Let’s Talk About Hell
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
1M ago
Recently I posted the following on social media: I’m a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Of course I believe in hell. But do I believe in a post-mortem lake of fire where people are tortured eternally for not believing the right things? Absolutely not. That’s utterly unchristian and foreign to the way of Jesus. But I was being tricksy. I was intentionally trying to get a reaction from both the “fundamentalists” and the “progressives.” Christian fundamentalists, of course, believe exactly what I deny in the second part, and they think this belief is the historically orthodox, biblical, properly C ..read more
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Leading the Willfully Aggrieved
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
1M ago
It’s a hard truth of leadership: when you’re a leader in a group or organization, including the church, people will sometimes disagree with what you say and do. Another hard truth of leadership: not everyone who disagrees with you is willing to talk with you about it. Thankfully, some are. But many are not. I learned the first hard truth early in my experiences of leadership. I learned the second hard truth in my last stint as a pastor, and I experience it in my new role as a regional church leader. There are some people who simply don’t want to have a conversation with leadership about issue ..read more
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What is Christian nationalism? And why is it a problem?
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
4M ago
There’s a lot of discussion about Christian nationalism these days, and a lot of people are unsure what to make of it, or even what Christian nationalism (CN) is. Some thoughts on what it is and why it’s a problem… Let’s start with “nationalism.” Encyclopaedia Britannica gets it nicely: “Nationalism is an ideology that emphasizes loyalty, devotion, or allegiance to a nation or nation-state and holds that such obligations outweigh other individual or group interests.” Nationalism is not just patriotism; it’s an elevation of the nation-state to a place of high allegiance, often with a sense of t ..read more
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Whose side are you on?
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
4M ago
In Joshua 5, we come across one of those wonderfully strange biblical stories that shakes our preconceptions and leaves us with more questions than answers. Israel is encamped at Gilgal, preparing to besiege Jericho at God’s command—so they firmly believe. Suddenly Joshua sees a man whom he does not recognize standing in front of him, sword drawn. “Whose side are you on?” Joshua asks. A reasonable question in the circumstances. “Neither,” the man replies. “I have come as commander of God’s armies.” Wait a second. Isn’t God on Israel’s side? God has delivered them from slavery in Egypt, covenan ..read more
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Why (and How) Do I Trust the Gospels?
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
5M ago
Although I don’t believe in Scripture’s inerrancy, I do believe in its inspiration, that God “breathed into” the ancient writings that make up the anthology we Christians call Scripture, making them especially “useful” for teaching and training us in God’s ways, the way of Jesus (2 Tim 3:16). And although I have spoken out against fundagelical “bibliolatry” (venerating the Bible in the place of God, acting as if the Bible and not Jesus is Lord), it is certainly true that, as I’ve also said, we need to “read the Bible to follow Jesus.” But how do I fit this all together? If the biblical writing ..read more
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Am I left or am I right? (and why I don’t really care)
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
5M ago
I came of age theologically in a conservative evangelical environment. Canadians may know the name “Prairie Bible Institute” or “Prairie Bible College” (“Prairie College” now) as a bastion of evangelicalism— most often a conservative form of evangelicalism. That was my space, both physically and theologically. I was a card-carrying evangelical—literally. I was a member of the Evangelical Theological Society for many years, an academic society more diverse than conservative evangelicalism but very often dominated by an American flavour of conservative evangelicalism. And yes, I had a membership ..read more
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The Problem with “Wokeness”
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
6M ago
Certain politicians in the U.S. and Canada have surged in popularity in part by decrying “wokeness” in our society, “woke ideology” in our universities, and the “woke agenda” of non-conservative governments. What exactly they mean by “wokeness,” though, can be hard to pin down. The language of “woke” grew out of the Black experience in the U.S., all the way back in the 1930s. Originally it had the idea of being aware of—and on guard against—the violence and systemic injustice experienced by Black people in American society. More recently “woke” language has been used to mean being aware of sys ..read more
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Bad Bible Takes Cause Harm
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
7M ago
It’s no secret that I am fully affirming of LGBTQ+ people and equal marriage. It’s also no secret that my position on this is shaped in large part by my reading of the Bible, centred on Jesus and the surprising work of the Spirit. However, it’s not enough for me to say, “Here’s what I think is a better way of reading the Bible related to sexuality, gender, and marriage.” It’s also important to put the spotlight on some really bad takes on a few biblical passages, not to win a debate, but because these bad takes have caused—and continue to cause—tremendous harm to LGBTQ+ folks. Here are four of ..read more
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Blog Highlights
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
8M ago
I’ve blogged a lot over the past 10 years—nearly 200 posts, apparently. Here I’ve highlighted some of the most-read posts, along with a few that are just favourites of mine. What is the Bible and how should we read it? What is the Bible, and How Should We Read It? A (lengthy) intro to the Bible, needs some updating but still good overall. Who’s the “You” in the Ten Commandments? An exercise in careful reading of the Bible. What Did Og Ever Do to You? An exercise in reading the Bible’s violent texts. “The Bible is Clear”: No, It’s Not—But That’s Okay: Debunking a common misconception about the ..read more
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Jesus Wasn’t “Family Values”
Michael Pahl Blog
by Michael Pahl
8M ago
The iconic Cleaver family I am what they call a “family man,” committed to my wife and children. I love my wife, I love my family. I love families. Nothing brings a smile to my face quite like watching families (especially young families) just being a family together—except for being with my own family being a family together. What’s more, my thoughts and feelings about the significance of marriage relationships and the importance of families are grounded firmly in my understanding and experience of Christian Scripture and the way of Jesus. Devoted faithfulness, holy love, persevering hope—m ..read more
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