How does a Wesleyan deal with predestination and election?

My favorite preacher Jonathan Martin covered Romans 8 a couple of weekends ago in his sermon “Nor Things to Come.” It talks about both predestination and election, which are not popular words in the Wesleyan tradition that I share with Jonathan. I really liked what he did with them so I wanted to share very briefly. I think that our predestination and election are good news when we read them the way they are intended to be shared: as a promise. It’s when you add a bunch of extra-Biblical speculation about the negative shadow of predestination and election that the mischief happens. Continue reading

So what about other religions?

We’ve been having a very stimulating conversation at our confirmation retreat that has completely derailed from my plans, but as I learned at the Missio Alliance, the Holy Spirit is a spirit of disruption. I’ve been so grateful that these kids have been bold with their questions because my presentation felt very flat and boring. And then they made me squirm by asking about people from other religions. Do they go to heaven too? Don’t we all just have different names for the same God? Oh boy… Continue reading

Talking atonement with the confirmands

Our youth pastor invited me today to talk about atonement with our confirmation class. As you know, I am very passionate about offering a better explanation than the Four Spiritual Laws of how Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection reconcile us to God. I’m not very good at turning confirmation lessons into silly activities with cotton balls and papier mache. So what I offered them was pretty simple: a single sheet of paper with a brief description of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection at the top and then seven different concrete problems that Jesus’ atonement provides a solution for (realizing that’s not an exhaustive list). I gave them scripture passages to read and had them try to answer based on the scripture how Jesus’ atonement addressed the stated problem. Continue reading

God’s love in 4-D: Ephesians 3:14-21

This weekend, I preached on Ephesians 3:14-21, which talks about the “height, length, width, and depth of God’s love.” I have no idea what Paul actually had in mind with these terms (neither do any of the commentaries), but it gave me an opportunity to be creative in talking about different aspects of God’s love according to geometric dimensions. I decided that I would interpret the “depth” of God’s love as the way in which God zeroes in on every detail of creation with infinite intensity, which is what I tried to capture in the diagram to the left. I found scriptures that talked about each of these four dimensions of God’s love. And I explained why this love requires the cross of Jesus Christ in order to perfectly fulfill itself. Continue reading