Conn-like Conversation

“The problem of bread for me is a material problem, but the problem of bread for my neighbor, for all, is a spiritual, religious question.” Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev


I read this and thought of previous lines of discussion on this blog and with some of you who I know. I thought it was a quote worth pondering (or–can I help myself?–chewing on). Comment at will.

I want to call everyone’s attention to a fascinating and helpful Parable, of sorts, Art Boulet posted on his blog the other day: dark caves and differing perspectives. (more…)

Any comments on the Obama/McCain appearance at Saddleback over the weekend?

In case you missed it, Kevin has put together a post with all of Obama and McCain’s answers put side by side. You can find that here.

My question keeps coming down to this: how do we, as followers of Jesus and partners in the mission of God to this broken world, choose a candidate? What issues do we focus on? What characteristics or viewpoints in each candidate do we value as a result of our faith commitments?

I’d love to jump on the whole Purple politics bandwagon or put forth the idea (more…)

As I indicated in my previous post, I want to work through Harvie Conn’s Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace here on the blog. This book, along with Conn’s Eternal Word and Changing Worlds: Theology, Anthropology, and Mission in Trialog, had a radical and profound impact on me. My whole approach not simply to conceptualizing theology and to studying the Bible, but also to living out Christ and the Gospel as part of a community (or at least trying to do so) was set on a new trajectory through Conn’s writings. This book very much stands at the start of this new trajectory for me.


Hopefully I can offer further reflections, or at least promptings to discussion, on how this book so radically impacted me, why it was so challenging, and why it was and remains so compelling now—as we work through it. Hopefully we can grapple with some of the basics of Conn’s refreshing and edifying challenges and what it might look like for us to continue (to start?) taking them up today. Where and why is he helpful to us? How do we see him working to challenge us (and himself) to live out Christ in quite challenging, missional, and rich ways, with the broader church for the glory of Christ?


I think looking at the Preface is a great place to start. Since it is so short, I decided to quote most of it below. In this way we hear from Conn himself what he wanted to do through this book. I left out some parts, mainly where he notes parts of the book stemming from previous publications… (more…)

For a while now I have desired to start posting more on some of Harvie Conn’s writings. Sadly most of my books and articles by Harvie are in a box five hours away from me, until September. Today, however, my copy of Harvie’s Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace was returned to me by a deacon who had borrowed it and I thought, for now, I would post several of my favorite passages/quotes from the book.


This book had a radical and profound impact on me when I read it about five years ago. In the near future I plan to work through it in some fashion on this blog. But, for now, a few of my favorite quotes from the book. These provide some excellent snapshots of Conn’s heart and what he desired to see our Reformed churches live out.


For too long evangelical white Christian communities in the United States have had a “come” structure, a parochialism that identifies with saints. One cannot be a missionary church and continue insisting that the world must come to the church on the church’s terms. It must become a “go” structure. And it can do that only when its concerns are directed outside itself toward the poor, the abused, and the oppressed. The church must recapture its identity as the only organization in the world that exists for the sake of its nonmembers (23).


The gospel that ignores the sinned-against may work among the middle class, but it cannot possibly work among the overwhelming majority in Asia or the United States—publican peasants and workers. It conveys too much superiority, condescension, yes even pity, to be credible. What is missing is compassion. Compassion becomes possible when we perceive people as the sinned-against, as well as the sinning (47).


Let people know that by giving their allegiance to Christ they will be embarking on a great campaign to banish war and poverty and injustice, to set up a life where love and service and justice have taken the place of selfishness and power. Let people know that the church that sends out this manifesto plans to be an advance copy of the new world order it preaches (56). (more…)


While enjoying my read through UnChristian I began to wish for a more mature and circumspect viewpoint on Kinnaman & Lyons research than my own. I began to wonder what would these ‘outsiders’ impressions look like in relation to Jesus, would he square with them and did he speak to them in his life, works, message(s), and mission. I emailed a friend – Scot McKnight; who is a prominent Historical Jesus scholar as well as a leading voice in the Emerging Churches conversation about mission in the Post-Christian West. I asked Scot if he would be willing to be interviewed on the book, and he graciously agreed. I first met Scot by inviting him to speak at the Emerging Churches Forum at Westminster Theological Seminary, and have appreciated his reflections and muses at his blog since that ventur. Even as a busy scholar and professor Scot McKnight has a run by run reading on the state of the Church today, and hosts some of the more lively discussions I’ve seen on the church, her mission, and her Lord.

But I didn’t just want to interview him on his views on their book because he’s preparing to launch his own review series on it. Rather, I was hoping Scot would take the findings of their work to Jesus and ask the Historical Jesus the very criticism his Western bride is recieving among the younger generations (16-29 year olds according to Kinnaman & Lyons).


Below are the questions I posed to Scot, his answers to these questions are soon to come…


What did Jesus think of hypocritical people?



Did Jesus have a Get Saved! mentality? If so, what did getting saved mean for him?



Was Jesus homophobic?



Was Jesus sheltered? If not, how did he encounter the world(s) of his day?



Did Jesus have a political agenda?



Was Jesus judgmental and negative?


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