Looking back on 2012: June-July

In June and July, I wrote about my family reunion, the culture wars, a whole lot in Ephesians including a sermon in which I talk about sin as a zombie apocalypse, and the little noticed moral pragmatism that Paul seems to exhibit in Romans 14-15. So here are ten posts from those two months.

1) A Conversation with My Favorite Republican Uncle
This post is about a beautiful conversation I had with my uncle Joel at our family reunion and the way that God is always smashing the categories I try to impose on people like Republican, Democrat, fundamentalist, liberal, etc.

2) My Father’s Burden
I get a lot of my zeal for apologetics from my father who has a passion for explaining the gospel in a way that makes sense to people in his scientific community.

3) Four Cringe-worthy Claims of Popular Penal Substitution TheologyPopular penal substitution theology is often characterized by a competition to see who can come up with the most misanthropic, ridiculous God possible. Here I deal with four of the more common un-Biblical claims that are made. God is not allergic to our sin; He doesn’t see Jesus instead of us when He looks at us if we’ve accepted Christ; He isn’t infinitely offended by tiny affronts to His honor just because He’s infinite; and He didn’t have a cosmic temper tantrum against Jesus when He was on the cross.

4) Did Paul Obey His General Conference?The Jerusalem Council told Paul to instruct the Gentiles not to eat sacrificial meat in Acts 15:40. Throughout his letters that post-dated this decision, Paul tells Gentiles they can eat sacrificial meat but to do so with discretion for other believers who think it’s a sin. In other words, Paul exercised the priesthood of the believer rather than submitting to the hierarchy.

5) The Real Battle: Demons vs. Sacraments
The battle of good and evil is best understood as a question of how the universe is ordered. A demonic ordering of the universe occurs whenever people worship idols. A sacramental ordering of the universe describes how people live when they enjoy God in all things.

6) Why A Hard God is More Attractive
One of the things that makes believing in an uber-wrathful God attractive is that you can get credit for believing in a God who isn’t attractive. The irony is that the wrathful God serves the self-justification needs of American suburbia quite well.

7) Jesus vs. Zombies in Ephesians 2
In Ephesians 2, Paul talks about how Jesus rescues us from a state of being that is like living death. Since all the kids want to talk about these days is zombies, I decided to make sin into the zombie apocalypse and Jesus into the zombie hunter.

8) Accusers vs. Advocates: The Real Sides in the Culture War
Over the summer, I discovered my favorite podcast preacher Jonathan Martin of Renovatus Church in Charlotte, NC. This post was inspired by one of his sermons in which he talked about the way that Satan is the accuser and Christ is the advocate of sinners.

9) Is Paul a Moral Relativist in Romans 14:13-23?
Admittedly I used the term “moral relativist” to raise eyebrows. But I really do believe when Paul says, “Nothing is unclean in itself,” he’s making a powerful statement that applies to more than just food, which is the way that moralistic evangelicals like to bracket it. Morality is pragmatic and relational for Paul; it isn’t a set of abstract rules that apply to some order that has nothing to do with human flourishing.

10) God’s Love in 4-D: Ephesians 3:14-21
Ephesians 3 talks about the width, height, length, and depth of God’s love, so I decided to preach a sermon exploring what these dimensions could be.

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