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January 11, 2020
Sefer Shpiel - "When the Church Was a Family" (Chapter Five) - Discipleship in a Pagan Context

Chapter Five of When the Church Was a Family, “The Church in the Roman World,” notes the high bar of commitment expected of church members, including leaving professions regarded as immoral or corrupt. Churches would routinely see to the financial maintenance, care, and feeding of those obliged to make such choices because of familial solidarity. […]

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January 10, 2020
Sefer Shpiel - "When the Church Was a Family" (Chapter Three and Four) Paul and the Family Business

In the Third Chapter of When The Church Was A Family, Joseph Hellerman looks at how Yeshua imbedded Mediterranean familial assumptions in the group he formed, and how these assumptions are reflected in his teachings. The major thrust here is the difference between belonging to a group in the first century and belonging to a […]

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January 8, 2020
Sefer Shpiel - "When the Church Was a Family" (Chapter Two) Yeshua's Spiritual Family Counseling

In Chapter Two of his book, When The Church Was a Family, Joseph Hellerman highlights the nature and benefits of familial spirituality as modelled in the New Testament. While western marriages are romance-based, those from a collectivist society are alliance based and for the purpose of producing desired offspring. And in Mediterranean antiquity, the marriage […]

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January 8, 2020
Sefer Shpiel - "When the Church Was a Family" (Chapter One) - Jack, Rose, and a Titanic Problem

Hellerman names his Chapter One "The Group Comes First," which he contends is a fundamental worldview assumption of the first century home group model. To examine this contention, he first discusses the movie Titanic, highlighting its appeal to individualistic assumptions. He reminds us how a Western audience sympathizes with Rose and her quest for self-actualization […]

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January 7, 2020
Sefer Shpiel - When The Church Was a Family (Introduction - "Integrate or Disintegrate")

(This series of blogs coordinates with parallel YouTube videos, providing further and more formal background to what is said there. This arrangement is meant to accommodate people who learn better in one modality or the other, or others who like a multimedia approach). On his personal blog, Joseph Hellerman says this of himself: My name […]

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January 3, 2020
What's The Big Idea? Your Worldview and How You See REALITY

Some ideas are so pivotal that they can and do lead to paradigm shifts, fundamental changes of perspective that give rise to entirely new questions and new answers. It is like the difference between standing with your back to the Grand Canyon and turning around to face it. Once you turn, everything changes in an […]

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November 17, 2019
Review of Bari Weiss, How to Fight Anti-Semitism

Weiss, Bari. How to Fight Anti-Semitism. New York: Crown, 2019. Bari Weiss is an opinion writer for the New York Times who formerly wrote for the Wall Street Journal and for Tablet, the online magazine of Jewish politics and culture. Politically left of center, she is a committed Zionist and proud Jew, with roots in Pittsburgh, […]

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November 17, 2019
Why A Really Great Sermon Just Isn't Enough

This morning I preached a great sermon. I preached one as good or better last week. And I have done a lot of them in the past six months. But increasingly, I am not satisfied. Telling you why this is so is important not just to me but to you. So give a listen. By […]

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November 5, 2019
The Sunsets of Our Lives and Father Abraham

Yesterday, as dusk approached, I went for a walk with God in the fading California sunshine. We talked about one of his oldest friends: Abraham, whom the Bible calls “the father of us all,” not genetically mind you, but spiritually. Those of us who follow the call of the God of Abraham will find ourselves […]

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November 1, 2019
E Pluribus Unum, The Torah, and Reuniting the U.S.A.

A question for you. Do you know anyone who believes our country is becoming more unified?  Neither do I!  And we’re not alone!   At the time of the 2018 mid-term elections, three out of four voters polled reported our country is becoming more divided (see https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/13/politics/2018-exit-polls/index.html).  And this year, a Pew Center study reported […]

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