When Our College Students Doubt,Part 2: The Not-So-Great Awakening

college_student_doubt“Ye must be born again.” Few phrases from Scripture have the kind of resonance with American Evangelicals than Jesus’ words from John 3. Countless tracts have centered their gospel appeal on these words and the need to be born again. How many baptisteries in churches have those words hovering above? Think of all the sermons preached in churches and evangelistic rallies that have unpacked Jesus’ penetrating message to Nicodemus.

When Our College Students Doubt,Part 1: The New Shape of Doubt

college_student_doubtA couple years ago I was invited to speak at a meeting of one of the Christian student organizations on the local university campus. The program that evening was fairly typical. The leadership team planned an ice-breaker activity, a time of worship, and a testimony to precede my talk, which would be followed by lots of announcements about upcoming activities.

None of that was very out of the ordinary and yet a couple years later I still remember the testimony. In one sense it wasn’t really unlike other student testimonies I’ve heard over the years. And yet, there was something hauntingly different about it. It was sort of disjointed as he jumped from one describing one experience after another. But it was the last part of his presentation that still haunts me. Wound up with a lot of emotion, he described a small group meeting he attended that he left crying and feeling like he “was on fire.” And having described that wild ride of emotion, he said, “And that’s how I know God loves me.”

Obedience Based Discipleship, Part 3

The previous articles in this series argued that American Evangelicals haven’t been teaching the Gospel that Jesus taught, and that we’ve misunderstood Paul’s teaching that we are saved by grace, not by works. The Gospel must include a call to repentance, which means among other things a change in attitudes and behavior, as well as the idea of discipleship, which Jesus defined as learning to obey everything that he commanded. Most American concepts of evangelism and of the Gospel bear little resemblance to the one taught in Scripture.

Living Liminally, Part 3

babylonian_captivityOur Confidence
Living liminally means we live facing the future as we live in an eddy of change in the present. We might like a stable and certain present that enables us to predict a stable and certain future but that’s not what life ‘in exile’ is like. But whether in the wilderness, or in Babylon, or in post-Christendom America, God’s people have a sure place to stand in the present that allows us to face an uncertain future with confidence.

Living Liminally, Part 2

babylonian_captivityOur Confusion
As we try to get a handle on living liminally, think back again to the story of Israel – this time to the story of Israel in the wilderness. God’s people looked back on a life of slavery in Egypt, they looked forward to a promised land filled with giants (notice how giants eclipsed awareness of milk and honey), and they did it from the vantage point of … years and years of homeless wandering in the wilderness! Talk about being stuck in between! Our liminal words apply not only to the exile but to the years of wilderness wandering – uncertainly, disorientation, change, flux, and fluidity.

Living Liminally, Part 1

babylonian_captivityOur Context
Living liminally
. What on earth could that mean? We sometimes talk about living faithfully or hopefully. We sometimes talk about living cross-culturally. And these days, more and more, folks talk about living missionally. But living liminally? That’s new one.

In this series, I’d like to explore the idea of living liminally in our cultural moment and perhaps the best way to begin isn’t with a definition but a story, Israel’s story, particularly the story of exile.

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