Author Archives: Steve Harper

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #11

Thanks to a gentle nudge from a group member a little while ago, I realize I did not post the weekly “Engage Group” memo this past Monday. In the spirit of “better late than never, here it is. 😃 Read: … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is All in All #6

“Let’s Be the Church” Paul’s words in Colossians 3:11 are the basis for the Church. Because Christ is Lord and universally present in everyone and everything, we can gather in his name, and he will be with us (Matthew 18:20). … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #10

Read: “Love and Forgiveness” The way of God is the way of love. We always love in the midst of life as it is–rarely, if ever, loving in ideal conditions when everything is as it should be. Often, we love … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is All and in All #5

“Christ is Reality” Taking Paul’s two-part sentence as-a-whole, we see that he was saying, “Christ is reality.” E. Stanley Jones said the same, “To be in him is to be in ultimate reality. To be in him is to have … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do With Evil? #9

Read: “How to Survive and Even Thrive” The idea of overcoming evil with good can sometimes seem impossible, given the systemic and pervasive nature of evil. Paul questioned the possibility in Romans 7:14, 23. Rohr connects our questions with Paul’s … Continue reading

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Wesley’s Way: The Grand Reunion

Among the missional senses that the Wesleys had for the Methodist movement was this: the conjoining of knowledge and vital piety, which John said had been too long divided. He incarnated that grand reunion through his integration of theology and … Continue reading

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Along the Way: When Deception Becomes Reality

My psalm reading this morning took me to these words of David describing someone living under the influence of evil, “Your tongue devises destruction: it’s like a sharpened razor, causing deception.You love evil more than good; you love lying more … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is in All #4

“Our Provider” Paul’s words are not only revelations of Christ’s person, but also of Christ’s provision. Christ’s “allness” offers us the opportunity to live abundantly (John 10:10). Just a few verses before this one, Paul summed it up: Christ is … Continue reading

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Along the Way: A Hard Look on the Inside

My last “Along the Way” post dealt with the evil of fundamentalism/nationalism, looking at Jesus’ call to have eyes that see as a way of naming it, resisting it, and overcoming it with good. The problem is, when the eyes … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do With Evil? #8

Thanks to those of you who joined our Zoom meeting last Friday. The group was a bit larger this time around and included some new people. We will meet again on Friday, August 5th. I will include the link in … Continue reading

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Along the Way: We See You!

The caricature and denigration of “social justice” by Christian fundamentalist/nationalists is not only an abberation of the Gospel, it is a revelation of how wedded the Christian right is to the “dirty rotten system” (Dorothy Day). [1] Fundamentalists/nationalists reap enormous … Continue reading

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Engage: Zoom Tomorrow

Just a reminder that our second Zoom meeting to discuss Richard Rohr’s book is tomorrow (Friday) at Noon, Eastern Time USA. I hope you can join in. Here is the link… Please click this URL to start or join. https://us06web.zoom.us/j/9314085719?pwd=ZXhGc1dtMXlWRkFHUnZZem1SZDRQQT09    Or, … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #7

Read: “The Spiral of Violence” This chapter shows the inadequacy of retributive justice. Punishment does not overcome evil because it only addresses the effects of it, not the causes of it. Punitiveness is not transformative. It leaves “the filthy rotten … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is in All #3

“In Every Moment” When we affirm that Christ is in all, we easily connect the statement to people, places and things. The previous meditations have done this by noting Christ is in everyone and everything. But there is more. Christ … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #6

Read: “A Way Out and Through” Having laid a good foundation for understanding the nature and expression of evil, Rohr begins to lead us out of it, offering a way through it that he further develops in the rest of … Continue reading

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Along the Way: The Hard Work of Hope”

Earlier today I read an article by Dr. Walter Brueggemann in which he used the phrase “the hard work of hope.” [1] The phrase stuck to the velcro on my soul, putting words to a sentiment I have had for … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #5

Read: “The Hidden Places of Deadness” In the chapter entitled, “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil” Rohr introduced the threefold paradigm that describes how evil exists and acts. In this chapter he uses the paradigm again, this time to … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Full-Spectrum Reality

If you have followed my writing here on Oboedire and elsewhere, you know that I have found the song “Deep and Wide” to be one of the best ones for understanding the spiritual life. Many of us learned the song … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #4

Read: “We Are All Profiting from and Complicit in Evil” I want to begin this week’s post by saying that I enjoyed being with fifteen of you in the Zoom meeting last Friday. I am glad we have made these … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Oppression in Operation

I occasionally write that my Sociology major in college has served me well over the years, providing insight into my second major, Religion. At the time I graduated, I had no idea how both would interact to enrich my faith … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is In All #2

“The Ultimate Integration” The phrase “the hidden Christ in all religions” is sometimes used to describe Christ’s presence in religions other than Christianity. But Paul’s words do not speak of hiddenness, but rather about revelation. We see the essence of … Continue reading

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New UMC: We Believe!

As the new UMC emerges, I look forward to being part of a denomination that conjoins belief and practice, faith and form, message and method to “serve the present age” in a mission that makes disciples of Jesus Christ for … Continue reading

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Along the Way: What About the Bible?

A review of Church history reveals that when critical issues emerge in the Church, alongside the particular topic is the larger matter of the inspiration and authority of Scripture. [1] Some groups claim they are “biblical” and allege others are … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #3

Read: “Paul’s Spiritual Genius” Much of the spiritual life is paradox. A major one is that we find life through death (John 12:24). Necessary suffering and disorder clean the lens of our vision, enabling us to see clearly. For Paul, … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is in All #1

“All Means All” Christ is in everyone and everything—no exceptions, from the smallest particle to the farthest star. John put it this way, “Everything came into being through the Word” (John 1:3). Nothing and no one excluded. We do not … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #2

Read: “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil” This short chapter is packed with insight. Taking the threefold paradigm of historic moral theology, Rohr sets the trajectory for what he develops in the rest of the book. When the world, … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Oneness & Oneing

The Day of Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Church, and there is a sense in which that is true. More on that below. But a look at the text itself (Acts 2:1-21) shows that it was the … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ is All #2

“Christ in Everyone & Everything” Continuing our look at Paul’s first three words about Christ, it is important to make clear he was not trying to impose Christianity on any other religion. Rather, he was recognizing the presence of Christ … Continue reading

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Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #1

Read: Introduction Today we begin our common reading of Richard Rohr’s book, ‘What Do We Do with Evil?’ I join with you in praying that our experience will be a means of grace. I have heard from a few of … Continue reading

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New UMC: Normal New

Not long after the pandemic began, and church changed in all sorts of ways, people began to ask, “How long before we get back to normal?” The question morphed into the sense that some things have changed permanently, and that … Continue reading

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Christ: Christ Is All #1

“Jesus is Lord” The earliest Christian statement of faith was, “Jesus is Lord.” Paul’s words, “Chris is all” are another way of saying the same thing No matter how the first Christians said it, it was a radical affirmation, announcing … Continue reading

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Engage: The Transformation Pattern

Next week, we begin our common reading of Richard Rohr’s book, ‘What Do We Do With Evil?” Next week’s post (and each Monday thereafter) will serve as a guide for our group. But before we get into the details given … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Another Inquisition

Jeannie and I have stood in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. I imagine some of you reading this have as well. It was one of the main locations (there were many others across Europe) for the Inquisition. [1] Alleged infidels … Continue reading

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Site Update: New LGBTQ+ Resource

On the Oboedire home page, you will find the “LGBTQ+ Resources” icon at the top of the page. I have added an outline entitled, “All Means All: A Wesleyan Theology of LGBTQ+ Affirmation.” It utilizes the Wesleyan quadrilateral as the … Continue reading

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Christ: All Means All

[Note: As this series unfolds, just a reminder that I am writing it because I believe that Christology is not an abstract theologizing, but rather is at the heart of the new Awakening. This series will, over time, develop a … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Now More Than Ever

Recently on a phone call with a former student who is struggling spiritually, I said to him, “I am more in love with Christ than I have ever been.” I spoke the words as an encouragement to him; the words … Continue reading

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Engage: A New Awakening

Last week I stated my conviction that we are living in a new Awakening. [1] I also refer to our time as “living in a Micah moment” (Micah 6:8.) It is a time of global crisis brought on by imperialism … Continue reading

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Christ: The Universal Christ

Revelation 1:8, 22:13 We begin our look at Christ using the most expansive words he spoke about himself. From these words we derive our belief in the cosmic Christ, universal in his excarnate and incarnate person and work. The words … Continue reading

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Engage: Heading Toward the Light

Without reminding you about things you already know, I begin by saying we are likely in for hard times. I expect this will occur on multiple fronts…all at once. We are living in trying and dangerous times. I do not … Continue reading

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Christ: An Amazing Revelation

John 20:30, 21:25 Writings about Christ begin in various ways. I choose to begin this series using the word ‘amazing.’ I take my cue from John, who gathered up his experience of Christ with this sentiment and testimony. I say … Continue reading

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Engage: Introduction

Living in a New Awakening means living in a time of disorder. [1] The twisting and turning leaves us hopeful some days, and discouraged on other days. It helps explain the two aspects of faith the writer of Hebrews wrote … Continue reading

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New UMC: Withness

This is the final post in this series, at least in the sense of an opening round of posts. I may add to it as time goes by. I have written with the confidence that the new UMC has a … Continue reading

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New UMC: Movement Networking

In the previous post in this series I wrote that a movement mindset in the new UMC will produce a renewed commitment to locality. In the Wesleyan tradition this intention is not toward independence, but remains in the context of … Continue reading

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The New UMC: Movement Locality

Thinking of the new UMC as a third-order movement gives us the opportunity to combine two key dynamics: locality and networking. Early Methodism expressed both, and so can we. In this post we’ll look at Wesleyan locality. In the next … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Exile

From the day after Easter until Advent, we live in two seasons of the Christian year (Eastertide and Pentecost). In this longest stretch of our liturgical journey, we say “the risen Christ is with us.” It is summed up in … Continue reading

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The New UMC: Becoming a Movement (Again)

The UMC resources I listed recently in this series have revived my conviction that the way forward for the new UMC includes recovering a movement mindset. I am in agreement with those who believe the Wesleys intentionally designed Methodism as … Continue reading

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Christ: Sources for the Series

I expect this series will go on for awhile, so before I dive into it, I want to let you know the sources which have formed me with respect to Christ. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that motivates me … Continue reading

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The New UMC: Resourcing the Renewal of Hope

The renewal of hope is a radical task. With respect to the new UMC, it means the re-formation of our identity. We have lost this internally and in the society as we have been consumed with debates, differences, and division. … Continue reading

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Christ: The Heart of It All

Yesterday, Christians around the world exclaimed, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” We are an Easter people, those who embrace Christ’s promise “because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). On this day after Easter we say, “the … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Reconciliation

Midway through Holy Week I am connecting the redemptive work of Christ with something Thomas Aquinas wrote. They both shed light on the word ‘reconciliation.’ On Friday of Holy Week, the grand clarification occurred. Aquinas wrote, “a mistake in our … Continue reading

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