The other day, somebody emailed me requesting advice about starting an apologetics group in their church. I thought some other folk might be interested in the question and so I offer my musings here. Too often, I see church apologetics groups become a self-insulated group where individuals share like-minded interests … like watching and discussing […]
If Christians are not, on average, better than non-Christians, is that a problem for Christianity?
The stage for the question before us is set in the second of these two Twitter surveys that I recently posted: If Christians are not, on average, more honest than non-Christians, then that fact would constitute at least some degree of evidence against the truth of Christianity. — Tentative Apologist (@RandalRauser) April 24, 2019 The […]
Drown the Pastor! Or, beware the angry evangelical congregation
On September 15th, the Daily Courier, the newspaper in my hometown of Kelowna, B.C., published the latest article from columnist Tim Schroeder. As teaching pastor at a large evangelical church, Trinity Baptist, Schroeder’s columns are usually pithy expressions of pastoral wisdom run through a grid of evangelical theology and social conservatism. But this article was rather […]
Hymns vs. Choruses: Are the Worship Wars Worth Fighting?
This article is based on a section from my book What’s So Confusing About Grace? In a 1960 interview on Meet the Press, Martin Luther King, Jr. famously observed, “It is one of the tragedies of our nation, one of the shameful tragedies, that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours […]
Pew Sitting as Performance
As a seminary professor I’m very adept at judging church performance: I’m at home formulating detailed critiques of the exegetical and homiletical quality of a preacher’s sermon and the relevance of the service’s liturgical form; I’m even happy to opine on the quality of the music … an area rather distant from my formal education. […]
The Church as Tabasco Sauce
A couple years ago I compared the Church to Tabasco sauce. In this short video I return to that spicy analogy:
Being the Right Kind of Fool for Christ Ain’t Easy
This morning I saw the following Atonin Scalia quote (with a few missing words) in my Twitter feed: Boom! pic.twitter.com/By4qSbD7o2 — Dr. Michael L. Brown (@DrMichaelLBrown) February 20, 2017 Before we get started, we need to confirm this quote. The practice of incorrectly attributing fanciful quotes to public figures — Mark Twain, Yogi Berra, Winston […]
How to pick a church: Advice from Eugene Peterson
The great Christian writer Eugene Peterson was recently featured on an episode of of “On Being” with Krista Tippett. It’s a thought-provoking exchange, and I appreciated in particular Peterson’s advice on picking a church. Here’s the exchange excerpted from the website transcript: MR. PETERSON: That’s true. We go to a small church. When I was […]
Sodden Dead Flies: How a bad experience at church can have long-term effects
Often when Christians encounter a person who is very negative toward the church and Christianity, their initial response is defensive. However, my response is curious: what is it about this person’s history that has led to them taking this dour attitude? More often than not, there is a story behind the hostility, and we can learn […]
When you can’t believe, the church can do it for you
Yesterday while I was doing the Run for the Cure I listened to Krista Tippett’s interview with author and pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. While the whole conversation is worth a listen, I was particularly intrigued by Bolz-Weber’s comment about the corporate nature of prayer and faith. In this excerpt she begins by noting that the call to […]
The complex ethical problem of the Mega-Church
The other day I had an interesting conversation with a friend who pastors a mid-sized church (approximately 400 congregants) in a major city in North America. I asked him about the impact that a new mega-church in that city has had on surrounding churches. By any conventional measure this church is a “success”. It has exploded from […]
On visiting Alcoholics Anonymous. A lesson for the church?
A friend of mine recently accompanied his friend (no, it wasn’t me) to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. My friend — let’s call him Dave — has no problem with alcohol. But Dave was deeply impacted by the group all the same, in particular the vulnerability, openness, humility, and welcome embrace extended by all those gathered. […]
Sorry, this pew is paid for
The other day while I was reading up on the historic practice of parishoners renting or buying private pews in churches, I happened upon this fascinating article: “Sacred Mysteries: Renting the Best Seats in Church.” When I lived in England I visited a church which still had some old pews with locked gates that had been […]
Disciples of the Prince of Peace are following the Hater in Chief?!
As part of their series “My Kid Would Never Do That” Dateline NBC set up situations in which children were presented with the potential threat of strangers. Most parents confidently predicted their children would detect so-called “Stranger Danger” by drawing upon years of parental wisdom. And time and again they were disappointed, if not shocked. […]