John Pierce’s Blog

Tell it all, brother and sister?

Tell it all, brother and sister?

By John D. Pierce My friend Paul Wallace, who writes the insightful “Questions Christians Ask Scientists” column in Nurturing Faith Journal, made an good observation and raised a worthy question on Twitter recently. “I’m unnerved by the quality and quantity of...

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Thoughtful and original

Thoughtful and original

By John D. Pierce “Where do your stories come from?” From paying attention, I say. That’s one way to describe the editorial approach we take at Nurturing Faith Journal. We pay attention to what is in the news and what conversations are taking place in churches and...

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How we got here

How we got here

By John D. pierce American evangelicals (as they are deemed now) got politically excited a few decades ago. I get it. Abortion is an emotionally compelling cause that calls for thoughtful, constructive and compassionate responses. But the complex issue got...

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Seeking better views

Seeking better views

By John D. Pierce It is my deep conviction that much of American evangelicalism needs a better view. So-called “biblical worldview” and “Christian worldview” often denote a political ideology that largely or completely ignores the life and teachings of Jesus. Taking a...

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Florence and friends

Florence and friends

By John D. Pierce Many Nurturing Faith readers and friends are located in the areas being impacted so heavily by forces of Florence. Be assured of our prayers for your safety and for those who rally to provide emergency and other services. Such devastation is...

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Getting off the suckers list

Getting off the suckers list

By John D. Pierce Recently CNN reported a sad story of how some seniors and others have been scammed multiple times and are considered ripe for the picking. So their names and contact information are sold on what is deemed a “suckers list." Something as innocent as...

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Read this book to read the Bible better

Read this book to read the Bible better

By John D. Pierce Some people find the Bible to be confusing. Others compound the confusion by treating the Bible as if a catalogue, rule book, science or history text, or other lesser volume than its intended purpose. Still others attribute claims to the Bible — for...

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Dust (to dust) and home on the range

Dust (to dust) and home on the range

By John D. Pierce Spending time in the American West takes me back to my childhood love of all things cowboy. While riding through expansive Hayden and Lamar valleys in Yellowstone National Park recently, I found myself working up my best TV announcer voice to...

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Good gathering

Good gathering

By John D. Pierce Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Nurturing Faith exhibit at last week's Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas, where we offered copies of Nurturing Faith Journal and Bible Studies, CBF Resources and more than 75 Nurturing...

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What is taking so long?

What is taking so long?

By John D. Pierce As a denominational body that has capitulated to fundamentalist power, the Southern Baptist Convention is at times a curiosity to me, but not a matter of real interest. I moved on long ago. Primarily, it revels in irrelevancy — passionately debating...

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Dallas doings

Dallas doings

By John D. Pierce Nurturing Faith will have an active presence at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly this week (June 13-15) at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. Our exhibit will feature sample copies of Nurturing Faith Journal & Bible Studies, and the...

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Dangers and delights of risky dining

Dangers and delights of risky dining

By John D. Pierce Anthony Bourdain’s tragic death has drawn attention to how he not only enjoyed the exotic food he encountered while filming his CNN show but how comfortably and deeply he engaged those with whom he shared a table. Such observations reminded me of an...

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Wise rebellion

Wise rebellion

By John D. Pierce Authoritarianism rules. And, boy (gender intended), do we live in a time of emboldened authoritarianism from the White House to the church house. Calvinist Baptist John Piper, who pushes male-dominance “complementarian” doctrine, can always be...

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What does it mean to believe in God?

What does it mean to believe in God?

By John D. Pierce “It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear.” Rather than using the more-commonly translated — “Good!” or “Good for you!” — the Common English Bible (CEB) renders as the middle line in...

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Time to dream again?

Time to dream again?

By John D. Pierce Congregational leaders of my generation considered Bob Dale’s earlier best-selling book, To Dream Again, to be a lifeline. It was their go-to book for re-envisioning a church’s mission in changing times. Since that time, changes have continued to...

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Waking up (at) Yellowstone

Waking up (at) Yellowstone

By John D. Pierce Yellowstone is waking up from its long winter nap. The snow is beginning to melt and the animals are starting to move about. The park’s summer splendor is early in the making. What if you (yes, YOU) woke up on a cool summer morning to the...

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Now we know

Now we know

By John D. Pierce We no longer have to speculate. And what many of us have suspected is true. We’ve wondered why Jesus — who offered expansive grace, a counter-cultural life and incisive teachings as part of revealing God and modeling how his followers are to live —...

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Doubting the ‘double cure’

Doubting the ‘double cure’

By John D. Pierce Every funeral I attended as a child — and I attended way too many — included some warbling rendition of “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.” I hate that song. I associate it with the sight of waxy, dead, unknown distant relatives and the smell of flower...

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The great fundamentalist lie

The great fundamentalist lie

By John D. Pierce Remember when the Religious Right (a.k.a., Moral Majority, Christian fundamentalists) jumped into politics a few decades ago to tout their commitment to “family values?” Well, that was a big, fat lie. It turns out, as many of us knew at the time,...

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Think summer — out West!

Think summer — out West!

By John D. Pierce Nurturing Faith Experiences (NFEs) strike a unique balance between traveling with a large tour group where you’re herded like buffalo — or striking out on your own without insider knowledge and access. NFEs are small-group (limited to 18 persons)...

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Coming soon!

Coming soon!

By John D. Pierce Soon the next issue of Nurturing Faith Journal will roll of the presses — and there is time for you to subscribe right here. Some highlights of the March-April issue — along with the superb weekly Nurturing Faith Bible Studies by Tony Cartledge —...

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Lessons from being out of place

Lessons from being out of place

By John D. Pierce “Have you ever felt like the whole world is a tuxedo and you’re a pair of brown shoes?” That deadpan line comedian George Gobel once delivered on The Tonight Show to crack up host Johnny Carson came to mind last week. I knew that out-of-place feeling...

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Ringing the bell for freedom

Ringing the bell for freedom

By John D. Pierce The shiny bell in my home study is beautiful in appearance and sound. But is more than that: It is gift that that reminds me to be bold in “ringing the bell for freedom” — as I was charged by the generous man who gave it to me. David M. Smith of...

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Modern Christian purity rituals

Modern Christian purity rituals

By John D. Pierce Unlike Jesus, many modern American evangelicals — who at times feign affection for this particular first-century messiah — fear getting soiled by contact with those considered to be social, racial and economic outcasts. So they work hard at keeping...

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The “Be nice” problem

The “Be nice” problem

By John D. Pierce Generally, most of us want to be nice — and are deemed nice. We care about people, respect their differences, and we seek to around nice people ourselves. Persons who don’t behave nicely in our society create enough ugliness — with no need for us to...

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Pearl stories

Pearl stories

By John D. Pierce The world is less gracious today after the death of Pearl DuVall in Cordele, Ga., yesterday. Everyone needs more mature, mentoring people in their lives who lead by words and deeds. Pearl was one of those for me in my early years as a campus...

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Holy interruption

Holy interruption

By John D. Pierce The coming of Christ was a holy interruption. It occurred in a very specific place and time — prompting the questions: Why here? Why now? Most of us grew up with idealized versions of the story from a sanitary stable to a cry-less baby to an...

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Silence is deadly when it allows Christianity to be redefined into a narrow political agenda that promotes discrimination, ignores Jesus and excuses abuse

Silence is deadly when it allows Christianity to be redefined into a narrow political agenda that promotes discrimination, ignores Jesus and excuses abuse

By John D. Pierce Resistance to alarmism often keeps thoughtful people from sounding needed alarms. More likely they will roll their eyes and hope “this too shall pass.” In doing so, however, such silence allows religiously-fueled alarmists — who fear nothing more...

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Caution: Handle with care

Caution: Handle with care

By John D. Pierce My mother was not a neat freak — which with four sons would have been an effort in futility anyway. But one thing was always in its proper place in our house. Nothing was ever stacked on top of the Bible. Reverence for the only book with “Holy”...

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Books blog part 2: Making more

Books blog part 2: Making more

By John D. Pierce This follows yesterday's blog about giving away most of my personal library recently. Sometimes when asked what I do for a living my first response is, “I make up stuff.” Most writers don’t use such a line that might imply not telling the truth. For...

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Books blog part 1: Making room

Books blog part 1: Making room

By John D. Pierce Assembling an impressive personal library was a sign of taking knowledge (or at least the perception of knowledge) seriously for my generation of seminarians and up-start minister types. Filling shelves, especially with hefty theological volumes,...

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Just pick one!

Just pick one!

By John D. Pierce My friend Steve Bean and I grew up in church-going families. As teenagers we found our first “real jobs” (defined by a paycheck with tax withholdings) at the restaurant in a newly opened Days Inn along I-75 at the Georgia-Tennessee border. Our...

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It’s Sunday in Athens

It’s Sunday in Athens

By John D. Pierce This Sunday, Nov. 5, as part of its All Saints’ Day observance, the First Baptist Church of Athens, Ga., will remember its longtime former pastor Jon Appleton who died last November. During that service I will present the congregation and the...

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Wasted days and wasted nights

Wasted days and wasted nights

By John D. Pierce Jesus’ life and teachings didn’t matter very much. At least that’s the idea one gets from those American Christians who see his only earthly purpose in coming to die as a penalty for human sinfulness — and then rocketing off to heaven to fix up some...

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One more than the rest of us

One more than the rest of us

By John D. Pierce One Sunday several years ago I was pulpit pinch-hitting at First Baptist Church of Ringgold, Ga., the small northwest Georgia town where I graduated from high school. The deacons, as is the custom in many Baptist churches, gathered for prayer before...

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Hawaii experience — just one guy shy

Hawaii experience — just one guy shy

We have filled all spaces for the Nurturing Faith Experience: Big Island, Big Sky set for March 10-16 2018, on the Big Island of Hawaii — with one exception. We have room to add one guy willing to share a room with someone already registered. If you are interested in...

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Got a bell? Give a bell?

Got a bell? Give a bell?

By John D. Pierce The Christian community at Koinonia Farm in southwest Georgia could use a bell at their chapel. The chapel has been renovated and a bell tower was donated — but no bell. The demonstration plot for peace, people and pecans was founded by Clarence...

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Humor and hope: Life with the Kings

Humor and hope: Life with the Kings

By John D. Pierce ATLANTA— “It was the church that made us who we were,” said Albert Paul Brinson, standing in the historic sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, that he attended as a youth and later served as associate minister to co-pastors Martin Luther King Sr....

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Awakened but confused?

Awakened but confused?

By John D. Pierce One Saturday afternoon a few years ago I dropped into Rembrandt’s Coffee House in the lovely Bluff View Arts District of Chattanooga. Few others were there at the time. But just moments later the soft music and slow pace were interrupted by the...

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The changing face of sin

The changing face of sin

By John D. Pierce During my formative years, sin was pretty easy to identify if not avoid. Sin was playing poker, drinking beer, missing a church service (without going to another on vacation and bringing a bulletin for proof), holding baseball practice on Wednesday...

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Reflecting on the ‘Words of Jesus’

Reflecting on the ‘Words of Jesus’

By John D. Pierce Had Jesus lived on earth at a much later time his poetic and revealing Beatitudes (in Matthew 5) might have been released under the title “Greatest Hits.” He opened what is called the Sermon on the Mount with these blessings that provide a better...

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Halfway to Hawaii

Halfway to Hawaii

By John D. Pierce A very unique opportunity is available March 10-16, 2018 on the Big Island of Hawaii. It will be an adventurous week of exploring creation with a gifted astrophysicist. Paul Wallace, who writes the “Questions Christians ask scientists” column in...

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‘It’s a birth order thing’

‘It’s a birth order thing’

By John D. Pierce Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of personality traits and behaviors explained in terms of birth order — though such interpretations have been around for a long time. While some patterns are obvious, there tend to be quite a few exceptions as well....

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Fire and that which follows

Fire and that which follows

By John D. Pierce Warnings are everywhere out West — from flashing roadside signs to Smokey the Bear working overtime. Fire danger is high according to every indicator — and smoke from existing wildfires in forested lands travels hundreds of miles according to the...

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Peaks and valleys

Peaks and valleys

By John D. Pierce Yesterday’s drive across Glacier National Park from east to west on the Going-to-the-Sun Road offered breath-taking views. The abundant wildflowers and wildlife along Logan Pass soothed the soul. We shared Psalm 95:3-4, which affirms:  For the Lord...

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Experiences await us

Experiences await us

By John D. Pierce Tomorrow begins back-to-back Nurturing Faith Experiences to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in northern Montana, led by Bruce Gourley, our local Montanan and guide extraordinaire. We look forward to exploring the handiwork of the Creator and enjoying...

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Read all about it!

Read all about it!

By John D. Pierce The September/October issue of Nurturing Faith Journal is hot off the press. It features my conversation with the insightful and inspiring Guy Sayles of Asheville, N.C. Astrophysicist Paul Wallace considers Galileo’s role in the unnecessary war...

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Down in the valley

Down in the valley

By John D. Pierce Grief is a deep valley that calls for more than shallow responses. Easy answers, bad theology and one-size-fits-all prescriptions for dealing with grief compound rather than relieve the pain. Rooted in long and effective pastoral experience and...

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Books that make us better

Books that make us better

By John D. Pierce Nurturing Faith keeps rolling out books that are inspiring and informative — that make us better as we seek to grow, learn and live in purposeful ways. The latest two to roll off these presses are well worth reading. Tony Cartledge is a gifted Bible...

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Strang happenings

Strang happenings

By John D. Pierce To what degree are some American evangelical leaders willing to sell their spiritual souls for political porridge? The answer arrived in a press release this week announcing the upcoming book, God and Donald Trump, by Charisma Media CEO and Charisma...

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Thanks, Tony, for 10 great years!

Thanks, Tony, for 10 great years!

By John D. Pierce Though both Georgia boys who attended seminary at the same time and place, Tony Cartledge and I didn’t get acquainted until we both backed into second or third careers. (Tony taught school briefly before becoming a pastor.) Though latecomers to the...

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Confession is hard, rare and needed

Confession is hard, rare and needed

By John D. Pierce The trauma on Capitol Hill is fresh and real. One can appreciate how rattled lawmakers have rallied around the oft-foreign notion that those of the opposing party are patriotic Americans with just different, though passionate, political views....

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Clarifying religious persecution

Clarifying religious persecution

By John D. Pierce For many Americans there is a constant need for  clarification of religious persecution and liberty. Here is such an opportunity. More than 20 persons attending a Baptist worship service May 28 in Taraz, Kazakhstan, were taken to a police station...

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‘What do you do?’

‘What do you do?’

By John D. Pierce A common introductory question is, “What to you do?” The response is usually tied to one’s profession or educational pursuits. Follow-up questions and responses often lead to connections — or at least the sharing of more information. Those in sales...

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What if?

What if?

By John D. Pierce What if you could spend a day with an active participant and Christian leader in the Civil Rights Movement who was mentored in life and ministry by Drs. Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr.? Such opportunities come along very rarely — and will not be...

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‘Lean into beauty’

‘Lean into beauty’

By John D. Pierce William L. (Bill) Hendricks was a gifted theologian who died in 2002. Long before meeting him personally, I read his books and heard him speak to large gatherings of college students. Though less flamboyant, he reminded me in some ways of Charles...

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Big Island, big sky — big opportunity!

Big Island, big sky — big opportunity!

By John D. Pierce Exploring the marvels of creation is time well spent. It expands the mind, warms the heart and puts our lives in right perspectives. That’s why I’m excited to announce a new Nurturing Faith Experience, March 10-16, 2018, on the Big Island of Hawaii —...

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5 reasons to go to Glacier

5 reasons to go to Glacier

By John D. Pierce There is still a little time and space for you to participate in a grand adventure we're calling Nurturing Faith Experience: Glacier East-to-West. Here are five of many good reasons to join us August 5-11. ONE: Sharing great meals with great people....

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Join us at Johns Creek!

Join us at Johns Creek!

Nurturing Faith's annual Judson-Rice Award Dinner on Thursday, April 27, in Alpharetta, Georgia, will be a wonderful event and we want you to join us! Executive Chef Chris Harwell and staff will serve a fabulous buffet meal — and a delicious reception before. Jazz...

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It’s no time to be liturgical snobs

It’s no time to be liturgical snobs

By John D. Pierce Like many Baptists, the church and denomination that nurtured me practiced worship in ways that no one would confuse with Catholicism. Even lighting candles raised fear that the Protestant Reformation would unravel. Like many Baptists today, however,...

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