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Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category

The Maker

Last weekend I preached on Isaiah 2 and focused on the theme of exile—what it means, what it looks like in (post)modern life, and the shape of the hope that emerges out of it.  Today, a friend directed my attention to a song  called “The Maker” (written by Daniel Lanois, performed by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds) that he felt reflected some of the themes of the sermon.  I’d never heard the song before, but I was blown away (you can have a listen here, with a bit of navigation—just select the “Live at Radio City” album and click on the song).  I think it beautifully expresses the great hope for all the estranged, alienated, lost and lonely inhabitants of postmodernity—we are not strangers in the hands of the Maker. Read more

In My Place

As I’ve mentioned before, the nature of the atonement is generating a bit of discussion (and controversy) in our tiny little denominational corner (I’ve reflected on the matter here, and here). My friend Mike Todd has written an excellent reflection on the atonement that is definitely worth checking out, both for the main post and for the comments.  Here’s a sample: Read more

The Idols We Worship

I hardly ever listen to the radio anymore, at least not to top-40 type stuff. Aside from the deficiencies of the music on offer, I can’t stand the mindless advertising, the idiotic banter between the morning hosts, and… well, it’s mostly the advertising. Today, however, as we were having lunch with the kids at a local eating establishment, I couldn’t avoid the radio, and I happened to hear something very peculiar called the “Daily Hollywood Gossip Report.” At first, I simply consigned this to the “stupid things you hear on the radio” category of my brain, and dismissed it quickly. But I found myself returning to it as the day went on. Read more

Even During the Night

Surely I know the spring that flows
Even during the night.

The eternal spring is hidden,
But surely I know the place where it begins
Even during the night.

I don’t know its source because it has none
But know that its beginnings come from this one,
Even during the night.

I do know that nothing can equal its beauty
And that from it both heaven and earth drink
Even during the night.

I know there is no limit to its depth
And that no one can wade across its breadth,
Even during the night.

Its brightness is never clouded over,
And I know that from it all light flows,
Even during the night.

I know its current is so forceful
That it floods the nations, heaven, and hell,
Even during the night.

The current that is born of this stream,
I know, is powerful and strong,
Even during the night.

The living stream that I so desire,
I see it in this bread of life,
Even during the night.

St. John of the Cross

The Way God is Made

Those who believe in the immortality of the soul believe that life after death is as natural a human function as waking after sleep.  The Bible instead speaks of resurrection. It is entirely unnatural. We do not go on living beyond the grave because that’s how we are made. Rather, we go to our graves as dead as a doornail and are given our lives back again by God (i.e., resurrected) just as we were given them by God in the first place, because that is the way God is made.

All the major Christian creeds affirm belief in resurrection of the body. In other words, they affirm the belief that what God in spite of everything prizes enough to bring back to life is not just some disembodied echo of human beings but a new and revised version of all the things which made them the particular human beings they were and which they need something like a body to express: their personality, the way they looked, the sound of their voices, their peculiar capacity for creating and loving, in some sense their faces.

The idea of the immortality of the soul is based on the experience of humanity’s indomitable spirit. The idea of the resurrection of the body is based on the experience of God’s unspeakable love.

Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking


To be a Christian means to be an optimist because we know what happened on the third day. We know that it worked, that Jesus’ leap of faith was not in vain. His trust was not in vain, and the Father raised him up. He trusted enough to outstare the darkness, to outstare the void, to wait upon the resurrection of the third day, not to try to create his own but to wait upon the resurrection of God. Good Friday inevitably comes into every life. So does Holy Saturday. What is given to God is always returned transformed. That is the eternal third day that we forever await.

Richard Rohr, Radical Grace: Daily Meditations

Good without God

I came across this article a few weeks back and was reminded of it today by a discussion of the age-old question of whether or not we need God to be good over at Jesus Creed.  The author of the article offers an answer in the negative, citing the blissfully secular Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Denmark as shining examples that God is not necessary for human happiness and moral decency: Read more

Our Thoughts are With You

I was watching a hockey game on Saturday night and couldn’t help but be struck by a couple of innocuous comment from one of the announcers. Just before the drop of the puck, he paused to acknowledge the weekend tragedy in Newfoundland and to assure those affected that “our thoughts and our wishes are with you.” I spent the rest of a very forgettable game (my Flames somehow contrived to allow one of the worst teams in hockey to score eight goals!) thinking about these words. Read more

Kingdom Values

It seems that Mike finds himself busier than expected these days and will be unable to contribute directly to the discussion we’ve been having over the last couple of weeks (part one, part two, and part three).  I thought I would wrap up the discussion by addressing one final element of George Soros’s piece that struck me in connection with how I understand the gospel. Read more

The Ocean of Uncertainty

For those still interested, we’ll get back to the ongoing conversation between Mike Todd and myself shortly. Mike’s off at a speaking engagement in Toronto but has indicated that he plans to respond to my most recent post at some point.  This is a conversation we both feel is worth continuing.

In the meantime, I thought I would share a passage from Joseph Ratzinger that I came across recently (from Introduction to Christianity).  Here’s what he has to say about the nature of faith and doubt at this historical/cultural moment: Read more

You Are All One

Yesterday was another one of those interesting days for one new to the pastoral guild.  In the morning I was down in Victoria preaching and leading a discipleship class at a church in Victoria.  It is a very interesting church comprised, I was told, mainly of well educated white-collar types.  The worship service was formal and highly-structured; there was a strong sense of reverence and propriety.  There was beautiful artwork throughout the sanctuary and a high degree of musical skill evident in the singing time. Read more

“Belief” in God

One of the things I find interesting, whether in the course of my thesis research or just ordinary conversations, is the matter of what inclines people to belief or unbelief in God. How is that person A, when presented with the raw data of the natural world, will incline toward atheism while person B will look at the identical data and choose belief? Is faith simply an arbitrary “gift” given by God to some and withheld from others? Or, as fundamentalists on either side of the atheism/theism divide would have us believe, is belief/unbelief simply a matter of who is intelligent (or spiritually perceptive) enough to see the “obvious” truth? All of us, as twenty-first century “modern” people, live in what Charles Taylor has called “the immanent frame”—a set of social, technological, scientific, and political structures which can be understood on its own terms without reference to the supernatural. Why do some choose to see this frame as “open” to the possibility of the transcendent while others see it as “closed?” Read more

Two Ways of Waiting

Lent is a time of waiting—something we are all, in various ways and to varying degrees, familiar with. During Lent our waiting is oriented towards Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the high points of the Christian calendar. But “waiting” is a theme that extends far beyond the period of Lent. Read more

Coming to Peace with History

I recently had an interesting conversation about the relationship between history and truth with a group of UBC students with whom I’m going through Lesslie Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. We arrived yesterday at what is, in my opinion, one of the most important chapters in the book—”The Logic of Election.” In this chapter, Newbigin challenges our assumptions about what election is for, arguing that God never chose a specific group of people—whether the nation of Israel or the church—to be the objects of eternal salvation but rather to be his instruments of extending his redemption to others. According to Newbigin, we do not encounter God as isolated individuals; he has always used other people—both now and across time—to communicate his purposes to us. Read more

The Persistence of Religion

Columbia professor Mark Lilla wrote a very interesting article in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine which deals with the relationship between religious belief and politics (adapted from his forthcoming book, The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West). It’s an interesting article—one well worth taking the time to read and think about. Among the many interesting issues raised by this article, I was drawn to one in particular—the persistence of religious belief, and what might account for it. Read more

But Why, Daddy?

The other day one of the moms from our kids’ kindergarten class asked me for some “pastoral” advice about how to deal with what was for her son, the traumatic discovery that everybody dies (this discovery came via the film Charlotte’s Web). I fumbled and mumbled my way through some explanation of how we try to teach our kids that God is ultimately going to reclaim and redeem the world of our present experience, validating all that is good and true etc. My response may or may not have been adequate, but I was reminded of some of the questions that arose when our kids recently encountered death. One of their preschool friends was tragically killed in a traffic accident last year, and I remember being surprised (and heartened) by their bewilderment—even outrage—that such a thing as death should occur. Read more