The witness of the saints includes:

 

Abraham, telling us it (all the relationship with God stuff) is only about community.

Moses, telling us law and love are the same thing.

Augustine and Aquinas, telling us faith is rational.

Luther telling us the church can be wrong and must not be corrupt

Bonhoffer telling us conscience stands alone

Scripture must be read in context

We must rekindle the spark of reform.

 James Carroll


Communities across the church are searching for new ways to worship that makes use of the tradition, but somehow addresses new needs and concerns, perhaps especially with generational differences in mind. This is one example of a community in New Orleans that came together to explore the struggle of the early church to express a new faith by inventing a new form of worship. They started a worship society, not a new church by any means, and named it after St. Polycarp.

On a Monday evening, as most workers were on the way home, I joined a group enthusiastically gathering outside of Rosy’s Jazz Hall. The entrance hall led us to a table laden with wine and cheese in a bright room in which stand two large trees. People were laughing and talking as adults lifted glasses and children snacked. Noise from the kitchen spoke of food preparation. I was aware that the people were there to celebrate; eating typical New Orleans fare, drinking wine, singing, and perhaps doing a bit of “dancing” – all familiar activities to the venerable and lovely jazz hall on Tchoupitoulas and Valence. But these people were there to do this as part of Christian worship. I wondered at that. But, as we entered into worship, it all began to seem perfectly fitting.

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by John W. B. Hill

What can be learned about the ministry of ‘making disciples’ from the way Jesus did it? Surprisingly, in all the work that has been done to date in restoring the ministry of catechumenal formation in the church, remarkably little account has been taken of Jesus’ way of making disciples.¹

What follows is an attempt to apply some of the insights of René Girard in reading the Gospels² to unlock the question: How did Jesus make disciples, and – more to the point – what is the purpose of discipleship?

The four Gospels are not eye-witness accounts of the matter, nor may they be harmonized to form an aggregate account. Nevertheless, each of them informs the reading of the others; and even in their use of mythological forms of storytelling and culturally adapted detail, they serve as our primary witnesses to the nature of the gospel revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. What follows, then, is an attempt to explore the witness of the Gospels to Jesus’ work with his disciples, using Girardian insights. Read More…


The following is the beginning of a series in which scholars address wide-ranging topics about the church. Martin E. Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at The University of Chicago.

“What will historians 10,000 years from now say that the church was up to in our day?”

This is the kind of question historians sometimes get, even though they know that no historian has anything to say until there is a past, since their specialty is exclusively the past. Still, it is fun to play games like this because the answers we give provide perspective on “what we are up to” today. What are we up to today?

Let me try to surprise you by saying that not everything that we are up to today is a betrayal of the mission of the church and of the Gospel itself. It is fashionable to be cynical about what and how we are doing, but a plaque on my wall says “No Whining.” No one is stirred or called to action by whining. So let’s note right off that some good things come out of “what we are up to today” with – obligatory reference which I gladly insert – “under the Holy Spirit.” Quoting a British historian, I explain that I am an historian because I find everything so odd, and I want to learn how it got that way.

There are roughly 2.3 billion people called Christian in a world of six-plus billion people. They got to be here because some Christians were called to live out their lives in response to God’s mandates and promises as they hear them. You would think that after several centuries of secular confusions and onslaughts before 2012, there would be few non-secularist people left. Franz Kafka’s word to anyone should resonate among Christians: “In the fight between you and the world, back the world.” Still, despite odds, believers tell stories about faith and for faith, to encourage action and to act.

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