Author Archives: John Collins

Bible Study Schedule

At the suggestion of a well-respected local educator, I’ve drafted the following schedule for our Bible study on Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.

Session 1 (Wednesday, November 9, 2022): “Introduction”

Session 2: “The Temple” and “1. Origin Stories”

Session 3: “The Well” and “2. Deliverance Stories”

Session 4: “The Walls” and “3. War Stories”

Session 5: “The Debate” and “4. Wisdom Stories”

Session 6: “The Beast” and “5. Resistance Stories”

Session 7: “The Water” and “6. Gospel Stories”

Session 8: “The Sea” and “7. Fish Stories”

Session 9: “The Letter” and “8. Church Stories”

No Scripture Can Mean That God Is Not Love

Railing against the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, John Wesley made an important point for the interpretation of scripture.

“[The doctrine of predestination] destroys all [God’s] attributes at once. It overturns both his justice, mercy and truth. Yea, it represents the most Holy God as worse than the devil. . . . But you say you will ‘prove it by Scripture’. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never can prove this. . . . There are many Scriptures the true sense whereof neither you or I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense at all than to say it had such a sense as this. . . . No Scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works.”
— John Wesley [1]


[1] John Wesley, “Free Grace,” in The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian Journey, ed. Kenneth J. Collins and Jason E. Vickers (Nashville, Tenessee: Abingdon Press, 2013), 28-29.

All Saints Sunday

On November 6, 2022, we’ll again be observing All Saints Day. We’ll especially be remembering those who passed away this past year (since November 7, 2022). I’m always afraid of someone being forgotten. Would you please email the name of any members you know of who died in the past year to john@revcollins.com? The only person I have so far is Vicki Whitaker.

Patriotism Not Nationalism

I originally posted this on July 3, 2018. Given recent developments, I thought it was worth reposting now and I added a few recent thoughts at the end.

This past Sunday I tried to speak faithfully to the intersection of our love of our country and our love of God, putting emphasis on the dire importance of placing our love of God above everything else including our rightful love of country (despite its flaws, there is a lot to love.) Roger Olson comes at the same topic from a different viewpoint in a recent blog post.

Some highlights:

Patriotism is love for one’s country without blinders about its flaws and defects.  Patriotism seeks to actualize the highest and best ideals of one’s country which can sometimes look like disloyalty to nationalists.

and

Patriotism is honest about the country’s failures and urges leaders to push on toward better achievements of its founding ideals.  Nationalism rejects all criticism of country as almost (if not exactly) treason.

and

Patriotism regards America as a gift from God and thanks God for it, but it equates “America” with ideals such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and equal justice for all.  It is realistic in knowing that government and society do not always live up to those ideals.  When patriots wave the flag they are fully aware that it symbolizes and represents wonderful ideals and not every decision and actions government makes.  When nationalists wave the flag they are using it as an idol to sanctify whatever America does.

and finally,

Patriotism looks to the future and hopes for and works toward the country’s achievement of its ideals.  Nationalism looks to the past and defends everything the country has ever done as necessarily good and right just because the country did it.  Thus, patriotism loves the country for what it can be; nationalism loves the country for what it has done–regardless of morality.  Nationalism exempts country from moral accountability; patriotism holds country morally accountable because it loves it.

Under these definitions, I am a patriot who agrees that nationalism inevitably slides into unfaithful idolatry.

A few additional thoughts in 2022.

  1. Since Christ is and will be Lord over all Earth, “Christian nationalism” is not only unavoidably unfaithful, but an inherent contradiction in terms.
  2. Patriotism includes things like paying your taxes, casting informed votes, and serving on juries. Nationalism includes things like storming the Capital building, threatening elected officials of both parties, and wounding and killing Capital police when you don’t like the results of an election.
  3. Christians must take great care to ensure their patriotism doesn’t slip into nationalism.

Olson, Roger E. “Remembering the Difference between Patriotism and Nationalism.” Patheos.com—Roger E. Olson: My Evangelical Arminium Theological Musings. July 01, 2018. Accessed July 3, 2018. http://bit.ly/2KGR5ms.