Archive for the 'theology' Category


A Coffeehouse Theology Brew

A few weeks back I mentioned a new read titled, “Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life” by Ed Cyzewski. For readers of this blog and any student of scripture I’d recommend you picking up this book.

Today the Coffeehouse Theology Blog Tour makes a stop at ABCpastor. What a privilege!

Theology is one of those words that seem to just belong to the professionals and the spiritual elite, not for the average person in the pews. The thought of doing theology could simply be intimidating to the average church-goer. Perhaps it’s the suffix –logy (the study of) that makes it seem like something you go to school for and major in or maybe it’s just the idea of studying something that makes people want to stand at a distance from. Oh well. Coffeehouse Theology as the title suggests helps us see that theology is really for everyone, anyone and is something we can and should do especially if we are seekers of God. Everyone has an opinion of God and live accordingly to what they know or believe. Instead of dialogue we’ve drawn lines that separate us. The question we need to ask is what has shaped our particular view of God and theology. Then moving forward what should shape it? As I was reading through this book as I read everything else I’m constantly looking for how this fits into my Asian-American context.

We must consider that we all have lenses for how we view the world and God. Arriving at this self awareness is not easy. I deeply appreciate Ed’s focus on adopting ‘Contextual Theology’ so we become aware of our unique perspectives as well as limitations due to culture. Many Christians may believe they’re not affected by it but we cannot escape culture. We’re shaped by it. I think this is where doing theology becomes dynamic connecting us with our personal history, the historic and global church as well as other spheres of life. Ed illustrates this interconnected dynamic more concretely with a contextual theology web diagram. With Ed’s permission I recreated it here to help you.

Theology requires great humility from us. For those who have long held onto their beliefs and convictions the task of theology requires their willingness to be pulled out from the comfortable warm water they have been wading in and squirm out in the wide open sea. As we discover the weight of God’s truth and glory, submit to his values and mission I believe we experience transformation. Theology is far reaching and much more influential than we may realize. It must serve the mission of God and not simply fill our heads with more knowledge or just satisfy our questions. Then we may begin to embrace those different from us, become a little less homogeneous. Perhaps less White, less Chinese, less middle class or what have you. Instead what gives way is a new humanity as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:15 to a diverse church comprised of traditional Jews and Gentiles. Consider also what we find throughout Acts on the tensions between these two groups and the Gospel renewal we see in and through the life journey of Paul the Apostle.

In considering the culture of the Chinese Church: Ken Fong, Sr. Pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church in LA once told a story that conveys what we often experience in the Chinese Church as he had confronted his parents in their expression (maybe even wishes) of their family as one big happy Chinese family. The thing is, Ken Fong is third-generation Chinese-American and he barely speaks any Chinese if any at all. Additionally the changing racial dynamics of his family necessitates that they can no longer call themselves a “Chinese” family. Likewise, at what point do you stop calling yourself a Chinese church when those who come are increasingly less Chinese in appearance and understanding? I understand the pride and sense of heritage but is culture shaping us more than our theology then?

Ed recounts a story of an encounter he had with an Asian seminary student discussing the difference in how they each relate to their pastors/elders. In the Asian church we just don’t spout off to our pastors/elders. He writes,

“…neither culture has a corner on respect for elders, but each culture will inevitably read the Bible through a different cultural lens. And both cultures present opportunities for sin. In extreme cases, the Asian approach could be used to ignore younger generations, while the American approach could be disrespectful to elders and leaders. This raises an important point about culture. Every culture has opportunities and challenges.” – Thanks Ed!

We need other voices to confront our blindspots. Ed makes a good point that we tend to think that our American theology is “theology” while we give every other form of theology a qualifier, such as “Latino theology” or “Asian theology”. Again we need to step outside of ourselves and swim out into unfamiliar waters. Ed consistently helps the reader consider other voices in the Global Church be it through his own experience or through some other source. This is such a critical component in theology and it will be ongoing as culture changes. What I find most fascinating about this is that theology becomes a communal activity. Other voices may help deepen our love for God and help us better navigate through our faith journey. Amen to that. BTW Charles Lee has a great post (Changing My Religion) about processing our faith journey. I love the discussion that is happening there.

As I mentioned before any book that contains the word “coffee” in the title should do remarkably well. It has an instant cool factor. Truthfully the cover is also pretty cool looking. There’s even napkin sketches. Praise for Coffeehouse Theology and Ed Cyzewski!

Ed Cyzewski Blog
Ed Cyzewski Writing Blog

Introduction at the OOZE
Post on Emergent village
Blog Tour Schedule


Coffeehouse Theology

Just received my copy of a newly released book, Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life published by NavPress by my buddy Ed Cyzewski [] from Biblical Theological Seminary. I heart Ed and you should too. I don’t deserve it but I get a nice little acknowledgment in it. Thanks Ed! And thanks Marla [] for letting me know before I got my copy. Check out her blog for thoughts on third spaces.
I’ll be doing a review of Coffeehouse Theology soon. There will be a blogging tour of his book [link for schedule]. I think it’ll be a great resource to help the Christians apply theology to everyday life. Ed’s already written two study guides. Christians need to think or perhaps think harder but very often they don’t know how to when it comes to everyday issues.
Regardless anything containing the word “coffee” is cool and sells well.

I recommend picking up this book and reading it with a cup of fine coffee from, a socially conscious roasting company started by another abcpastor friend, Scott Hackman.


NT Wright on The Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert Surprised By Hope

First of all, I love Stephen Colbert. It has become a nightly ritual for me and the missus to watch The Colbert Report in our zombie-like state before we haul ourselves up a flight of stairs to our bedroom.
Colbert with sharp wit portrays an ultra-conservative pundit. He has great guests as well. Tonight, NT Wright, the Bishop of Durham who served as the Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey. He talked about his new book, “Surprised by Hope, Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.” Colbert made this comment that Hillary Clinton was thinking along the same lines for her next book also… I was rolling. Yesterday I was delightfully surprised by Wright’s appearance. But the whole episode was one of the best Colbert reports ever.

Wright is one of the most important theologians of the 21st Century and he is funny. His new book really addresses having a truncated eschatology particularly in the Western church a theme we’ve been trying to wrestle through in my message series, “Heaven On Earth.” Most Christians have an inadequate and incomplete view of heaven, that it’s merely a future happening or simply what happens after you die. That deeply affects the way we live out the mission of the church as well. Wright’s response is that heaven is God’s “kingdom” that has already been inaugurated by Jesus and that the Church needs to live the resurrection now joining God in his re-creative work.

Check out the full streaming episode here.
Episodes are available the day after they air.

Jake Bouma has posted the entire transcript of the interview on his well-designed site.


Pastoral Confessions: I Pee Sitting Down.

Now when I’ve got to go I’m faced with some critical decision making or at least I can’t go without thinking about Pastor Anderson’s exhortation. After all, there are 6 references of this in Scripture! It used to be so easy, standing up or sitting down was just a matter of what’s more convenient at the moment. Not once have I ever considered how I should obey God in this area of my life…except perhaps the few times walking around street in NYC and the urge comes upon me.
I will never be the same again.
And what am I teaching my son about biblical manhood?

A lot of bloggers are having fun with this one. If you want a more thoughtful view of this passage read Bo Lim’s post. If you want to see something irreverent see Eugene Cho’s post.

I do want to do a series of posts on pastoral confessions. Perhaps this is a good way to start.
Obviously, pastors are fallible creatures.
Seriously I can’t pee without thinking about this now.



Over a month. I know it’s been awhile. I’m a poor blogger.
I’ve been living life.
But i’m back now.

passion flower 1passion flower 3passion flower 2

My neighbor grows passion flowers in her backyard. She gave me one of these exquisite flowers when they bloomed and a lesson along with it. Knowing that I’m a pastor she knew I would definitely be interested in the history behind its name. Indeed the passion flower has a great story to tell when they bloom and sadly it only blooms for a day.
Actually the name, *”Passion” does not refer to love, but to the Passion of Christ on the cross. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries discovered this flower and adopted its unique physical structures as symbols of Crucifixion. For example: the 72 radial filaments (or corona) represent the Crown of Thorns. The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles. The top 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the lower 5 anthers represent the 5 wounds. The flower has been given names related to this symbolism throughout Europe since that time. In Spain, it is known as Espina de Cristo (Christ’s Thorn). *taken from wiki
It sounds a little forced but it helps us remember aspects of the passion.

Similarly, Jesus used objects to tell stories and help us remember significant things.
Simple bread and wine, the basic sustenance of daily living, together a meal, a symbol of his own body and blood broken and poured out for us so that we could live.




i’ve been hot and cold since its inception and reconception [besides the fact that i’m a hot and cold blogger too] regarding my involvement with, an open dialogue in missional theology. but finally i decided to take a dive and get out of my own faith ghetto. i think that there has never been more ripe a time than now for asian americans to share a voice in certain movements and dialogues especially after the recent events surrounding youth specialties. we can spend so much time focused in our respected ministries that we like the immigrant chruch become myopic. similarly, without alternative voices like that from the asian american community our non-asian brethren can also become myopic. we cheat each other out of seeing how much more magnificent the mission of God really is. simple postmodernism. the i’ve been saying this with increasing frequency lately that we simply need each other more than ever.

i’ve introduced myself on meremission as an asian american looking to add my voice to a predominantly white dialogue. being the church, a missional church in the post-wutever age beckons us to consider how different cultures frame their faith experiences. i stated my previous difficulty with joining the dialogue and asked if there were any non-white members there. i know it’s not easy for many of our non-asian brothers to step into our reality. my boy todd is beginning to wrestle with me in my context. i’m thankful for this relationship and many others particularly in the philadelphia area where we try to be intentional and make the good news news to all.


who’s yo mama? — the church

who’s yo mama? [the ekklesial extended remix] ::.

the church may be a whore but she is still my mother.

this line had me thinking all weekend because it’s something i’ve been struggling over for quite sometime especially as i see people come and go in our churches. recently a student asked me about when it’s ok to leave a church and it’s a much more complicated answer the more i think about it.

we can’t escape family. it doesn’t matter how scarcely we see each other or how much pain and damage we have experienced from being in one. it don’t matter if you are disappointed with the way your brother has acted or how they can embarass you at times. we’re family and we gots to show love. the moment we decided to want the life that God desires to give us we became blood-tied. btw, i’m not talking about rccc here specifically. ‘the church’ is bigger than rccc or the church that you attend. there are no perfect churches out there but we all want one just like we want a perfect family. ah that’s good. but at the core our disunity, our dysfunctionalism, is a matter of unbelief.

it’s strange now how much i need to care for my own mom. it actually hurts. it hurts to see how frail she is and how alone she can be at night because my dad is no longer around. even i have left her to make it on her own miles away because she should be able to take care of herself. yes, she could. but. it’s not just about doing things for her. it’s about loving her. in youth group i often get the most sad when i see and hear students disrespecting their moms. it riles me up.

we think we can autonomous christians. we don’t realize how infantile we can be at churches we attend, sucking the life right out of her like a parasite. we may have been there for years warming the seats for two hours a week with our brains and stomachs becoming more oversized for the rest of our body.get off yo mama’s boob! that’s the anthem.

i’m there too. i’m by no means a perfect example or loving brother. i pursue after many loves, storing up treasures on earth. and it’s all too easy for me to be a pharisee than most. we live in this difficult frustrating tension though on this side of heaven. the church, this enterprise that we’re on together, that we are all in together if we profess Jesus Christ, is only a forestaste. it’s an already but not yet. it’s ok to long for more but just don’t expect perfection to happen right now in your church or any other church that you think may have it all together. we need to help each other and others get ‘there’ in one piece. faith is seeing what Jesus will do with all of us, and even incredibly more so. believe and join him — i love the church and i’m here to serve her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

i like you flash ::. anybody need to feel better after that and be assured of my love? well…here’s an, i really really really like you flash.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

. : : .

a friend of mine has worked together with josh harris on his new book, stop dating the church. i’ve finally come around to checking it out. hit up the site. good stuff. it’s about time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

worthwhile lissenance for the angst filled soul ::.

from U2’s new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb — listen to the whole album stream here … whoah. i’m in a state of blissful loss of breath.

i’m totally bummed that i missed the concert in nyc today…sigh…first thing tues morning i will go out and buy the new album.

right now drooling over :: Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff / You’re telling me and anyone / You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight / You don’t have to always be right / Let me take some of the punches / For you tonight

Listen to me now / I need to let you know / You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror / And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone /Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

We fight all the time/ You and I…that’s alright / We’re the same soul / I don’t need…I don’t need to hear you say / That if we weren’t so alike / You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now / I need to let you know / You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror / And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone / Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

I know that we don’t talk / I’m sick of it all / Can – you – hear – me – when – I – / Sing, you’re the reason I sing / You’re the reason why the opera is in me…

Where are we now? / I’ve got to let you know / A house still doesn’t make a home / Don’t leave me here alone…

And it’s you when I look in the mirror / And it’s you that makes it hard to let go / Sometimes you can’t make it on your own / Sometimes you can’t make it / The best you can do is to fake it / Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

+++ and they played it on SNL over this past weekend. dang they put on a good closing show that only they can do. bono knows how to make love to the camera.


getting out more :: emergent cohort of central nj

getting out more ::.

it’s nice to get out and live. that’s why i don’t blog much anymore besides the fact that i have a million other things going on. but i still spend more time with my powerbook than i do with my wife. i stare at it and interact with it much longer. i’ve got issues but i did manage to get out the last couple of thursday nights over to charlie brown’s where i got to hang with with my buddy todd and meet some fine princeton seminary guys. it has been refreshing. last night we kicked-off an emergent cohort here in central nj (via tony jones [theoblogy]) where i got to talk face to face with dr. darrell guder. i had no idea that he would be there. it quickly became one of those situations where you have all these questions when reading his books and then when you’re right there in front of the man you don’t know whether you should ask those questions or not. i just wanted to hear him talk. the question remains, what is emergent? is it a conversation or a movement?

i’m not going to even pretend like i have a grasp on it all. perhaps i’m not even emergent. if i am then it’s by accident. that seems to be the case with those churches that have been labeled emergent and have not set out to be one. it cannot be a model but a process. to be a model would betray ’emergent’. it must continue to be a process. so for now, i’m just listening in like a fly on the wall.

what it is so far in short ::. something new. reforming. listening to the marginalized. seeking unity. the sent people of God.

what it is not in short ::. a new church model. being relevant to xers and millenials. youth specialties.

tallskinnykiwi and theoblogy have some great posts on the subject. but i can’t help but want to hear more asian-american voices or ‘other’ voices. where my people at?


come again? ::.

i’m taking “biblcal poetry & the poetic books” this semester. we study the stylistics and hermeneutics of biblical poetry, which involves translating and interpreting hebrew text. since summer passed i’ve forgotten all my hebrew. there will be many late nights to come.

to start, we needed to observe the nature of poetry, discussing the differences between poetry and prose. we came across an interesting poem by william yeats. crafted in 1918, these lines of carefully chosen words really captured my attention. my heart sadly resonates at yeats’ observation of the second coming, not of xianity but, paganism. he paints a dismal if not critical picture of the xianity. it struck my core but i wasn’t sure why. still i gird myself up, convicted with steely-eyed confidence that the hand our creator still moves. there is nothing here under the sun that is not his dominion ::

The Second Coming — W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

on art & craft ::.
question to an art major: can you explain what you are painting and why?
he answers: if it could be explained then there would be no need to paint.

if the bible is about 30 percent poetry, what does that suggest about the way we read it and the implications it has for those of us deliver its message?
clearly, it demonstrates to me that there are different ways of delivery. the bible is highly structured, crafted if you will. we’ve grown up with straight answers and presumptions. there is yet splendor, mystery to unfold. we should not reduce scripture to mere intellectual answers. we should never approach its pages without humility, where there is a sense of hesitation, an awareness of our breathing.

why do i need to paint, speak or walk to a different beat? something has captured my heart, where i am left feeling undone. i must respond futiley to something so magnific, so infinite in all manners of expression.


the message on crack

why i love eugene peterson ::.
i love eugene peterson…really i do. and i appreciate his work on the message because he addresses questions of what/who is this book really for especially for seminarians losing their minds in greek and hebrew.

however, there are just some passages in there that just crack me up or just sounds like it’s on crack. here are just a few that i’ve come across recently ::

Keep up your reputation, GOD;
Forgive my bad life; It’s been a very bad life. [psalm 25:11]

He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. [matthew 4:23]

Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”
He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” [mark 5:9]

of course there are some very insightful and vivid passages:
Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults–unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. [matthew 7:1]

so with that i’ll stop now

[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.


Feed the Ego

Laurence Tom's Facebook profile

Add to Technorati Favorites