Sometimes in an attempt to counter messages about self-esteem and body-shaming that ignore God we forget to acknowledge the beauty and goodness of the human body altogether. This kind of accidental Gnosticism can be especially harming for teenage girls who are constantly thinking about their bodies but are only taught two responses: one that makes them obsess even more about beauty by telling them to find meaning in themselves, and the other that makes them feel silly or sinful for struggling with body image in the first place but with no way to move forward other than trying to ignore their bad feelings and hope they go away. Continue reading “Girls, Body Image, and Theological Poetry: Lucy Hutchinson on the Beauty of the Human Body”
Years ago I worked as a full-time nanny for newborn twins during the first year of their lives. When I think back to this time, I remember being so tired and stressed and alone—not just because taking care of twins can be hard, but also because my anxiety and depression were starting to get worse at this time—and I wonder how much it would have helped to read quality resources on nurturing children. I’m not a mother myself, but so much of what I see seems too cliché to do justice to the deep and complex emotions and decisions involved in motherhood. Continue reading “Lucy Hutchinson’s Theological Reflections on Motherhood”
“So how can we know what the Bible really says?” my classmate timidly asked at the end of a long lecture about interpretation. She was not playing the devil’s advocate, but was clearly discouraged by the fact that there seem to be many different and discordant ways of interpreting the Bible. Sometimes reading intense scholarly debates that dissect every tiny part of a passage, listening to sermons that use methods we don’t know how to use, or overhearing a friend joke about misapplying passages like Jeremiah 29:11 make us shrink back from Scripture. Continue reading “Encouragement for Bible Reading from Puritan Women”
In 1663 when Bunyan was cooped up in prison and expecting to be executed, he wrote a little conduct manual called Christian Behaviour. Though Bunyan’s fear of execution was based on a misunderstanding of the law, it was not unreasonable for him to be concerned for his well-being because the conditions in prison were horrible. If you were in the same situation, what would you write about?
This summer I had the privilege of taking Dr. Tom Schwanda’s class on Puritan Spirituality at Regent College. What struck me most about Dr. Schwanda was that it was obvious he really believed and practiced what he taught. Just like I’d never trust a hairdresser with bad hair and always pass by the makeup artists in the Bay with weird makeup, so am I suspicious of those who have a lot to say about the Christian life but don’t really seem like they’re striving to do it.
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”