Category Archives: Reflections

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.

The Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Tyrannical Despiser of Humanity

There is something distinctly un-sentimental about the historical form that the Christian liturgical calendar has come to exhibit during the season of Christmas.  The Feast of the Nativity is immediately followed the next day by the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  Today (December 28) is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the date on the calendar set aside for commemorating the children massacred following the birth of Jesus as depicted in the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18).  In this way, the Christian liturgical calendar is simply following the brutal realism of Scripture.  The coming of the Prince of Peace sets on edge the petty tyrants of our world like Herod. Continue reading The Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Tyrannical Despiser of Humanity

When a Hallmark Christmas Isn’t Good Enough

A Guest Post by Paul Johansen

This is the seventeenth in a series of posts engaging with the sermons in Leaps of Faith: Sermons from the Edge.  This post is a reflection upon a Christmas Eve sermon entitled “When a Hallmark Christmas Isn’t Good Enough” (pp. 78-84). The Scriptural text for the sermon was Luke 2:1-20. Continue reading When a Hallmark Christmas Isn’t Good Enough

Remembrance Day in the Church

In 1932, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached in Berlin on Volkstrauertag—the German equivalent to Remembrance Day in Canada.  Interestingly, one of his main emphases throughout the sermon is that the way Memorial Day is observed in the church should differ from the way that is observed in other contexts.  I made a similar point in a 2013 article entitled, “Remembering Rightly: The Pastoral Dilemma of Remembrance Day,” although I can’t recall if I had read Bonhoeffer’s 1932 sermon at the time I wrote it. Continue reading Remembrance Day in the Church

95 at 500

The following is an extract from a sermon I preached this past Sunday at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Scarborough.  The service made use of some of the liturgical resources prepared conjointly by  the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Christian Reformed Church to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  It is not a scholarly treatment, nor does it exhaustively treat the complex and often ambiguous legacy of the Reformation.  Rather, it simply attempts to acquaint people with the person of Martin Luther and some of the early developments associated with the beginning of the Reformation in Germany. Continue reading 95 at 500