A Sermon for Sarah

1514584_10203276264413977_5325977484654438534_n

As many of you know, last week one of my former students from St. Paul’s in Maumee, Ohio took her own life.  Below is the transcript of the sermon I gave at her funeral this morning.  I’m sharing it as a word of hope for those who are mourning the loss of Sarah this Christmas or for anyone who has suffered from the suicide of a loved one… Continue reading

Paul Zahl on the Focus of Christ’s Saving Work

Christ’s soteriology [i.e. saving work] is focused and exclusive…  It is exclusive to sinners.  This is because “those who are well have no need of a physician” (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31).  The non-inclusive and non-universal voice is not a slap at other religions, such as Buddhism and Islam.  The non-inclusive factor is instead a barrier to the non-needy people, or better, to the needy people who do not realize they are needy.

Paul Zahl “The First Christian

Paul Zahl Talks Suicide at Liberate

Once again my former professor and friend speaks love and grace into a subject laced with fear and condemnation.  Here’s my highlight of the post:

Life is tragic. Suicide is a serious option. Lots of people have been doing it for a very long time. We just didn’t talk about it much. Now even more people are doing it, and we are, a little, talking about it. It is OK—it is normal—to have the thought. And the moment you know that God forgives you the thought and that He can handle the thought, its impulsive hypnotic grip on you begins to loosen. And you find yourself saying—and more important, feeling—like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind: “Tomorrow is another day.”

For the rest of the post head over to Liberate.

Paul Zahl and the Greatest Gift

jesus

“The greatest gift to the world of the Christian religion, which comes straight from its founder, is the gift of absolving sacrificial love.  This is the gift of mercy.  Whatever words are right to describe it, he [Jesus] regarded his life, in all the Gospel biographies of him, as something lived ‘for you’.”

Paul Zahl “PZ’s Panopticon: An Off-The-Wall Guide to World Religion

More Zahl

Sorry I’ve been on a Zahl kick the past two posts.  I tend to gravitate towards his writings when I’m having a tough time and this week was one of those…

“Why do religious people have a hard time with grace?  People come to faith during times of great trouble.  Even if they grew up in church or had a religious experience as a teenager, they usually come to faith during a period of trouble.  A specific problem in life leads them to question or to look at God in a new way…  A time of trouble leads them toward the grace of God.  But right after they receive this grace they get punished with the law again.  The church punishes them with the law.  Here lies the problem an unburied one. Continue reading

Paul Zahl’s “One-Way Love”

“One-way love is… irrational because it reaches out to the specifically undeserving person.  This is the beating heart of it.  Grace is directed toward what Scripture calls the ‘ungodly’ (Rom. 5:6).  Not just the lonely, not just the sick and disconsolate, but the ‘perpetrators,’ the murders and abusers, the people who cross the line.  God has a heart–his one-way love–for sinners.  This is the problem with Christianity.  This piece of logical and ethical incongruity and inappropriateness is the problem with Christianity…  It is also the New Testament account of grace: God’s one-way love is a love that acts independent of all response to it yet at the same time elicits a response…  When grace comes in, when it rewrites the script, when its light shines in the basement of the house that is ourselves, unbuilt to God, grace demolishes and creates.  It does what it promises.”

Man, I miss having this guy as my professor…

Paul Zahl “Grace in Practice