Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

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Spark My Muse
Thank you!

Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson

First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.


And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!

Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.


Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,



Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!


Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!


Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


Interview / chat notes:


MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

James Sire

Malcolm Guite https://www.facebook.com/malcolm.guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

Brainpickings.com Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.


“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”


22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.


Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”


“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)


“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”


“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


If you enjoyed the show please give it a stellar review on iTunes here!

Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

Evangelized by a Rat Terrier: Communicating Faith with a Bared Belly

Today is Halloween and this book is a murder, thriller, in the religious dramatic fiction….hum.



Today’s post is part of  a blog tour Erin McCole-Cupp!

Erin is a talent writer and a helpful friend of mine. I got a copy of her new book that has done amazingly well on Amazon!
I was thrown back to the 80s—like in a totally awesome way.
(ya catch that!)
She’s stopping by today on her interweb book tour with a great story about her doggie superstar Sigma and a bit about her new book.
Now–Enter, Erin…

Thanks for hosting me, Lisa!  See, dear reader, Lisa and I go way back—way back to the 1990s, when the internet was something viewed on a black screen in tiny pinpoints of green light.  Lisa knew me through my first conversion, the one where I became a Christian, but I’m not sure she knows about my second, far more recent conversion:  that from cat person to dog person—and more specifically to a small dog person.

In Lisa’s latest (and wonderful) book Dog in the Gap, she wrote a chapter called “Taming,” in which she discusses how we humans are tamed by dogs. She writes that the mutual process of caring and being cared for by a dog, “…can, if we let it, carry over into our other relationships–this sacred act of taming each other.  Instead of tolerating each other, we go further in.”


I experienced this, more specifically what Lisa identifies in that same chapter as “mutuality,” starting this past Spring.  We were thinking about getting a second cat…


…because this one doesn’t like us.


When we arrived at the local shelter, we were shocked to find their cat residence virtually empty.  Apparently we’d arrived before the bumper crop of abandoned kittens was due.


“Well, let’s go say ‘hi’ to the dogs,” my husband said.  We went through the kennel and one of the residents made our youngest stop in her tracks.  She pointed and shrieked with delight.


“Tiny dog!  Tiny dog!”


Ugh.  I’d always called small dogs “hors d’oeuvres” or “light snacks,” good for nothing but barking at all hours.  And who on earth would want a tiny ball of noise called a rat terrier?  No. Thank.  You.  Still, for the sake of the kids, I gave in to a “visit” with the little guy, assuming he’d annoy them so much that they’d see some sense and we’d come back in a few weeks for our kitten.


When the shelter volunteer brought him in to us she warned, “Now don’t expect too much, because he’s pretty shy and takes a long time to warm up to–“


The little blur dashed in, threw himself down in front of us all, belly up for scratching.  His tongue lolled out.  He was smiling.


“—new people,” the worker finished.  “Wow!  Look at that!”


We did not choose Sigma.  Sigma chose us.



What did he do next that won me over?  Funny enough, it was the barking.  He barks less than I expected a little dog to bark, but when he does bark, it’s because he is trying to protect our pack.  Stranger at the door?  Get away!    Stranger approaching while the kids walk him?  Stay back!   Is a friend yelling near me, his Mommy?  Yowwowwowwowwow! You’re not allowed to bark at her! Rat terriers are known for being wary of strangers and protective of their territory.  We belong to him.


The most precious example of this I can give is the time a relative stranger accidentally tripped over my middle child’s feet.  Before he could apologize, Sigma jumped up, tapped the guy’s shins with both front paws, and gave a low warning bark.  Do not hurt her!  She is under my protection! 


As I apologized, the perceived “offender” said, “Don’t apologize.  That’s the kind of dog you want taking care of your kids.”


I’ve had a dog before.  I’ve never before had a dog who would clearly give his life for mine and my family’s.  I’ve read about heroic dogs before, but part of me always thought those were melodramatic stories made up to fill dead air on morning radio shows.  Now that I’ve seen the active loyalty of a dog, I can believe that those stories are real.  Siggie believes that we are worth heroic effort.


Sigma chose us.  We belong to him.  He believes we are worth heroic effort.  If “evangelization” means at its root “to bring a message,” Sigma has done just that.  He won me over specifically, not because of anything he demanded of me but because of my value to him, just as I am.  He was the first pet with which (with whom?  hm) I’ve experienced the “mutuality” that Lisa talks about in Dog in the Gap.  Yes, we feed him, walk him, rub his belly, anoint him with flea and tick preventative, and throw tennis balls around for him.  But he does for us, too.


I don’t know about you, but when I think of “evangelist,” someone on a stage comes to mind.  Someone with a podium and a microphone, slathering at the mouth with the Fire of the Spirit, hair gone wild with all the thrashing about he’s done, all in the name of igniting in his listeners the furious love of Christ.  Cerebrally, I know that’s not the only way to share the faith, but my tiny human brain didn’t have room for any more concrete image… until a “Tiny dog!  Tiny dog!” came into my family and made us a pack.  Our “Siggie Baby” is not powerful or smart or eloquent.  His evangelization of me was never about him; it was about showing me what I was worth to him.


That’s such a small way of reaching out, but it’s a genuine way that you don’t need a degree or an agent or a microphone to share.  We can—no, we must show others that someone on earth thinks they are worth choosing, worth claiming in love, and worth heroic effort.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful, charming way to entice others into seeing that the Body of Christ is a pack worth joining?  After all, don’t we Christians occasionally find ourselves perceived as slobbery, barking hors d’oeuvres?


So how do you dash out of your shelter and show others the vulnerable, bared-belly love of Christ?  Lisa and I tend to bare the bellies of our imaginations:  we write, thus inviting you into the very brains and hearts where we (try, at least) to make a home for Him.  I took particular delight in writing the character Cate Whelihan in Don’t You Forget About Me specifically because she espouses so many things that I think are, well, not so good for us.



I love Cate because she’s part of my pack, and, just like so many real humans I love just because they’re loveable, not because they agree with me.


I know I need to do that more in my real life, outside of my head.  I need to show, not tell, the people I love that I choose them, that they are part of my pack, and that they are worth heroic effort.  If the Son of God can do that for me—for every single one of us—and I’m supposed to be following Him, then I kinda don’t have an excuse to keep it in all my head anymore.


Do you?

# # #

Thanks, Erin!
If you are interested in the book, and gosh, you should be! Purchasing info is here.  The Kindle edition is available now.  The paperback will be available on November 1st (2013).
There’s also a Goodreads giveaway running now through November 15, so you can enter to win a paperback of Don’t You Forget About Me at this link.  
Guest Writer: Jeffrey Roop on 5 Insights of Upside Down Leadership

Guest Writer: Jeffrey Roop on 5 Insights of Upside Down Leadership

Jesus as Servant (Upside Down Leadership)
Peter Upside Down, by Sherry Camhy

Jeffrey Roop






Thank you to Jeff Roop (not to be confused with Jeff Roop, Actor: Vampire High; born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada) for weighing in on Leadership today with this article.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership is a common theme within Vineyard churches with the emphasis on function rather than position or title. With mega-churches to simple church networks covering the spectrum of faith communities in the Vineyard, how the function works out will vary depending on the size of the church. I have reservations with churches adopting business models of leadership. The church is not a business with a CEO but the Body of Christ with Christ as the head.

The life of Jesus is the oft cited example of servant leadership. Some have raised the question though of service over leading [TheJesusVirus.org] Authority is often the issue under consideration regarding matters of leadership. Jesus puts it to rest as far as hierarchy goes: not so among you, the greatest is the servant of all. He presents the upside-down view of the Kingdom of God regarding authority.

Kingdom authority is different than the leadership offered in the business world. The world system is (often) beastly with no worries of serving others (although this is changing on some fronts). Those within the Body of Christ are called to submit to one another and to Christ. This would seem to include those in leadership.

Now with this level playing field of mutual submission, what of Hebrews 13 and other references to leadership? If we interpret these passages in light of the example of Jesus Christ, I believe authority and leadership will look different from commonly understood. Consider the following:

1. Recognize those in leadership as gifts to the church. (Eph 5) We often recognize the manifestation of certain grace gifts (charisma) in practice so why not recognize those people as gifting the church?

2. Reflect on their influence. As I’m seeing leadership, influence and persuasion are key. The words shared by them are not ultimate but should lead us to contemplate on the final Word, Jesus Christ. The ultimate authority is in Christ and any other authority is derivative of Him and reflecting His character.

3. Look to their example. In a few places the Apostle Paul encourages an ‘imitate me as I imitate Christ.’ I’m sure such imitation will not be 100%, yet we should be able to see something of Christ reflected and modeled in their life.

3. Help them and befriend them. Often in traditional churches, those in leadership face crushing loneliness and spiritual fatigue. If the opportunity presents itself, be a friend and support them as a friend, not as a leader. Allow them to be a simple brother or sister in Christ.

4. Reserve judgment. Too often when someone in leadership falls for whatever reason we tend to rush to judgment. Remember, they are frail human beings like the rest of us. They too can stumble and fall. They are not out of reach of grace. If you face this in your congregation, help to lovingly restore them in a spirit of gentleness.

5. Always look to Christ. Any leader in the church should point others to Christ, who is the True Shepherd. If the leader creates dependence on themselves rather than Christ in the church, the authority of Christ is being subverted. I’ve heard too much talk of leadership, authority and submission lead to fear and control. Those in leadership are to be a sign to others, guiding them to freedom, love and service found in Christ.


Only Jesus Christ is the head of the church, the question before leadership is this, are you willing to give up control for the sake of an authority found solely in service? When did ministry become means of authority rather than the place of service?

Thanks, Jeff!
Well, friends, let’s continue the discussion. What are your thoughts on Leadership, and servant leadership? Do you embrace the “Upside Down model” Jeff mentions?

My alma mater Evangelical Theological Seminary has an ongoing initiative called Center for Leadership Impact with events and training for leaders in the community and business world. You may find it helpful.

So, You wanna ditch your church? Top 5 Mistakes

Alphonse Mucha's work here reminds me of Redeemed Humanity, the Bride of God's Only Son

Sometimes going to church doesn’t seem worth it. For heaven’s sake, wouldn’t it be better to just have breakfast with some family or friends, and forego irritating people, scheduling problems, overblown or petty dramas de jour, personality conflicts, politics, dodgy doctrinal positioning, and the rest of machine the local church can be? Is the Cracker Barrel growing a bit more more alluring each Sunday morning?

Seems like a no brainer, right?
If this is kind of thing is happening for you, in your local church, maybe church shopping is around the bend? Well, wait just a minute. Here are 5 Mistakes you can make (or have made) regarding your local church.

1. Making theological judgements for what are personal preferences.
2. Mistaking the “local church” for The Bride of Christ.
3. Misunderstanding the idea of “community.”
4. Implementing a consumer approach with the spiritual and transcendent.
5. Overlooking what is happening in the sacraments.

Being from a more independent faith tradition, I grew up with the sense that church, in the local setting, was mainly about worship and fellowship. Well, it is, but not in the small sense I understood it to be. Now a bigger view of Church guides my life, and my relationship with my God and Savior.

Simply put: Church is hardly about “the local church” or about any human individual.

Jesus saved humankind through his Bride the Church. That means our preferences have very little to do with what God is doing, and the workings of Church.

The Church is something universal, invisible AND visible, international, and local. It is bound by culture and history, and yet handily transcends them both. It may exist in a location temporarily, but exists eternally in every location. Yes, it’s bigger, in every way than you think, or have the ability to imagine.

We apprend it in such tiny ways at times…
Perhaps, we get caught up or annoyed by such things a personalities, worship styles, programs, or issues related to our doctrinal formulations, opinion, or personal preference.

We may go “church shopping” and miss the point completely.

How correct to say, “Church is not about me.”
It’s about WE.

In the sacraments, the community of God (Trinity) intertwines with the community of man (humanity). We receive divine grace. God is with us. God is with his Bride, the Church. Locally the church celebrates what the collection of Christians, past, present, and future is enacting, together.

Each Sunday, worldwide, Christ’s Bride gathers, and meets together. The church is with “him”, as it has done from the beginning.

Even as the earth spins, the variances in time zones cause prayer without ceasing, and the fellowship and communion of the saints occur, globally.

And with Christ, Father, and Spirit, we celebrate the reality of koinwnia (koinonia) with the Divine.  Thomas Aquinas wrote, “the Eucharist is the sacrament of the unity of the Church, which results from the fact that many are one in Christ.”[7] (Eucharist means thanksgiving.) Koinwnia is what Christ exercised divinely with humanity, by grace, through his work in his ministry, on the cross, and in his resurrection. It is how we commune with each other, and worship God in Spirit and Truth.

Through a local church body, we live out, and enact the Gospel and participate the actual in-breaking of the Kingdom of God here on earth. The local church is people, and people are flawed. What God has done, is doing, and will continue to do, is not.

This whole concept is all summed up nicely in the Apostles Creed, in which followers of Christ unite in spirit and truth. Many of us may not know the creeds, or declare them together with other Christians. But, this particular creed, well-established in the 300s A.D. (C.E.), and is the/a manifesto (see ref. link) of the Bride. It is a speak-act and agreement of followers of the divine Father, Son, and Spirit, for a way of living and being; and understanding the world.

To take this creed fully to heart will expand your idea of church, unify you with Christians of the last 2,000+ years, and may even help you forebear with the frailties of  local church you attend, here and now.

From the Book of Common Prayer –

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.

Your comments are welcome.

Why the Body of Christ (people) is Inhospitable to the Disabled

Excerpt from my Book Review Paper of – “Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality”  -by Thomas E. Reynolds

copyright Lisa Colón DeLay © 2010

Caring Stops at Fear

To put it bluntly, the problem lies in the fact that what we hate and fear is personified in a disable person. What we grieve and pity on a grander scale about human existence can be seen in the disabled. What we dread about ourselves, or how the broken world can be, takes on fleshly form, right in front of us, in the acute helplessness of the disabled one.

On a gut level, we realize at some point we too may be helpless and dependent. It seems frightening. We feel weak, inferior, and can be dreadfully aware of our imperfections. We resent being reminded of it. We also fear that grace will not abound for us in these cases. Consequently, we hope the subject does not come up, or that the disabled stay a bit out of view. Disabilities are variations of the vulnerable life that God has given us. They are too, the life he lived out, in human form. It seems a most basic dilemma of human existence is whether there is welcome when it is most needed. Can we can find a safe place to abide, and be with others who recognize us, value us, and empower us to become our best selves. We remain insecure.


Reynolds asserts that the Christian story is, and has been, one of strength coming from weakness, of wholeness emerging from brokenness, and of growth budding from vulnerability. This comes by the grace and almighty power of God. As able-bodied people, we underestimate our need. We admire, idolize, and pursue independence, on all levels.

In contrast, the common good is not achieved unilaterally (individually), or selfishly. The disabled understand experientially what the able-bodied can only know partially, and, by in large, theoretically: we need relationships in order to exist. As we embrace our vulnerability and mature to depend on other, we become more fully human. Weakness, in the interdependence played out as servant host and guest, gives us the privilege of reliance, vulnerability, and the opportunity to pursue abundant life together. It is part of how we develop in trust and faith.

Reynolds delves into theological issues, related to Trinitarian theology. They are discussed in terms of God and his creation, Jesus’ redemption and interaction with humanity, and the Spirit in the context of the Spirit-filled church living as a vulnerable inclusive communion in the redemptive kingdom of God.

Your comments and ideas are encouraged. Please post them.

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