My Christmas article for this year is up at The Canadian Lutheran.

“When it comes to Christmas, the picture of the baby Jesus asleep in a manger is etched in our cultural consciousness. We imagine the little Lord Jesus laying down His sweet head in the hay, while stars twinkle away in the sky. How easy it is to forget that this little child is also, in a way beyond our understanding, the God who made the universe. He is the Word who spoke creation into existence (Genesis 1:3 ff; John 1:1-3). And He is the One who continues to sustain creation—the One who holds all things together and gives them being (Colossians 1:17; Acts 17:28).”

But, as I note, that good creation fell. So I ask the question:

What sort of Saviour could heal and utterly ruined creation? What Saviour could restore the relationship between humanity and God? It could be no mere man for any human born would himself inherit the sinful nature of our first parents Adam and Eve. And yet it must be a man if justice were to be done; humanity had sinned and it was humanity that must pay the price for that sin.”

Thus begins my meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation—an event that brings forgiveness for sinners and restoration to a broken creation. Consequently, we celebrate not only Jesus’ birth at Christmas but our rebirth as well.

As we celebrate the birth of Mary’s son Jesus we therefore also celebrate our adoption as children of God. For it was the one that made possible the other. ‘To all who received Him, He gave the right to become children of God,’ St. John tells us (John 1:12). All who are in Christ are made new. ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,’ St. Paul explains. ‘The old has passed away; behold, the new has come’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).”

Read the whole thing in “God in the Flesh: The Meaning of Christmas.”



My most recent column for The Canadian Lutheran reflects on the Church’s identity as the Bride of Christ. Reflecting on the language of the Song of Songs, I invite my readers to reflect more deeply on what it means to be a bride—the feminine counterpart to our bridegroom Christ.

As we live out this Christian calling, I urge readers to reflect on the faithful witness of Christian women throughout the ages. We look of course to Mary, the witnesses at the resurrection, and other women in the Bible. But we look beyond the Scriptures too, seeing how women have been instrumental in the spread of the Christian faith:

From the Church’s beginnings to its present, women have played vital roles in Christian witness. In fact, some scholars believe that the early Church had a much higher percentage of women in it than men; it is certainly true that the 2nd century pagan critic of Christianity, Celsus, ridiculed the faith as a religion of “women and children.” But what he considered a defect, the Church could embrace: God was bringing women into the Church, and they were raising their children in the faith. The Church was growing because of these devout women, even if their unbelieving husbands did not always approve.

I look at one such women in particular: St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. Her story—one of long-suffering witness to her unbelieving family—is a powerful testimony to the mercy of God, even when we can’t see Him working as quickly as we would like.

Such women are justly remembered today. We in the Church do well to emulate them as we live out our calling as the Bride of Christ—that we would be faithful to Christ, our true Husband, but that we also be patient and loving witnesses in our relationships with non-Christian friends and family around us. May God continue to raise up strong women like Monica in our time, that the Church would be ever strengthened through their faithful testimony and service.

Read the whole thing over at The Canadian Lutheran “The Bride of Christ.”

My latest piece for First Things takes up a subject I’ve discussed elsewhere from time to time: Christian Masculinity. The occasion for this particular post was a recent news story about “America’s manliest church”—one that’s raffled off guns and spends an inordinate amount of time talking about booze and “big balls.”

My focus in my article is less to talk about this particular church then to use it to talk about a problem that’s worried me for some time: the teaching that Christian men are called primarily to be warriors. Sometimes this takes a more dignified approach (we should be knights!) and sometimes it’s more crass, as in Ignite’s case. But in each situation, the problem is the same: it suggests aggression is or should be the defining feature of Christian masculinity.

I spend the rest of my article deconstructing this errant understanding of manhood, choosing the analogy of a gardener (like Adam) as a more helpful image of Christian masculinity. Read the article (“Uprooting the Christian Masculinity Complex”) to understand why.

Of course, there’s only so much you can say in so short a column. If you want a more in-depth discussion of the subject, you’ll have to read a feature I wrote for Converge a few years back: “Christian Masculinity: The Man God Hasn’t Called You To Be.”

Finally, I’ve broached similar topics in an article for A Christian Thing entitled “Does the Church Make it Hard to be a Man?”



We continue to speak [the words of the Nicean Creed] because they continue to be true. What the First Council in Nicea confessed on the basis of Scripture, Christians today continue to confess: Jesus is God. He was not created. He has always existed. And because He is God, He has power to save sinners like you and me. It might be ancient history, but the confessions made at Nicea are forever relevant to our faith today.

Of course, the council in Nicea in 325 was not the first council in history. In fact, Christians had long been in the habit of gathering together to discuss issues of concern, to pray, and to make plans for the future. Even the Apostles hashed out issues in this way, discussing whether Gentile believers needed to follow the same rules (on circumcision and dietary laws) that the Jews did (see the story of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15).

In some ways, this might sound a little mundane. Surely God could guide the Church in a more dramatic fashion. Couldn’t we hold face to face discussions with Him like Moses did? Couldn’t He send signs and wonders to confirm what direction we should take? No doubt God could act in such a way, but the fact is He frequently chooses simpler ways to communicate with His people. He gives us a book—common paper, common ink—and yet infuses His own Word into it. He speaks over common water, pours it over our heads, and somehow claims us as His children. He takes bread and wine, mixes it with His words of forgiveness, and uses it to give us His own body and blood. He gives us normal run-of-the-mill pastors to speak God’s very own words of mercy to us on a regular basis.

The above is a selection from my recent column “Why we gather: A lesson from Nicea.” Check it out over at The Canadian Lutheran.


A word of thanks to those continuing the conversation about my recent First Things article “Are Lutherans Catholic?”. Gene Veith has some great conversation on the topic going on over at his blog Cranach, and Rev. Larry Peters is writing something similar over at Pastoral Meanderings (with reference to my “Too Damn Catholic” post from over on A Christian Thing). Nathan Rinne has also been contributing to the topic over at the Just & Sinner website.

It’s well worth checking out the conversation going on in these places, and I commend them all to your reading.



On June 25, 1530 at the Diet of Augsburg, the Evangelical German princes presented The Augsburg Confession to theHoly Roman Emperor Charles V. This document, crafted by Philip Melanchthon, stands to this day as the principal explanation of what it means to be a Lutheran.

And what does it mean to be a Lutheran? Nothing more than that we are truly catholic Christians. We teach in accord with the Scriptures and with the Church’s faithful re-presentation of the Scriptures.

Wait… we’re catholic? What does that mean?

Find an answer in my new post over at First Things: Are Lutherans Catholic?”

A small sampling:

Are confessional Lutherans catholic? Yes. And we always will be, so long as we hold fast to the traditions of the Apostles, written in the Scriptures and faithfully passed down to us by the Church. Consequently, I cannot help thinking that those seeking out a “Protestant Future” should in fact be looking to the Protestant Past. Looking for a church which faithfully receives the catholic tradition while clearly proclaiming the authority of Scripture? Looking for a church which is both sacramental and devoted to salvation by grace through faith alone? Looking, in other words, for an Evangelical Catholic Church? It already exists. It’s called Lutheranism.


It’s become almost commonplace to note that Canada is not the nation it once was. We have quickly become a post-Christian society—a nation which counts Christian faith as part of its history but not its future. Last year, Statistics Canada announced that the number of Canadians identifying as Christian has dropped dramatically: from 77% in 2001 to 67% in 2011. And a new study confirms that fewer and fewer Canadians—even self-professed Christians—recognize the Bible as God’s Word. The fact is, most Canadian Christians never read the Bible at all.

So begins my most recent column for The Canadian Lutheran. It considers the increasingly secular culture in which Canadian Christians find themselves, and notes a rising intolerance towards Christians in our country. To be sure, this intolerance is not persecution in the strict sense of the term, I note; we do not face martyrdom the way some people—Mariam Ibrahim of Sudan, for example—do for professing faith in Christ. “Nevertheless,” I argue, Christians in Canada are also learning, if only a little, what it means to suffer for Christ.

That our nation is becoming increasingly secular is obvious; but how Christians should respond is less so. As the article goes on, I explore what it means to stand firm in the faith in our changing context (and how, when you think about it, there’s never really been a ‘golden age’ to be a Christian anyway).

Read it all in “Standing on Guard.”


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