Social Justice and the Gospel


soup kitchen

by John Ellis

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. Genesis 18:19

The most frequent questions I field of late are about social justice and the gospel, and the ongoing dustup over social justice within conservative evangelicalism. People want to know which “side” I’m on and if I’ve signed any statements. In answer to those two questions, I don’t think that I’m on any “side” and I haven’t signed any statements about social justice, nor do I intend to (that’s not to say that it’s wrong to do so).

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Love = Obedience

John-14-15-In-You-Love-Me-You-Will-Keep-My-Commandments-gold-copy

by John Ellis

As a child, obedience was a pragmatic activity for me. Navigating the tension between my desires and the possible punishment if I got caught fulfilling my desires, my decision to obey or not was rooted in a cost/benefit analysis. If the reward from my desire was greater than the risk of the punishment, obedience was jettisoned. On the other hand, if the reward was less than the risk, I was an obedient child. Not to mention the many times in which obedience enabled me to do what I wanted. As an example of how my pragmatic obedience worked, refusing to sing Patch the Pirate’s song “Obedience” with the rest of the students brought with it punishment not worth the reward of not singing. So, I dutifully sang the lyrics “obedience is the very best way to show that you believe” many times throughout my childhood.

It’s only as an adult that I get the irony.

My childhood’s pragmatic hypocrisy aside, is the song correct? Is it true that “obedience is the very best way to show that [we] believe?”

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Weekend Reading: 9/22


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by John Ellis

The weekend has already descended, but that doesn’t mean that at some point over the next day and a half you won’t be longing for something interesting to read. And that’s the purpose of this post. Over the last week, I’ve compiled some of the most interesting and/or edifying posts and articles that I’ve read. Not all of them were published this past week, but I was first introduced to them this past week. Hopefully, you’ll be introduced to an article or two that you find interesting.

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The Storyteller’s Bible Study: Part Two


bible-study

by John Ellis

(If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read Part One first. You can do so by clicking here.)

What Is a Story?

If someone were to ask you to explain what makes a story a story, what would you say?

I have taught the following definition of story to my kids, and I believe that it provides the foundation for sound literary analysis and ultimately discovering authorial intent:

In a story, someone wants something. That someone is called the protagonist. However, someone or something is standing in the protagonist’s way. That someone or something is called the antagonist. The story is what the protagonist does to overcome the antagonist and achieve his or her objective. If the protagonist succeeds, the story is a comedy (in the classical sense). If the protagonist fails, the story is a tragedy (in the classical sense).

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The Storyteller’s Bible Study: Part One


bible-study

by John Ellis

Lord willing, I’m planning on turning these two posts into a series. In later installments, I’ll work through passages of Scripture using the method I briefly describe in this post. I’d also love to write a book about it, providing more detail about this method of Biblical interpretation. We’ll see. For now, I pray, if anything, that these two posts will prompt a greater desire in your heart to read and study God’s Word, whether you agree with my method or not.

In As You Like It, Jacques delivers Shakespeare’s famous words, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

True and truer still. We are characters written by God into His great story of His cosmos. A story that He wrote, produced, directs, and stars in. God is the grand auteur and storyteller that all other auteurs and storytellers either point to or rebel against. Burrowing even further into God’s Divine storytelling, He has graciously chosen to reveal His main plot, His primary story, in the Bible.

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The Art of Petulance: Boycotting Nike, Serena Williams, and the Christian’s Tongue


pouting baby

by John Ellis

Over the last few weeks, both “sides” of our increasingly bifurcated society have aptly demonstrated that our similarities transcend politics. Sadly, the specific similarity we’ve witnessed of late isn’t reflective of our “better natures.” Our society appears to be in the throes of competing temper tantrums.

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