The Christian Studies Blog


A Minister’s Sin: Treading the Path toward Redemption

Posted by Matt Porter on September 7, 2017 at 9:30 AM


In the life of the church we become well-acquainted with sin (How is that for an encouraging way to start this post?). This is especially true for church leaders and ministers.

For the sinner, we encourage confession and repentance, and for the church, a path toward redemption and reconciliation by way of forgiveness – all of which we see enacted through the practice of baptism. Oftentimes, for the “outsider sinner,” the non-Christian who comes to begin this journey, the church is quick to joyfully accept their confession and welcome them into the body (Daniel Napier and Todd Hall both note the “rush to the water” in their Christian Studies articles HERE and HERE). Though there is typically some disappointment from the congregation when a fellow church member confesses, initial disappointment quickly fades into the same joyful acceptance of this “member sinner.”

When church leaders and ministers confess to sin (especially when the wrongdoing is on our list of “greater sins”), the church’s response has not always been as merciful. 

Read More

Topics: How To, Relationships, Scripture Passage

In the Face of Death: The Meaning of “Faith” in Christian life

Posted by Dr. Todd Hall on August 16, 2017 at 9:30 AM

My grandmother, Juanita Saxon, went to sleep in the Lord in May of this year. She passed after a long, strenuous battle with congestive heart failure (and other ailments). My grandmother was (as was my grandfather, “Pop”), to me, the very picture of Christian faithfulness. By her last breath she had fully formed her life into the image of her Lord, sharing in his passion in her own (as must we all), and finding herself finally to be alive and ready to be at rest in him. I was with her during the time of her passion, with my family. Seeing her suffer and then pass into her rest has been the cause for much reflection for me. Perhaps most profound of these reflections has been the meaning of a word that we Christians often throw around far too easily: Faith. I offer this reflection here.

Faith is hard. Faith is what remains when all else is stripped away. Too often we Christians speak the word “faith” easily, lightly, without realizing the depths of commitment the word requires. Jesus came preaching “repent…” and “believe….” (cf. Mark 1:15) This is the essence of the gospel’s call upon us. But what does it mean to “believe”?

Read More

Topics: Relationships, On-Topic Today, Personal

Christian Encounters with other Cultures & Faiths

Posted by Dr. Kevin Moore on August 2, 2017 at 9:30 AM

What does it mean for Christians to encounter adherents of other religious traditions? Living in an ambulatory, pluralistic world such intersections are inevitable. While these encounters were less frequent in the past due to more limited mobility, this is no longer true. We can circumnavigate the globe quickly and with relative ease via commercial air carriers. In addition, social media has created the possibility of communicating with the vast majority of people on the planet. Given this reality, it is vital for Christians who serve or intend to serve in ministry—along with any others who have the slightest evangelistic bent—to prepare themselves for such conversations. This course, Christian Encounters with Other Cultures, attempts to address this opportunity brought to our doorstep.

Read More

Topics: About Austin Grad, Evangelism, How To, Ministry Opportunities, Relationships

Politics, the Professor (or Preacher, or Pastor), and the Person in the Pew

Posted by Dr. Jeff Peterson on July 13, 2017 at 9:30 AM

This paper was presented at the Christian Scholars’ Conference on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, in a session on 8 June 2017 on the topic “Bridging the Divide: Addressing the Gap between the Church and the Academy,” convened by Brandon Pierce of the Church of Christ in Stamford, Connecticut, and Paul Watson of the Cole Mill Road Church of Christ in Durham, North Carolina.  I am grateful for the invitation to present the paper and for the encouraging response of conference attendees, including those of differing political persuasions.

My reflections today mainly concern one narrow aspect of the gap between church and academy, but I beg your indulgence for one general comment on the session theme. The lesson I think I most needed to learn upon departing graduate school for a teaching position in a church-affiliated institution was that wisdom is more valuable than knowledge (in part because it’s more rare); and even inarticulate wisdom merits more notice and respect than superficial cleverness, of which there is no shortage in most institutions of higher education. I suspect that’s also true in ministry staffs, though I have only slight experience of the latter. In one of his sermons, Austin Farrer wrote, “I have been taught to use my tongue and my pen; it is not much.” Everyone who has completed a degree in theology would do well to inscribe that sentence on our hearts.

That said, I appreciate the interest shown in the topic I proposed, though I remain unsure whether one should be indulged to speak at a conference like this about his hobby. (I used to offer as a justification for following politics that it saves time compared with other hobbies, since in politics the Super Bowl only comes every four years. Recently I’ve been led to reconsider whether that justification still holds.) I’ve done a fair bit of reading on the subject, beginning with the works of William F. Buckley, Jr., about age 14, owing to my grandmother’s viewing of his TV program “Firing Line,” but by no means do I suggest that my remarks should be received as the reflections of a scholar of politics. I offer them rather as the opinions of a participant-observer in the life of a school associated with Churches of Christ with students drawn from a number of communions, as well several congregations with which I’m familiar.

A member of one of those churches who has also been a student in my New Testament classes called a couple of weeks ago, when I had begun to worry that the concern animating this paper might be overblown. She expressed some alarm about political opinions a fellow church member had posted to Facebook and the conversation between the two of them that ensued. The first rule of political discussion on Facebook is, of course, “Don’t discuss politics on Facebook,” but I’m pleased to report that in this case the minister of the congregation that both parties attend weighed in after a bit to commend them for the civility with which they were discussing their differences. My caller, however, went on say that the exchange had led her to question whether to remain in that congregation or to seek another, as it was her impression that a significant number of members held the same political opinions as those that had troubled her.

That’s the general sort of situation I propose we consider today.

Read More

Topics: Politics, On-Topic Today, Relationships

3 Challenges of the Church after "Gay Marriage" Law

Posted by Dr. Jim Reynolds on June 27, 2017 at 9:30 AM

In order to  set out the challenge of kingdom living  at this time consider the following:

The kingdom of God has come in Jesus Christ the Lord right in on top of the kingdoms of this world. We live in the tension of the “now and the not yet” of the kingdom of God. This means the  U. S. Constitution  is not our  Bible; the pledge of allegiance does not replace or even rival the confession “Jesus is Lord;” the U.S.  is not  the  light-filled church community sitting on the hill; the Declaration of Independence is not our call to discipleship; we do not live to pursue happiness, but to pursue the kingdom. The Bill of Rights has no  authority  over the Sermon on the Mount.  The  U.S Supreme Court judges are not my ultimate  judge- Jesus is! The 14th amendment’s rights to equal  protection and due process  do not replace  “all things are legal but not all things are helpful.”  

This Kingdom moment with the legalization and celebrating of "gay marriage" in the Obergefell et. al. vs. Hodges U.S. Supreme Court case in 2015 calls for considerable discernment within the church as to our competing allegiances in the time of the “now and not yet.” From the very beginning of the church’s  life under King Jesus, there have been three connected, yet distinct issues in church:

Read More

Topics: Politics, On-Topic Today, Relationships

Christian Studies
Scholarship for the Church

Sign up to receive blog updates. You'll always have the option to choose the frequency by which we contact you. Email for questions. Happy reading!

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all
All Christian Studies blog comments will be moderated before posting. Please keep them respectful and on topic with the article's content.
The opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily shared by other authors or the position of Austin Graduate School of Theology.