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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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).

Reduce Me to Love: Jesus scrubs feet

Servant Leadership!

I’ve snagged another bit of classroom notes from my esteemed professor Dr Tim Valentino.

How about this for leadership studies!
(more on the program here)

It was simply too good to not share. Tim’s blog is here, if you’d like to read more from Tim. (You’ll enjoy that too!)



 Enter Tim:

“So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:4-5)


A powerful picture of authentic, servant leadership, which we considered last week.


But why does Jesus do such a humble, menial task? I think we have a hint in Luke’s account of the same event. In Luke 22 we learn that the Twelve come to this dinner arguing about who’s the greatest among them. It’s not the first time they’ve had this quarrel, but they sense that something big is going to happen this weekend, so the debate is re-opened.


“The kingdom of God is going to come,” they reason, “and Jesus is going to be the king. But who’s going to be his co-regent? Who’s going to be his secretary of state?” They argue about it. James and John had their mother weigh in on the matter months ago. Remember Salome? “Lord, grant that my sons will get to sit at your right and left in the kingdom.”


John says, “Hey, why not? I am, after all, the disciple whom Jesus loves.” Peter fumes and says, “Hold on, dude, who do you think Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to? Me! Remember?” (O.k., that’s a paraphrase, but use your sanctified imagination to re-create the tussle!)


These guys aren’t wearing halos yet, and they’re certainly not ready for the stain-glass window. They fight, they argue, and they pick at each other. They can be carnal and fleshly like anybody else. And here in the upper room there’s real tension. But Jesus doesn’t scold them. He redirects them.


  • You want to be great in my kingdom? Then you have to serve.
  • You want to be first? Then you have to be last.
  • You want to be highest? Then you have to be lowest.
  • You want to be the most? Then you have to be the least.


And while they’re sitting there at that sacred feast, arguing about who’s the greatest, Jesus shows them what true greatness and true leadership look like.


In those days people wore open sandals—much like our flip flops. They didn’t wear socks. Most of the roads were not paved, so they walked on the hot dirt roads under the blazing Mideast sun—roads used by people and animals. Their feet would become hot, sweaty, sore, and covered in mud—maybe even animal dung, too.


Most people in our culture—even with a daily shower and “Fast-Actin’ Tinactin”— have nasty feet. The last thing anybody wants to do is clean somebody else’s. That was even truer in the first century.


At the low, U-shaped table where Jesus’ disciples recline, there are 24 dirty feet pin-wheeling out from the center—each one revealing a self-centered heart. (It’s not just their feet that are soiled.) Jesus takes off his outer garment. Bare-chested now, he wraps himself with a towel, just as a slave would do. And, grabbing the water jug and basin over by the door, God-in-human-flesh kneels down, takes the feet of the men he created, and begins to scrub them. He takes the dirt and dung off the feet of his own creatures.


Some kingdom.


Even Judas gets his feet washed—which is way over the top, don’t you think? If you knew that tonight was your last night, that tomorrow you were going to be executed, and that the guy setting it all up was in your cohort, would you have asked him to come over for dinner tonight? Would you have loved him, fed him, treated him with dignity, and then washed his crummy feet?


It’s hard to put ourselves into that scene. It’s one thing to be kind to our friends, but to be kind to our enemies—now, that’s a whole other level of kindness! How many of us would have poured the water over Judas’ head, and then whacked him in the face with the basin? (Thank God I’m not Jesus!)


But why does Jesus do it? Is Judas ever going to change? Is he ever going to repent? Is he ever going to love God in return? No! So why wash his feet? It’s not going to make a bit of difference. Pragmatically speaking, it’s not going to “work.”


So why do it? Jesus washes Judas’ feet because that’s what God is like.


God is slow to anger, abounding in love. God is patient and kind. God is scandalous in grace. And so is his Son, who has come to reveal the Father. So there in that upper room, Jesus washes the feet of the one who will betray him tonight, and arrange for his murder tomorrow.


It’s as if Jesus is saying, “I’m not scrubbing Judas’ feet for Judas; I’m scrubbing Judas’ feet for my Father. Judas may never appreciate this, but my Father does. Judas may never deserve this, but my Father does. I do this not because it will be successful or get noticed. I do this not because it will be a good investment of my time, energy, and emotions. I do this because God does feet. I do this because I lead by serving. I do this because I lead by loving.”


That’s the kingdom. And that’s our king. Amazing.


What can I do in response to such a scene but pray, “Jesus, reduce me to love.”

Holy Week Reflection: Anointing the Anointed


Reading for today:

 John 12:  Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.4But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said,5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial.


Mary of Bethany wasn’t caught up in the excitement of a political revolution. James and John were gunning for cabinet positions but Mary saw Jesus as Anointed King and sacrificial Lamb of God. In the days before high-flow showers and frequent bathing, this costly fragrance would have lasted for days, and even while he hung on the cross.

Jesus our sweet and lasting fragrance.




O’ God,

Give us the fragrance of the anointing of your Holy Spirit. 

Fill our lives with the aroma of grace.

May we understand your sacrifice

And prepare for our own burial

And rebirth with you



image found here: http://xpensiveperfume.blogspot.com

Can a Person Absolve your Sins? Drum roll please…

A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...
Image via Wikipedia (confessing to another)

About 500 years ago there was this spat. At the time, having your sins forgiven was a sort of pay as you go thing. It was a bit like a toll road.

The toll booth worker was the Priest. If you bought “indulgences” the Priest could better settle up your debt with God.

Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?

This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.

Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.

Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.

So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?

Drum roll, please…..

Oh!  Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)

The I Timothy 2:5 “one mediator” verse is often used to underscore that Christ alone can forgive sins and be our mediator to God. It’s true. This was the mission of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

But Protestants have, by the over-reactive trailblazing of the Reformers, missed quite a bit of the spiritual benefits of what Jesus’ brother James talks about:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.

Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…

This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.

It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.

These confessors  to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.

It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.

We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.

Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.

The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.

Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.

Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.

Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).

In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.

It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.

We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)

YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”

Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.

Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.

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