Blog

  • All
  • Academic Articles
  • Events
  • Interviews
  • Media
  • Periodicals
  • Podcasts
  • Popular Online
  • Rejoicing in Lament
  • The Lord's Supper
  • Uncategorized
  • Union with Christ
  • Word of God for the People of God

"What side do you take on communion?" That's the question some have asked after hearing about my forthcoming book on the Lord's Supper and the gospel. The question is understandable. All too often, this sacrament to celebrate unity in Christ has been the occasion for polemics, squabbling, and dissension. And yet, I didn't enter into the decade-long journey of writing this book as an assault on the various approaches to the Lord's Table with which I disagree. Nor did I attempt to wave a magic "scholarly wand" that would fix all ecumenical problems related to the Table. What I did, instead, was return to the narrative of scripture and seek to inhabit my own (Reformed) tradition in a generous way that can benefit Christians of many different traditions. In the process, I found that Reformed Christians today have much to learn from others, even in the process of rediscovering the Reformed tradition...

The new book, Remembrance, Communion, and Hope, will be out in a few weeks! Here's a meditation from the book on the durable, eternal love that we're incorporated into in the Christian life and worship: "As mind-bending as it may seem, when the Spirit incorporates us into the loving communion of Jesus the Son, we are incorporated into a durable, eternal love that is older than creation itself. This is a love that does not move to and fro like the updating of one’s 'relationship status' on Facebook; it is not a product of Valentine’s Day swooning. This eternal love echoes through the ages in the praise the creation itself sings to the Creator. 'Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.' (Ps. 96:11–12)  In the sign-act of the Supper, God...

A decade in the making, my next book is due out in a month! The book, Remembrance, Communion, and Hope, is based upon a wager that congregations can rediscover the gospel itself through a renewed theology and practice of the Supper. In this and the next couple of blog posts, I'll include a brief excerpt to give you a taste of the themes, with different endorsements featured at the bottom of each. It's available here for pre-order now! "The church is filled with symbols and rituals that can shape our identity, moving us into a narrative that is bigger than we could conjure up ourselves. In the gathering of a people, prayer and praise, proclamation of the Word, the washing with and feeding upon the Word in baptism and the Supper, we taste God’s new world. We will always be “of” the world. Yet, as our imaginations are fired with God’s new...

We like to lump people into categories -- nationality, race, social class, etc. One sociological study after another classifies, analyzes, dissects. But one thing that all of us have in common is this: we are dying. How much do we reflect upon this reality? On a day-to-day level, do we live as if our days will have no end? The Psalmists suggest that many of us do: You have made my days a mere handbreadth;     the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath,     even those who seem secure. “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;     in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth     without knowing whose it will finally be. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Ps. 39:5-7, NIV)  This last year, I've been honored to lead a group of pastors in congregational ministry through a series of colloquies focused upon this question: How can we cultivate genuine resurrection hope...

On August 15th I conducted an interview with Faith Radio as a follow up on Rejoicing in Lament, two years later. From the interview: “When we think about Psalm 90 and numbering our days, it can be a temptation to act as if we need to take out our schedule and make every minute count because we’re the center of the universe and we should never waste any time.” “We number our days by making ourselves very efficient in a Western industrialized environment. But I think that Psalm 90 is actually moving a different direction. Whether we live 30, 70, or 100 years, our lives are really short; our lives are like a breath in the larger picture of things. It is the Lord who is everlasting; it is the Lord who has been there from all generations.” “Although there are times when I just want to sort of pound out everything I can...

Is the study of theology a distraction from Christian discipleship, or essential to it? Unfortunately, I've known people who have studied a bit of theology, and then their faith seemed to evaporate. Perhaps you have know people like that as well. But there is also an opposite danger: that we focus upon the practices of discipleship in a way that is disconnected from coming to know and love the Triune God made known in Jesus Christ. At its best, theology can be part of the path of discipleship, of loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. I explored this recently in an interview with Dr. Keith Johnson, Associate professor of Theology at Wheaton College. We discuss his marvelous book called Theology as Discipleship. We discuss how theology, at its best, is connected to Christian discipleship in the church. And we explore what it means to approach scripture as...

On November 13, I had the honor of joining pastor A. J. Sherrill at Mars Hill Bible Church, in Grandville, MI in delivering a message on Psalm 13 and lament. Mars Hill is in the midst of a teaching series on the Psalms and the Stars -- encountering the Psalms anew, with wonder. Pastor Sherrill begins with a stunning portrait of "black holes," and the way in which Psalms of lament provide a way to pray to the Lord of the universe when our lives seem to implode.  He unpacks how Psalm 13 reaches us in the "black holes" of abandonment, betrayal, agony, depression, shame, waiting, and mortality. To view Pastor Sherrill's teaching and our discussion on video, or download the audio, click here. I join Pastor Sherrill at the 16 minute-point in the video/audio. I came to see Psalm 13 in new ways through this teaching time -- I hope that you...

What does it mean to live as mortal creatures? It is a timeless question, but the answers will vary greatly depending upon the era and place in which you live. Atul Gawande gives an extremely illuminating account of the contemporary opportunities and challenges for living as mortal creatures in his book, Being Mortal. I wrote an engagement with the book in Comment Magazine -- you can read from it below, or click here for the full article:   Why is the experiment of turning dying into a medical experience failing? When medicine becomes the heroic master over human life rather than its servant, it crowds out the space otherwise filled by family and faith communities. Gawande contrasts our current practice of dying in institutions with the practices in India as his grandfather faced death. His grandfather displayed the characteristic Indian pattern of dying: he lived with his extended family as an elder—seen as a source...

This summer, between chasing around my kiddos, going to numerous doctor's appointments, and continuing with regular faculty work, I've have the privilege to write on one of my favorite topics: theology of the Lord's Supper. I've published some articles and chapters on the subject in the past. And I'm working on a book on the Lord's Supper and the gospel for Eerdmans press: exploring the way in which a renewed theology and practice of the Lord's Supper can move congregations into a deeper embrace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While working on the book, I agreed to write a chapter in a wonderful new book of essays: Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic, edited by Michael Allen and Scott Swain. It was recently released by Baker Academic press. I'm honored to join Kevin Vanhoozer, the late John Webster, and other stellar theologians in this volume. In my own chapter, I...

I've been reflecting a lot on lament and racism, particularly in light of the current events that have plagued this country. We live in an age animated by social media -- social media which generates and spreads outrage and anger at extraordinary speeds. Exasperating our already polarized society, social media creates echo-chambers and demonizes any missteps of the “enemy” ideology. This polarized society has far reaches which have spread broadly, even in our public personas. For Christians, there is good can come from this, as it can awaken us from our slumber, reminding us that we live in the “already, but not yet.” Be it outrage that stems from the Planned Parenthood videos or the racism protested by Black Lives Matter, our world is filled with open wounds of sin and injustice. In a recent article I wrote for Relevant Magazine, I explore how within our 'twitter-world' learning how to lament "opens up a...