27 July 2021
23 July 2021
I myself am of two minds about updating liturgical language. As an heir of the Reformation, I believe it is generally best for Christians to worship in a language they can easily understand. Even the most conservative protestant congregations have largely abandoned the King James Version of the Bible, substituting instead the New King James Version or possibly the English Standard Version. Most other churches now use the NIV or the NRSV. There is good reason for this, since we all should wish to see God’s word proclaimed in comprehensible form.
At the same time, it would be a pity if English-speakers were to lose their grasp of the Elizabethan forms altogether. Who would the Copts be if they were to lose their ancestral Coptic language? Or the Maronites without Aramaic? Without Church Slavonic would Russians be forced to change, say, the cities of Volgograd and Kaliningrad to Volgogorod and Kaliningorod, just so people could continue to understand their meaning?
15 July 2021
Next month GodBooks and Thomas Nelson Brasil will be publishing a book titled, The Gospel of Peace and Hate Speech. I have a chapter in this collection about the relationship between politics and idolatry. Coming soon.
13 July 2021
10 July 2021
A Conversation With David Koyzis. Here is a description of this online periodical from its website: "The American Commons is a free grassroots web magazine by rank-and-file American Solidarity Party members that provides commentary on faith, culture, and politics." An excerpt from the interview:
Koyzis: The smoke-filled rooms served a purpose, because they were an avenue whereby local officials and party functionaries would vet a candidate before he was presented to the public. And that stage has been largely removed from the process for the last 50 years. And I think Jimmy Carter, he was fairly ineffectual – a very good man, I like him personally; I heard him speak about 30 years ago in Atlanta, and I found him quite impressive as a speaker – but as a President, though, he had no connection with Congress. It was very difficult for him to govern, because he was this lone figure who was parachuted in and expected to govern in a system that is set up to disperse power.
So, this is the sort of thing that concerns me about the direction of American politics. The sort of figures that the 18th century founders would have blanched at putting in power, these are the kinds of people that are increasingly coming to office in the United States. . . .
09 July 2021
Reassessing Our Heroes. An excerpt:
What do we do with our heroes from the past when we discover their flaws? What shall we do with the monuments to their achievements when the latter seem overshadowed by their errors?
Like so many Canadians, I was horrified to learn of the discovery of 215 unmarked graves of aboriginal children on the premises of a residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Soon after this grisly discovery, students at Ryerson University in Toronto upended a statue of Egerton Ryerson, a 19th-century Methodist leader who contributed to the formation of common public schools in Upper Canada and of “Indian” residential schools. As I write, Hamiltonians are debating the removal of statues of Queen Victoria and Sir John A. Macdonald in Gore Park downtown, because of the role they played in setting federal policy towards aboriginal Canadians.
What then do we do with our all too fallible heroes from the past? We cannot pretend that Macdonald was not our first prime minister and that he did not do much to create the country we love and to which we are loyal. In this respect, Macdonald is no different from other respected figures from the past who have shaped the world we live in.
07 July 2021
Yesterday I posted two videos on this blog, one of this year's National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast and the other of a beautiful hymn, We Seek Your Kingdom. Here is another video: We Seek Your Kingdom: The Story Behind the Song.
I especially appreciate the part of the conversation that begins at 10:56.
"What's your favourite line, Andy?"
"The second line, actually: 'We long for heaven's demonstration here.' I think that word demonstration has become so key in my understanding of the kingdom in these last few years. Importantly, we're not building the kingdom. That's not our job. Our job is demonstrating the kingdom . . . . So just like Jesus' miracles. They were real. Transformation happened. But they were also a demonstration of what the future perfection was gonna be. And I think that takes a lot of the heaviness off our shoulders when we realize our call here is to demonstrate the kingdom, to show signs of that beauty, of that perfection, of that justice in our workplaces, in politics, in media, and everywhere. We're demonstrating that future perfection . . . . We're not building it to gradually get to this future utopia . . . . We're demonstrating what heaven is like in the now."
This text should be added to every future hymnal, as it so wonderfully sums up the nature of our earthly walk as we seek to do God's will in everyday life.
06 July 2021
I was recently alerted to last month's annual National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast in the United Kingdom which moved online this year. It was recorded and I link to it below. I found it deeply inspirational. I wish we had something like this in Canada.
I especially want to draw your attention to the wonderful song at the end, which I hope will catch on in the churches. I would love to know more about Noel Robinson, Andy Flannagan, and Graham Hunter who wrote it. The text is, of course, set to the familiar tune EVENTIDE. The lyrics can be found here.
05 July 2021
Unelected government workers are crucial to sustaining the infrastructure of political life. They do not deserve the generic put-downs about getting the government out of our lives. Their work is necessary for promoting healthy patterns in the way we are governed.
One of the better-known passages about governments in the Bible says, “the powers that be are ordained of God.” Officials are properly fulfilling their mandates, the passage goes on to say, when they reward those who do good and punish those who do evil. That does cover the territory quite well.
In our contemporary mass societies, however, these functions require policies, programs, agencies, people with job descriptions — in a word, the bureaucracies that we so often complain about — in order to promote our social well-being. It is not difficult to think of government officials, elected and appointed, who do not live up to their callings. But we ought to be grateful for the many folks who are committed to doing it well, and for the long run.
Incidentally, Mouw, President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary, was kind enough to write the foreword to the second edition of Political Visions and Illusions, now available in Portuguese translation and soon to be in Spanish as well.
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