Mark Achtemeier

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Two kinds of ministry

Q. 86. Since we are redeemed from our sin and its wretched consequences by grace through Christ without any merit of our..

A New Year’s Resolution

Where better to turn for a source of New Year’s resolutions than the Ten Commandments? Martin Luther’s exposition of the Eighth Commandment*..

Church and state

Editor’s Note: This sermon was preached recently at First Church in Dubuque, Iowa. The Scripture references include Psalm 146:1-7, Romans 13:1-7, and John 18:33-38a.

A more excellent way

Recommendation 5 of the Report of the Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church was designed to help cushion the damaging effects of controversy in the church.

An unfamiliar country: Matthew 20:1-16


Jesus' parable of the laborers in the vineyard is one of those stories that sounds increasingly outrageous the longer we think about it. The manager's decision to pay the same full-day's wage whether workers labored a single hour or a full day strikes us as grossly unfair. And Jesus, of course, makes matters worse by stepping in and telling us that this picture of scandalously unfair treatment is in fact what the kingdom of heaven is like.

What are we to make of that? God is unfair? God plays favorites? God violates the norms of justice? What comes leaping out at us from the parable, of course, is that the late hires did not deserve the reward they got. They did not qualify for such compensation. We are quite naturally outraged by this miscarriage of justice, and if this is how God does things, isn't there something just wrong about that?

Reflections on Intelligent Design


Also featured in the Outlook forum this issue: Intelligent design--a cultural code phrase by Walter R. T. Witschey


Even a casual glimpse at current headlines leaves little doubt that the Intelligent Design debate has become yet another battleground in the culture wars, with culturally-aggressive fundamentalists and equally-militant secularists well represented among the contending parties. Beneath the surface-level politics, however, there are substantial scientific and philosophical issues at play that ought to be of interest to any thinking Christian. It is the purpose of this essay to highlight some of these more substantive issues, lest they disappear beneath the waves of partisan politics.

One of the founding documents of the Intelligent Design Movement is Darwin's Black Box, by Michael Behe. Those who have seen Intelligent Design linked repeatedly with biblical Creationism in the popular press may be surprised to find that Behe's book contains no scriptural citations, no references to Genesis, no theological arguments, no appeals to faith, no sweeping rejection of evolutionary theory and no speculation about the nature or identity of a Creator.

What Behe's book does contain is a lot of biochemistry: technical descriptions of the chemical machinery that underlies life-processes such as blood clotting, immune response, vision, etc. These molecular machines turn out to be vastly complex, Rube Goldberg contraptions whose operation depends on the precise interaction of dozens of large, intricately-structured protein molecules.

Behe contends that while evolutionary processes of random mutation and natural selection can account for much of the living world around us, they cannot explain significant portions of what modern biochemistry has uncovered at the molecular-level of living organisms. Why is this so?