January 11, 2020

Why Christ came into the world: comments on St Seraphim of Sarov – by Brad Jersak Ever since “the Word became flesh,” Christ-followers have attempted to articulate why God assumed our human nature. In the Scriptures (including the Old Testament!), prophets and apostles offer a variety of reasons, including: to be with us, to seek and find the lost, to show us the Father, to save sinners, etc. Later, the great theologians of history chimed in, with a good number... Read more

January 6, 2020

 I have just finished binge-watching season 1 of the 10-episode Netflix series MESSIAH. I loved it. You might not. [No big spoilers]. You might not love MESSIAH if … … you need the show to be about Jesus of Nazareth. Al-Masih (Arabic for Messiah), the main character, may or may not represent Jesus. He may be the Christ visiting our era … or he may be a false Messiah seeking to deceive. I liked how the show threw both... Read more

January 5, 2020

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). There is it. The gospel of grace distilled perfectly through Jesus’ own words. That statement encapsulates the reason for Christ’s Incarnation, his earthly ministry and his final Passion, in which he pursues humanity even into death. Even hades could not separate us from the relentless love of the “hound of heaven.” Christ describes his “seeking and saving” mission in the three great parables of Luke 15:... Read more

January 3, 2020

FINDING YOUR WHY As the decade ended, a dear confidante and 35-year-long soul friend of mine, Paul E. Ralph, embarked on a one-month reflection through Simon Sinek’s ‘Finding Your Why’ exercises. In the process, PER invited me and a handful of trusted friends into his journey. The outcome was so inspiring that I asked him if I might share the results. “Inspiring” because in his words, I recognized my friend as he already is, not just what he hopes to become. I found... Read more

December 28, 2019

Question I am finally getting around to reading A More Christlike Way. I’m curious about what you wrote on page 64, “We might go further to describe love as God’s heart and ours working as one because in Christ, God and humanity are united forever.” When you say, “in Christ, God and humanity are united forever,” can we assume that includes everyone who lived before Jesus? And if so, was it true for them during their lifetime or is it only... Read more

December 22, 2019

Question:  In light of Christ’s revelation of God’s saving grace, how are we to understand his statement, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”? (Matthew 5:48) Response:  Imagine trying to be the perfect human! Imagine striving to be perfect like Jesus was perfect! Imagine trying to be as perfect as God himself! If we were to take Jesus literally there, we’d either be deluded in our perfectionism or exhausted all the time. It’s just not possible and even... Read more

December 15, 2019

Our final authority It was one of my classic last-minute cancellations. A church whose pastor and elders had invited me to speak on prayer found themselves awkwardly withdrawing their invitation. The pastor had moved on and the interim minister had done some digging. He was offended that my church (Fresh Wind at the time) had nothing in our statement(s) of faith about the Bible. That was because our doctrinal statements were the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed. I told... Read more

December 5, 2019

Waiting “Advent” is a word I was unfamiliar with as a child growing up in my Baptist tradition. But in my years with the Mennonites, I became familiar with the ritual of lighting candles on the Advent wreath in anticipation of Christ’s nativity. Advent, I learned, meant arrival but intrinsic to that word was the waiting, the anticipation and the longing of God’s people for his appearance and especially his deliverance. As a little boy, I relived that expectant hope as... Read more

December 1, 2019

The Logic of Penal Substitution As a young, gungho Calvinist in the 1980s, I composed a 180+ page M.A. thesis / apologetic for penal substitutionary atonement, titled “The Nature of Christ’s Suffering and Substitution.” In retrospect, I’m embarrassed by my anachronistic reading of the early church, my inability to distinguish the difference between “exchange” and “substitution,” and my assumptions about the necessity of wrath-appeasement. If that’s all gobbledygook to you, the reader, no worries. We’ll get to the good stuff... Read more

November 25, 2019

In Oryx and Crake, the first novel of Margaret Atwood’s dystopic Maddaddam trilogy, a character nicknamed Crake argues that mortality is not merely death, but also the anxiety-inducing and violence-producing foreknowledge and fear of death. Crake’s solution to mortality is profoundly catastrophic, but his diagnosis is in some ways, spot on. Two great thinkers who’ve shed important light on the phenomenon of “death-anxiety” are Ernest Becker, in his 1973 work, The Denial of Death, and more recently, Richard Beck in The Slavery of Death. Both... Read more

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