From the days of the church fathers, who identified demons with unruly human passions, to the modern recovery movement, which speaks metaphorically of ‘wrestling with our demons,’ a tradition exists that describes ‘demons’ as real but impersonal. Theologians and practitioners alike admit the possibility of “demons” as artificial entities of human origin. They neither dismiss them as empty superstitions, nor exalt them as autonomous fallen angels.
These constructs range from mere neurosis to complex projections in individuals, but rise in groups to the status of independent evil phenomena generated by collective will and imagination, and persist in real but impersonal existence. In a real sense, they are the offspring of sin. This is where we get the traditional understanding that demons must have a host, the absence of which confines them to hell for eternity (or, shall we say, nonexistence).
This phenomenon might be the bizarre reverse image of the communion of saints; a dis-communion that enslaves and cuts off those who join, which lives off a self-will that has become an enslaving outside force. Their ‘existence’ is similar to someone completely absorbed in drugs, caught on a single short loop, repeating the same script without a moment of freedom; the difference is that a real soul remains under that enslavement, while a demon’s life is only the enslavement. It can be cast in the fire and burned.
This view has the merit of allowing us to retain Rene Girard’s insights about how an ‘accuser’ organizes human culture, making him the Lord of this world because he’s the essence of sin, not because he’s a big, strong supernatural character. I share the Girardian view that we’re made for a relationship with God, and in God’s absence we compulsively follow the desire of a Model. Whatever we elevate as Model may -- probably will -- be given the power to enslave our wills. These are the demons Jesus cast out, and continues to cast out by becoming our Lord.
I want to catch some kind of Haig-Brown essence with the halo slightly askew. - Al Purdy
Banff Centre School of Fine Arts: Purdy letter to Haig-Brown: July 30 1974
Al Purdy was one of Canada’s most prolific poets and writers, but when his many published books are listed, Cougar Hunter: A Memoir of Roderick Haig-Brown, is often omitted. Cougar Hunter has a controversial history, and the fact that many of the few missives printed were destroyed means that the book is a rare one, indeed. Robert Cave, in his exceptional book on Haig-Brown, Roderick Haig-Brown: A Descriptive Bibliography (2000), rightly so, suggests there is a “Byzantine-like atmosphere that continues to envelop Cougar Hunter” (p.300).
Indeed, it is this Byzantine-like atmosphere that pervades the publication of Cougar Hunter that makes it a collector’s item of sorts---the thin book published in 1992 sells for about $300:00 for those who are interested in owning a copy—in this gem of a Purdy classic, much is learned about Roderick Haig-Brown and Al Purdy.
Al Purdy met the legendary West Coast conservationist, Roderick Haig-Brown, in 1974, at the equally mythical Strathcona Lodge on Vancouver Island. Purdy was at the Lodge to do an essay on “Jack Jackovitch, painter, ex-football player, fishing guide and high school teacher”-Weekend Magazine was going to publish the article--Purdy was 56 at the time (and an established Canadian poet) and Haig-Brown was 66 years of age.
The phrase “class warfare” may be taken as a descriptive term to identify the power dynamics of politics and economics. “Class” refers most often to the gap between the “haves” who enjoy political leverage and economic advantage over the “have-nots” who are vulnerable and relatively powerless. “Warfare” refers to the inescapable tension been “haves” and “have-nots” that most often is covert but occasionally erupts as active hostility in the form of harsh rhetoric or political action. Thus the phrase calls attention to the undeniable realities of social relationships.
But the term is seldom used descriptively. More often it is employed polemically, most often on the lips of “haves.” It is then used with reference to any active resistance on the part of “have-nots” that calls attention to inequity. When used in this way, it intends to deny the tension or the gap of power and resources, wanting to suggest social solidarity between “haves” and “have-nots.” It is then used to cover over or deny tensions that are inherent in inequitable social relationships. Less often the term is used by “have-nots” to refer to the quiet but effective ways in which “haves” work to keep “have-nots” powerless and resourceless. All of these uses are, in one way or another, part of the tension and problematic of social differentiation on the ground that refuses the cover of noble or polite slogans to the contrary.
The phrase, in relation to the Bible, immediately draws the Bible into socio-political, economic reality, so that the Bible can no longer be read “innocently.” In order to read the Bible knowingly, it is crucial to understand, as best we can, the socio-economic dynamics that recur in the Bible.
I was privileged enough to chat with Stanley Hauerwas on how our theology impacts our perception of the Other, our political allegiances, and our desired response to our enemies. Nearly every article on Hauerwas mentions that TIME magazine designated him "America's Best Theologian" in 2001, so I guess I'll do the same here. He was also interviewed by Oprah. As the author of a veritable library and known as one of the world's foremost postliberal theologians, he was educated at Yale in a time when George Lindbeck and H. Richard Niebuhr graced its halls. Now the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, Hauerwas is proud of his heritage as a bricklayer's son and frequently makes correlations between his upbringing in the trades and the theological craft. He hates pretention and dislikes when Christians act nice as a way of flaunting their ostensible superiority. But Hauerwas is probably best known for his outspoken pacifism and censure of American Evangelical Christianity's individualism, emphasis on rationalism or "right belief" -- by both fundamentalist and liberal theologians -- and uncritical subsumption of neoliberal impulses and militaristic state priorities.
Hauerwas had a major influence on my theological development. Along with the writings of John Howard Yoder -- Hauerwas' colleague and close friend from their days together at Notre Dame -- I devoured anything he wrote especially during my later undergraduate years, Resident Aliens begin the most formative for me. His works gave me something in the theological realm to be excited about for the first time. I owe a lot to Hauerwas for this major shift and my trajectory since.
From the earliest days of Christianity, the Gospels’ resemblance to certain myths has been used as an argument against Christian faith. When pagan apologists for the official pantheism of the Roman empire denied that the death-and-resurrection myth of Jesus differed in any significant way from the myths of Dionysus, Osiris, Adonis, Attis, etc., they failed to stem the rising Christian tide. In the last two hundred years, however, as anthropologists have discovered all over the world foundational myths that similarly resemble Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection, the notion of Christianity as a myth seems at last to have taken hold—even among Christian believers.
Beginning with some violent cosmic or social crisis, and culminating in the suffering of a mysterious victim (often at the hands of a furious mob), all these myths conclude with the triumphal return of the sufferer, thereby revealed as a divinity. The kind of anthropological research undertaken before World War II—in which theorists struggled to account for resemblances among myths—is regarded as a hopeless “metaphysical” failure by most anthropologists nowadays. Its failure seems, however, not to have weakened anthropology’s skeptical scientific spirit, but only to have weakened further, in some mysterious way, the plausibility of the dogmatic claims of religion that the earlier theorists had hoped to supersede: if science itself cannot formulate universal truths of human nature, then religion—as manifestly inferior to science—must be even more devalued than we had supposed.
This is the contemporary intellectual situation Christian thinkers face as they read the Scriptures. The Cross is incomparable insofar as its victim is the Son of God, but in every other respect it is a human event. An analysis of that event—exploring the anthropological aspects of the Passion that we cannot neglect if we take the dogma of the Incarnation seriously—not only reveals the falsity of contemporary anthropology’s skepticism about human nature. It also utterly discredits the notion that Christianity is in any sense mythological. The world’s myths do not reveal a way to interpret the Gospels, but exactly the reverse: the Gospels reveal to us the way to interpret myth.
Tightrope Walker: Notional and Real Faith
Many years ago there was tightrope walker who set up a line between two rock walls and walked the precarious rope, balanced well, between the deep valley below and the rock faces. Many attended his daring performances from different parts of the world. The tightrope walker, upon reaching each side, asked the spectators if they thought he could carry a spectator on his back across the rope to the other side of the rock cliff. Many said Yes, many said No. The tightrope walker turned to some of those who said Yes, and asked if they’d be willing to get on his back--most, at that point, said No.
Summit Seeing: Broken Lights
The mountains are often thick with walkers, hikers, scramblers and climbers at different seasons of the year. The longer treks begin below the alpine, ascend through the alpine then conclude on rock ridges and scenic summits. The lower a hiker is on the ascent the less the broader view can be seen- the higher the ascent, the fuller and more spacious the views. Those who only remain at the subalpine and alpine often have fine but limited views of the rock ridges in all directions. The danger of lowland dwelling is that the small plot of land tents are pitched on prevents the campers from seeing what could be seen from the summits. Those who bivouac on peaks are often more exposed but see much more.
Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of Thee,
And Thou, O Lord, art more than they.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Lately I’ve been giving a lot of interviews on my new book A Farewell To Mars. It’s a semi-autobiographical confession of how I moved from being an enthusiastic supporter of war American style to proclaiming the peaceable kingdom of Christ. Since I’ve marched among the ranks of sincere war-endorsers for most of my life, I’m sympathetic with well-meaning Christians who believe in the way of Mars. I try to tell the story of my conversion honestly and gracefully. I level criticism, not at soldiers, but at myself. My aim is to take the reader on a journey where Jesus and war are examined in the light of an unencumbered reading of Scripture.
But in a twelve minute radio interview there is little time for narrative and nuance. Instead, the interviewer usually leaps to what they consider “the heart of the matter.” In every interview I’ve been asked this question: “What would you do if Hitler invaded your house?” Well, it’s not exactly that question, but in every interview these two questions have come up: What about Hitler? What would you do if someone invaded your home? Hitler and home invasion. These are the two arguments that allegedly make the Jesus way of peace impossible. So let me address them. I’ll begin with Hitler.
When I claim that waging war is incompatible with following Jesus, the knee-jerk objection is always this: “What about Hitler?” The problem with the “Hitler objection” is that we have stepped into the middle of the story. It’s 1940 and we’re asking, “what are we going to do about Hitler?” As legitimate as that question is, we need to back up and ask this question first: How is it that Christians could wage war at Hitler’s behest? How did the land of Luther and the Reformation become the land of Nazis and the Holocaust? Hitler is as much a problem for Christian Just War theorists as for Christians who oppose war altogether. After all, Hitler waged his blitzkriegs with baptized soldiers sportingGott mit uns on their belt buckles. How did this happen? How was Hitler able to convince Christian soldiers to kill other Christians in Poland, France, and Russia? Hasn’t something gone tragically wrong with the church when Christians can be persuaded to kill other Christians in the name of ideology and nationalism? The enduring catastrophe of Constantine subverting the kingdom of God was that the politics of Jesus were set aside for the interests of empire. This eventually led to the shame of the crusades where Christians killed under the banner of the cross, and then to the horror of the two world wars where European Christians slaughtered one another by the millions.
Zahnd, Brian. A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. New York: David C. Cook, 2014. ISBN: 978-0781411189
Rarely do books on such timely topics combine the right mix of incisiveness, accessibility, and brilliant analysis in a single literary package, but Brian Zahnd has achieved this elusive synthesis in his most recent offering, A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. On the heels of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings on D-Day, Zahnd has given us a remarkable overview of Jesus' peaceable kingdom as an alternative to the nationalism, patriotism, and militarism that define the political ethos of his own American homeland, even if it exists to a lesser degree in other countries around the world as well. "What Jesus called evil," Zahnd observes, "are the very things our cultures and societies have honored in countless myths, memorials, and anthems."
Poetic and perceptive, insightful and courageous, it's as though nearly every sentence is a tweet-worthy aphorism with the power to generate life-changing (or at least life-reexamining) cognitive dissonance among his many readers: "We sequester Jesus to a stained-glass quarantine and appropriate a trillion dollars for the war machine," Zahnd laments. Pervading the pages of this thin yet rigorous volume is a careful deconstruction of one of the most ingrained impulses in societies built on the soul-destroying munitions that rouse endless warfare: gratitude toward "our side" -- which is mistakenly equated with "God's side" -- for killing other human beings in order to preserve our so-called "freedom" (read "comfortable, affluent lifestyle"). As Zahnd remarks, "Freedom becomes a euphemism for vanquishing (instead of loving) enemies; truth finds its ultimate form in the will to power (expressed in the willingness to kill). This is a long way from the ideas of peace, love, and forgiveness set forth by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount." Indeed, "If we carefully examine how we use the word freedom," Zahnd challenges us, "it becomes apparent that we use it to sanction our perceived right to pursue happiness in a self-interested fashion."
An excerpt from the opening speech at Oasis conference for Christian-Muslim Dialogue
Breaking with Violence
The event of Christ appears as a super-abundant response to this hope that the religious history of man expresses. It constitutes an objective overcoming of the logic of violence and as such measures the past and the future of human history (‘I came into this world to judge’ (Jn 9:39). And thus it is that the commonest objection that from that moment onwards would be made did not concern so much the goodness of the new principle introduced by Christ as its practicability, which was said to be denied, first of all, by the numerous examples of unfaithfulness of Christians themselves. Without underestimating the importance of this appeal to a consistent personal and community life, Christian tradition saw the non-practicability of this idea at a purely human level as supreme witness (‘martyrdom’) to the divine at work in the world. It thus remained convinced that, with the grace of God, it is truly possible to ‘follow in the footsteps’ (1Pt 2:21) of the Crucified Christ who rose again. We are here truly at the heart of faith.
The definitive dismissal of the logic of violence that the paschal event brought with it is also the principal contribution which we as Christian believe that we can offer today to inter-religious dialogue.This was the great insight of Assisi and the message that Pope Francis has just repeated in the Holy Land, launching from the esplanades of mosques ‘make a heartfelt plea to all people and to all communities who look to Abraham: may we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters! May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence! May we work together for justice and peace!’.(1)
CLICK HERE for the rest of the excerpt
(1) Pope Francis, Visit to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, 26 April 2014.
Once upon a time there was a seeker who longed and thirsted to live the deepest and fullest life possible. The young person realized that the material world could never fulfill the deepest longings for meaning. So, a journey took place in which all sorts of retreats, silent meditations, postures, poses, breathing techniques, contemplative leaders and books were read and internalized. The young person travelled the world, lived and studied with the best and spent many a year in different communities and ashrams. The differences between the true and false self (in all sorts of subtle and crude ways) were probed and examined from a variety of angles and perspectives. The time came, eventually, when the young person returned to visit parents. A large dinner was put on to celebrate the homecoming and many arrived to greet the seeker. The festive time came to an end, one and all departed, and night welcomed each and all to sleep and slumber. The next day arrived and much cleaning had to be done about the home. The seeker slept in as the parents began the work of cleaning the dishes, floors and much else. When the young seeker rose from slumber and sleep, the parents asked for assistance in the cleaning from the celebrations of the previous night---a variety of reasons were brought forth for delaying assistance. The parents kindly suggested, with a wink and twinkle in their bemused eyes that, if truly awakened and enlightened, the washing of dishes and floors could be seen as a washing of dirt from the soul--the seeker was none too amused.
St. Anthony: Bows and Arrows
The desert in the early church was seen as a site of spiritual renewal--no distractions and diversions from the demands of city life. The silence and stillness meant the inner journey could go to greater contemplative depths. St. Anthony was known as a father of contemplative renewal and many gathered round him at his desert dwelling to absorb his time tried wisdom and insights. A visitor from the city took to the desert in search of Anthony. The deeper he went into the desert, the more he neared Anthony’s community—he followed the lead of many who pointed the way. The city visitor, being rather serious and ascetic by nature, was surprised, as he crossed a small sand dune, to hear much laughter. He decided to trek over to the place of all the merriment and ask the group where Anthony’s dwelling might be. The man was met by and older man and he asked him the way to Anthony’s community. The older man said, “I will tell you the way, but you must first do something for me“. The younger man willingly complied. The older man asked the young man to take his bow and put an arrow in it—the young man did so. Then, the old man asked the young man to pull the bow taut with the arrow in it---the young man did so. “Pull it yet tighter”, the old man said-- “And, again tighter”. The young man finally said, “The bow will break if I pull it much tighter”. “You are tight”, the old man replied--“so it is with the spiritual life---if we pull the bow of our soul too tight, we will break”. The old man then said to the city seeker, “I am Anthony, come and join us in our friendships and merriment”.
In these days where theological pendulums swing wildly, I’ve been giving special attention to errors – sometimes grave – that occur through over-corrections. As people of faith, I’m well aware of how Christian doctrine and practice has frequently steered wildly out of one ditch, only to veer across the road and plunge into another gulley on the opposite side. Sometimes we oppose something toxic, only to poison ourselves with a corresponding error from the opposite extreme. Or in retrieving something we had previously lost, we swallow the bathwater with the long lost baby.
With that in mind, I want to reconsider how my very necessary rediscovery of spiritual reality may have also opened the door to ill-advised ancient mythologies—errors that Judaism had already expunged thousands of years ago. Herein, I will lay out my concern in stages for the reader to weigh, test and fact-check. I’m claiming nothing definitive here … I am not teaching so much as raising the question for further examination.
In his classic work, The Religion of Israel: From Its Beginnings to the Babylonian Exile, the Hebrew scholar Yechezkel Kaufmann lays out the superiority and genius of Judaism vis-à-vis the pagan worldviews of the day. He treats the Jewish conception of the universe as a radical departure and contesting revelation—rather than a mere evolution from—ancient polytheistic conceptions. Points 1-3 below are Kaufmann’s claims, which may be overstated, but should certainly be attended to by Christian scholars.
 I was introduced to Kaufmann’s work through Dr. Christine Hayes’ course, “Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible),” lecture 2, which is entitled “The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Biblical Religion in Context.” Cf. http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/rlst-145/lecture-2.
Using Acts 2-3 and Colossians 1-2 as test cases, this article will explore the character of Christological development through the first generation of Christianity. This article will compare and contrast the Christology of Acts 2 to the Christology of Colossians 1-2, then ask wow it is that faithful Jewish monotheists could accept Paul’s conception of such a high Christology? How might the ‘Colossian heresy’ have contributed to the development of a higher Christology?
What we believe about Jesus, and the story of Jesus that we tell to others, is crucial because Jesus is the centre of our faith – the Christ of Christianity – and because in western culture, Jesus is often undermined or dismissed. The question that Jesus asked Peter in Matthew 16, v15 is asked of us today: who do we say that He is?
The difference in the Jesus portrayed in Peter’s speech in Acts 2 and the ‘Christ hymn’ of Colossians 1 indicates dramatic Christological development: from a man sent and raised from the dead by God to the image of the invisible God, in whom all things are created and reconciled. Scholars have sought to explain why and how this was possible within the context of Jewish monotheism.
This essay will assert firstly that the focus of Jewish belief on the identity of God, rather than an ontological framework of nature or essence allowed Christianity to develop from within Jewish monotheism. Secondly, it will be argued that the distinctiveness of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, and Christian revelation such as that experienced by Paul, enabled the early church to see in Jesus the unexpected answer to their messianic expectations. The essay will then consider the context of the Christ hymn, arguing that as an encouragement to the Colossian church to stand firm against those questioning Jesus it is a reminder to us today of the need to know who He is and to not be swayed.
Acts, chapter 2
Acts is believed to have been written by Luke in AD.62 and records a selected history of the early Church following Jesus’ resurrection. Peter’s speech in chapter 2 draws on Joel, Daniel and the Psalms to justify the use of the titles Lord and Messiah in relation to Jesus by showing the scriptural precedents for Jesus fulfilling Messianic expectations.
In showing Jesus to be the Messiah the speeches in chapter 2 and chapter 10 emphasise Jesus’ relationship with the Father. Jesus has been anointed by the Father (10:38), God has attested Jesus to us through wonders and signs that He did in mankind’s midst (Acts 2:22-23), raised Jesus up (2:24 and 32; 10:40), exalted him to His right hand and sent the promise of the Holy Spirit (2:33).
I’m trying to listen to echoes these days — the return of earlier sounds. I need to hear the distant echoes of an earlier Christianity. I am beginning to understand how important it is to maintain an ongoing conversation with the Christians who have lived before us. We must resist the tyranny of the present. If we ignore the echoes of the past we doom ourselves to an unrecognized ignorance. It’s only because of our connection with our technological past that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every generation. Likewise, if we maintain a connection with our theological past we don’t have to reformulate the essential creeds every generation. When I encounter people obviously confused about the nature of the Trinity, I think, don’t you know we settled this in 325? Of course, they may very well not know! Or if they do know, they don’t care. They have no respect for the past. To them it’s just old — and old means obsolete. Which is, of course, a ridiculous notion peculiar to the modern era.
One of the problems with contemporary revivalism is its egocentric obsession with the present and its woeful ignorance of the past. For too much of my life my idea of church history went something like this: The church started off great with Pentecost, jumped the tracks a couple of centuries later, got back on track with the Reformation, and really took off with Azusa street. The arrogance is appalling. It’s why most modern revivalist movements seem to follow this implicit dictum: Re-found the church and prepare for Armageddon.Contemporary revivalist movements always seem convinced that they’re the first generation to recover “apostolic purity” and the last generation before the return of the Lord. They misappropriate 1 Peter 2:9 as they brashly claim “we are the chosen generation.” Without a clear memory of church history we become the Alpha and Omega in our imagined self-importance. Christian amnesiacs could benefit from some echoes — the echoes of Athanasius and Aquinas, Irenaeus and Erasmus, Clement and Kierkegaard. The Holy Spirit has never abandoned the church. Every generation had those who heard and spoke what the Spirit said to the church. We should pay attention to their echoes.
I hear the echoes of my earlier sisters and brothers as I muse upon their time-tested wisdom. In an age of pragmatism where the mystics are muted, the echoes of the ancient Christian mystics are good for my soul — mystics like Julian of Norwich and John of the Cross. John talks to me about the dark night of the soul, while Julian shares her revelations of divine love. They tell me secrets — secrets I may never have discovered on my own. John says, “it is love alone that unites the soul with God,” while Julian whispers, “all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” I need to hear those echoes.
At the end of His most central teaching, Jesus says that the wise person is the one "who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice". For nearly two thousand, these words- the Sermon on the Mount- have stood as the foundation for some of the most transformative movements and individuals in Christian history. From St. Francis of Assisi to Martin Luther King Jr., the Sermon on the Mount has produce radical faithfulness that has changed the world.
In this challenging and accessible exploration of the Sermon on the Mount, Arpin-Ricci invites readers into the community of Christ where we are transformed into genuine disciples. Using the fascinating life of St. Francis of Assisi and the journey of his own inner city church community, Arpin-Ricci lays out a model of discipleship that is much needed in the church and world today.
Here is Jamie's podcast interview with our friends from Beyond the Box:
In 2013, the worship committee of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to remove the Getty/Townend hymn 'In Christ Alone' from its newly published hymnal, the denomination's official sung worship collection. What swung it was the line, “'Til on that cross as Jesus died / The wrath of God was satisfied.” An attempt to include an amended version saying 'the love of God was magnified' was refused outright by the songwriters, so the committee vetoed the song. As a 'sign-of-the-times' headline, the story made several mainstream news outlets.
Do we have a problem with wrath? Should we? I am going to address the context of worship as both a way into, and an application of, how Christians deal with the concept of the wrath of God.
A wide spectrum of views exists on the wrath of God, but I see two broad approaches. One might be called the 'personal' view or 'anthropomorphic' view: wrath is an emotion (at least analogous with human feelings) that God 'feels' because he is a person. Wrath is also associated with the effects of this feeling: God's righteous acts of direct judgement. Authors like John Stott are quick to point out that the wrath is not some capricious lashing out, but rather a steady, constant and just opposition to sin. Those who accept this view of wrath tend toward a penal view of the Atonement, though there are notable exceptions.
We could call the other stream the 'impersonal' or 'cosmic' view: wrath is the inevitable consequence of sin, to which God consents or 'gives us over'. This language of 'giving over' has a good biblical pedigree, notably in Isaiah 64 and Romans 1. Crucially, this view of wrath is seen to develop throughout Scripture. A.T. Hanson demonstrates that in the OT, wrath is often personal and anthropomorphic. But this gradually gives way to the impersonal view that he says dominates the NT. A version of this is developed by my tutor at Westminster Theological Centre, Brad Jersak, who describes wrath as the result of 'divine consent' - God allowing us the freedom to sow and reap the destructive consequences intrinsic to sin.
When we worship God, we typically speak of his majesty, his power, his goodness, and - the crowning essence of his nature - his love. His wrath doesn't often get a look in. Theologically though, both these approaches to wrath seek to reconcile God's wrath with his love.
 This paper was originally presented at Kingdom Theology Conference 2014: 'Where Hope and Loss Meet: A Theology of Tragedy and Promise', Westminster Theological Centre / Trinity College Bristol, Cheltenham, UK, 21 June, 2014. I am grateful to Rev. Dr Brad Jersak for editing the first draft of this paper, and for his helpful suggestions.
 For example, see Bob Smietana, 'Presbetyrians decision to drop hymn stirs debate', usatoday.com, August 5, 2013 usatoday.com, August 5, 2013 <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/05/presbyterians-decision-to-drop-hymn-stirs-debate/2618833/>. For further reflections on the hymn selection process, see the article by the chair of the committee, Mary Louise Bringle, "Debating Hymns", christiancentury.com, May 1, 2013. <www.christiancentury.org/article/2013/debating-hymns>.
 John Stott, The Cross of Christ, (20th Anniversary Edition, Nottingham: IVP, 2006), 202.
 Clark Pinnock for example. See Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God's Openness (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2001), 82-83.
 A.T. Hanson, The Wrath of the Lamb, (London: SPCK, 1957) passim.
 Brad Jersak, 'Wrath and Love as Divine Consent', Clarion Journal of Spirituality and Justice (July 23, 2012). The arguments here are developed in his forthcoming book A More Christlike God.
When Donald Hebb released his seminal paper on neuroplasticity in 1947-1948, he radically changed the way learning was perceived. Perhaps we should rather say that he set in motion a whole series of developments that produced new and deeper understandings about the whole function of the brain, shed light on the mind and provided a profound insight into revelation and the meaning of ritual and symbolism. Orthodox Christians may find it interesting to note that the fathers and mothers of early monasticism had already perceived the principles of neuro-plasticity without having any of the physiological or scientific information about the brain. What they understood was the profound link between the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of mankind.
God and His works are not to be understood by fallen human concepts and rationalism. God spoke to Israel offering iconic types and imagery that led the holy nation to a spiritual understanding of the awesome mysteries and did not permit them to identify their expectation with earthly and limited expressions. In the same way, our holy fathers offered an apophatic theology carefully setting signs, types and symbols to establish a boundary for us on the true path, but never delimiting the mystery in a frame of words that would diminish the Will of God and His revelation to the likeness of a legal document. No theology is according to the Orthodox Faith if it is not based on those valid types and symbols which we have received in our Sacred Tradition. In the Holy Seventh Ecumenical Council, the holy fathers clearly dogmatised that valid icons are the equivalent of true theology. Valid icons consist in types and symbols, not in interpretations of reality by the fallen human mind. All elements of a canonical icon are symbolic and contain a profound revelation; there are no naturalistic elements in this Liturgical art.
This morning I get to speak on peace, the next-in-line of the fruits of the Spirit listed in from Galatians.
When I first saw the schedule, I thought, “Oh good, this should be a good fit.” … which I’ll explain with a story later. But over the last few weeks it’s like the peace has been drained out of me, so this has been …interesting to prepare.
I expected that this was one of those things I could talk about the straight-forward way, focus on “spiritual” peace and not all of the other messy uses of the word. But apparently God didn’t want to keep things that simple for me.
So let’s start off by looking at all the complications. Here are some uses of the word “peace”.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does.”
- John 14:27
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”
- Matthew 10:34
We probably get the impression here that Jesus is using two different meanings of the word “peace” here. Maybe?
Here’s a current-events usage that’s impacted me personally as a teacher:
“Premier Clark and I have been discussing how we can move forward on our goal for 10 years of labour peace for students in our public education system.”
– Education Minister Peter Fassbender
For those who don’t know, the BC government had tried to market this idea to the public over the last year. It sure sounds great, doesn’t it?
But, to keep things simple, let me just say that this wouldn’t have been a “peace” created by coming to agreement on a fair middle-ground. The 10-year deal was heavy-handed, and much of what they proposed amounted to dismantling the other side, silencing their opposition. It was a threat, not a promise. (Since then the two sides have made some progress, and no one’s talking about a ten-year deal anymore.)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”
- Matthew 5:9
So we are told to be peacemakers…