Notice: Undefined variable: show_stats in /home/content/18/7126518/html/blog/wp-content/plugins/stats/stats.php on line 1384
Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

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

If you’ve listened to the show…
Please click our audience survey button so we can better understand who’s listening.
(It takes about 1 minute to complete and it’s 100% anonymous.)
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
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

18:00 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).

Guest writer at Everyday Liturgy

ELI’m very glad to have the honor of being the guest writer today at Thomas Turner’s blog:

Everyday Liturgy

Thomas wrote me saying,

I would love for you to contribute a 500 word (or so) post about how participating in a particular church or denomination has helped make you the Christian you are today. The purpose of this series is largely ecumenical, and looks at the positive you gleaned out of the experience. If you had a bad experience that turned into something good later on, I would think you could make a great post out of that…

Some of you may not know just how fundamentalist my roots are.

Here’s but one example:

Several people approached my mom to discourage her from marrying my dad. Why?

Because their offspring would be bi-racial.

Plenty of (fundamentalist) Christian groups at the time prohibited “inter-racial” dating and (obviously) marriage and pro-creation.

Southern Baptists were the slave-owning southerns who coined their monicker at the time of the American Civil War (to them known as “The War of the Northern Aggression”). Northern Baptists, as they were once called, later changed their name to American Baptist and became (typically) more progressive and liberal in their views over time.

Southern Baptists proliferated to many places outside of the the South (to the American North and through missionary work, to all parts of the world), but kept their name and, as you might guess, some of their same notions.

(To be fair, things have changed for the better, mostly. Today, folks in churches coming from that tradition run the gamut of very strict and conservative… “old school patriarchal imperialist southern” -if you will- to more gracious and relaxed in their dogma on issues of race, gender, and other matters.)

(By the way, my dad was Puerto Rican. Are you curious to see what he looked like? Here. Like most conversations about “race” –as if that was an actual thing– it’s really just vestige of a medieval mindset and a preoccupation about skin tones and/or physical features. Sadly, it still is and by people you would imagine would know better. But, I’ll tackle that in some other post.)

I wonder how many of them were relieved that I ended up having my mom’s light skin. 

(This is were Obama and I are alike. Like me, he actually looks more like his mom than his dad. Trust me, it’s true. I notice these things! :) )


So, what was my journey and where do I stand now?

Give it a read and find out!

10 Misconceptions Christians have about non believers

Christ Pantocrator study

DUCKMARX via Compfight

This might read heavy because I’m confronting some pervasive concepts. It’s like I’m playing the heavy, but try to read it in a gracious spirit because it is meant to bring clarity not conflict. Plus, I have a damp sense of humor  [not too wet and not super dry either] so take that into account. Chill and stuff.

Okay, buckle in for the bit of Groundwork:

First, from my end, I make no secret here that I see things from the paradigm of a Christian worldview. This has been my family background, my life experience, and the central feature in my graduate education. That’s my lens.

In having a lens I’m not alone. In fact, every one sees reality through his or her own lens, but not everyone will really investigate and coordinate their worldview in a consistent way. I won’t either, not because I’m not making an effort, but because seeing the task to completion is so massive and unwieldy. As I approach this topic I come with a vatanage point…and so do you.

We can take as a given:
Our beliefs will cloud our perceptions and our perceptions will work to evidence our already held beliefs
–except in rare cases where we make a focused and conscious effort to consider or accept another point of view. Those cases are quite rare because we tend to use our life experiences to back up what we already think is true. (I’m reiterating.) So, when a change happens–it can be big. This is essentially how the Christian idea of “conversion” plays out too: A person is thinking one thing about reality, and somehow becomes convinced of something else and has a turnaround to something new. Christians would also say God had a direct part in igniting that process.

Peeking outside the Bubble:
In learning more about the people outside the Christian belief “bubble,” I’ve noticed that plenty of my assumptions about non Christians were flawed, false, or incomplete. Other times, I’ve noticed that while some of these perceptions may ring true at first blush, they more often reflect a universal truth about what it means to be human, (and do not effectively describe the group that doesn’t ascribe to the Christian belief system.)

The 10 misconceptions are things that many Christians want to be true. If they are not it could convince them that Christianity doesn’t provide the best answers. This fear can cause people to be even more unreasonable or averse to mystery…even though Christianity is chocked full of mystery. I’ve come to a place where I am more settled with mystery.

Christianity provides a framework for me, and everyone has a framework whether they know it or not and whether they like it or not. Christianity takes many shapes in different eras and in different cultures. Since I came from a conservative fundamentalist background I first saw the world through that lens. I haven’t retained all those same beliefs. Now the beliefs I ascribe to are not as important as the person I am becoming. Jesus as God-man is plausible and that is fine for me. For others, that simply will not be enough. For non Christians it will be too narrow for their spirituality. I also  realize that Christians may sometimes perpetuate myths for an imperious framework needed to maintain fervency.

Better that we see these misconceptions for what they are than run afoul with them and forget whose image is the object of our recreation. (That would be Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, if you aren’t following me.) I give you these misconceptions to expand your ideas about the Christian framework and how it can help more than hurt.

Now to the 10 Misconceptions:

1. Non believers aren’t spiritual, or at best they are pseudo spiritual.

This is false because the amount of mystery and the unknown in life as we perceive it (being finite in mind and body) all point to the spiritual (the unseen). What is pseudo spiritual to some is more likely to be something that smacks as out of sync with one’s prescribed Christian beliefs. We are all spiritual and what we try to understand outside of we what is know is be definition spiritual, whether is a referred at that or not. The interest in spiritual things has been vibrant throughout human history as long as we have been trying to understanding our world. The “brand” (if you will) of spiritual that is may be may be off-putting depending on your experience, training, or preferences. Ex: “Using Tarot cards is pseudo spiritual.” Actually, using them is an attempt to understand the spiritual, but for Christians it falls outside the scope of what is acceptable because of the tenants residing in the Bible.

2. Non believers aren’t happy because they don’t know Jesus.

This is a complex and interesting misconception because it assumes that Christians are happy, by contrast. Many are not. Many are miserable and their Christian belief system has not given them this happiness. Christians may behave as if they are discontent or unhappy also. Certainly some Christians are content and at peace for periods of time, and some are remarkably hopeful and peaceful is even the most horrible circumstances. Nevertheless this is also true of non Christians.

3. Non believers do good things to “get them to heaven”, or to otherwise alleviate their sin-guilt.

What is more often the case is that people (Christian and non) try to do good things because they feel they should. Their motivations are quite varied and prove to be shallow or to be deep. Christians, though they may feel their eternal destiny is secure, will do good things sometimes for reasons just as poorly conceived as non believers. Strangely, it can boil down, in the final count, to semantics. It’s false to guess the true motivations of why people do good. Better to do Good for the love of it and accept the good at face value as it can only be originally sourced in the Source of goodness–apart from whom no goodness dwells. The idea that actual goodness cannot come from non Christians contradicts the Christian precept that a good God has created all of us and that same God works through all of creation, (and even those who do not knowledge “him”.)

4. Non believers can’t have peace with God.

For Christians, peace with God usually looks like a publicly confessed accession to the belief that Jesus is the Savior who died for the sins of humankind (i.e. somehow understanding atonement). But, in general, peace with God is probably as varied as there are people in the world. Grace is sufficient and comes in a manner of ways that point to the ultimate work of Grace that is of and from God. If by peace we are really speaking of contentment, and not atonement, then many do arrive at peace with God at some point in their lives. Many also arrive at a place of grace and forgiveness as it is God’s prerogative how this happens. The very idea of grace necessitates that a mental ascension is not the crux of the matter at all. Sometimes it is not at all involved as any modicum of studying a Christian theology of (mental) disability will reveal. Grace does not require anything on the part of the recipient accept perhaps a sort of acceptance. What that does or doesn’t have to be has be a rueful point over the years but is actually quite simple and easy if we are to believe in its true nature.

5. Non believers have misperceptions about reality and their place in the world.

Our finite minds give each person the opportunity to routinely misperceive reality, regardless of her beliefs in Jesus or God. No one has the corner on this problem. We share our foolishness in this regard across the whole spectrum of humankind. To think otherwise is to underscore the misperception.

Since this post is getting too long, the next 5 misconceptions will be revealed in the next post-here.

Thanks for reading!

Pass this along, will you?

Do you agree? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

What Rapture? How American End-Times Invention subverts…

Mass chaos as Christians are sucked into the sky.

Loud and sustained sounds used to send me into shutters with shivers up my spine. Once in a while they still do, especially if they resemble a brass instrument. Since I live near a firehouse, my overall sensitivity has decreased. How odd…Why the fright, you may ask?

Two words:

Trumpet Blasts

(signaling the Rapture)

The 1980s Mark IV series of fundamentalist apocalypse films are to blame.
The titles are as follows:
1. A Thief in the Night
2. A Distant Thunder
3. Image of the Beast
4. Prodigal Planet

Have you seen any of them? $99 will buy you all 4 here. Horrible stuff.

In more recent times, the Christian mega hit book series by Tim LaHaye, and subsequent movie trilogy based on his books Left Behind, claims to portray the Biblical predicts in the so-called Last Times.

All three movies will cost you just under $20 here. The extra bonus, if you grew up in the 1980s, is seeing teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron acting again.

(I really thought I’d married him one day. In middle school, I wrote him 2 fan letters and everything. Pffft, his LOSS!)


Here’s the real problem:

What many, if not most, of us don’t realize is how recent and uniquely North American this pseudo-theology is. It’s popular just in North Amercia, and hardly heard of nor accepted elsewhere in Christianity, globally, let alone historically.

Here is a quick rundown of it. It’s recent doctrinal misappropriation: The Rapture and Second Coming stuff. (Spoiler Alert: It started “coming to life” rather recently…in the 1700s).

I deeply appreciate NT Wright’s comments called Farewell to the Rapture. It’s a short read.

He shows how Paul’s language colorfully used social, religious, and political metaphors of the particular time. Rapture advocates have wildly attributed his intriguing language to extremely specific and literal occurrences and world events–present and future.

Regarding eschatology (the study of end times), Wright says,

“Understanding what will happen [in the future] requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether.”

Basically, this invention which is American-flavored End-Times theological subverts God’s current work of redemption in us. It obscures God’s nature, as well, and what God is “up to.”

The Harold Camping rapture nonsense brings this misunderstanding into glaring and ghastly light. How were his followers helped by his understanding of God? What will they do now that they haven’t raptured? Sad.

Even the attempts to map out the book of Revelation on any sort of timeline are terribly misguided. The book reads like an acid trip. Revelation barely made it into the Biblical canon. Martin Luther, who wanted the Bible in the hands of all Christian laity, said it should be included in the canon, but only if it was never used as teaching material.

Nevertheless, I’m quite fond of the Revelation 22:17. It sums it all up for me! For more encouragement, try my friend Ed’s related post here.

How do you view the Book of Revelation?

The prime focus for believers should be the event and meaning of the cross, then and forever. It should be about how this truth of God’s work and grace becomes incarnational reality in our everyday lives. Let it never be degraded to who will get sucked into the sky one day, and when.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

The Spark Store is the place to find the NEW Soul School COURSES. The first one starts in May! Dismiss