Years ago as a young pastor in Oakland, California, I was preaching a sermon series focusing on the Kingdom of God. I had recently read some books from E. Stanley Jones, the famous Methodist missionary, some exceptional Baptist dispensational writers, as well as some reformed Presbyterian authors. All of these camps, despite being polar opposites on numerous theological subjects, had some fascinating thoughts concerning the Kingdom of God. I decided to dig into the Scripture and determine where I was going to land on this important topic. Anyone who knows me knows how meticulous and precise I can be with such things. After much serious study I shared my findings and my conclusions in this sermon series. It was no “private” interpretation I can assure you. It was not only orthodox Christianity, but it was ruthlessly Scriptural. I would have it no other way.
Like millions of other red-blooded, American sports fans…I love football. In many ways it has challenged baseball as the American past-time. (My apologies to all the baseball purists.) Between college football and the NFL, August through February have become some of the best months of the year for sports enthusiasts. I cannot deny that I enjoy watching a football game whether I have a vested interest in the teams or not. The sport has done much to provide an entertainment product that is even transcending the male gender bias as more and more women are tuning in to watch. And this remarkable ascent is culminated in the final game of the year called, “The Super Bowl”. It is amazing to think that the first Super Bowl, 51 years ago, wasn’t sold out. Today, if you can even find a ticket, the price of that seat almost demands a bank loan. The Super Bowl is not simply a game to decide the championship team, it has become the sports Mardi Gras which literally consumes a week and has captured the scheduled Sunday. On that “Super Sunday”, everything revolves around “the game”. Church services, family gatherings, sports bars, individual parties, and the like. Life is ostensibly suspended for the big game. And let’s not forget the commercials which cost advertisers millions of dollars per 30 seconds. You have to give credit where credit is due, the NFL has marketed and moved its way into a financial goldmine.
For those who might maintain a subscription or keep current with this blog site, you are aware that Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been a newly created historical superstar to much of the Church. Several mainline denominations have ascribed to him martyr status and honestly, I would not debate that honor. That being said, he has also generated a discussion as to the appropriateness of looking to him as a model for cultural engagement considering his theology was originally formed through German theological liberalism of the 1930’s. I have already written concerning my perspective of his journey and the distinctions I personally hold compared to what we know of Bonhoeffer. I would like in this blog, in a more practical way, highlight what I believe to be the four lessons the conservative evangelical Church might learn and what pastors of those churches need to embrace.