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.

In-Sight: Living in a Micah Moment

The Book of Micah has become one of my go-to resources for getting perspective about the time in which we are living. Micah looked at Israel and Judah and said in effect, “We are in deep trouble.” It is easy … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Spiritual Life in a Pandemic

Honestly, this is a post I hoped I would not have to write. But we remain in the grip of a growing pandemic, one that now weaves together the threads of virus and violence—medicine and morality, disease and dis-ease. This … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

The “New” Oboedire

I want to thank those of you who took the time to offer suggestions about what Oboedire might become.  Whatever that means, I want it to be something you look forward to reading when a new installment hits your inbox. … Continue reading

Posted in Site Updates

Past, Present, and Future

It is difficult for me to realize it has been ten years since I began Oboedire. A tenth anniversary is an especially good time to thank you for taking the time to read my posts. Some of you have done … Continue reading

Posted in Love

In-Sight: John Wesley and Emancipation

In solidarity with the message of emancipation which Juneteenth communicates, I offer this link to John Wesley’s championing of freedom for black people in his day…. Interestingly, in the midst of renewed racial turmoil in our country, Michael J. Gerson … Continue reading

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Love: Ilia Delio

​I have chosen to include Ilia Delio in this series in order to point to those who are seeking to lead us into fresh discoveries of God, and are doing so using a theology of love.  Sr. Ilia’s core conviction … Continue reading

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Love: Oscar Romero

I turn to Oscar Romero as another witness to love because the more I have read him, the more I see love at the center of his life and ministry.  Indeed, one author described him as the voice of love … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Overwhelmed

One of the greatest dangers in life is to feel overwhelmed. Many of us have felt that way during the pandemic. But even before it, we found it easy to feel overwhelmed in a world of enormous challenges, and in … Continue reading

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Love: Martin Luther King, Jr.

​Since it was published in 1963, Martin’s book ‘Strength to Love’ has been one of my constant companions. [1]  I read it the first time as a teenager trying to understand the insanity of the sixties and seeking to discern … Continue reading

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Love: Dorothy Day

​If life is love expressed, as we saw it last week in Gandhi, then we have no better example of it than in the life of Dorothy Day.  Like Gandhi, her soul force was the force of love. Dorothy Day … Continue reading

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Love: Mahatma Gandhi

​This week, we look outside Christianity to see the universality of love, using the witness of Gandhi as our illustration.   He is also a good follow up to our look at Teilhard de Chardin last week, because Gandhi too saw … Continue reading

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Love: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

​Looking last week at E. Stanley Jones’ all-encompassing theology of love provides us the opportunity to see the same thing scientifically through the writing of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who saw love as the physical structure of the universe. Love … Continue reading

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Love: E. Stanley Jones

​I have previously identified E. Stanley Jones as the overall most major influence in my theological and spiritual life.  His influence only increased when, years ago, I discovered that he wrote an entire book on love, ‘Christian Maturity.’ [1]  Like … Continue reading

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“You will laugh” (Luke 6:21) is the only time Jesus referred to laughter, but, but it is certainly not the only time he laughed.  He went to many parties, and you don’t do that without laughing a lot.  He told … Continue reading

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Love: Evelyn Underhill

​For the sake of time, we move from the eighteenth century (last week in the post about the Wesleys) to the twentieth century, continuing our look at love through another Anglican, Evelyn Underhill.  In her writing, we easily detect the … Continue reading

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Love: The Wesleys

​When I write about the Wesleys, I do so from within the tradition which has most substantially shaped my Christian faith.  Fortunately, the Wesleyan tradition is ecumenical, itself the child of other streams of Christianity, and one which invites us … Continue reading

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It’s 1984 Every Day Now

The dystopian world envisioned by George Orwell is coming to pass right before our eyes. The pandemic did not create this, it only exposes it. The origins are as old as Cain’s murder of Abel and his denial of responsibility … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Love: Thomas á Kempis

​The ‘Imitation of Christ,’ published  in 1441, is said by some to be the most read Christisn book other than the Bible.  But whether or not that’s true, the assertion speaks to the incalculable influence of this devotional classic.  Thomas … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Golden

​I have postponed this month’s In-Sight post until today because it is Jeannie’s and my 50th Anniversary.  Coming on a Friday, it’s the same day we were married five decades ago. Most of all, I begin this post by saying, … Continue reading

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Love: Julian of Norwich

​During a time of severe illness, Julian (1342-1413) had a series of sixteen “showings” that all revealed to her some aspect of God’s love.  These were great comforts to her, and when she wrote them down, ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ … Continue reading

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Love: Sts. Francis & Clare

​When we come to Francis (1182-1226) and Clare (1193-1254), we see another mountain peak in a theology of love.  Each of them sought to be instruments of God’s peace, sowing love in a multitude of ways throughout their lifetimes. Looking … Continue reading

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Love: Bernard of Clairvaux

​When we come to Bernard (1091-1153), we arrive at the highest point so far in church history with respect to a Christian theology of love.  He not only incorporated everything we have looked at previously, he also added new brush … Continue reading

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Love: Benedict’s Rule

​Written in the sixth century a.d., the Rule of St. Benedict soon became the guide for cenobitic (communal) monasticism, and I write about it today because the Rule continues to direct the common life of many communities to this day.  … Continue reading

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Love: Abba/Amma Love

The early Christian spiritual guides were called abbas and ammas, people who incarnated Trinitarian (”Abbba/Amma”) love.  Their central teaching was perfection (completion) in love in keeping with Jesus’ teaching of it in Matthew 5:48. The context for their theology of … Continue reading

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Love: The Didaché

​The Didaché is the oldest surviving catechism, likely written between 90-110 a.d. The centrality of love is seen at the beginning, where the “two ways”—life and death—are described.  Concerning life, it says,  ”Now the path of life is this — … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Collision Course

​Lent is the season in the Christian year when we take a prolonged look at ourselves in relation to Christ.  It is a time for remembering the radical nature of the Gospel, and an opportunity to recommit ourselves to it. … Continue reading

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Along the Way: At the Bottom of “The Slippery Slope”

When I wrote ‘For the Sake of the Bride’ in 2014, I received immediate pushback and censure from colleagues at Asbury Theological Seminary, and from the larger conservative Wesleyan world.  One parachurch group described me as “the latest evangelical to … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: New Testament Style

​Our first step into love in Christian history occurs before we leave the Bible itself.  It happens in the New Testament.  In this post I will illustrate love from three vantage points found in the New Testament. First, the priority … Continue reading

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Love: Eager to Love

​Far from being an abstract concept, the Trinity is what makes us us eager to love.  We are motivated to love because we are made like God, Who is Love. We love, as John put it, because God first loved … Continue reading

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Along The Way: Tending the Flock

​“Tend the flock of God among you” (1Peter 5:2) During the course of my thirty two years as a seminary professor, I taught courses in United Methodist history, theology, and polity in two theological schools and one Course of Study … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Along the Way: Real Love

​It’s not even noon, and my email box, facebook page, and related social media have presented a host of people and groups, all espousing love as being at the heart of what they are saying and doing.  And not surprisingly, … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: Spirit Love

​Galatians 5:22 is an awkward sentence: “The fruit of the Spirit is…” and then we read nine words.  At first glance, it seems that the sentence should read, “The fruits of the Spirit are…” but it doesn’t.  The reason is … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Jesus Pattern–The One We Need

Jesus had a clear pattern for his life and ministry.  Luke described it in 5:15-16, “Huge crowds gathered to listen and to be healed of their illnesses.  But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.” His pattern was a … Continue reading

Posted in Shepherd's Care

Love: Son Love (Jesus)

​Two great thoughts bring the love of God the Father into the love of God that we see in Jesus: the Word was God…and…the Word became flesh (John 1:1, 14).  In Jesus we see the incarnation of love.  Reading the … Continue reading

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Along The Way: Our New Friendship

​On the night of his betrayal, Jesus gathered with his disciples.  John records it in chapters 15-17.  The evening was filled with one treasure after another, which we can read and re-read for our edification. One gem was Jesus’ definition … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: Son Love (Christ)

​To see the love of God in the second person of the Trinity, we must explore the love of the universal Christ and the incarnate Jesus.  We look at the universal Christ today and the incarnate Jesus next week. [1] … Continue reading

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In-Sight: We Never Get There First

​Paul’s visit to Athens (Acts 17:16-34) is insightful with respect to evangelism and missiology.  Today, I want to highlight only one insight—that we never get there first.  God is always ahead of us, present in people and places before we … Continue reading

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Love: Parent Love

I am comfortable with using “Father” in describing the first person of the Trinity, and that’s because I had a great dad.  But I recognize many are not comfortable with “father” language, and I respect that.  Some are uncomfortable because … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Mastery or Mystery?

​The longer I explore a theology of human sexuality, the more I realize that the differences we hold regarding it are produced by something larger than the topic itself.  With respect to anything, we are directed to a great extent … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Along the Way: On Point

​If I were a pastor, I would make youth ministry the cutting edge of my church’s mission.  There are a number of reasons why I would do this.  I write today only about one, and it is a reason fueled … Continue reading

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Love: Trinitarian Love

​For much of my Christian life, the Holy Trinity has been simultaneously a central doctrine and a marginal attraction.  I would never hesitate to say, “I believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” but either out loud or to … Continue reading

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Along the Way: Dreaming

​For the first time in our nation’s history, Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls in the midst of a presidential impeachment/trial process. [1]. The juxtaposition of these two things shapes my thinking as we observe MLK Jr Day today. On … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: Amazing Love

Every language has a word or words for love.  The biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek are no exception. The two main words are hesed and agapé.  [1]  In both words, love reaches its apex as “love for the sake … Continue reading

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Along the Way: What’s Going On?

We are living through an intense time of polarization, with resulting fragmentations of all sorts and sizes.  Every day adds new impetus for asking, “What’s going on?”  The depth and breadth of our conflicts makes a blanket answer impossible.  I … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: God is Love

Three words sum up the essence of everything: God is love.  They not only tell us who God is, but also who we are, and who/what everyone and everything else is.  At the creation level of cosmos and cells, love … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Incarnation

​Having recently celebrated Christmas, the Incarnation has been front-and-center in our faith.  In the birth of Jesus, the Word became flesh, and lived a while on the earth full of grace and truth (John 1:14).  The coming of the pre-incarnate, … Continue reading

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Love: Introduction

​Decades ago, a popular song said  “Love is a many splendored thing.”  Indeed it is, and I have been blessed to know this throughout my lifetime.  This coming April, Jeannie and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, and every year … Continue reading

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Christmas: Descent Into Oneness

​Christmas is the time for experiencing the formative work of descent.  We sing, “Love came down at Christmas.”  It is the hymnodic way of declaring with John that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14).  Christ’s “coming down” was a descent … Continue reading

Posted in Connections

Oboedire 2020

Except for a meditation on Christmas day, I’m taking a break from Oboedire until January 1st. But here’s what’s in store for 2020–a continuation of some themes and the beginning of some new ones… (1) 2020 Theme: “Love.”–Each Wednesday we … Continue reading

Posted in Site Updates

Holy Love: A Final Word

​I hope your reading of ‘Holy Love’ and these related posts has been helpful.  In the book, I include two additional writings: a word to LGBTQ+ people (“You  Are Loved”) and a word to those who disagree with me (”A … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love