Jonathan is a director for InterVarsity Chrisian Fellowship in NYC. He was named one of Christianity Today’s 33 Under 33 and has published 3 books of poetry.
Jason and Teer dive into Dr. Jeff Mallinson’s book Sexy: The Quest for Erotic Virtue in Perplexing Times. Listen as they talk about the effects of purity culture and how Jeff counters that in his new book.
Be baptized, repent and believe!
You might hear this words preached or even be the one preaching on them tomorrow. You might even be reading this while writing your sermon, making the final preparations for worship on the second Sunday of Advent.
Repentance is part of the preparations for Advent. I write about the topic because it has been on my mind all week. From recording an episode of (Her)Men*You*Tics Thursday to preparing to preach at the church I serve, I have been reading about the topic all week and to be honest, I still don’t get it.
“Repent because the Lord is coming” does not sound like the order of things I would take knowing Christ’s
birth return is imminent. Repenting (metanoia, μετάνοια), to have a change of mind, to reorient one’s life completely, seems out of place in a season where the preparations for Christ’s return birth begin with trip to Target and Home Depot and end with deliveries from Amazon and visits from relatives you have not seen (or talked to since last Christmas).
Both the prophet Malachi and John the Baptist knew repentance was something many would struggle with.
“I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.”Malachi 3:5, NRSV
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to comeLuke 3:7, NRSV
?Bearfruits worthy of repentance.”
Both of the these verses are outside the assigned lectionary readings for tomorrow, you might miss them if the preacher opted to stay within the confines of the pericope.
There is a warning from both of the prophets, if the refiner’s fire does not purify you or you do not repent, the judgement coming will be harsh. The prophets warned us. We were told before Christ’s arrival that repentance would be required. Yet, we see in the ministry of Christ something different.
Reading Fleming’s work one realizes, “John the Baptizer warns us of vipers to ‘flee from the wrath to come.’ But when God’s wrath arrives, in the flesh, he say – with nary a mention of repentance – ‘come, follow me.”
Howard Thurman was a theologian, pastor, civil rights leader, and the author of Meditations of the Heart. One of my favorite meditations from this book is titled, “The Glad Surprise.” Here is an excerpt:
“There is something compelling and exhilarating about the glad surprise. The emphasis upon glad. There are surprises that are shocking, startling, frightening, and bewildering. But the glad surprise is something different from all of these. It carries with it the element of elation, life, of something over and beyond the surprise itself…There is a deeper meaning in the concept of the glad surprise. This meaning has to do with the very ground and foundation of hope about the nature of life itself… It is as if a man stumbling in the darkness, having lost his way, find that the spot at which he falls is the foot of a stairway that leads from darkness into light. Such is the glad surprise.”
I typically think of the glad surprise being the empty tomb. We see the disciples fearfully hiding after seeing what happened on the cross. They heard of an empty tomb and still hid. It was not until after they received the peace of the Lord, the peace that can only come from the risen Christ, the glad surprise of Easter was able to commence.
The glad surprise of Advent and Christmas is no different. We busy ourselves making the preparations for the season, distracting ourselves from repenting. We shop, we spend, we eat, and we are. In all of this, we ignore the call from the prophets to be baptized and repent. Then Christ is born and we are surprised. We panic. We are not ready. I have a feeling the same will be true when Christ returns again. We won’t be ready. But the glad surprise of Advent is that even when we do not repent Christ has repented for us. As a mentor of mine puts it, “God repents us even when we chose not to.” Such is the glad surprise of Advent.
Christian Piatt returns to the podcast to talk about the latest installation in his Surviving the Bible series.
A Contributor to the Huffington Post;
A Blogger for Patheos;
A Contributor to Red Letter Christians;
A Contributor to The Ooze, and;
A Contributor to Burnside Writers Collective, among others.
Connect with Christian on Twitter or Facebook for the latest news and updates, or contact Christian for more information about his services.
From the publisher –
A lot of us have tried to read the Bible. And we’ve failed. Christian Piatt has too. But now, using the annual lectionary as his guide, he has put together a devotional that allows us to read through major parts of the Old and New Testaments and finally understand them in plain English. Every week has several Scripture readings, explanations of confusing terms, a story, a deeper dive into interesting themes, and a closing prayer.
You can use it as a weekly study or browse a thematic list for something you’re curious about. It’s an ideal resource to use with a friend or small group, but it’s set up to be accessed by anyone who has enough curiosity, openness, and desire to grow.
Start anywhere. Set it down and come back to it. There’s no “wrong way” to use Surviving the Bible. Engage ancient texts in new ways that make sense, here and now, maybe for the first time. Any way you use it, it’s sure to challenge and inspire.
Scot McKnight joins the show to talk about his latest book, It Takes a Church to Baptize.
From the back jacket – The issue of baptism has troubled Protestants for centuries. Should infants be baptized before their faith is conscious, or does God command the baptism of babies whose parents have been baptized?
Popular New Testament scholar Scot McKnight makes a biblical case for infant baptism, exploring its history, meaning, and practice and showing that infant baptism is the most historic Christian way of forming children into the faith. He explains that the church’s practice of infant baptism developed straight from the Bible and argues that it must begin with the family and then extend to the church. Baptism is not just an individual profession of faith: it takes a family and a church community to nurture a child into faith over time. McKnight explains infant baptism for readers coming from a tradition that baptizes adults only, and he counters criticisms that fail to consider the role of families in the formation of faith. The book includes a foreword by Todd Hunter and an afterword by Gerald McDermott.
Addison Hart joins the podcast to talk about his latest book, ‘The Letter of James: A Pastoral Commentary’.
From the back cover: The Letter of James is perhaps needed more than ever today. In this commentary, Hart argues that the epistle is indeed the work of James of Jerusalem, “the brother of the Lord,” that it was an encyclical letter, and that its chief concern was to combat a distorted version of Paul’s gospel. It is a work with a singular purpose: to bring the churches back to the most basic teachings of Jesus. In its defense of orthopraxy as the primary Christian standard, its denunciation of those with wealth who exploit or neglect the poor, its hard words for those who have taken on the mantel of “teacher” without first learning to restrain their tongues, and above all its exhortation to relearn the truth that “faith without works [of love] is dead,” James could be talking to churches in our own time. This commentary presents James afresh, as a living guide with a perennial message for those who seek to follow Jesus. It is pastoral in intent, written for those who teach and preach, those who desire a more authentic discipleship, and those who practice lectio divina—the meditative reading of Scripture.
Addison Hodges Hart is a retired priest (of both the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches, M.Div.), former college chaplain for Northern Illinois University, teacher, spiritual director, and former ecumenical/interfaith director (for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois). He is the author of six previous books, published by Eerdmans, the most recent being The Ox-Herder and the Good Shepherd: Finding Christ on the Buddha’s Path (2013), Strangers and Pilgrims Once More: Being Disciples of Jesus in a Post-Christendom World (2014), and The Woman, the Hour, and the Garden: A Study of Imagery in the Gospel of John (2016). He currently lives with his wife in Norway, along with two Newfoundland dogs, a herd of cats, and some goats.
The intersection of faith and doubt is viewed either as a badge of honor for some Christians but for others, doubt has no place. In his new book, ‘Faith in the Shadows:
Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt,’ pastor and author Austin Fischer explores this intersection, drawing on his own experience as a doubting pastor.
Austin Fischer is the Teaching Pastor at Vista Community Church. His first book – ‘Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed’ – was published by Wipf & Stock in January 2014. He writes and speaks and you can follow him on Twitter @austintfischer.
Two longtime Mockingbird writers, Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips, have written a book that features a patchwork of personal essays, pocket liturgies, and pseudo-fictional plays, and not a dull moment between them. Stephanie Phillips and Charlotte Getz never expected to raise their families anywhere but home, in the American South. But then…life happened. Quirky, hilarious, and (mostly) true, UNMAPPED is the tale of two long-distance friends who found home—together and apart—in unexpected exile. This spiritual memoir duet is unlike anything you’ve ever read.
Luke Norsworthy is known for a few things: amazing hair, a CrossFit body most dads dream of, and a keen awareness that what we say about God has implications that go beyond the cliché. In his new book, ‘God Over Good,’ Luke explores what it means to save your faith by letting go of the expectations we place on God.
An excerpt from the book: “God doesn’t always seem to be what we would call good. A good father wouldn’t make it so difficult to get to know him, would he? And if God is all-powerful, wouldn’t God ensure that we never suffer? Either our understanding of God is incorrect, or our definition of good is inadequate.
In a world that is messy and a church that is imperfect, it’s easy to let our faith be lost. But that doesn’t mean we have to lose God. It means we must consider that perhaps our idealized expectations are wrong.
With transparency about his own struggles with cynicism and doubt, pastor Luke Norsworthy will help you trade your confinement of God to an anemic definition of good for confidence in the God who is present in everything.”
uke Norsworthy (MDiv, Abilene Christian University) is the senior pastor of the 1,500-member Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. A frequent speaker at universities, retreats, and conferences, he is the host of the popular Newsworthy with Norsworthy podcast on which he has rubbed shoulders with some of the brightest and most prominent voices in theology, including N. T. Wright, Barbara Brown Taylor, Mirsolav Volf, Walter Brueggemann, John Ortberg, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three daughters.