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 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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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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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