Watch This Space

A new and highly collaborative program is about to be unveiled for this blog. If you are an Energion author, you will receive an email in the next few days announcing the program and soliciting your participation.

Energion’s stable of 60 authors have published books across the theological spectrum and have raised questions and sought answers to the most important issues facing the church.  WATCH THIS SPACE and engage in the discussion of these issues. You may not always agree, but you will be challenged every day.

God Talk

Energion author Dr. Bob Cornwall is starting a series of sermons on God talk at his church, and he’s posting extensively on the topic on his blog.

I’m linking to just one post, More God Talk, to get you started, but if you go to his blogs’ home page and review the most recent couple of pages, you’ll get a sampling of some of the material he’s reading and the subjects he’s trying to tackle.

Join the discussion by posting here, on his blog, or even better write something on your own blog and link, then mention it in a comment here.

The Importance of the Local Church

Bob LaRochelle (Crossing the Street, So Much Older Then …) points us to an interview with Rev. Loren Mead, founder of the Alban Institute, in which he talks about the importance of the local church. Here’s a taste:

What I saw was a church that largely discounted the life of the local congregation. At the time, in the 1960s, clergy were leaving in large numbers to go into all kinds of social work and whatnot. I was clear that that was not the way to go, that we needed strong local churches.

Read the whole interview. What do you think? How important is the local congregation. If it’s important, how do we build it up?

Distracted from Discipleship – Blog from author Allan R. Bevere

Allan in robesEnergion Publications’ author, Allan R. Bevere hit a bullseye today with his blog, Distracted from Discipleship: A Lectionary Reflection on Matthew 22:1-14. Dr Bevere writes:

I am convinced that the number one problem in the Western church today is that we are not very good at making disciples of Jesus Christ. We are too distracted with other things– our hobbies, our jobs, our leisure time, and yes… even our families can distract us from following Jesus in the way of the cross. Jesus calls us into a living and vital relationship with him, but instead we prefer to keep that relationship at a distance, a sort of email pen pal.

Take a few moments and read the blog and then let us all carefully consider what God is calling each of us, and each of our fellowships, to do for his Kingdom.

— Jody Neufeld

Idolatry and Life

book_bannerBruce Epperly comments on the lectionary this week:

… we can recognize that worshipping creatures rather than the Creator leads us from life to death.

What is really important? Do our behaviors follow our values? For example, most parents say that family comes first; but often family and relationships come a distant second to our professional lives. Moreover, though we speak of cultivating positive relationships with our children, we often spend more time on the I-pad or cell phone than playing with them at the local playground. To be whole, our values and behaviors need to be in synch. Practically speaking, the word “god” answers the question, “What is really important to you?” and this can be a matter of life and death, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Read the whole thing. Then consider: What kind of idolatry might there be in your life? Might it lead you from life to death?

Learning Evangelism from the Redwoods

Energion author Heath T9781938434037aws, who is also Director of Youth and Children’s ministries at Spring Run Presbyterian Church in Midlothian, VA, challenges us with some thoughts he had while visiting the Redwood trees in California.

When I think about these trees, I think about how we should be doing evangelism. All of us know someone in our Church or in our friend circles who is like a giant redwood. That person stretches their roots out and supports the weaker trees in the Church or in the community. Not only that, but they provide water and nourishment for the trees who are going through dry times in their lives. They seek out the trees who are disconnected from the root system, and they go after them. They keep offering their roots, they keep offering their water, and ultimately, they want to connect them to the source tree.

Read the whole thing. What do you think? Is this a good model for evangelism?

Is Social Justice a Good Thing?

cts_wiwwsjOn April 8, 2014, Energion authors Henry Neufeld, Shauna Hyde, and Chris Surber discussed missions in a Google Hangout on Air. You can see the video (without titles) below.

One of the phrases used frequently in this discussion was “social justice.” Energion author Elgin L. Hushbeck, Jr. was listening, and commented to me that he objected to the term “social justice,” because, he said, once you added the adjective, it was no longer actually justice.

I, in turn, suggested that this sounded like a good topic for a volume in our new Topical Line Drives series, and the result was the book What is Wrong with Social Justice?.

Unsurprisingly, other authors disagree with Elgin’s position, and we’ve started a discussion on the topic. Besides the video above, you can read a review of Elgin’s book by Energion author Bob LaRochelle. Here’s some extracts:

In the interest of full disclosure, it is important that I tell you that over the course of much of my life, I have held the position that social justice is important. In fact, I have long seen the pursuit of social justice as a ‘given’, i.e. as a constitutive aspect of both my religious faith and of my responsibility as an American citizen. I still do!

….

As I read Mr. Hushbeck’s brief work, part of Energion Publication’s Topical Line Drives series, I found myself deeply impressed with the quality of his presentation. His approach to government and his application of Biblical teachings to questions of justice within a society are well thought out and demonstrate strong, heartfelt religious conviction and philosophical consistency. As he notes, some of us who identify as liberals and are Christians all too readily characterize more conservative Christian believers as lacking appropriate compassion for the poor and marginalized. This characterization is often unfair and most certainly does not apply to Mr. Hushbeck.

….

With respect to one of the major social issues of our time, health care, I would contend that there is something UNJUST when one’s health or the health of one’s children might be totally contingent upon one’s income and, in the case of those children, the income of one’s parents.

Read the whole thing.

This discussion should not be just about the terminology we use, but rather about how we deal with significant issues in our society, and what those issues are. Is justice to be applied to groups or to individuals? Can we provide health care to all irrespective of income (as the last extract from Bob’s review suggests) and still be “just,” “fair,” or “equitable” in how we deal with individuals?

Bob LaRochelle and Elgin Hushbeck are going to try to help us work out some of these issues when they discuss this topic in a Google Hangout on Air on October 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM. Don’t miss it!

Discussion of issues in society, biblical studies, and religion encouraged by Energion Publications authors