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
Posts from the ‘Jesus’ Category
A few weeks ago I received an email from Mike Todd (a friend made during my time at Regent College) who was wondering what I thought about an article by Hungarian financial speculator George Soros. Now those who know anything whatsoever about me will undoubtedly consider this a somewhat strange request. What on earth could I possibly have to say about an article on market theory? And you would not be alone in your curiosity—the request caught me off guard as well. To say that economic theory is not a body of knowledge with which I am well-acquainted or competent to discuss would be an exercise in spectacular understatement. Read more
For those tracking the progress of my pre-Easter reading project, I do continue to pick away at N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God (my pace has slowed considerably over the last few weeks—that’s going to have to be addressed if I’m to finish in time). Right now, I’m in the middle of his discussion of various views of the resurrection in the Hebrew Bible and how these differed from the views of the ancient Greeks. Read more
Last Friday a pastor from the mainland phoned me up and asked if I would be willing to do a graveside ceremony for a family who was returning the body of their loved one to Nanaimo for burial. I still find it very strange to be entrusted, in however minimal a fashion, with these significant events in people’s lives, but I also find it very difficult to to say no to a friend. So, today I was off to say a few words at the burial of a stranger, hoping and praying that something I said would be of some comfort to those present. Read more
If you’re anything like me, you tend to accumulate books far beyond your capacity to read them. In my case, these books tend to migrate from the nice brown Chapters box (always so exciting to see these boxes arrive!) to the coffee table in our living room (where they are daily in plain view, crying out: “read me”) to a pile of books on another table in the living room (a pile in which they steadily descend to the bottom over a period of weeks), to my office where they sit on the side of my desk where my “really should have a look at this” file is located, to the top shelf of my desk (in order to make room for other things I really should have a look at), and finally to my bookshelf, their final resting place, where they sit side by side with any number of other books which have undertaken the same sad journey. It’s kind of pathetic. Read more
I’m not one for breathlessly optimistic pronouncements and predictions at the outset of a new year—a pessimism realism born out of too many unrealistic and unrealized ideas and intentions over the years, I suppose. Nonetheless, another spin around the sun does represent a good time for reflection, a good time to pause and think about the year to come. Read more
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
A while back a film/book came across my desk via the MB Herald called “Lord Save us From Your Followers” (my review for the Herald can be found here). It’s the brainchild of Oregon film-maker Dan Merchant, and asks the question, “Why don’t Christians in America look more like Jesus?” Merchant travels around the USA in a bumper-sticker/Jesus-fish clad set of coveralls in order to generate dialogue with people who don’t think like him—to challenge the confrontational, antagonistic, and polarizing nature of religious discourse in America. Read more
In my previous post I admiringly reflected upon my son’s instinctive willingness to forgive and wondered what the world might look like if more people adopted this strategy. One commenter justifiably inquired as to the limits of forgiveness—if it really ought to be as “reckless” as I was recommending. His challenge to me was as follows: Read more
As one who was raised in, continues to be nourished by, and will be working within the Mennonite tradition, I couldn’t resist posting a link to Greg Boyd’s latest post. I think Boyd is just a bit too breathless in his praise of Mennonites (two friends are currently writing theses about Mennonites—one examining just how consistently they have historically applied their ethic of nonviolence with each other, and another on Mennonites’ contribution to an overly individualistic approach to faith), but I think that he does point to some genuinely admirable features of the tradition that the rest of the Christian world would profit from paying attention to.
God knows Mennonites aren’t perfect, but I do think that we understand some things well, and, at our best, embody a way of being in the world that seeks to reflect the means by which God has accomplished his redemption of the world.
h/t: Waving or Drowning
There are few things better than getting free books. Last week a friend of mine happened to find himself helping clean out the basement of James Houston (one of the founders of Regent College) and was rewarded with a stack of books for his troubles, some of which, due to my friend’s generosity, found their way into my hands. Among these books is Houston’s two-volume compilation of various “letters of faith” written down through the ages and arranged into a year-long collection of daily readings. Read more
Last Thursday I took my kids with me to our church’s Maundy Thursday service. I wasn’t really sure how they would react. It is, after all, a fairly somber and dark service, whose purpose is to lead its participants through the fearful events of Jesus’ final days. I had some reservations about even exposing a couple of impressionable six-year-olds to the full weight of the Easter story, but my apprehension intensified when they informed me, after watching a steady stream of volunteers moving to the front to read the selected Scripture readings, that they wanted to read one too. Read more
[T]hough the historical arguments for Jesus’s bodily resurrection are truly strong, we must never suppose that they will do more than bring people to the questions faced by Thomas, Paul, and Peter, the questions of faith, hope, and love. We cannot use a supposedly objective historical epistemology as the ultimate ground for the truth of Easter. To do so would be like lighting a candle to see whether the sun had risen. What the candles of historical scholarship will do is to show that the room has been disturbed, that it doesn’t look like it did last night, and that would-be normal explanations for this won’t do. Maybe, we think after the historical arguments have done their work, maybe morning has come and the world has woken up. But to investigate whether this is so, we must take the risk and open the curtains to the rising sun. When we do so, we won’t rely on the candles anymore, not because we don’t believe in evidence and argument but because they will have been overtaken by a larger reality from which they borrow, to which they point, and in which they will find a new and larger home. All knowing is a gift from God, historical and scientific knowing no less than that of faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.
N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
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
A couple of interesting conversations over the last couple of days have got me thinking about the relationship between truth and beauty. First, I had the chance to talk over a couple of ideas related to my thesis with my brother during a rare visit out to Saskatchewan this past weekend. We spent some time last night on the nature of the new atheism’s protest against God/religion, and how as human beings we simply do not and cannot know as much as we might like prior to making decisions about ultimate matters such as these. The “what if we’re wrong about all this?” question still comes to mind now and then (at least my mind) and I suspect that this is a normal part of life for most people, whichever side of the atheist/theist divide they find themselves on. Read more
Due to the nature of my thesis work, my radar is unnaturally (and often annoyingly) tuned to any and all occurrences of the word “atheist”—especially when found in conjunction with the word “Jesus.” For the first part of this opinion piece by Andre Comte-Sponville in today’s Washington Post I was thinking, “OK, here we go again… another angry atheist, endlessly ranting about the evils of superstition, the innumerable deleterious social effects of Christianity, etc, etc.” Read more