Archive for August, 2013


Moses stood before the burning bush. A Voice had just spoken to him from the flames. “Moses!” it had called. “Moses!” And he had answered: “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” the Voice said. “Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then it said: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.

The story is one we all know: the calling of Moses. It’s the beginning of a whole new story for the Israelites—the story of how God would rescue them from the land of Egypt. No longer would they be slaves. No, now they would take possession of a land of their own, a land flowing with milk and honey. It’s the first chapter of what would prove to be a long journey.

And yet, even as this tale begins, it hearkens back to the stories that precede it. “I am the God of your father,” the Lord tells Moses, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In fact, when Moses asks God to clarify who He is, He tells him the same thing two more times. Who is He? He is “The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

We might ask why this matters. God is promising to save the Israelites from their current oppression. So what do a bunch of long dead people—their fathers—have to do with it?

For the answer to that question, turn to my recent article “The God of our Fathers” in The Canadian Lutheran.


August 15 is the traditional date when the Church celebrated the Dormition (ie, the “falling asleep”) of Mary. But surely, you say, that’s just a Catholic thing. Why should Protestants care?

I answer that question in this post at A Christian Things: “‘All generations shall call me blessed’: Even the Protestants.”


stpeters“Some time ago my friend Churl began a series of posts here on A Christian Thing discussing his frustration at the Evangelical tradition in which he was raised and his attraction to Roman Catholicism. Of course, Churl has always recognized these are not the only options: there is Orthodoxy, of course; and on the Protestant side, there are options like Anglicanism and Lutheranism. Alongside Churl’s posts, Chinglican has been chiming in with his defence of Anglicanism, but the Lutheran on this blog has been remarkably silent. That’s not to say I haven’t any opinions on the subject. I do. In fact, Churl and I have discussed the topic on a number of occasions outside of the blog (you know, in real life). But while I have many opinions, I have much less time in which to write them down.

Part of what has delayed an online response from me has also been the recognition that it would necessarily mean examining Catholic doctrine in detail. Indeed, talking about joining any church must, by definition, include a very real hashing out of doctrine, because it is doctrine that distinguishes one church from another. Such discussions can be very confusing to many people. They also, by definition, tend to make people angry, because if you say you believe X, you must also say you reject Y.

But I have told Churl I would write a response for the blog. So I will. And this is my response: I’m too damn Catholic to be Catholic.

That might sound flippant or even nonsensical. It isn’t intended to be. “But what does it even mean?” you ask…”

Read the rest over at A Christian Thing.


From my post “You Probably Think This Psalm is About You” at First Things.

David-PsalmsAnd yet we still can’t help but read ourselves into the text from time to time. It seems to me that some of this might be attributable to our desire to examine our own lives and beliefs (and test out other potential lives and beliefs) through literature; we take Bunyan’s advice and lay our head and heart together with the book. We know it’s not about us literally; and yet we believe, innately, that it has the capacity to become “about us.”

But there is one book (or series of books) that Christians have throughout the ages repeatedly affirmed is “about us:” the Bible. And no book in this library is declared “about us” more often than the Psalms. St. Basil the Great explains the idea well: “The Holy Spirit composed the Scriptures so that in them, as in a pharmacy open to all souls, we might each of us be able to find the medicine suited to our own particular illness… But the Book of Psalms contains everything useful that the others have. It predicts the future, it recalls the past, it gives directions for living, it suggests the right behaviour to adopt. It is, in short, a jewel case in which have been collected all the valid teachings in such a way that individuals find remedies just right for their cases” (Homily on Psalm 1).

While this is a valid and important way of reading the Psalms, it should not become the sole way we read them—something Jonathan Kraemer discusses in his article “Praying the Psalms with the Body of Christ.” After all, while this or that Psalm may seem to fit how we’re feeling on any given day, there are many more which will not. What good is it then to read “Psalms that have us lamenting when we feel like praising; and praising when we feel like lamenting?”

Read the rest at First Things.