Archive for March 2010

One More Blow to Hamilton’s Economy

From the Toronto Star:

“Lakeport Brewery will close its doors April 30.
Workers were summoned to a downtown Hamilton hotel this morning and given the news that their jobs are gone.
The closure affects 143 people – 99 hourly workers, another 22 hourly workers on layoff and 22 salaried staff. Employees have been told not to come back to work until Monday…”


Scot, over at Jesus Creed, posted a picture for people to caption.

I think it was an inkblot test designed to expose how twisted and weird one really is. And of course it worked. My first thought when I saw the picture? Star Trek, of course!

“Picard never hit me.”
“I’m not Picard.”

“Theology of Christian Spirituality” Book Study 3

In chapter 2, Powell looks at the current state of spirituality in America. Spirituality is still a priority to most people, so long as it is not religion. Spirituality becomes, then, a smorgasbord of beliefs and practices, with a person picking and choosing spiritual beliefs like they would pick and choose fried chicken over roast beef at the buffet.

And of course this happens within Christianity. Powell talks about how people choose church services or church programs based on their best “fit” for their needs, with people coming with the attitude “how will this be useful to me.”

He says that “spirituality is often cast in terms of self-fulfillment” (p22) and points to the psychological tradition of Carl Rogers which emphasizes “that each person must discover for and by himself or herself the sort of things that are truly good and fulfilling.” (p22).

Powell also points to M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled” which combines self-help psychology with self-help spirituality. He summarizes:

The purpose of Peck’s book is to indicate helpful tips for navigating the path toward spirituality. Nowhere in the book does Peck counsel the reader to seek out authorities such as pastors. Authoritative doctrine, church sacraments and rites, and other institutional artifacts do not even come into consideration as possible aids in becoming spiritual. Becoming spiritual is largely a matter of exercising certain practical disciplines and expanding one’s mental horizon. (p24)

Have we, the Church, fed into this mentality? Have we, with our seeker-sensitive models, encouraged people to see the Church and her practices as a buffet line that offers multiple choices to help us achieve “Your Best Life Now: 7 steps to Living at Your Full Potential?”

Could part of the problem be our shift to age-specific, gender-specific, lifestage-specific programs (youth, men’s, women’s, seniors’, moms and tots etc). What would happen if we formed more cross-generational, cross-gender, cross-lifestage groups so that the focus is not on how can the church serve me, but instead on making disciples?

Devotional Humour

Hubby and I were doing devotions the other night. We are currently working our way through the book of Job, a weighty book to say the least. Hubby started reading in chapter 18: “Then Bildad the Shuhite said,” hubby paused, looked up from the Bible and said: “Bildad, the shortest man in the Bible.”

That was it. For whatever reason that corny old joke struck us funny and we (meaning me, though hubby was mightily amused) were in giggles. I would compose myself, ready to do our devotions, and hubby would start again with verse one, instead of skipping ahead. So of course the peals of laughter picked up again. It took us over an hour to get through Job 18 because he kept starting back at the beginning, which would cause me to laugh so hard my sides ached.

That is what I like about doing devotionals with another person. There is camaraderie, discussion, and good old fashioned humour.

Christian Universities and Academic Freedom

The controversy about Christian universities and academic freedom that was ignited when the Canadian Association of University Teachers decided to investigate Trinity Western has gone beyond Canadian headlines and is being reported by Christianity Today.

It seems that the investigation into Trinity Western is just the beginning, as the CAUT has plans to investigate other Christian institutions, including Redeemer, CMU and Crandall University.

What I don’t understand is why CAUT is stirring the pot. From Christian Week:
“CAUT says it has not received any complaints from Trinity’s faculty—none of whom belong to CAUT—that their academic freedom has been violated.”

Great Theologian

When I was in college, the theological controversy du jour was “Open Theism.” Our Integrative Theology class spent a semester wrestling through the arguments, and were blessed to have Clark Pinnock come and join our dialogue. We were using his book, “Most Moved Mover”, and he was so gracious to us as we argued with his assertion that God never got angry with Moses (if I remember correctly, he said that that point would be fixed in the next edition of the book). That next year, a crew of us went down to the annual ETS conference and watched as the ETS debated whether Pinnock and other Open Theists were violating the principle of Scriptural Inerrancy. Pinnock was excited to see us there getting involved and taking an active interest in theology. I have run into Dr. Pinnock on occasion over the last several years, usually at MacDiv, but he also came to several of our church services when our church partnered with his in the east end of Hamilton this past year.

Today there is news that Dr. Pinnock is suffering from Alzheimer’s:

“I want to inform you that I am now middle stage Alzheimer’s. I will not be able to do my writing etc. I am 73 years now, and I’ve enjoyed my biblical three score and ten. I am not bitter. I have had a good life. I’ll meet you over Jordan if not before.”

Whether one agrees or disagrees with his theological explorations, one cannot deny his impact on modern evangelicalism. Prayers are with him and his family.

HT: Theommentary

“A Theology of Christian Spirituality” Book Study 2

I am working my way through Powell’s “A Theology of Christian Spirituality.”

In chapter one, Powell defines his terms:

Theology of Spirituality:
“It is a theological description and analysis of those aspects of the Christian life that, in the collective and cumulative wisdom of the church, have been recognized as normative and essential for our well-being as disciples. Its subject is those beliefs and practices that the church believes ought to characterize the life of every Christian and without which we are not faithful servants of God.” (p.2)

I like that he is balancing beliefs and practices and see it as a needed message today. As a pastor, I have had numerous people come to me and say, “It doesn’t matter what I do (or don’t do) so long as I believe that Jesus is Lord.” This applies to those seeking to justify not doing certain attitudes and behaviours like the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), or not doing certain basic disciplines like praying, reading the Bible or even attending church! (Yup, that’s right. I had someone tell me it’s okay to be a Christian, a Christian in a ministry leadership role even, and not read the Bible or go to church.)

Powell then notes that there are two types of features of Christian beliefs and practices and states that this book will focus on the latter:
• Unique features: “…those that only Christianity and no other religion or community exhibits.”
• Distinctive features: “…the recurrent and enduring beliefs and practices of the Christian life that the church collectively endorses.” (p.3)

And for reflection:

“Finally, it must be acknowledged that one can be a fine Christian without an overt cognitive knowledge of theological subjects. Professional theologians lament this fact, but it is true. But ignorance, if not a vice, is no virtue. It is natural for fine Christians who are ignorant of theology to assume that, because they are fine Christians, theology has no importance for them. The problem here is that such people have not seen the extent to which their Christian faith depends on the theological work of others. They are analogous to mechanics who, through trial and error, might learn to correlate noises with malfunctions and thus acquire the skills of repairing. They might be ignorant of and therefore fail to see the value of engineering, but in fact their work presupposes the engineering that they disdain.” (p.7)

100 years

Today is the 100th anniversary of Akira Kurosawa’s birth. The Japanese filmmaker was responsible for great samurai movies such as Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and the Hidden Fortress.

Throne of Blood is a samurai take on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and is my favourite adaptation of the play. The lead actress playing Asaji, the “lady Macbeth” character is truly scary!

Seven Samurai is known to most North Americans in the form of “The Magnificent Seven”, a western remake. My personal favourite adaptation is the Ferengi version!

“A Theology of Christian Spirituality” Book Study 1

Will be doing a reading through “A Theology of Christian Spirituality” by Samuel M. Powell (2005, Abingdon Press). You’re welcome to join in this twice weekly reading reflection and conversation. I am especially looking forward to Chapter 8 “Christian Virtues”, as I have been doing quite a bit of reading on Christian virtues, in particular how they relate to the system of Virtue Ethics. There is research being done that looks at the connections between the Christian doctrine of sanctification, neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and postive psychology.

So look for the first post on chapter one of Powell’s book to be posted on Wednesday!

Music for Easter Weekend

I’ve been contemplating music for worship services on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday to complement the traditional hymns that are a staple of the celebration weekend. Here are a few selections:

    Good Friday:

In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. A modern hymn.

Son of God by Starfield. Shout out to a Canadian Christian band. The first verse talks about how Jesus was a gift for us, a gift of love that was broken on an altar not of judgment or punishment, but the altar of love. And then chorus is the cry of the Church, “Jesus O Holy One/ I sing to you forgiven/ Saviour I’m overcome/ With your great love for me”.

    Resurrection Sunday:

Christ is Risen by Matt Maher. From his album “Alive Again” this song starts off haunting and builds to a strong confession of faith.

My Redeemer Lives by Reuben Morgan. Over ten years old now, this is one of my favourites for setting the tone on Resurrection Sunday.