Papers and Tracts

Typewriter

Here is some of my best work on various subjects, some are pdf’s and others are links to articles within this blog. If you find any of this material helpful, please feel free to use it for the purpose of building up Christ’s church.

My Story

“Faith in Fragments”: Part One, Part Two and Part Three

You can also look at my About Me page for a more intellectual account of my journey, but this is my story of faith in all its brokenness. I use the analogy of broken pieces to point out that as we acknowledge the brokenness of our lives, God uses this to create something even better: a mosaic of redemption.

God

“The Motherly Love of God: A Sermon on Mother’s Day”

This was a sermon I preached for Mother’s Day where I explore what it means that Scripture, while it does not refer to God as female, does describe God’s love is like a mother.

“All People are God’s Children”

Often denied because of Paul and John’s adoption theology, the notion that God is a father to all people is a vital strand of biblical theology. Here the universal parenthood of God will be sketched out looking at how it applies to disobedient Israel as well as all people, and how this forms the basis of ethics and evangelism in the Bible.

“The Risk of Becoming a Father: A Theo-Poetic Reflection”

After my first son was born, I reflected on the terrifying meaning of becoming a father, which inevitably meant reflecting on the nature of God as the perfect Father.

The Church

“Centre and Circumference: Thoughts on an ‘Atheist Minister'”

The ongoing controversy of Gretta Vosper, an atheist minister apart of the United Church of Canada, is an opporuntity to think about the centre of Christian unity and identity as liberals and conservatives and how we understand our limits or circumference.

“Questions about Communion”

In this Q and A, I answer some theological and practical questions about the Lord’s Supper: What is happening in the bread and wine? How should we practice it? Who can take it? Can you eat if you are “living in sin”?

Women’s Equality

“‘Where the Spirit is, There is Freedom’: Women Leaders in the Bible”

This is a list of all the female leaders of the Bible. It offers significant demonstration that the biblical narrative does have concrete examples of women in leadership positions and therefore the less concrete passages that often get cited to dismiss women ought to be understood as contextual in order to maintain scriptural consistency.

“The Galatians Principle: Or, Do Complementarians Deny Justification By Faith?”

This article looks at scripture Galatians 3:28, and argues that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,”  implies an egalitarian understanding of spiritual gifts, which are bestowed by faith. If there is no discriminatory criteria for the Spirit to bestow gifts of leadership, women ought to be free to pursue leadership positions in the church as the Spirit calls them. Those that would prevent such opportunity fall into a kind of legalism that is similar to the Judaizers that Paul deals with.

“Why Christian Patriarchy Cannot Prevent Abuse”

Here I take an analytic approach and demonstrate that the convictions of Christian patriarchy (the notion that men can lead by the nature of their gender) are incoherent and cannot prevent abusive uses of power, the scapegoating of women, even direct violence. Patriarchy cannot offer a coherent account of its success or a satisfying account of the prevention of its darker sides.

Evolution, Creation, and Genesis

“Why Genesis One Does Not Teach Creationism”

This article demonstrates eight aspects of Genesis One that shows that creationism rests on an inaccurate and uneven literalism of this chapter. I apply a hermeneutical distinction called the medium/message distinction to state that while this passage was written in a cultural context where the sky was a hard dome, mythical monsters existed, and the universe is 6000 years old, while the text assumes these qualities, they are incidental to the over all timeless teaching of the passage as God’s Word about creation.

“Eden: Physical Place or Spiritual State?”

This article explores factors in Genesis One and Two, as well as through the rest of the Bible, that indicate that Eden is not merely a geographic place. It does not appear that the original writer was appropriating Eden as merely a geographic place, but rather as a literary trope that pointed to spiritual realities.

The Problem of Evil

“Why God Did Not Stop the Charleston Shootings”

This occasional piece meditates through the tragedy of the Charleston shooting with the age-old question of “Where was God? Why didn’t he stop this?” This leads us deeper into the heart of Scripture, where the questions turn to cries and the rationalization turns to prayer: “How long, O Lord?”

“Job: Love Has No Why”

Here is a lecture on the book of Job. As I argue, Job is a literary drama and must be understood in those terms. In doing so, the dynamics of the drama complicate the traditional reading. Job has not misunderstood divine providence. This is not a theodicy with God answering out the whirlwind. Instead, this is an “anthropodicy,” the defense of the goodness of God’s faithful in the face of brutality.

“Awaiting Healing: A Tribute and Theological Reflection for Craig Simmons”

This is a meditation/eulogy that I wrote after my best friend, Craig Simmons, was tragically killed in a bus accident in Korea in June of 2010. The meditation moves between a tribute to his life and a meditation on the problem of evil, pushing back the trite answers of others around me as I grieved.

Homosexuality

“Kim Davis: The Difference between Support and Affirmation”

Here is an occasional piece on the controversy surrounding Kim Davis and her refusal to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. As I meditate through the logic of her convictions, I point out that her stance perpetuates hypocrisy, lacks empathy, and seeks power and privilege rather than the way of the Cross.

“Clarity is Charity”

In this paper, I demonstrate using a narrative criterion that when the Bible denounces homosexual acts, the forms displayed in the narratives itself offers the definition to the terms. In this case, the acts denounced as “abominable” are acts of sodomy (the rape of a male by another presumably straight male). While the Bible does not concretely offer affirmation of homo-erotic acts, the use of the Bible to demonize gay people, who most are at the very least are not intending an unloving form like sodomy, is inaccurate and obviously hurtful to the church’s witness. As I note, some will read what I say as offering license for the jump to same-sex marriage, while others will be comfortable remaining with traditional convictions with new found generosity. These assume different notions of biblical authority and hermeneutics, which I do not get into, but I do offer a framework for both sides to work toward better constructive dialogue and unity in our churches.

Writings on Galatians

“Why Was Circumcision Removed? An Anabaptist Reading of Galatians”

This article meditates through the logic of Galatians from an Anabaptist Perspective and what is called a New Perspective view on Paul. It offers clarification as to what the nature of the abrogation entailed, and for that reason, I argue that something like an Anabaptist hermeneutic is helpful.

“The Galatians Principle: Or, Do Complementarians Deny Justification by Faith?”

In this post, I work through the logic of Galatians, particularly 3:28 and argue that an egalitarian logic is implicit to the epistle’s central arguments surrounding legalism and justification by faith.

Biographies

“Kingdom Come: Tommy Douglas, Baptist Preacher turned Politician”

In a short paper written for my ordination on a famous Canadian Baptist, I wrote on Tommy Douglas and how he lived out historic Baptist convictions.

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