The Theopolis Podcast on Christian Study Centres

The good folks over at the Theopolis Institute recently produced a podcast with Drew Trotter, the Executive Director of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers. It is well worth a listen.

If you are interested in participating in the life of a study centre, there are still places available on the summer programs at Davenant House. To find out more about the work of Davenant House, you can read this interview with me.

Posted in Christian Experience, Podcasts | 1 Comment

Podcast: On Lent, with Steven Wedgeworth

Mere FidelityThis week on Mere Fidelity, Derek, Matt, and I are joined by our friend Steven Wedgeworth for a discussion of the subject of Lent, developing out of a Twitter discussion for which Keith Miller is responsible. Should we celebrate Lent? What motivates those evangelicals who are turning to Lenten practices? Is there theological justification for opposing its practice?

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.

If you would like to support the production of Mere Fidelity, we have a Patreon account here.

Posted in Christian Experience, Church History, Controversies, Culture, Liturgical Theology, Podcasts, Prayer, The Church, Theological, Worship | 2 Comments

Join Me in Davenant House this Summer to Explore Christian Wisdom!

Shane Morris recently interviewed me about the work of Davenant House. The interview was published this morning.

There are still places available for this year’s Protestant Wisdom Summer Programs, for any who would like to join me for a few weeks in the beautiful setting of the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains for a time of communal study, reflection, and labour! Take a look at the interview to find out more and watch this new video about the programs.

Posted in Apologetics, Church History, Culture, Ethics, Guest Post, My Doings, Philosophy, Society, Theological | 1 Comment

The Politics of the Blessing of Abram

I have just posted over on Political Theology Today, on the subject of the call and blessing of Abram in Genesis 12:1-4a:

In the call of Abram and the outworking of the blessing upon him and covenant with him, we witness something of the logic of election. Although many argue that the call of Abram was for the purpose of the blessing of the world, election cannot be simply instrumentalized. The logic of election is the logic of love: YHWH’s choice and call of Abram was an end in itself.

The election and blessing of Abram is not expended in the blessing of the nations, but extended into it. When the nations are blessed, they are blessed in, with, and for the sake of believing Abraham. Abraham is not the vanishing mediator or disposable channel of the divine promise, but the father of believing Jews and Gentiles, in whom they both receive the blessing. The universal scope of the blessing’s international outpouring is not the erasure of the particularism of the love by which it is given, but its fullest expression.

Read the whole piece here.

Posted in Bible, Genesis, Guest Post, OT, OT Theology, Politics, The Church, Theological | 1 Comment

Andrew and Rachel Wilson Win World Magazine’s ‘Book of the Year’ Award

My friend Andrew Wilson and his wife Rachel have won World Magazine’s Book of the Year award for their book, The Life We Never Expected. Their book is about the experience of parenting two kids with severe autism and the effect it has had on their lives and faith.

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend listening to the Mere Fidelity podcast I recorded with them. Then you can buy their book.

Posted in Christian Experience, Podcasts, Theological, What I'm Reading | 1 Comment

The Scriptures Made Strange

A post of mine has just been published over on the Theopolis Institute website. Within it, I argue for the importance of attending to the material (and digital) forms in which we engage with and produce the Scriptures:

The Bible is not the same thing as the Scriptures. The modern Bible is a technologically advanced material artefact, with which we engage with—and conceive of—the Scriptures in particular ways that are largely encouraged by the artefact itself. As we have too easily and uncritically equated the artefact of the Bible with the Scriptures, it is important for us to go to the effort of making it strange to us again, of acquainting ourselves with its particular artificial character. Perhaps a good place to start here is in thinking about some of historical innovations and developments that have led to the modern Bible.

Read the whole piece here.

Posted in Christian Experience, Church History, Culture, Guest Post, Hermeneutics, Scripture, Theological | 3 Comments

Lent 2017

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

As is my usual Lenten practice, I will be paring down my use of online media to a minimum over the next few weeks. I won’t be commenting or posting links (either here or on my Twitter links account), won’t be following blogs or lurking on social media, won’t be using forums and email discussion lists, and will be reducing my correspondence.

Although some use of online media is worthwhile, I have become increasingly convinced that it poses significant dangers to our well-being, both as individuals and as a society. I have articulated my concerns in various places, several of which I have assembled in this recent post. Last week, I wrote about the danger that the Internet poses to a healthy culture of speech.

Over the last year, I have been decreasing my presence and use of certain social media, and being more selective in my choice and use of platforms. I have found the practice of occasional social media fasts to be a worthwhile mechanism by which to assess the place that these media have in my life. I would commend it to others: it is important that we have criteria and processes by which we can recognize the ways we are being shaped by our media.

Alongside our weekly assembly with God’s people and our daily prayers, the church calendar can be a means of orienting us in time, offering us rhythms through which we can more readily grasp our temporal situatedness and movement. The Internet is an alternative—and often rival—form of temporal (in)discipline, one that shapes us in different ways. Oliver O’Donovan articulates some of my concerns with it here:

The very name “media” conceals, and not innocently, the distinctive feature of this mediation – as opposed to the multitude of reflective mediations of art, history, philosophy, poetry and so on – which is its special concern with the immediate. It is immediacy that they mediate to us, keeping us in touch with what is unfolding – with the “new,” the just-having-come-to-be, the past horizon of the present, not the past in its narrative depth, as tradition.

Why are our first impressions of events so important to us, though even the ancient Greeks knew that second thoughts are wiser? It is because we feel our identities to be at stake. History and tradition, from which we derive identity, have to be brought up to the moment, made continuous with the present.

Every culture concerns itself with news-bringing in one form or another; most other cultures have been more relaxed about it. Perhaps simply because we have the power to communicate news quickly and widely, we are on edge about it, afraid that the world will change behind our backs if we are not au fait with a thousand dissociated facts that do not concern us directly. It is a measure of our metaphysical insecurity, which is the constant driver in the modern urge for mastery.

The new has no predetermined logic, so that focussing attention on it requires conceptual pre-patterning to register and control surprise and to integrate it into a narrative sequence. The unheard-of must somehow be heard of. And this is where late-modern media have established their line of supply. Devoting their full attention to the breaking wave, they echo its roar to us; we call upon them to show us the world new every morning, as though there never was a yesterday.

O’Donovan concludes:

If “new every morning” is the tempo of divine grace and the tempo of our personal responsibilities, it is because the morning is a time when one can look back intelligently and look forward hopefully. It is the tempo of practical reason. The media’s “new every morning” (quickly becoming “new every moment”) is, one may dare to say, in flat contradiction to that daily offer of grace. It serves rather to fix our perception upon the momentary now, preventing retrospection, discouraging deliberation, holding us spellbound in a suppositious world of the present which, like hell itself, has lost its future and its past.

Lent is a period where we can ‘take time’. This taking of time isn’t solely a matter of putting hours or days aside for a particular purpose, but is a matter of reorienting ourselves in our relation with time itself, part of the discipline by which we may patiently recover the organic musicality of a life well ordered.

I have written more about the practice of Lent in this conversation with Jake Meador.

On a loosely related note, readers may also be pleased to hear that Lenten blog project of a few years ago—Forty Days of Exoduses—has recently been completed and turned into a book which I have written with Andrew Wilson. The finished manuscript was submitted a couple of weeks ago.

Posted in Lent, Public Service Announcement, Society | 4 Comments