Author Archives: Steve Harper

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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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The New UMC: Making Hope Real

When we envision a “future filled with hope’ for the United Methodist Church, we often do so using renewal language. And while there is “fire” in using renewal language, there is also the danger that the fire will go out. … Continue reading

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The New UMC: A Future Filled With Hope

[Note: I have written in the “UMC” category here on Oboedire for years. Today’s post in this category is focused on the new UMC which is already taking shape, but does so more formally on May 1st when the Global … Continue reading

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Along the Way: The Unsettling Bible

Once in a while someone will say, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” There was a time when I spoke the words. They almost always are said in a defense of Scripture and as a declaration … Continue reading

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Along the Way: You Can’t Handle the Truth

The prophetic message to fallen-world priests and potentates can be summed up in the line taken from the movie “A Few Good Men”—”you can’t handle truth.” Walter Brueggemann writes powerfully about this in a recent blog. I have attached it … Continue reading

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Rebuild My Church: The Re-Formative Paradigm

Richard Foster has given us many gifts of inspiration, insight, and instruction. Among them I find his renewal paradigm to be especially important in this time of New Awakening. He describes it in three words: vision, intention, and means. [1] … Continue reading

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Wesley’s Way: A Comprehensive Hermeneutic #2

[Note: today I resume this series after lying dormant since 2013. I hope you will go back and read the earlier posts archived on the home page sidebar. They deal with important ideas related to Wesleyan spirituality that I will … Continue reading

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Rebuild My Church: Introduction

With this post, I am beginning a new occasional series here on Oboedire. On the one hand, I am doing it so that the existing “Along the Way” series can remain the means for exploring the spiritual life in its … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Treasures Old and New

Jesus described transformation as bringing forth treasures old and new (Matthew 13:52). The context of this idea is that the kingdom of God is a treasure, sometimes hidden, but never non-existent (Matthew 13:44). In this context, Jesus said that disciples … Continue reading

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Along the Way: The Transforming Union

In my post entitled, “Press On,” I re-emphasized the need (my need) to resist evil by practicing the better—that is, by overcoming evil with good. This post builds upon that idea.. Today, I want to write about the starting point … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Press On!

In my post, “Parting Words & Words of Witness” (now viewed about 8,000 times), I simultaneously made a point and recovered a lesson. The point is in the post itself, and you can read it if you have not already … Continue reading

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UMC: The Future United Methodist Church….Is Now

Note: I posted this on Facebook on March 5th. Given the inquiries I have received the past three days related to resources, I am posting it again here on Oboedire… I received the announcement that the Global Methodist Church will … Continue reading

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Oboedire Anew!

In the past two days nearly 7,500 people have visited Oboedire. More than fifty new people have subscribed to Oboedire, and will now receive writings automatically. Others have also found it, and have been in touch to tell me they … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Parting Words & Words of Witness

On May 1st, the Global Methodist Church will officially begin, and some congregations will disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church, the first wave of a separation process that will take years to complete. I will not be going with them, … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Go To Your Place of Wonder

[This post arises from the wearying challenges many of my clergy friends are facing these days. If you are among them, I hope you find this encouraging. If you know a clergyperson who is troubled and tired, feel free to … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Just Say Evil

Theodicy—there, I said it. The problem of evil—it’s what the word means. The problem of evil—there certainly is one, actually many problems. The problem of evil—when and how to talk about it as a Christian? That’s the question I hope … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Surviving on Lies

In her acceptance speech of President Biden’s nomination to be the next Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson promised to uphold the rule of law and defend the Constitution. But it was not enough to curb the ire of rightwing … Continue reading

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LGBTQ+ Writing: Full Humanity

From a theological standpoint it’s amazing that any Christian would limit the definition of gender to the body—that is, to our genital appearance at birth. Paul defined humanity as the convergence of spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). [1] … Continue reading

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Along the Way: A Telling False Allegation

Since the first of the month I have come across a book, a blog, and an article that reveal fundamentalist Christianity has identified yet another “enemy of the Gospel”—social justice. It’s a telling and false allegation. I have seen periodic … Continue reading

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LGBTQ+ Writing: It’s About Hermeneutics

Sexual theology exists in the larger context of biblical revelation, inspiration, and authority. In relation to every topic, what we think about the Bible is the foundation upon which we stand to determine our current beliefs and practices. We call … Continue reading

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LGBTQ+ Writing: Resourcing the “All Means All” View

In the previous three posts I have shown that a progressive theology of human sexuality is faithful to the Bible, establishing itself in the biblical revelation of nonbinary reality, a Covenant ethic, and the affirmation of nonbinary human beings in … Continue reading

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LGBTQ+ Writing: Covenant Sexuality

In this post I continue writing about sexual ethics. Today, I focus on Covenant sexuality. When I wrote ‘For the Sake of the Bride’ in 2014, I began my exploration of sexual morality with respect to covenant, both the biblical … Continue reading

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LGBTQ+ Writing: Sexual Ethics

Another crucial dimension in looking beyond the conservative position on sexuality is in relation to morality. In the previous (first) post in this series, I spoke to the nature of sexuality as a nonbinary spectrum. In a nutshell, human nature … Continue reading

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LGBTQ+ Writing: Sacred Spectrum

I have written previously here on Oboedire as an advocate for LGBTQ+ people. The “For the Bride’ and “Holy Love” series have expanded on my two related books. I had not planned to resume writing about human sexuality, but recent … Continue reading

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Along The Way: Looking Through the Windshield

The spiritual life is a journey, and we proceed by looking ahead through the windshield, not staring at the rearview mirror. With my “New Awakening” series ending last week, I continue looking into 2022, but without any new series for … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Get On Board

God’s new Awakening comes with the invitation for us to be part of it, serving as co-creators with God in the advancement of it. But that’s not easy, foolproof, or without risk. We cannot wait until we are in the … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Faith–Reality or Reality TV?

Faith exists in the context of closed-system or open-system thinking. [1] Both systems use the term “progressive revelation” but they mean different things by it. Closed-system thinking believes progress occurs only in relation to already-established “orthodoxies” (variously defined by respective … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Manifestations

The preceding posts in this series have identified signs that we are in a time of new Awakening. But the signs do not stand alone. They give rise to manifestations of the awakening by those who are responding to God’s … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Re-Formation

Awakenings are re-formations. God waters things by the Spirit so that the dry clay of our existence can become pliable. A new creation emerges. Several factors converge to make the transformation possible. First, realism. Father Richard Rohr’s 2021 theme for … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Resiliency

Times of new Awakening are more like a sunrise than a lightning strike. They emerge rather than erupt. They occur through endurance. Resiliency is another sign that we are in a time of new Awakening. We see people all over … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Resistance

One of the best ways to know that we are in a new Awakening is through the sign of resistance. It is everywhere and on all sides. The most intense resistance comes from those who have “sold their souls to … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Reignition

This sign of new Awakening occurs as we recognize the restlessness of our time and rethink what is making it so. We discover that things which should be happening, aren’t. Things which should be present are absent. Awareness of what … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Rethinking

A sign that we are in a new Awakening is that more and more people are rethinking things. On multiple fronts, and in a variety of topics, status quos are no longer being allowed to remain sacred cows. Rethinking always … Continue reading

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New Awakening: Restlessness

Today we begin a round of posts identifying signs that we are in a time of new Awakening. The previous posts, which compared our natural waking up each day to awakening spiritually, were meant to say, “When you are awake, … Continue reading

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New Awakening: A Precious Gift

In the opening round of posts I have compared our daily routine of waking up to a new day to the ways in which we become aware of the new Awakening in which we are living. I want to turn … Continue reading

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New Awakening: A New Combination

When we wake up, we awaken to a new day. Each day is a combination of continuation and creativity. Morning, noon, and night continue as they have for billions of years, but they do so in a creative 24-hour period … Continue reading

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New Awakening: A New Perspective

Waking up gives us a new perspective. I went to bed in the dark, but I awaken in the light. Things look different. The movement from darkness to light is a primary metaphor in describing spiritual awakening. So much so … Continue reading

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