Category Archives: Reflections

Bonhoeffer and the Canadian “Values Test”

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Olivia Lavallee, a student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s views on church and state for an article she was writing about the controversial “Attestation” required by the Canadian federal government on summer grant applications.  You can read the full article here.

Salvation by Allegiance Alone – Chapter 3

This is the fourth in a series of posts engaging with Matthew Bates’s Salvation by Allegiance Alone.  The earlier posts can be read here:  first, second, third.

In chapter 3, “Jesus Proclaims the Gospel,” Bates turns to confronting a longstanding problem in modern Protestant Christianity:  the reconciliation of the Letters of Paul with the Gospels.1  The writings of Paul have long been a haven for certain forms of Lutheranism and conservative evangelicalism espousing the centrality of a particular understanding of justification by faith.  While the Gospels have often been the playground of some liberal forms of Christianity attempting to advance a social agenda based upon ethical principles.  The irony is that in their readings of their respective canons-within-a-canon both groups have lost sight of the animating center of the canon as a whole, as well as Paul’s Letters and the Gospels in particular, namely the crucified and living Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading Salvation by Allegiance Alone – Chapter 3

  1. Interestingly, Bonhoeffer felt the need to make a similar move in his famous treatise Discipleship.  Although, Bonhoeffer began with the Synoptic Gospels before turning his attention to Paul.

Salvation by Allegiance Alone – Chapter 2

This is the third in a series of posts engaging with Matthew Bates’s Salvation by Allegiance Alone.  The earlier posts can be read here and here.

The second chapter of Salvation by Allegiance Alone is entitled, “Loyalty and the Full Gospel.”  It could have just as easily been titled, “Your Gospel Is Too Small!” or perhaps even, “Your Gospel Is Too Small and Its Skewed in the Wrong Direction!”  These would be appropriate titles because Bates is convinced that the predominant contemporary North American understandings of the Christian faith have both truncated the scope and lost sight of the focal point of the Gospel. Continue reading Salvation by Allegiance Alone – Chapter 2

Salvation by Allegiance Alone – Chapter 1

This is the second in a series of posts engaging with Matthew Bates’s Salvation by Allegiance Alone.  The inaugural post can be read here.

The first chapter of Salvation by Allegiance Alone, entitled “Faith Is Not” is Bates’s attempt to clean the deck of the good ship of the church by scraping off the various layers of mold and sediment that have accumulated over the centuries on top of the planks of the gospel, faith, and the Christian life. Continue reading Salvation by Allegiance Alone – Chapter 1

Proclaiming the Crucifixion

The following is the conclusion to a lecture I recently gave, entitled “Parsing the Grammar of Atonement.”

All of the biblical metaphors for atonement are needed.  They serve as necessary imaginative windows into the utterly irreducible reality of the reconciliation accomplished in the person of Christ.  “The metaphors,” Colin Gunton observes, “are the means by which it is possible to speak of the meaning of the gospel narratives taken as a whole.”1 This quotation from Gunton is helpful as it gestures towards two significant aspects of how metaphors function, both of which are sometimes forgotten when the metaphors are pressed in an overly theorized direction. Continue reading Proclaiming the Crucifixion

  1. Colin E. Gunton, The Actuality of Atonement: A Study of Metaphor, Rationality and the Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 42.