A couple of years ago at a conference in Vancouver, one of the speakers was asked in a Q&A session, “what are some of the greatest struggles facing North American Christians today?” I usually find these types of questions too broad or vague to be interesting, but because the speaker was my favourite theologian, J. I. Packer, my ears perked up.
In my previous article, I showed that the Puritans believed that loving all people was a hallmark of the Christian faith. Though some may be surprised that these summative and forceful statements came from the Puritans, many would not be surprised to hear that the greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor. However, actually doing this in real life is hard. Continue reading ““The greatest honor…is to be like Jesus Christ, and to excel in charity”: Baxter’s List of Motivations and Practical Tips for Loving All People”
Probably the last thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the Puritans is a loving attitude towards all people. Many imagine the Puritans as obsessed with themselves as God’s people, and obsessed with God’s judgment against humanity at large. Though it is true that they believed in the doctrines of election and hell, they also believed that Christians had a duty to love all people, and this did not contradict the former, nor was it less important. In fact, one might argue that because of the Puritans’ highly developed views of God’s law and love they were able to speak of this command in a deep and meaningful way, rather than a shallow or vague way. Continue reading ““The law and glory of Christianity”: Loving All People According to the Puritans”
I started my first church history class with absolutely no understanding of church history. I was still trying to grasp the very basics of Christianity, nevermind the various expressions of Christianity over hundreds and hundreds of years. The only thing I remember from the lectures was finally grasping the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. When it came time to write my paper, I cried and agonized over it so much that I went to the school counsellor to ask if my frustrations were normal.
In highschool, Sundays were my favorite days. If I had to miss school or a hangout with friends, I would be disappointed, but if I had to miss church, I felt off for the whole week. I loved hearing the message, singing our songs, eating a big lunch, and laying around in someone’s living room talking about anything. And when Sunday was over, I couldn’t wait until the next one.
Years later in university, Sundays became my least favorite day. I started taking medication that made me sick from Saturday to Monday, and going to church became the time I had to pretend to be happy when all I felt was depressed. On Saturday nights I dreaded the next morning, and on Sunday nights I fell asleep happy. Of course, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to get back to where I was.
When my husband suggested we watch Smallville, a TV series on Superman, I was not excited. I like true stories about ordinary people, not made up ones about imaginary people. But to my surprise the first few episodes were fairly normal: a teenage boy living in a small town meets a young billionaire and they become best friends. As one would expect, these two (Clark Kent/Superman and Lex Luthor) would become arch-enemies by the end of the series. However, it takes several seasons to get there; it is only over the span of many years that Clark becomes a hero and Lex becomes a villain.
It turns out that there are more true-story aspects to Superman than I thought. Continue reading “Sin Deceives, Mortification Frees: John Owen on Killing Sin”
Something about the celebrations, sentimentality, and resolution-making of Christmas and New Years often leads us to reflect on the general trajectory of our lives. Most of us are aware that those who have recently lost a loved one will have a particularly difficult December, but I think that many of us tend to deal with feelings of sadness and loss during this season, especially about that one life problem that doesn’t seem to go away. We ask questions like, “why can’t I fix this problem when everyone else around me seems to be able to fix the same problem in their lives?” “why do I even have this problem in the first place?” and “how am going to get through another year with this problem?” Continue reading “When That Big Life Problem Won’t Go Away: Thomas Boston’s Advice for Dealing with the Crook in Your Lot”