After 42 years of practicing law, my dad hung up his tabs and gown and left the legal profession at the end of this past calendar year. This past weekend my family and some close friends gathered to celebrate my dad’s retirement. It was a wonderful evening of laughter, reminiscing and giving thanks. Towards the end of the evening I had the opportunity to share a few words with the group and to extend a blessing to my dad as he entered into this next phase of life. The following reflections upon retirement and vocation are based upon the thoughts I shared at the celebration. However, at the risk of making it a less compelling read, I have opted to leave out the more personal recollections. Continue reading Old Lawyers Never Die, They Just Lose Their Appeal!
The question of the existence of the devil is a notoriously difficult theological problem. On the one hand, as Carl Braaten has observed, “True Christianity is stuck with the Devil, like it or not” (“Powers in Conflict: Christ and the Devil,” in Sin, Death, and the Devil, ed. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 96). The devil is a recurring character in the narrative of Scripture. He is described in the New Testament as, among other things, the “prince of this world” (John 12:31), as one who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and as “the strong man” whose house Jesus has come to plunder (Mark 3:27). To excise all of the references to the devil from Scripture would leave many holes in the pages of our Bibles. Continue reading The Devil Goes Prime Time
Yesterday I received the electronic issue of Didaskalia‘s forthcoming issue on the theme of political theology. From scanning the table of contents, it looks like it could be quite an interesting issue. It includes engagements by established and emerging Canadian theologians with Žižek, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Cavanaugh, and Newbigin, among others. Appearing in the issue is my essay, “Unapologetically (A)Political: Stanley Hauerwas and the Practice of Preaching.” Rather than summarize my own work, here’s how the editor of the issue, H.C. Hillier, introduces my essay in his preface to the issue: Continue reading The Politics of Preaching
“Sentimentality, not atheism, is the deepest enemy of the Christian faith,” the theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas has averred on numerous occasions. (This particular formulation is from Approaching the End (2013), 88.) Perhaps no time of year is as fraught with the danger of sentimentality for Christians as is Christmas. However, this seemingly owes more to the cultural observation of Christmas returning to its pagan roots in the winter festival of Saturnalia, then it does to the story of the Nativity. Continue reading An Unsentimental Christmas
Theological reflection always begins in the middle. After all, theological reflection is the work of a people who find themselves on pilgrimage (in via) as a result of being claimed by the address of the Triune God. There is no getting back to square one – to some primal location – for we are historical creatures who cannot escape our positioning in a good, but fallen world that started long before we arrived and, God willing, continue for long after we’ve died. Furthermore, if God is truly God, then God is not simply there to be discovered like helium or hydrogen, mites or mandrills. If theological reflection is to be truly theological it can only be, as Karl Barth famously maintained, a “thinking after” (Nachdenken in German) the reality of God’s self-revelation in the person of Christ. Continue reading Beginning in the Middle