On Faith

“Faith is not primarily a matter of choosing what to believe, as if one were a consumer in a spiritual supermarket, filling one’s trolley with religious goods to match one’s personal needs and preferences. Faith is our response to the astonishing discovery that we have been chosen.”

~ Timothy Radcliffe

Why I Don’t Pay Attention to Facebook Tags, Notifications, or Invites Anymore

I’m still on Facebook . . . barely. I don’t check it nearly as much as I used to and I’ve never been a big fan of it. Most of my friends (the people I know in real life) don’t use it. And over the last three years, I’ve watched a ton of my other friends leave it for various reasons. I’ve contemplated leaving it too and I might someday.

As I pointed out in Can’t Keep Up? 8 Ways to Simplify Your Online Life, I spend a small slice of my life online. And this blog is my primary means for communicating on the Web.

That wasn’t always the case. In past years, I was very active on social media, following the conversations, interacting with the discussions, and watching the online blood baths (mostly between Christians, sadly). But it became a time vampire and I had to make some hard decisions.

So in 2012, I cut my online social media time down drastically to less than 25 minutes each week. And it’s one of the best and wisest decisions I’ve ever made.[Continue Reading...]

Blessed Are the Undesirable

Unless you’re new to the blog, you are aware that my focus in ministry over the past few years has been exclusively on two things:

* In writing and study, it’s been on historical Jesus studies, deeper life themes, Christology, and apologetics. My book Jesus: A Theography and my Answers to Skeptics series are two fruits of that effort.

* In practical ministry, it’s been a complete focus on developing relationships with non-Christians (some of whom are agnostics and atheists) on the one hand, and walking along side of and aiding the poor and the afflicted on the other. For that reason, I spend very little time on the Internet these days.

I’ve not written on organic church since 2009 and haven’t been involved in it for several years now. Though I still stand by everything I’ve written on the subject.

I’d like to share on the present focus of my ministry.

At this moment, I have in mind the faces of the poor and afflicted whom I’ve worked with in 2012 and will continue to, God willing, this year.

Some of them have very few friends. Some of them are living in poverty. Some of them have mental illnesses that regularly torment them. Some of them have legal problems. Some of them have gone nose-to-nose with suicide. Some of them are incredibly needy.

[Continue Reading...]

Top Posts of 2012

Here are the top posts of 2012 (some were written before 2012, but they received major traffic last year so they made the list).

God’s View of a Woman

Have You Heard? The Plague of Gossip & Slander in the Body of Christ

N.T. Wright

What Makes a True Friend?

The Art of Being a Jerk Online

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Hearing One Side of a Story

20 Things the Blood of Jesus Does

How (Not) to Correct Another Christian

20 Reasons Why the Christian Right & Left Won’t Adopt Me


Top Posts of 2008

Top Posts of 2009

Top Posts of 2010

Top Posts of 2011

Top Posts of 2013

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The Blog is Now Formatted for Smart Phones

Hi Friends,

As promised, I will resume blogging on January 1st. Just wanted you to know that the blog has recently been formatted to be viewed on your smart phone. So if you have a smart phone, it will be super easy to read now (applause, whistling). :-)

Storytellers Change the World: A Film Review of “Lincoln” by Leonard Sweet

Hi Fun Seekers. I suspect you’re surprised to hear from me because I’m on a blog break for this December. But consider this a reverse intermission. About a week ago, Leonard Sweet (my esteemed co-author of Jesus Manifesto and Jesus: A Theography) and I had a phone conversation. During the call, Len told me that he saw the new movie, Lincoln. He then shared some of his reactions and impressions of it. I was impressed. So much so that I encouraged him to write a review of the film and promised that I would publish it on my blog. So here it is . . . enjoy and share it with your friends using the share buttons below.

How do you measure a life? The same way you measure a nation. By the power of its story.

Some of the most beloved stories of our nation mythologize one of the nation’s greatest storytellers himself: Abraham Lincoln.

The Great American Story is the Story of the American Dream. But the most difficult chapter in that storybook is the one that united a divided country. Lincoln knew the power that story could wield, and he used his own stories to heal and guide a nation, long after his own death. With narrative wit, and cunning wisdom, Lincoln wove the metaphorical flag that would represent the new United States of America.

Lincoln’s stories were not stock aphorisms or standard tales; they were organically grown from grass roots and apple seeds found on the land of common people who toughed it out with sweat and blood just as Lincoln himself did on the midwestern frontier.

Lincoln’s story begins in Kentucky on 12 February 1809. Two women gave birth to sons on that same day: one in a one-room, 16′ by 18′ cabin in Kentucky, the other in a finely furnished house called “The Mount” on the edge of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England. The latter became the greatest scientist of the 19th century, who wrote more than 6 million words in his lifetime and is often cited as “the greatest Englishman of the 19th century.” The first, born from the most common beginnings, became the greatest president in US history, whose short speeches steered the country through the “Second American Revolution” (James McPherson) and is often cited as “the greatest American of the 19th century.”


[Continue Reading...]

Why I’m Taking December Off

I’m taking the rest of December off from blogging here on Beyond Evangelical. The holiday season has rendered many of us too busy to read and respond to blog posts. I’ll be resuming on January 1,2013. In the meantime, I’d like to encourage you with five things:

  1. If you are new to the blog since December 2011, be sure to check out my annual The Nativity Story & My Favorite Christmas Spoof Song post.
  2. If you haven’t gotten to them yet, be sure to respond to my two recent posts: Meet Me in 2013 PLUS Special Workshop for Writers & Bloggers and My Next Co-Author.
  3. Check out the blog Archives and get caught up on what you’ve missed.
  4. Subscribe to the free podcast. There are now 64 episodes with more to come.
  5. Consider taking advantage of our Christmas special – it’s still available.

Many blessings to you and yours,


Psalm 115:1

Roger Olson

With respect to authors, scholars, and theologians who have taken a “post-evangelical” or “beyond-evangelical” position, some of the most influential voices of our time are Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, the late Michael Spencer (iMonk), and Roger Olson.

You may know Olson from my book Beyond Evangelical, which he highly (and kindly) recommended.

I caught up with Roger Olson recently and interviewed him on the challenges that face evangelicalism today. Here’s the interview.

For those who aren’t familiar with you, tell us about your ministry and the topics that you are most passionate about.

Roger Olson: I teach historical theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. I’m in my thirtieth year of teaching theology and previously taught it at Bethel College (now Bethel University) and (for two years) Oral Roberts University. I’m passionate about evangelical theology and Arminian theology—clearing up misconceptions about them and exploring what they really are. Both are widely misrepresented and misunderstood. My main area of interest and research, though, is modern/contemporary theology.

In my book, Beyond Evangelical, I quote you, Scot McKnight, and the late Michael Spencer quite a bit. There is no doubt that a growing number of evangelicals today are moving beyond the classical Left and Right categories. To your mind, what are the top 3 biggest obstacles that evangelicalism faces today with respect to how the world views us?[Continue Reading...]