Abandon Hope: Dante, Swedenborg, and the Eternity of Hell

I’m looking forward to reading Rod Dreher’s upcoming book How Dante Can Save Your Life, about Dreher's life-changing experience reading Dante's Divine Comedy. Inspired partly by Dreher’s blogging and partly by conversations I had last year with a congregant back in western Canada, I finally dove into the Divine Comedy a few weeks ago, and I've made my way with Dante down through the Inferno and on through to the base of Mount Purgatory. I may pause here at the foot of the mountain for a while; I’ … [Read More...]


Why Satisfaction Theory Is So Satisfying (Even Though It’s Wrong)

On his "Glory to God for All Things" blog last week, Orthodox priest Fr. Stephen Freeman posted on the Orthodox perspective on Jesus’ atonement in contrast to the theory of penal substitution (penal substitution is the theory that Jesus died instead of you to take on the punishment due to you from God for your sins). Fr. Stephen argues that even the passages that seem to directly imply “penal substitution” atonement, or at least some form of “satisfaction theory” (i.e. Jesus died as a substitutio … [Read More...]

Cut from the Sermon: Indiana Jones and the Leap of Faith

This past Sunday, I preached on doubt. More specifically, I preached on ways to accept and walk with doubt, rather than trying to shove it away. Near the end of the sermon I spoke about the need to walk in trust (rather than trying to force oneself to believe). I was going to use a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to illustrate the point, but I ended up replacing it with a more everyday example. I'm sure the scene has been overused in sermons (I've heard it used before, and Anne says … [Read More...]


Cut from the Sermon: Better than Everyone Else

This week I preached on the final chapter of the Book of Amos. From the first draft to the final draft I cut the sermon in half, so there was plenty to choose from for this week's "Cut from the Sermon" entry, but I was saddest to cut a passage from Arcana Coelestia that I love (mostly because it convicts me every time I read it). In the original sermon I spent more time focusing on the primary sin that Amos was calling out: an attitude of superiority, both in Israel's attitude toward the nations … [Read More...]


Cut from the Sermon: The Grief of Caring

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm starting a series called "Cut from the Sermon" (or, per my wife Anne's suggestion, "Left on the Vestry Floor"), consisting of snippets that I had to cut from my sermons due to length or relevance considerations. Here's the first one, from the sermon I preached on Sunday (part of a series on the book of Amos; you can find earlier sermons in the series here and here.)This excerpt came in the sermon after the suggestion (at about 16 minutes in the sermon … [Read More...]


Blogging Again, From a New Hemisphere

As I suspected it might be, posting has been pretty infrequent over the last few months. There are several reasons for that, but first and foremost: we've moved to South Africa! The picture above is the view from one of our bedroom windows. (It makes our place look a little more stereotypically "African" than it actually is: we brought the well with us from Canada, the lawn is dirt because the landscaping was redone before we arrived and the grass hasn't been replaced yet, and the big bags of … [Read More...]

Two Witnesses

The Two Witnesses: A Sermon on Revelation 11

I delivered my final sermon in the Dawson Creek Church of the New Jerusalem this past Sunday. Certainly a bittersweet experience - it was great to give one last sermon in that building, and of course sad to say goodbye (we do have one more service, but it will be an outdoor service at a campground, together with the group from Grande Prairie). It's been a blessing to serve here. The topic of the sermon was the two essentials of the New Church, as represented by the two witnesses in Revelation … [Read More...]


As We Forgive Our Debtors: A Sermon on Forgiveness

Here's the message on forgiveness that I delivered this morning at the Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek. Sermon audio is available here.Readings are  Ezekiel 33:10-20; Matthew 18:21-35; and the following excerpt from Arcana Coelestia 9014: It is believed by many within the church that the forgiveness of sins is the wiping out and washing away thereof, as of filth by water; and that after forgiveness they go on their way clean and pure. … But be it known that the case with the for … [Read More...]

Doing the Truth, Coming to the Light

I have a new post up over at New Church Perspective on how to act in a way that opens us up to belief (as opposed to forcing ourselves to believe in an artificial way). The post was partly inspired by a great conversation a few months ago between Ross Douthat, Rod Dreher, David Sessions, and Noah Millman, exploring the connections between life and faith (or lack thereof). The main question they were discussing was the extent to which our feelings, actions, and experiences shape what we believe … [Read More...]

Giotto - Entry into Jerusalem

The Zeal of the King

I delivered the Palm Sunday message yesterday at the Dawson Creek Church of the New Jerusalem; for the sermon, I focused on the Lord's first act upon entering Jerusalem as recorded in the gospel of Matthew: to enter the temple and cast out all those who bought and sold there. Sermon audio is available at the New Church Audio site. Sermon text is below; reading the readings is highly encouraged! (For more passages and thoughts about "the wrath of God" and zeal vs. anger see this previous post, as … [Read More...]