Renewing the Church Starts with Learning to Love It

In recent weeks, as I’ve been preparing my paper for the upcoming “Participating in God’s Mission” conference, I have re-immersed myself in the writings of the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The other day I came across a passage that caught my attention on account of both its humorous and its prophetic character. Continue reading Renewing the Church Starts with Learning to Love It

A Matter of Life and Death: A Samson Sermon

The following is the text of a sermon I preached this past Sunday as a guest speaker at Toronto Chinese Alliance Church.  The congregation has been working its way through a sermon series on the book of Judges.  I was assigned the daunting task of preaching on the Samson story (Judges 13-16).

For the past week, my thoughts have been preoccupied by a single figure. A blustery and boisterous man, noted for his both his crudity and his cruelty. A man whose track record of troubled relationships with women is well-known. A man who is thought to stand as a paragon of strength and power, despite the strange coif of hair on his head. A bully, who always seems to be the last man standing. A man seemingly tasked with the responsibility of making his nation great again. Continue reading A Matter of Life and Death: A Samson Sermon

Martyrdom and the “No” of Faith

“The church makes disciples in order to form a company of faith, a theater of martyrdom” (218). Kevin Vanhoozer elucidates this claim in the concluding chapter of his recent book Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014). The chapter sparked some thoughtful discussion in my systematic theology class this past week. During the discussion it occurred to me that we privileged Western Christians are sometimes enamored with overly romantic conceptions of martyrdom. Continue reading Martyrdom and the “No” of Faith

Upcoming Conference Presentation

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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

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