Bonhoeffer: Lying Destroys Community

Source: German Federal Archive Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his Cost of Discipleship: Because the first and last concern of truthfulness is the revealing of persons in their whole being, in their evilness before God, such truthfulness is resisted by the sinner. That is why it is persecuted and crucified. The truthfulness of the disciples has its sole…

“You Will Be As Gods, Knowing Good and Evil”

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.— Gen. 3:15, KJV Once there was a farmer who worked his poor farm together with his son and their horse. When the horse ran off one day, neighbors…

Who Breathes Whom?

Apparently we have varying degrees of control of the dimensions of our lives. For example, I can control my breathing — by holding my breath. But not for long. Rather than "I'm breathing my breath", maybe a better way to look at that is "My breath is breathing me!" After all, who ultimately is in…

William’s Razor

In philosophy there's the idea of Ockham's Razor, attributed to English William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), which states that given two solutions to a problem, if they have the same outcomes but one is simpler than the other, choose the simpler. I use a similar approach to spiritual questions: if an idea or doctrine makes…

Solving for X

There is a sense in which our usual math education misrepresents how math is done in the real world of science and engineering. In high school algebra in particular we 'solve for x', and the one-and-only correct answer can be found in the back of the book. In math, "solving for X" like this is…

Holiness Revisited

The usual word for "holiness" in the New Testament is hAGIOS ('HAH-gee-ohs"), and the usual explanation of it is 'set apart'. That is true enough, but there's a dimension to hAGIOS I'd like to explore. From the very beginnings of Christianity there has been a tension surrounding 'asceticism' — physically denying oneself by abstaining from…

“Repentance” Revisited in a Time of Trial

Lately I've been writing about the Greek word METANOIA ("meh-TAH-nee-ah"), translated 'repentance' (as in "Be repenting, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"), and how in the original language this is describing a fundamental change in mind-set, a change in outlook. Sometimes dramatic shifts can happen — for example, the alcoholic who wakes up…

METANOIAs great and small

"Be repenting, for the kingdom of God/heaven is at hand." (Matt 4:17, Mk 1:15) This verse is surely a perennial theme of Lent. Previously I’ve written about how there just isn’t a good English translation for the Greek word METANOIA (meh-TAH-nee-ah), generally translated ’repentence’. METANOIA means more along the lines of ’change of mind-set’, and I…