love and wrath

As I was preparing for some teaching I’ll be doing this Sunday, I came across this great quote in Miroslav Volf’s Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. I can’t believe that I didn’t include it a few months ago when I was doing my round-up of Volf-isms.

Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.

Once we accept the appropriateness of God’s wrath, condemnation, and judgement, there is no way of keeping it out there, reserved for others. We have to bring it home as well. I originally resisted the notion of a wrathful God because I dreaded being that wrath’s target; I still do. I knew I couldn’t just direct God’s wrath against others, as if it were a weapon I could aim at targets I particularly detested. It’s God’s wrath, not mine, the wrath of the one and impartial God, lover of all humanity. If I want it to fall on evildoers, I must let it fall on myself – when I deserve it.

Also, once we affirm that God’s condemnation of wrongdoing is appropriate, we cannot reserve God’s condemnation for heinous crimes. Where would the line be drawn? On what grounds could it be drawn? Everything that deserves to be condemned should be condemned in proportion to its weight as an offense – from a single slight to a murder, from indolence to idolatry, from lust to rape. To condemn heinous offenses but not light ones would be manifestly unfair. An offense is an offense and deserves condemnation.

Nice cheery thoughts to get you ready for a Happy Thanksgiving!

take ten: on education reform

Recently, I was having a conversation with somebody about education reform in our state. For whatever reason, it is actually a conversation that I find myself in pretty regularly. In these conversations, I repeatedly reference a talk given by Roland Fryer that I heard several months ago. It was at one of those leadership conference things where you hear something like eight speakers in as many hours, and his was the only presentation that I remember at all.

Fryer is a Harvard economics professor, who has taken a keen interest in education reform. The presentation he gave was fascinating, and I’ve repeatedly tried to track down the talk with no success. However, there is plenty of other stuff out there by him, and it might be worth thirty minutes of your time to figure out what he’s all about.

The thing that I remember most from his presentation was this one thought…

We know what steps to take to reform education in America, but for the most part policy-makers simply aren’t interested in change.

My guess is that this applies to a whole lot more than education.

Four for Friday

Don’t pretend like you haven’t missed it. I know you have. This is the “live show” edition of Four for Friday. Two of these artists I’ve seen recently. One group I plan to see soon. And it would be great if K’naan came to Little Rock sometime, but I’m not holding my breath. Enjoy.

Matisyahu – Tel Aviv’n // Had the chance to see him about a month ago. Lots of fun!

GRiZ – Smash the Funk // I went with a few friends to see this guy open for Big Gigantic a couple weeks ago. Honestly, one of the most interesting musical performances I’ve ever witnessed. Whether you like it or hate it, as one of my friends said, “this is the direction music is heading.” Yup.

Bear Colony – Flask Retort // They’ll be at the Rev Room in about a week.

K’Naan – Is Anybody Out There? (feat. Nelly Furtado) // Not local.

take ten: what I’m reading

Right now, I’m reading a few books and each is proving helpful in their own way. Two minutes on each…

The Lord’s Supper: Five Views // I realize that most people are unaware that there are more than two view, but I was somewhat surprised to discover that there are no less than five! Over the last few years, I have been moving from a memorialist (symbol only) understanding of this observance to a more sacramental (real presence) view. Of course, I don’t have it all worked out, but I think that’s probably as it should be… with the Lord’s Supper as well as most theological truth. If you’ve got it all figured out, let me know… you’ll be the first.




Next up is The Awakening of Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith // I think I mentioned this one a while back. Somehow a group of guys I meet with on Monday mornings agreed to read this with me. To say that it has provoked some interesting conversations and several “eye-rolls” is an understatement. So not everyone thinks the “new monasticism” is a wonderful expression of the Christian faith… their loss.




Now we are venturing more towards my true “nerd” center. This one is for a what is turning into a lifetime project of research and writing on 1 Peter’s use of the Old Testament. Hengel, a German New Testament scholar, passed away a few years ago. He was one of the most influential theologians of the past century. I know you’ve never heard of him. He was German, so maybe it is understandable. He’s no Francis Chan. This book was one of the last that he published.




You have stopped reading by now, so it doesn’t matter, but this one is also for the thesis. For what it is worth, I think Beale’s understanding of the way in which New Testament writers utilize the Old is probably as close to “right” as it gets. Hopefully, the approach he recommends is what I’ll be using in the months to come.