22 Apr 2019

Dogmatism, Open-mindedness, and Other Intellectual Virtues and Vices

Dogmatism, Open-mindedness, and Other Intellectual Virtues and Vices This was the title of a course I had proposed for the life-long learning program at Wilfrid Laurier University last year. The healthy enrollment in the class and the lively discussions in the six-week lecture series that followed suggested a deep awareness of the need for intellectual virtues like open-mindedness, intellectual fairness, integrity of mind, intellectual courage, tolerance, and intellectual generosity. There would also seem to be

19 Sep 2018

Between Defiance and Despair

I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. —Blaise Pascal Quietude. Calm. Collected. Consistency. These are not the buzzwords of our culture of revolution. If they make it on to the radar, it is as unwanted intruders. To use one’s voice is a virtue; to remain silent, a vice. To be calm is thought to be apathetic at best,

04 Apr 2018

Is Doubt A Good Thing?

Considered generally, doubt is beneficial to human beings. While we all begin life in a state of ignorance—relying upon the care and concern of others to survive—too many of us eventually enter a state of arrogance. Neither position is desirable, but these are the two ends of the spectrum of knowledge spectrum toward which we gravitate. Christians who see pride as the root of all sin are inclined to value doubt when it counteracts pride.

13 Nov 2017

Protestant State of the Union (Part I)

On October 31, 2017, Protestants around the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The occasion created an opportunity to reflect on the many notable contributions of the Protestant Reformation to world history. The many benefits of the Reformation are undeniable–literacy, religious freedom, individual rights, the value of the human conscience, vernacular worship, the five solas, and many others.1 This year, as Protestants celebrate their heritage, I propose that we also stop for

01 Nov 2017

Listening to Destitute Minds

I believe we suffer from a propensity to look at people with whom we disagree and say to ourselves, “That person can’t teach me anything. They are so wrong in how they think, so insufficient in their intellectual capacities, so distorted in their worldview, that I could not possibly see reality more clearly by interacting with this person.” Think of the political divide. Republicans decry working with “the other side” as a compromise of values.

16 Oct 2017

Eating Food with Glad and Generous Hearts

They broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46b NRSV). This article is part of a continuing series on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. The first Christians in Jerusalem formed a community of faith wherein they met in private homes for corporate worship while also continuing to participate in the life of

06 Mar 2017

The Danger of Christian Primitivism

While writing my previous article that praised the virtues of Christian primitivism and its capacity to spark church renewal, it occurred to me that it would be appropriate to address the inherent dangers of Christian primitivism.  Simply put, Christian primitivism is an ideological viewpoint that attempts to restore Christianity to the original structures and practices of the New Testament Church because it is believed that the Church has strayed from its own foundation over the

12 Jul 2016

Augustine, Education, and the Pitfalls of Academia

Over the past three or four years I have had a few, percolating thoughts on theological training and education. Or, more particularly, thoughts on my experiences at various institutions and on my reading of so-called ‘academic’ literature. A couple of months ago I was asked by a professor why I was so cynical about ‘the academy’ and ‘academics’. My reply to him was convoluted enough that I thought I should attempt to write a little

14 Jul 2015

Making a Proverb of Myself

I think I’d like to be a stylite sitting high above the town All the people looking up at me while I refuse to look down Yes I think that’s how I’d like to win my ascetic crown To be put on a pedestal high up above them all And shout down to the scoffers “Pride cometh before a fall!” I think I’d like to be a hermit alone in the wilderness In a cave

14 Jan 2015

Everyday Warrior

I am learning a lot about Sam Gamgee on this journey. First he was a conspirator, now he’s a jester. He’ll end up by becoming a wizard—or a warrior!1 Foreshadowing—it’s part of what makes stories worth re-reading. While you may not always catch it the first time through, additional readings can highlight the hints that the author left to key you into what was coming. In Frodo’s quip above, we have an example of foreshadowing

24 Oct 2014

Afraid of God’s Answer

Be willing to be only a voice that is heard but not seen, or a mirror whose glass the eye cannot see because it is reflecting the brilliant glory of the Son. Be willing to be a breeze that arises just before daylight, saying, “The dawn! The dawn!” and then fades away.1 “What prayer are you praying right now that you’re afraid God will answer?” Dark, questioning eyes probed my startled face when my friend

11 Sep 2014

The Foolishness of Walter White

My wife and I finally got around to “binge-watching” the immensely popular TV series Breaking Bad on Netflix. I was initially reluctant to watching this show given my general skepticism to all pop culture phenomena. I assumed this was just another “shoot em up” excuse to glorify sex, violence, and drug abuse. However, as I quickly found out there was much more to this particular show. The drugs and violence of Breaking Bad, in fact,