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Posts from the ‘Mennonite Issues’ Category

Delight in This?

Part of last weekend was spent in Calgary at a provincial gathering of Mennonite churches and organizations where our time together was focused upon the theme of “Delighting in Scripture.” It’s a very pious sounding theme, isn’t it? Good Christians are supposed to love the Bible, aren’t they? It sounds like something we should all be doing all of the time. It calls to mind impressions I had in my childhood that if you were a follower of Jesus, you couldn’t wait to read your Bible and eagerly did so whenever the opportunity presented itself.

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The Strange Math of the Cross

During my time in the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, one of the issues that generated a fair amount of interest and controversy was that of the nature of the atonement. I have devoted a number of posts to this topic over the last few years (see the”Atonement” category at the bottom of this page), and have found the atonement debates simultaneously stimulating (it’s just a flat-out interesting theological issue) and frustrating (we have not always been able to talk about this matter as civilly as we ought to). It is an issue that continues to generate considerable conversation, whether within Mennonite circles or in the larger church body. Read more

Meet in the Middle

In light of my comments in a previous post about the subtle differences in emphasis between the two streams of the Mennonite world I am becoming increasingly familiar with, I was intrigued to come across a passage by Ron Rolheiser in my reading this week that addresses the importance of both the private (i.e., individual piety) and the public (i.e., concern for justice) dimensions of Christian spirituality. Read more

Peace, Pietism, and Personal Branding

Part of this week was spent at a gathering of Alberta Mennonite pastors just north of Calgary. The drive alone would have made the trip worth it. I had forgotten how spectacularly colourful autumn in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains can be! More importantly, though, it was a good opportunity to connect with new colleagues, as well as to get a sense of some of the strengths, challenges and theological perspectives of a conference that is still fairly new to me. Read more

The Scandal of the Cross—Take Two

God’s self-giving goodness and his determined commitment to rescue and redeem his creation were demonstrated two thousand years ago on a Roman cross. This is the guiding conviction that animates Mark Baker and Joel Green’s exploration of the meaning and scope of the atonement in the second edition of Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts. Read more

On Narratives

I’ve been thinking a fair amount about narratives recently, for personal and professional reasons.  On a personal level, I suppose major transitions in life always afford the opportunity to re-evaluate things—where have I come from, where am I going, what are my reasons, what have I learned, how will it affect what may or may not lie ahead, what changes should I make, how is God guiding, shaping, and using my story, etc, etc.  These are normal things to consider whenever we close one chapter and begin another. Read more

Theological DNA

During my sermon yesterday, I made some remark about how such and such a way of looking at the Christian life was “in our theological DNA” as Anabaptists.  I suppose the comment was meant to communicate that the stream of the Christian tradition from which we emerged has had a specific take on what discipleship looks like and that those of us who trace our lineage to the Anabaptist tradition are theologically hard-wired to embrace certain things.  It’s almost as if we can’t help ourselves.  Or can we? Read more

(How) Is God in Control?

One of the benefits of having a blog is that, aside from feeding your ego through the ordinary rhythm of writing about whatever you want whenever you want and plastering it all over the internet, you can use it to draw attention to yourself at any and every other convenient opportunity as well :). Like, say, when an article of yours is published. Read more

Pilgrims in Enmity?

I had breakfast yesterday with a couple of friends, one of whom happens to be the interim editor of our denominational magazine, the Mennonite Brethren Herald. Not surprisingly, the conversation eventually touched on the January issue of the Herald which was devoted to the doctrine of creation. Perhaps less surprisingly, given the nature of the  issue’s content, my editor friend has been getting a bit of heat—both directly, via email, and indirectly via the blogosphere—from those on the “young earth” end of the spectrum. Even less surprisingly, the rhetoric can (and does) quickly turn fairly nasty when it comes to topics like these (I’ve reflected on this before here). Apparently, we still have much work to do when it comes to learning how to disagree Christianly. Read more

God is a Giver

This morning our provincial conference of MB churches has gathered in Surrey, BC to engage in conversation about how we understand the doctrine of the atonement.  I’m unable to be there in person, but I’ve got one eye on the life feed of the presentations this morning.  My other eye is on Miroslav Volf’s Against the Tide—in particular, an essay called “You Can’t Deal With God.”  After telling the familiar story (told in the play/film Amadeus) of Antonio Salieri’s attempt to bargain fame out of God, Volf concludes with this affirmation of the character and work of God: Read more

I’ll Have Some Charity Please

One of the things WordPress’s comprehensive stats page gives navel-gazing blogger-types like myself the opportunity to do is observe as certain “milestones” come and go in the life of their blog. Recently, the 4000th comment came through here, and I am coming up on 400 posts in the nearly four years I have spent in the blogging world. This may be a testimony to my stubbornness and persistence (or egotism!) more than anything else, but it’s still kind of neat to track how this forum has evolved over its lifespan. Read more

The Whole Jesus

Next month, the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (of which the church I serve at is a part) will be holding another event to further discuss some of our differences (or perceived differences) regarding how we are to understand the cross of Christ. The atonement debate has been simmering in these parts for a while now (I’ve reflected on it here, here, here, and here if you’re interested in any background). Some see a decreasing emphasis in the penal substitution component of what the cross accomplished, and think that this represents a compromise of the gospel. Others see room for locating penal substitution within a broader understanding of what was achieved at Calvary. This event is an attempt to better understand and talk about these differences. Read more

On Conversion

Today, a friend passed along a couple of sourceless yet memorable quotes about conversion and the idea that being a Christian is about Jesus being our “personal” saviour (I’ve reflected a bit on the language of “personal relationships” with Jesus before here). Given that Mennonite Brethren issues have been on the menu here over the last little while, and given that the early MB’s were very interested (perhaps at little too interested?) with issues of personal conversion and assurance of salvation, I thought these would be worth passing along: Read more

Family Matters II: Some Reflections on Celebration 2010

So, Celebration 2010 (a recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Mennonite Brethren family held in the Vancouver area this past week) has come and gone and I find myself in reflection mode. One of the topics that generated significant discussion and debate was the nature of our Mennonite Brethren identity. Are we evangelical Anabaptists or Anabaptist Evangelicals? What is it, exactly, that we gather around as people from such diverse contexts? Is it theology? A shared history/common story? Is it relationships that have formed between people and communities over time? All of the above? And what happens if/when these individual commonalities and relationships begin to break down, as some see to be the case in the Canadian MB context? Read more

Family Matters

Well, summer is here and the posting around here continues to be somewhat sparse. This week I am in the Vancouver area attending Celebration 2010, our Mennonite Brethren denomination’s 150th birthday party. I have been spending the week with people from around the world learning more about MB identity and celebrating the ways in which God has worked in our collective story. Read more

The Naked Anabaptist 7: People of Peace

Well, what I originally intended to be a relatively brief blog series has turned out to be a three-month odyssey of procrastination, but we have finally arrived at the seventh and final of Stuart Murray’s seven core convictions of Anabaptists (from The Naked Anabaptist): Read more

Confessing Jesus

I spent the latter half of last week at a Canadian Mennonite Brethren study conference in Saskatoon, SK where the topic under discussion was what it means to “confess Jesus” in a pluralistic world.  It was a good conference on many levels.  If provided a chance to see my brother and many other friends (old and new) from around Canada, to listen to intellectually stimulating lectures, and participate in many interesting conversations.  All in all, it was four days very well spent. 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