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My very dear friends,

I sing the body electric;
I sing the body in-pixeled, cast over ocean, scanned on screen, background blurred or green-screened,
And my native tongue sung in Slavic tones, vowels unbent, consonants softened,
And hearts un-clichéd, remixed and crossed cross-cultured yet bound,
Bound fast by blood-bought bonds, my brothers, my sisters, my fathers, my mothers,
My friends….

Zoom-fatigue sapped everyone’s strength last year, yet (with apologies to Walt Whitman and Gerard Manley Hopkins) I sing the virtues of videoconferencing. Without it the gathering on the banks of the Danube I wrote about last month would have been our Swan Song. Yet six months since the meadow meeting, Tomáš and Bohuš and Juraj and Lea and Martin and Laura and Marek and Maťa and Tomáš and Katka and Zuzi and Lenka and Pali and Janka and Romana and others are still our (virtual) companions for fellowship, friendship, and theological reflection. (Pause here to thank God.)

Speaking of our theological reflection: this season it is being prompted by Scott Swain’s The Trinity: An Introduction, and on page 58 Swain says, “The supreme goods that God has promised us in Christ are not finally divisible from God himself.” Without context that might be a head-scratcher. But think about it. Read it again.

Read it again, and think about the offer of the Gospel and the terms we use to make that offer. Do we tend to offer God himself? Or do we offer the goods (supreme and otherwise) that we judge will make the Gospel appealing?

A couple of examples come to mind. Remember “The Four Spiritual Laws,” or at least the first one? God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. I imagine that if you were designing your presentation of the Gospel for college students and their felt needs, an offer of a clear sense of direction and purpose in life would pique their interest. More recently, with our modern pandemic of loneliness, I’ve heard community presented almost as if it were the sum of the Gospel.

Certainly the goods offered in the Gospel meet our needs: peace for the tortured conscience, honor for those cowed by shame, welcome for the outcaste, direction for the drifter, comfort for the sufferer, family for the loner, light for those in darkness. But these goods, as good as they are, are not the Goodest Good of all. And if we paint and present any of them the Goodest Good, we risk trivializing the Gospel, making it another stick to help us scratch where we itch.

Of course God does scratch where we itch. If you’ll suffer my tinkering with Augustine’s most famous phrase, “Lord, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are itchy till they are scratched by you.” But the itch of itches isn’t the itch for peace of mind, or social inclusion, or justice, or whatever other itch there be. In Grounded in Heaven, Michael Allen puts it this way: “… theology that seeks to follow the emphases of the Scriptures will be alert to the reality that at the end of God’s grace is, ultimately, God. His creation, sustenance, instruction, patience, deliverance, reconciliation, forgiveness, resurrection, and so many other intermediate and unnamed kindnesses—they are all unto God. The gospel logic runs: ‘From him, through him, and to him are all things’ (Rom 11:36).”

So the question that my Slovak friends and I discussed was, “How does (or should) this shape our offer of the Gospel?” And now that’s my question for you. How does the fact that God is the Goodest Good shape the way you offer the Good News to itchy people? Write and let me know what you think.

Before I move on, let’s admit that the Bible often offers the intermediate goods; it therefore can’t be wrong to offer bread to the hungry and water to the thirsty. But the Bible also makes clear that the True Bread for the true hunger is Jesus; he’s also the Living Water. And when God offered to give Israel the Land without his presence, Moses would have none of it (Exodus 33). So my question isn’t whether you offer the goods or the Goodest Good, but how you make clear from your offer that the goods are good goods but not the Goodest Good, the Good we most need, the Good that is Good itself.

Okay, now you can write to tell me what you think.

Speaking of the Trinity, remember that I told you that over the last several months many newcomers have come to Paradox, with 13 now going through the preparation for membership. It turns out that five or so of those newcomers are theological refugees from a church in Bratislava that has been roiled by anti-trinitarian teaching for the past three years. Please pray for these wounded, weary, and confused sheep. And ask the Spirit to give Tomáš and the members a gracious way of speaking and teaching and nurturing their faith, so that they grow in their praise of the Triune God.


Speaking of my Theological Reading Group, a young seeker I met in Košice four years ago is interested in perhaps joining our discussions. That might not sound like the place for a seeker to start, but he’s been exploring (and almost believing) Christianity for seven years and is capable of handling challenging ideas. He’s a medical student in Prague. Please ask the Spirit to grant him faith to believe in Jesus Christ. His name is Marek.


Our travels in October took us to Shreveport (where the friendships of the young adults there reminded us of our days in Slovakia) and New Mexico (where our friendships with 30-year roots reminded us why we sometimes paint community as the goodest good). Please thank our Father for the worldwide family into which he adopted us. (And note that the picture above was taken at White Sands, and the little black dots on the horizon include Paula and our grandchildren.)

In November we’ll make our way to New Braunfels and Baton Rouge. Please as the Spirit to refresh the saints there with news of his work in Slovakia, and to renew them in their commitment to the spread of the Kingdom throughout the world.


Last month I asked you to pray for Lubica’s move to Bratislava to work with Paradox. Please thank God for bringing her safely there in good health. Please ask God now to settle her and give her a home where she will be able to proclaim Christ and the Good News of the Goodest Good to others.


Now may our beautiful, soul-satisfying God, for whom all things (including you) exist, give himself to you, through Jesus Christ, by the unseen but powerful work of his Holy Spirit.

Kris (for Paula)
Kris and Paula at MTW Kris and Paula at MTW
Copyright © 2021 Kris Lundgaard, All rights reserved.

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