Category Archives: Quotes

Rowan Williams on Sneezing and Muddying the Waters

I recently had a student write a book review of Rowan Williams’ short book Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer for my summer systematic theology course.  Williams, who is perhaps best known for having served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, is one of the most erudite and learned theologians of his generation.  That being said, this brief introduction to “the essential elements of the Christian life”1 may possibly go down as his most important work. Continue reading Rowan Williams on Sneezing and Muddying the Waters

  1. Rowan Williams, Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), vii.

“Can These Bones Live?”: The Question Before the Church

I hope to return in the very near future to posting audio from my book launch celebration, as well as to pick up where I left off in my series on Lesslie Newbigin’s “marks of the missional church.”  In the meantime, here is a penetrating assessment of the challenge placed before the contemporary church in North America by the “Catholic Baptist” theologian Barry Harvey: Continue reading “Can These Bones Live?”: The Question Before the Church

Calvin on “The Wonderful Exchange”

I’m hoping to return to my series on Lesslie Newbigin’s marks of the missional church in the near future, but in the meantime I thought I’d share an excerpt from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion that I came across this morning.  In the soaring quote that follows we see resonances with the theme of the “blessed” or “happy exchange” which Martin Luther developed in his famous tract, “The Freedom of a Christian.”  In addition, there is also a distinct echoing of the famous Patristic saying affirmed by Irenaeus, Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa, among others, that “God became man in order that man might become God.”  The apparent presence of the theme of theosis or deification in this passage lends credence to the recent attempt by Rowan Williams’ to read John Calvin as “The Last of the Greek Fathers.” Continue reading Calvin on “The Wonderful Exchange”

Series: Newbigin on “The Call to the Church” – 1. Eschatology

The previous post set the stage for a series of posts on Lesslie Newbigin’s understanding, as presented in Foolishness to the Greeks, of the seven essential conditions that must be recovered if there is to be a genuine missionary encounter between the church and the modern West.  The first of these essential conditions, Newbigin asserts, “must be the recovery and firm grasp of a true doctrine of the last things, of eschatology.”1  Continue reading Series: Newbigin on “The Call to the Church” – 1. Eschatology

  1. Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1986), 134.

Proper Confidence

“The confidence proper to a Christian is not the confidence of one who claims possession of demonstrable and indubitable knowledge.  It is the confidence of one who had heard and answered the call that comes from the God through whom and for whom all things were made: ‘Follow me.'”

– Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995), 105

Discipline Is Not a Dirty Word

Talk of church discipline today often brings to mind “images of witch trials, scarlet letters, public humiliations, and damning excommunications.”1  However, each of the Protestant Reformers, in their own way, recognized the importance of church discipline.  John Calvin went so far as to say that the neglect of church discipline would contribute to the “ultimate dissolution of the church.”2  If Calvin could “discern frightful devastation beginning to threaten the church”3 in sixteenth century Geneva, what would he say about today’s Western Protestant Christianity, where the reigning ideal of tolerance and the omnivorous appetite of the market have combined to eviscerate the church of any remaining sense of its disciplined character? Continue reading Discipline Is Not a Dirty Word

  1. Marlin Jeschke, “How Discipline Died,” Christianity Today (August 2005), 31.
  2. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), IV.xii.1.
  3. Ibid.