All posts by Robert Dean

Iconic Perception

My “Christian Ethics” course this semester is following an innovative schedule where students gather on campus for five full days spread out over the course of the semester.  While having three weeks between classes may impact upon continuity and classroom dynamics, it does present the opportunity to have students engage with significant works in preparation for each class.  My students are currently in the midst of reading Norman Wirzba’s From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving the World.  Wirzba, who teaches at Duke, is one of the leading voices working at the intersection of theology and ecology.  While there is much to commend in the book, I was particularly taken by the following passage describing what Wirzba refers to as “iconic seeing”: Continue reading Iconic Perception

Powerful Preaching: Fleming Rutledge’s Parchman Lectures

Fleming Rutledge recently delivered the Parchman Lectures at Truett Divinity School located at Baylor University on the theme “By the Word Worked: The Unique Power of Biblical Preaching.”  I recently had the opportunity to watch the first two lectures which are available for public viewing through the Parchman Lectures Media Library.

In the second half of the first lecture, Rutledge incisively identified four trends that weaken the power of contemporary preaching, before positing five counter-affirmations about the power of the preached word.  In what follows, I’ll attempt to summarize her important observations, in the hope of encouraging interested readers to watch the lecture itself. Continue reading Powerful Preaching: Fleming Rutledge’s Parchman Lectures

The “Evangelical” Crisis

Alan Jacobs, an influential Christian public intellectual who teaches at Baylor University, has published an important piece that traces the morphing of the word “evangelical” in public discourse.  He describes how the term that once referred to a vital, denomination-crossing,  renewing impulse within Protestant Christianity has now in the public imagination come to refer to a political and social movement characterized by nationalistic sentiments and a vague religiosity. Continue reading The “Evangelical” Crisis

The Preacher as Bridge-Builder: A Misguided Metaphor

Photo by kyler trautner on Unsplash

One of the more prominent homiletical metaphors that is operative in the imaginations of preachers of many different stripes and backgrounds is that of the preacher as a bridge-builder between the ancient world of Scripture and our current cultural moment.  Through careful rhetorical engineering, the preacher is able to construct a bridge that is capable of carrying the biblical freight across the chasm of the ages, in the process demonstrating its relevance for today.  Continue reading The Preacher as Bridge-Builder: A Misguided Metaphor

“The Death of an Extremist”: A Good Friday Sermon

Over the summer, my Good Friday sermon “The Death of an Extremist” appeared as the Feature Sermon in an issue of Theodidaktos on the theme of “Atonement: What is the Message of the Cross?”  Theodidaktos is published by the Evangelical Mennonite Conference.  The sermon goes back to my time serving as a congregational pastor in Toronto, but it is one of my favourites, narrowly missing the cut for inclusion in Leaps of Faith. Continue reading “The Death of an Extremist”: A Good Friday Sermon

“In Him All Things Hold Together”: A Theological Meditation for Aspiring Christian Universities

My Anglican friends at The Living Church have published the theological meditation I shared with the faculty of Providence University College at the opening faculty meeting of the year on their Covenant blog.  You can read the full meditation here.