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"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...

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...

In the fall, I spoke in chapel at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, preaching on Colossians 3:1-4 -- a passage which seems particularly significant in this season of Lent, as we seek to remember that we were created from dust, and to dust we shall return, and yet our true hope which is now hidden will one day be made manifest when the resurrected Christ, who is our true life, will appear! "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. "                                            ...

by J. Todd Billings From the Church Herald, April 2007 (denominational magazine for the Reformed Church in America) There is a new buzz in the neighborhood, called "emergent churches" or the "emergent conversation." Whether they self-identify as "younger evangelicals" or "postmoderns" or "post-evangelicals," this group of Generation X and Y Christians moves to a different dance from the "baby boomer" generation. No more seeker-sensitive, boiled-down Christianity, with its obsession with "relevance"--as if the New Testament was written in 1970 or so. Instead, "ancient" is better, and "tradition" is becoming a good word again. While we should be cautious about passing trends, the movement known as the emergent church has begun to capture the attention of the RCA. Brian McLaren, a key emergent leader, addressed the 2006 General Synod on how to become a missional church. In west Michigan, steeped in Reformed perspective, 12,000-plus persons flock weekly to Mars Hill Bible Church, with emergent...