The church where I now pastor made an important decision not long ago that resulted in significant organizational change. Sensing God leading them in a new and radical direction, they voted to join forces with a church plant in the area, and together these two bodies formed one new church, which is now Hope Church in Westerville, Ohio. As we walked through this process together, it became clear to me that there is a wide variety of emotional responses to significant changes in life. I called this The Emotional Spectrum of Change.


Knowing where we are in the process of change will help us to understand how to respond to those powerful emotions.
Whenever we make a major decision in our lives that results in substantial change, we go through an emotional process before, during, and especially after the choice has been made. These emotions are often magnified when the change in question is deeply personal, like making a major adjustment in your church organization.

For most Christians, the local church to which we belong has a rich and vital role in our lives. Not only is our soul nourished there through worship each Sunday, but many of our closest friends are there. Church is more than something to which we belong; church is something we are. The community with whom we gather to worship and follow Jesus is one of the most important things in our lives. So when we experience change in this area, we often feel the effects of that change on a deeply personal and emotional level.

I believe that it is immensely helpful to be able to identify where we are, emotionally, with whatever change we may be experiencing. Knowing where we are in the emotional process of change, as individuals or families, will help us to understand how to respond to these feelings. God expects us to live wisely, to respond well, and to understand ourselves relative to both our circumstances and our emotional conditions. With that, I would like to introduce you to The Emotional Spectrum of Change.

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Have you ever read through the Old Testament laws in places like Leviticus and Deuteronomy and thought, “Do I really have to do all this? What happens if I break one of these commands? Or, more likely, what happens when I break nearly all of them?” There are over 600 Old Testament laws, many of which seem outdated, even silly, to modern people. For example, Leviticus 19:19 says plainly, “Do not wear clothing woven of two different kinds of material.” Does this mean that it’s a sin to wear a cotton/poly blend tee? Or, perhaps more disturbing to people like me who love shrimp, Leviticus 11:12 says, “Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.” What role do these Old Testament laws play in our Christian faith today?

One common way of answering this question is to divide the Old Testament laws into categories. There are moral laws, ritual laws, or civil laws. When we break it up this way, it’s easy to deduce that only the moral laws are still binding. But what would Moses think of this categorization? Is it faithful to the original text to place these commands into distinct categories? I don’t believe that it is.


When God has set a law in place, only God can revise or revoke it.
The better way to answer the question of the relevance of Old Testament laws is by applying this principle: Revisions to the binding nature of Old Testament laws must be made through revelation. Revelation guides revision. When God has set a law in place, only God can revise or revoke it. Just as the original law was issued through an act of divine revelation, so the repeal of that law must be a similar act of divine revelation. In other words, it’s not up to us to decide what does and does not still apply; it’s up to God.

So, then, what has God said about Old Testament laws? Quite a lot, actually.

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What the Book Is About

The Beauty of the Infinite is a treatise on the aesthetics of Christian theology, a defense, as it were, of Christianity’s “rhetoric of peace” over against the rhetorical violence of modernity and postmodernity. The main idea of David Bentley Hart’s masterpiece (and it is, in my opinion, a masterpiece) could be stated like this:

The rhetoric of God is Jesus Christ, offered as pure gift. As gift, Christ is infinite peace. As both gift and the rhetoric of peace, Christ is beauty, the magnificent demonstration of the self-giving love of the Trinity which crosses all boundaries, even the boundary of death.


The Triune God is “the God who ‘others’ himself within himself and contains and surrenders otherness as infinite music, infinite discourse.”
In Hart’s own words, the book demonstrates “that one may speak, within the Christian tradition, of a rhetoric of peace, of a practice of rhetoric that is peaceful, because rhetoric and beauty are both already narrated by Christian thought as peace, obedient to a particular understanding of the infinite: beauty is prior to sublimity [tragic beauty] and infinity surpasses totality [the power of world systems]. Moreover, the concrete form of Christian rhetoric – Christ, the Father’s supreme rhetoric, his Word – appears within the terms of this Christian narrative of the infinite as the very form of peace, the infinite gesture of a love that simply exceeds the gesture of every violence brought against it, the real and visible beauty whose historical and aesthetic particularity invites response and variation and whose effect can inhabit time not simply as negation but as a practicable style of existence.” (413)

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A professor at Wheaton has recently caused a stir by remarking that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Although this professor is not in the Theology department, her statement has landed her on administrative leave. Many have chimed in with their thoughts on what Wheaton, an evangelical Christian university, should or should not do in this case. Thankfully, I am not an administrator at Wheaton (or any college…or in any capacity, for that matter) so I do not know what is appropriate in this matter. However, I would like to write a few words on the question at hand: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?


Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?
Miroslav Volf, a theologian whom I respect and admire, has written a book called Allah: A Christian Response. I have not read his book, so I will not comment on its content. Scot McKnight, however, has read the book and interacted with it over several posts on his website, one of which can be found here. McKnight summarizes Volf’s assertions this way:

Christians and Muslims agree on six significant theological statements:

1. There is only one God.
2. God is creator.
3. God is radically different.
4. God is good.
5. God commands we love God.
6. God commands we love others.

When Christians and Muslims agree on the above six claims about God, then in their worship of God they refer to the same object” (110-111)

To be sure, these are significant similarities. But are they enough to qualify as being “the same”? (Volf does not take the word same to mean “identical,” but rather to mean “sufficiently similar.”) Does agreement upon these six theological points create sufficiently similar worship between Christians and Muslims?

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Hope Church. It’s happening. We’ve been praying and preparing for months. We’ve seen God move in our congregation and experienced his power and presence on our leadership team. We’ve felt the support of prayer and financial gifts from people all over the country, and especially from the leadership of our denomination. There’s still so much work to do, but ready or not, by the power of God we’re launching Hope Church on Sunday, September 27th.


Hope Church launches on Sunday, September 27th, 10AM, at 75 E. Schrock Rd. in Westerville.
I’m excited. I’m really, really excited. Church planting is one of the most thrilling vocations on the planet. We get to start on the ground floor of a brand new body of Christ. In our case, we get to see the fruit borne from the marriage of two congregations. We get to see God move in unique and profound ways in the lives of people who have not known him or have been far from him.

Our family has been through hell and back. We’ve discovered the power of the hope that we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus has conquered death, and through his resurrection, we have a living hope for our own resurrection, and for eternal life. We’ve learned that, no matter what happens in this life, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is displayed in Jesus. He is alive, and the hope that he offers is a hope of life beyond death, a life that is more powerful death and that cannot be stained by sin or disease. This is why we’re called Hope Church.

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