All posts by Robert Dean

Upcoming Conference Presentation


I’ve had a lot on my plate in recent days – including wrapping up an intensive theology course at Tyndale Seminary and preparing to preach on the Samson narrative at Toronto Chinese Alliance Church this coming Sunday – which has contributed to somewhat of a lull in my production of blog posts.  Also quickly approaching is the “Participation in God’s Mission” conference at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, NY, where I will be presenting a paper.  Continue reading Upcoming Conference Presentation

“Tolkien and the Adventure of Discipleship”

I received in my inbox this morning a digital copy of the latest edition of the Canadian Theological Review.  The issue (2014, vol. 3, no. 2) includes my article, “Tolkien and the Adventure of Discipleship: Imaginative Resources for a Missional Ecclesiology.”  My former theological students at Tyndale Seminary will be able to trace some of the material back to my lecture on “The Christian Life” where some of the thoughts first appeared in seminal form.  I had the opportunity to further develop this line of inquiry within the context of addressing the National Conference of the Congregational Christian Churches in Canada in 2014 on the theme of “The Adventure of Discipleship.” Continue reading “Tolkien and the Adventure of Discipleship”

Bonhoeffer on the Danger of Theology

In the winter of 1936, Dietrich Bonhoeffer delivered a series of lectures on the theme of pastoral care to the seminarians under his direction at the underground seminary at Finkenwalde. Bonhoeffer concluded this course of lectures by reflecting on the need for pastoral care for pastoral counselors. Interestingly, Bonhoeffer suggests that “another source of trouble for the serious pastor is his own theology” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 14, ed. H.G. Barker and M.S. Brocker (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013), 590). Continue reading Bonhoeffer on the Danger of Theology

An Overlooked Lenten Figure

I’ve been working my way through the book of Judges in anticipation of preaching at a Toronto-area church that is in the midst of working its way through the book.  The book of Judges, with its many “texts of terror” (to cite the term coined by Phyllis Trible) presents numerous hermeneutical challenges for the preacher.  Yesterday, I was confronted by the infamous, story of Jephthah’s daughter.  Continue reading An Overlooked Lenten Figure

“In Sackcloth and Ashes”: A Sermon for Ash Wednesday

The following sermon was preached several years ago on Ash Wednesday.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is the text on which the sermon is based – Daniel 9:1-19.  Daniel 9 is not a traditional Ash Wednesday text, but the resonances between the text and the day are significant and stirring.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day that Christians have historically set aside to face up to their mortality and to repent of their sin. Now this doesn’t mean that Ash Wednesday is the only day of the year when Christians can humbly acknowledge their frailty and their failure to live into the fullness of God’s intentions for their lives, but if we didn’t set aside Ash Wednesday for this purpose, it is unlikely that we would set aside any time at all. For the broader culture we find ourselves in is built on the refusal to acknowledge the presence of death and the reality of sin. So I commend you for making the effort to be here tonight. Your presence signifies that you recognize that the Lord desires to do something for us far more important than making us comfortable. He desires to make us holy. Continue reading “In Sackcloth and Ashes”: A Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Lewis and “Little Christs”

My systematic theology students are reading Kevin Vanhoozer’s recent work Faith Speaking Understanding:  Performing the Drama of Doctrine (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014).  In the chapter they are reading in preparation for our next class, Vanhoozer speaks of the importance of doctrine for correctly identifying Christ and allowing Christians to grow in Christ’s image.  To put it in the terms of Vanhoozer’s prevailing theatrical metaphor, the chapter is about how we learn and become our part in the great cosmic drama of salvation.  At one point Vanhoozer introduces an evocative quote from the writings of C.S. Lewis: Continue reading Lewis and “Little Christs”