedience to the law. Not many of us have to worry about coming under the influence of Judaizers but that does not mean we are out of danger because in our world today there are many forces that seek to pull us as Christians away from Jesus. We hear constantly that all religions are equal, that there are many paths to God. This message can lead us to think that we can add elements from other religions to our Christian faith to help us find deeper spiritual fulfillment, whether it be New Age, transcendental meditation, or whatever. But that is not what Paul and the first Christians proclaimed and our epistle lesson stands as a clear warning against any such dallying because it will surely lead us astray, make us lose our focus on Jesus, and result in us living unfaithfully, just as it did to God’s people Israel. James will face this temptation as he grows up just as we do now and this makes the necessity for prayer and our grace-filled fellowship even more urgent so that we do not give up the wondrous gift of God to us in Jesus. If we want to know the true God, his heart and character, we need look no further than Jesus because he is the very embodiment of God.

So we must all be careful to always keep our focus on Jesus and not be distracted by other, lesser things or gods and be eventually consumed by them. I say this especially to those of you this morning who might be struggling with issues of forgiveness or with your relationship with God. God himself has called us out of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of light. In God’s sovereign grace and power, God has declared us not only fit in his sight, but also his children in Jesus—forgiven, healed, and greatly loved. He has given us tangible signs of his healing love in the sacrament of baptism and in the lives of his saints. Dare to believe this and take hope and comfort that no one is out of God’s reach. No one. This is the hope and promise that is baby James’ at his baptism and it is the hope and promise of all God’s people, broken as we are, because in the end, the gospel is not about us or our power. It is about the amazing love and healing and sovereign power of God as manifested in Jesus Christ. And when by God’s grace you really do embrace the promise, you will surely know what it means to have Good News, now and for all eternity.

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Would you like to respond to this sermon? Use the form below. Please keep it clean and address its points, not the perceived shortcomings of the writer.


Christopher J.H. Wright: Sex in Leviticus

This appeared as a sidebar in the excellent article from Wright that I excerpted recently.

Second, the argument would reduce the Bible to absurdity. The Ten Commandments come in the same book that commanded Israel not to climb the mountain. If we are told that we cannot with consistency disapprove of same-sex activity unless we also stop eating shellfish, then we should not condemn theft and murder unless we also ban mountaineering.

Third, and most important, the biblical discussion of homosexual behaviour begins not in Leviticus, as if the whole argument depends on how we interpret a single Old Testament law. When Jesus was asked about divorce, he would not let the argument get stuck around the interpretation of the law. Instead he took the issue back to Genesis. That is where we find the foundational biblical teaching about God’s purpose in creating human sexual complementarity—and it is very rich.

Check it out and see what you think.

New Podcast for Sermons Launched

I am pleased to announce that we have launched a new podcast that will have our sermons preached at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church. Our first sermon published was by Fr. Philip Sang (see previous post) and you can subscribe to our sermons podcast by opening up iTunes (get the latest version from Apple, please) and then going to the File menu. From there, choose Subscribe to podcast… When the Subscribe to podcast window opens, copy this link and paste it into the window.

The podcast sermons will then begin to download to iTunes where you can listen to them.

I have also applied to the iTunes store to have our podcast listed. Once approved you can search for it by name: Changed by God to Make a Difference for God. This will allow you to listen to the sermons on your iPhone or iPad using the (free from the App store). The podcast’s title also happens to be our mission statement. I’ll update this post when our podcast is approved by the iTunes store.

In the meantime, enjoy and tell a friend.

UPDATE: We’ve been approved by the iTunes store. You can subscribe to our podcast by going here.

Fr. Philip Sang: Christ in You, the Hope of Glory

Sermon delivered on Sunday Trinity 8C, July 21, 2013, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Columbus, OH. You can listen to the audio version of this sermon by clicking the badge at the end of the text.

Lectionary texts: Amos 8.1-12; Psalm 52.1-9; Colossians 1.15-28; Luke 10.38-42.

In the Pauline letter to the church in Colossae there is a beautiful exposition of the person of Jesus the Christ. This letter helps us understand what it meant to be the church and who it is that we follow. That is Christ in you the Hope of Glory.

Not only that,  but the epistle also tells us that all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.”

This is a wonderful image of the nature and work of the Christ; unified diversity creating beauty.

Yet, the dynamic power of this scripture is that the writer moves from the work of Christ to the work of the community of faith at Colossae. The writer says they understand this vibrant harmony that Christ’s death enables, because they have experienced that death with Christ. It is from this transformational experience that they have been fit together to continue this harmonizing work. And, it is clear that this faith-life is something that needs to be worked at with all their mind, soul, and strength in the present moment among the people of God.

According to this letter the oneness is a deep concern for God’s people and in the suffering of Christ.

The Message ends the passage this way: ” The mystery is this: Christ in you, the hope of Glory” this is to say Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory.

Today’s reading from Amos continues God’s proclamation against the injustices found in Israel.

God asks Amos what he sees, and the response is a basket of ripe fruit. It is the end of God tolerating the unjust practices of the powerful in Israel and will be the end of God’s word for them.

The passage gives a very clear description of what has gone wrong. The most vulnerable people are being crushed and discarded. The holy days are waited through impatiently with only an eye to making money at the first opportunity. They even sell the “sweepings of wheat” which should belong to the poor. It is these actions that have sealed their fate and will bring destruction to their lives.

The theme that emerges in this portion of the book is one with which is familiar and may make us quite uncomfortable.  Amos saw God’s judgment against Israel as a course of action that was already underway, one that was impossible to reverse. As our Fr. Kevin mentioned last week about what the Governor said concerning the poor, I agree with him for sure that their poverty does not necessarily mean they are lazy. Standing for the right of the vulnerable in the society is the reason God has changed us so that we can make a difference for him in the face of the world He loves.

Today’s psalm is a good complement to the reading from Amos. This psalm also condemns the rich and powerful for their abuse of the righteous of God. The psalmist calls upon God to bring a day of reckoning to those who have brought evil and destruction to God’s faithful people. They are described this way:

“See the one who would not take refuge in God,
but trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge in wealth!”

The psalmist affirms that trusting in abundant riches is a way of destruction for all concerned. For me, this description sounds like many people in our world. There are multiple examples in our world of those who trade a God-life for wealth. In our world today there is continued abuse of the earth to drag riches from it and this has left millions with an unlivable environment.

Sometimes it seems as if those with power and wealth always win. But, in the psalm, the righteous are defended by God and they praise God for their salvation. This is a good reminder to us that Christ in us is our hope of Glory.

The Gospel from Luke is a good match with the Epistle lesson. These few verses in Luke tell a simple story of the supremacy of Jesus’ teaching.

Often when we read discussions of the story of Martha and Mary, there is a lot of defense of Martha’s busyness. There was work to be done to extend hospitality to the invited guest and Martha is doing that work. However, This pleasant story takes a sharp turn when Martha, distracted by her many tasks, comes to Jesus and asks, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me” (10:40).

Many who read or hear this story may cheer for Mary in her inversion of traditional roles. Many may also empathize with Martha’s resentment of her sister for leaving her to do all the work. Jesus’ response to Martha seems less than empathetic, chiding her for her distraction and worry, and praising Mary: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing, Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (10:41-42).

The problem with Martha is not that she is busy serving and providing hospitality. Certainly Jesus commends this kind of service to the neighbor many times, notably in the parable of the Good Samaritan that immediately precedes the story of Mary and Martha. The problem with Martha is not her serving, but rather that she is worried and distracted. The word translated “distracted” in verse 40, periespato, has the connotation of being pulled or dragged in different directions.

Martha’s distraction and worry leave no room for the most important aspect of hospitality — gracious attention to the guest. In fact, she breaks all the rules of hospitality by trying to embarrass her sister in front of her guest, and by asking her guest to intervene in a family dispute. She even goes so far as to accuse Jesus of not caring about her (Lord, do you not care…?).

Martha’s worry and distraction prevent her from being truly present with Jesus, and cause her to drive a wedge between her sister and herself, and between Jesus and herself. She has missed out on the “one thing needed” for true hospitality. There is no greater hospitality than listening to your guest. How much more so when the guest is Jesus! So Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.

Jesus’ words to Martha may be seen as an invitation rather than a rebuke. Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. The one thing needed is for Martha to receive the gracious presence of Jesus, to listen to his words, to know that she is valued not for what she does or how well she does it, but for who she is as a child of God.

In a culture of hectic schedules and the relentless pursuit of productivity, we are tempted to measure our worth by how busy we are, by how much we accomplish, or by how well we meet the expectations of others.

Many of us today most likely identify with Martha. Feeling pulled in different directions, feeling worried and distracted by many things — these seem to be common threads of life in our fast-paced world. And yet, as Jesus says in Luke 12:25, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” We know that worrying does no good, and that much of what we worry about is not so important in the larger scheme of things, and yet we cannot seem to quell our anxious thoughts and frantic activity.

It is true that much of our busyness and distraction stems from the noblest of intentions. We want to provide for our families, we want to give our children every opportunity to enrich their lives, we want to serve our neighbors, and yes, we want to serve the Lord. Indeed, where would the church be without its “Marthas,” those faithful folk who perform the tasks of hospitality and service so vital to making the church a welcoming and well-functioning community?

And yet if all our activities leave us with no time to be still in the Lord’s presence and hear God’s word, we are likely to end up anxious and troubled. We are likely to end up with a kind of service that is devoid of love and joy and is resentful of others.

Both listening and doing, receiving God’s Word and serving others, are vital to the Christian life, just as inhaling and exhaling are to breathing. Yet how often do we forget to breathe in deeply? Trying to serve without being nourished by God’s word is like expecting good fruit to grow from a tree that has been uprooted. Never forget this Christ in you, the hope of Glory

Luke’s story is left suspended. We do not know what happened next – whether Mary and Martha were reconciled, whether they were all able to enjoy the meal that Martha had prepared, whether Martha was finally able to sit and give her full attention to Jesus.

We do know that Jesus invites all of us who are worried and distracted by many things to sit and rest in his presence, to hear his words of grace and truth, to know that we are loved and valued as children of God, to be renewed in faith and strengthened for service. There is need of only one thing: attention to our guest. As it turns out, our guest is also our host, with abundant gifts to give. Christ in you, the hope of Glory.

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Click on the badge above to listen to the sermon.

Christopher J.H. Wright: Learning to Love Leviticus

Christopher Wright’s article is outstanding and if want to make sense of the Bible, you would be well served to read, learn, mark, and inwardly digest what Wright has to say here.

Wright’s article is part of a series from Christianity Today that addresses the question, “What is the relationship between the seemingly legalistic and wrathful God of the Old Testament, and the seemingly loving and gracious God of the New?”


To imagine that “living biblically” means trying to keep as many ancient rules as possible just because they are in the Bible misses the point of the law in the first place. Old Testament law was not just about rules but also about relationship with God, founded on God’s grace and redemption, and motivated by the mission of living as the people of God in the world, so that the world should come to know the living God.

The point is that on one hand, all of these kinds of laws were intended for Israel’s society and not directly for us. They are culturally specific and limited. Yet at the same time, as Paul says, all of the laws were “written for our instruction” and are “useful” for us. So we should not find ourselves asking, “Which of these laws do I have to obey, and which can I ignore?” Rather, we should ask, “What can I learn from all of these laws about how God wants me to live and how he wants his people and society at large to live?” Not, “What rules do I have to keep?” but rather, “What kind of relationship do I need to cultivate with God and live out among others?”

Read and reflect on it all.

Phillip Cary: Gentiles in the Hands of a Genocidal God

Cary’s article is part of a series from Christianity Today that addresses the question, “What is the relationship between the seemingly legalistic and wrathful God of the Old Testament, and the seemingly loving and gracious God of the New?”

In fact, with respect to the command to exterminate the Canaanites, our position is less like Israel’s and more like that of Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute in Jericho who befriends the Israelite spies. She has not taken part in Israel’s exodus, but she has heard of it and believes it. She knows the name of the Lord, the God who has given the land to Israel, and she confesses that he is God of heaven and earth (Josh. 2:9–11). She is a believer, and eventually will be included in Hebrews 11’s great litany of heroes who lived by faith. But she is not an Israelite. She is a Canaanite who hopes to live, not die.

As a believer, Rahab can have hope, because the threat she faces is not so much moral as religious. It is not as if the Israelites were so much more righteous than every other nation (Deut. 9:4–6). Israel is holy not because of their own righteousness but because the Lord loves them and chose them as his people. And the holiness of the Lord is a kind of jealousy that claims Israel as his own, not allowing other nations to lead them into worshiping false gods (7:5–8). That is the holiness that leads toherem, the extermination of Rahab’s people for their idolatry.

My proposal is that to read this story properly, as Gentiles, is to put ourselves in Rahab’s place. Our origin lies not with the people who hear the command to kill, but with those who are to be killed. We belong with those who should be devoted to destruction because we offend against the holiness of God. And yet what has actually happened is that, like Rahab, we have received mercy through faith in the God of Israel.

See what you think.

Mark Buchanan: Can We Trust the God of Genocide?

Buchanan’s article is part of a series from Christianity Today that addresses the question, “What is the relationship between the seemingly legalistic and wrathful God of the Old Testament, and the seemingly loving and gracious God of the New?”

“Thanks for coming,” he said, surprising me. I asked him if I’d helped him answer the question, Why do you trust the Bible?



“Well,” I said, “do you trust the Bible?”


“Why not?”

“Hosea 13:16,” he said.

“Remind me,” I said.

With icy precision he quoted: “The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.”

Now it was my turn to be dumbfounded.

[B]oth Testaments narrate a kind of historical determinism. The brutality that Hosea describes is sickening, but hardly confined to some remote, barbaric past ruled by bloodthirsty chieftains at the behest of their cruel tribal deities. No, such brutality is happening somewhere in the world right now, often at the hands of those who are well educated and, in certain contexts, charming and sophisticated. But as then, so now: they commit such acts because, at root, “they have rebelled against their God.” And as then, so now: it’s often the women and children, the innocents, who suffer the consequences. In some ways, Hosea 13:16 simply announces a terrible historical reality: evil happens when men reject God, and often the wrong people suffer for it.

The problem here, though, is that Hosea 13:16 implicitly, and other texts explicitly, impute the agency of such acts to God. He’s the author and perfecter of the atrocity. He is the one pulling the levers, pushing the buttons—or watching it all happen with approval, like Saul holding the cloaks of the assassins.

Is that you, Jesus? we ask. Which takes us to the heart of the matter.

Check it out and see what you think.

The Christian Pundit: Young Evangelicals Are Getting High

Ten or fifteen years ago, it was American evangelical congregations that seemed cutting edge. They had the bands, the coolest youth pastor, professional babysitting for every women’s Bible study, and a church library full of Christian novels. But now, to kids who grew up in that context, it seems a bit dated or disconnected—the same kind of feeling that a 90?s movie gives them. Not that it’s not a church; it’s just feels to them the way that 50?s worship felt to their parents. So they leave. If they don’t walk away from Christianity completely, they head to Rome or something similar.

In a way, it’s hard to understand. Why would you trade your jeans, fair-trade coffee, a Bible and some Getty songs for formal “church clothes”, fasting, a Bible and a priest? It makes no sense to want to kneel on a stone floor instead of sit in a comfy chair. And if you’re hearing about Jesus anyway, why does it really matter?

In another way, it’s very obvious why these kids are leaving and going where they are. In her recent article, “Change Wisely, Dude”, Andrea Palpant Dilley explains her own shift from Presbyterianism to apostacy to generic evangelicalism to high church: “In my 20s, liturgy seemed rote, but now in my 30s, it reminds me that I’m part of an institution much larger and older than myself.

There is something to be said about the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Read it all and read the link to Change Wisely, Dude.