We Are All Atheists

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by John Ellis

“Even the Bible says that there isn’t a God,” my roommate smugly blustered.

The girl he was arguing with was incredulous, but as she pushed back it became obvious that a lack of confidence in her own position was growing. My roommate picked up on that, and went in for the dialectical kill, proud that he was about to convert another soul to atheism.

“It’s in one of the Psalms,” he shrugged. “I’m not making it up. The Bible says that there is no God.”

Gesturing towards me, he added, “Ask him.”

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God Is a Storyteller and He Calls His People to Love and Tell Stories

sistine-chapel

by John Ellis

During our annual church men’s retreat, I had the privilege of spending about thirty minutes discussing philosophy, art, and the Bible with the guest speaker. He’s an accomplished and feted theologian, and I was happy to discover that he is also incredibly knowledgeable and conversant about art, specifically storytelling.

At one point, our conversation turned to the parallels between ancient Greek drama (post-Thespis) and the Old Testament prophets, specifically Ezekiel. As we discussed the various dramas enacted by the priestly-prophet known for his vivid storytelling, the guest speaker threw in a rueful aside about how many within the reformed tradition are opposed to drama in the worship service. He then added the off-hand comment, “Pointing to Ezekiel, I tell people that skits and drama are appropriate for the worship of God.”

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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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Parents, Broken Bones, and Sin’s Curse

broken arm cast

by John Ellis

There are moments that remind parents that our children aren’t really ours, not really. Moments that interrupt daily life, underscoring parents’ finiteness and the fragility of our children. Moments that stand still in pain and hopelessness while you implore, to no avail, for time to reset itself back into daily life.

Tuesday evening as I sat reading on our back-deck, the weak yet desperate cries of help coming from the front yard were the first signal that a chain of unwanted moments for my family had been set in motion.

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Alarm Clocks, Skinned Knees, and My Mom’s Magic


band-aid-on-knee

by John Ellis

My mom possessed some sort of secret magic. Through some sort of wizardry, she made herself indispensable to me when I was a child. At the time, I believed myself to be fierce and independent. Preparing to battle invading commie armies, daydreaming about outwitting kidnappers, and plotting ways to capture dangerous wild animals, I didn’t need my mother I would scoff to myself. Only babies and wimps need their mom.

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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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‘Desiring God’ Says that I Ruined My Life; Jesus Says Otherwise


The-Return-of-the-Prodigal-Son

by John Ellis

(Edit: Shortly after I emailed him this evening, Jonathan Pokluda emailed me back, demonstrating humility and charity as he expressed concern for me over and above his article. As I contemplated his kind words to me, I thought, “Would I respond with this much humility and charity if someone challenged one of my articles?” I don’t know the answer to that, but I pray that I would/will, by God’s grace. 

Writing online is a tricky business. Rarely are you able to say all that you want and all that you believe on a given topic. I wrote this blog post under the assumption that Jonathan Pokluda did not intend to provoke the response I had while reading his article. But, I had my response and I was concerned that others might have a similar response. In His kindness, God has me in a place, spiritually and materially, where my existential navel-gazing is overcome by His mercy and kindness exhibited in my sanctification, by the power of His Spirit. However, before I began writing, I wondered how my response would’ve festered if I had read something similar as a new Believer. So, while I stand by what I’ve written below, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I believe that Jonathan Pokluda would counsel Christians who have “ruined” their lives that, in Christ, their life has not been ruined. If I never meet Pokluda in this life, I look forward to laughing with him about this in the new heavens and new earth.)

It’s not that I disagree with Jonathan Pokluda’s advice in his article “How to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties.” It’s that in his article he allowed little to no room for me and others like me. You see, I ruined my life in my twenties. I violated every single one of his resolutions. And, yet, although I ruined my life, my life is not ruined. And that’s a paradox of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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