Servant Leadership. Without Permission.


I recently read an article by Pastor Douglas Wilson criticizing the usage of the term servant leadership. Of course, that wasn’t the main point of the article, and I recognize that he wasn’t criticizing the spirit of servant leadership. The main point of the article was to defend the necessity of being masculine without permission. In the spirit of pastor Wilson’s article, I want to defend servant leadership without permission. I will do it with all due respect.

I would define servant leadership as an imitation of Christ who was a servant. And a leader. I really appreciate Pastor Wilson’s definition of masculinity: “masculinity is the glad assumption of the sacrificial responsibilities that God assigned to men.” Now, the main place where we can understand better what it meant for Christ to be a servant leader is in the book of Mark and in Phillipians 2. Mark 10:45 reads: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  The Apostle Paul recognizes this pattern in Phil. 2:8 “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Here is my argument. The term ‘masculinity’ is not used in the Book of Mark, the term ‘servant’ is. I’m not even sure if the term ‘masculinity’ is used very much in the Bible. We hear about being a man, but our cultural fascination with ‘masculinity’ is a bit strange. To say the least. Now, to not use the term ‘servant leadership’ any more, is to ‘dumb down’ all the glory of the Book of Mark. Of course Jesus had a back bone, and yes, he was being a servant leader without any permission at all. Even his disciples totally misunderstood what it looked like, hence, His reason for explaining it so thoroughly in Mark 10. Jesus cast out demons, healed the sick, rebuked the Pharisees, took a whip to those who turned the temple of God into a den of thieves. He was a leader. He was a servant. He was the Son of God. He was the Servant King.

We see the pattern of this Servant King in the lives of men who follow Him. Men (as well as women) are called to take up their cross and follow Christ. The “masculine” men of this world can turn this joyful life of service into a pale, vapid, and sickly image if they want (ask Nietszche for his thoughts). But James says to count it all joy (James 1). And of course Jesus commanded it. He also exemplified it. And if Christians call it vapid, then they are confused.

Jesus sent out His disciples to be servants. He also sent out His disciples to be leaders. He never sent them out to be masculine. Yes, male leadership is an important and necessary principle to be drawn from Scripture. And yes, there are male roles: i.e. servant leadership. And yes, homosexuality is sin (I Cor. 6:9) as well all the deviations of character (and of course actions) and sexuality that lead to it.

Yes, Timothy was called to be tough: definitely spiritually (2 Tim. 2:3-5). But of course, we are not disembodied spirits and so spiritual toughness is connected to emotional, mental, and physical toughness. This does not mean that a man who cries or an academic type cannot be a leader. Having emotions disciplined by the Word is manly. Having massive academic abilities disciplined by the Word is manly. Read Paul’s writing. While physical discipline is of some gain for Timothy, the spiritual disciplines are the most valuable (I Tim. 4:8). This means that a man with brawn and bluster and no discipline is a hollow shell of worldly glory that reeks of dead flesh.

If someone mocks you for being a “servant leader,” don’t back down. Use the term. Without permission. Be a servant without permission. Be a leader without permission. Be proud of it. Be joyful. Cultivate discipline in all areas of life, but keep Christ right at the center or it is all worthless anyways. Service means humility, not the false ‘servant leadership’ which seeks to get accolades from women and some men. Be a man and act like a man (2 Sam. 10:12, I Cor. 6:10), which means Christ calls you and me to serve. And He calls us to lead. And He calls us to stand firm.


Is Ecclesiastes Unorthodox?


What I love about the structure of Ecclesiastes, is that this is the way people think as they struggle with confusion. A confused person does not fixate on a specific line of reasoning, and find his way directly to a conclusion. A confused person will often explore different options. This doesn’t mean that exploring these options is necessarily right, this is just what many people do. And God will sometimes use those meanderings to uncover what they are looking for. The author of Ecclesiastes is wise because he has found ‘the eye of the storm’. He learns how drink a good beer and eat a thick steak after a hard days work, while kings rise and fall and the philosophers quibble and fight. He does this because he fears God and desires to keep His commandments. He is able to enjoy life whereas the immoral and arrogant are intolerably prudish and hollow men.

M.J.C. Blok refers to the view of some scholars that Ecclesiastes is a debate between many speakers and so you get both orthodox and unorthodox statements, forming a fragmentary book.1 I will argue along with Blok and Richard P. Belcher for the full orthodoxy of Ecclesiastes. In fact, many of the statements that don’t sound so orthodox will bring the reader to a deeper understanding of the orthodoxy of this book. The issue with people questioning the orthodoxy of Ecclesiastes is a problem with their view of orthodoxy. It is not exactly what many might imagine. As G.K. Chesterton states: “People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or exciting as orthodoxy.”2

Derek Kidner writes: “Wisdom – quite practical and orthodox – is his basecamp; but he is an explorer. His concern is with the boundaries of life, and especially with the questions that most of us would hesitate to push too far.”3 Many parents and leaders in the church become afraid when their children and young people “push the card” when it comes to orthodoxy and asking the deeper questions of life. But here, we see Solomon take leadership in asking the hard questions, making the tough observations. But it doesn’t end there. He also uncovers the answers. It might even remind the reader of Proverbs 2, where Solomon urges his son to cry out for wisdom and insight. If he does so, Solomon promises him that he will find the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God (Prov. 2: 3,5). It is these answers that Solomon urges upon his son in Ecclesiastes: “My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:11-13).

In 7:15-18 and other sections, Solomon asks the same hard questions that Asaph asks in Psalm 73. Why do the righteous die and the fool and the wicked succeed? What reward is there for the righteous? He has an unorthodox conclusion: do not be overly righteous. He has a very orthodox conclusion: do not be overly wicked. But he runs up the middle with another command (which is very much orthodox): fear God. I recognize this struggle. I have been rebuked for being overly righteous. I recognize my pride. But do I be wicked? No, I must follow Solomon’s exhortation to fear God.

Ecclesiastes is punctuated by paradox. Solomon has struggled with paradox his whole life. Solomon is an old man speaking to young men. He doesn’t focus so much on the authority of his learning, but the authority of his observations.4 Not everything needs an answer. There is mystery: because God is God and we are not. This wise elderly gentleman has learned from observation and experience that a lot of what young men do is just plain sad. He often puts himself in their shoes, because he has been there. He points out that sometimes shiny things are corroded on the inside. And so he gives exhortations to these young men towards the good life: faithfulness, joy, obedience. He also gives us exhortations away from being arrogant and idiotic. Life is best lived in humility and joy before the face of God.

1M.J.C. Blok, Ecclesiastes: 15 Outlines (London: Inter-League Publication Board, 1988), 8.

2G.K. Chesterton, The Project Gutenberg Ebook of Orthodoxy (accessed March 1, 2018),

3Derek Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976), 13.

4Van Pelt, Miles V., ed., A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: the Gospel Promised (Wheaton: Crossway, 2016), 450.


Sex-education in the Public Schools: Parents are not Just the Primary Educators; they are the Educators


My inner libertarian will come out a bit here.

I’m watching the Ontario PC leadership election unfold with some interest. I don’t find myself convinced of Mulroney and Elliott’s conservative integrity and I know Doug Ford will axe government but will waffle on social issues. Tanya Granic Allen is bringing a number of important issues back into discussion, particularly focusing on the sex-education curriculum that Kathleen Wynne is trying to get forced into the school system. Now, I like many of Tanya Granic Allen’s policies and that she is a social conservative, and I would be a fan of Ford axing government until it gets a little closer to a reasonable size. I’m interested in particular in Allen’s plan for the sex-ed curriculum.

Allen plans to consult parents on the sex-ed curriculum. And her principle in the foreground is that parents are the primary educators. This is all well and good. We need principles such as these to play in this political game. But notice that all this relies on the assumption that the government has any role in education.

To take a quick look at the bigger picture. There are a lot of people in North America who believe that the parents are the primary educators. But this is not found primarily in the public school system. Parents delegate leadership in Christian schools, or in other cases they homeschool their kids. Many of these parents recognize that most government does a really bad job at educating children (particularly secular governments).

So Tanya Granic Allen wants to axe Kathleen Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum. I’m left scratching my head wondering why she doesn’t want to axe public education and work towards privatizing education. By assuming that the government is responsible for educating our children, she is setting us up for future problems, where after a good government is out, a bad government can do what they want again. More or less she is polishing the deck for a sinking ship. I can commend her for wanting what is right within the school system, but the question is if this is even the government’s task.

There are other solutions to this problem. My parents did more to axe Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum by educating me and my siblings at home through Tree of Life Homeschool. They also have worked with various Reformed churches in Ontario to offer a viable alternative to the Public School system for parents in Northwest Toronto who don’t want their children’s heads being filled with odious ideas in public school. There is now a new gradeschool: Hope Academy. The Canadian Reformed Churches have a school system that goes across Canada offering a viable alternative to public education. Other Reformed Churches across Ontario privately educate their children through schools such as PRC. Classical Christian schools have made a showing in Ontario in places like downtown Toronto: Westminster Classical Christian Academy.

Much more could be said about privatized higher education.

Everyone has their plan. We should ask what the task of government is as compared to parents and churches. Is education even the task of the government? I would give the answer ‘no’. If you find yourself realizing that this isn’t even the task of government, then we should start by presenting other alternatives. So many individuals have already done that through private schools and home schooling in Ontario. A wise government might start by giving those who privately educate a total cut on their taxes that they would otherwise benefit from by sending their kids to public schools. I would recommend against public funding, because then we still recognize that this is the task of the government, and is built on a poor economical model called Keynesian Economics. And then they might work to privatize their public schools by putting them into the hands of families and therefore communities.

This way the government can focus exclusively on reforming their court systems. According to Romans 13, that seems to be the main task of what we would call government.

Billy Graham, the Gospel, and the Preacher Behind Your Pulpit

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North America has been remembering the blessing of God upon the work of Billy Graham. We see an example of the power of the gospel, and a pointed message that calls men and women to repentance and faith. We all have our theological quibbles, and there were some with Rev. Graham. But whatever could be said for those quibbles, his essential message was one of good news. It was a message that focused on the work of Jesus in changing hearts that was concise, to the point, and that hit right between the eyes. Any such message is relevant, no matter how many people mock.

But as I consider his legacy, I am also forced to consider the force of the gospel as it has been preached from the pulpits I looked up to every since I can remember. I was born into a Christian community, and the light never came upon me in the same way as it came upon many of Billy Graham’s listeners, because the light was always there through faithful teaching, parenting, rebuke, and a call to look to Christ who takes away the sins of the world. I was always reminded of my baptism which was intended to direct me to Christ. I grew, I faced trouble, I had to be rebuked, but I can’t remember not knowing Christ personally.

It was emphasized on me while growing up that I should listen to and honor the Preacher in the pulpit in front of me, rather than glorifying a pastor I don’t even know. That didn’t mean I had to accept everything he said mindlessly, but to have a soft heart towards those words spoken from Scripture. I have done a bit of traveling and listened to quite a number of preachers. I don’t want to name names because then I would be missing the point. But I have heard many clear explanations, pointed rebukes, and a call to faith from men who were not particularly well known, but were no less lacking in passion and faith and clarity.

If God has blessed you with a preacher who opens the Word of God on the pulpit in front of you, then you are called to listen and learn. Sure, you might disagree with him on a couple doctrines. His personality might irk you. But your call is to hear the Word of God, and his call is to speak it.

We shouldn’t idolize men like Billy Graham and R.C. Sproul (I John 5:21). We shouldn’t idolize anyone anyways. That doesn’t mean you have to ignore them either. It means that we have to have soft hearts when we are listening to the Word of God being preached wherever we are at. That is the aim of preaching: by the power of the Spirit a heart of stone will be replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Yes, we need to search the Word of God like the Bereans in Acts 17 and always test the spirits (I John 4:1). Preachers are also under authority. The aim is never to glorify the preacher, but to be transformed from glory to glory, as we gaze upon the face of Christ, revealed in His Word. This is where the preaching of Billy Graham received its strength.

May God raise up more men of conviction, men who are under the authority of the Word, men who won’t back down from their calling to be courageous for God both in word and deed.

Chapel 02/16/2018: Putting the ‘Fun’ Back Into 21st Century Fundamentalism


Below is a chapel I delivered yesterday:

2 Corinthians 10:1–6 “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

This passage is one of the primary passages used by men who teach and seek to form a defense for the Christian faith. My Dad introduced me to Van Til and Bahnsen and the tools for presupositional apologetics. Douglas Wilson and David Wood are two excellent apologists with atheism and secularism. Dr. Mitch Stokes, a student of Alvin Plantinga, directed our class in a Plantinganian branch of apologetics with definite presuppositional vibes. Lewis and Chesterton teach the art of beautiful and humour filled apologetics. Dr. Van Raalte has brought us here at CRTS to a deeper understanding of natural law and the role it plays in apologetics. These apologists come to the table with different assumptions and tools, but all see the Word of God as authoritative in tearing down strongholds.

And that of course is where the battle is the fiercest. What does it mean for the Word of God to have authority? Does it have authority? How do we deal with questions of backgrounds, cultures, even text criticism? The Word of God is authoritative, but the question always slips in: did God really say? Science says this, history says this, archaeology says this, but did God really say? This is the question that seminarians must wrestle with, because we have to be able to engage with the questions from young guys and young ladies attending university who are asking these questions and looking for answers. And they will often keep their mouth shut about their struggles because we will either shut them down or give answers that don’t make any sense, and of course, they might just not like the authority of God’s Word.

An Attack on Authority:

My question for chapel today is: is it rational to believe in the authority of God’s Word? Or are we just a bunch of crazy radicals who believe in something akin to the Great Pumpkin in the Sky? To us this question sounds blasphemous. To an atheist or an agnostic at the University of Idaho or UofT or Capilano University in Vancouver, this is a legitimate, rational question. You might be told by an atheist: you only believe that because that’s the way you grew up, that’s what your parents told you, it is simply irrational. Let’s analyze this statement.

Immanuel Kant once said: “Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!” As Immanuel Kant also described the Enlightenment: it is “man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage”. I might describe the Enlightenment as the intellectual child of the Renaissance. The Renaissance went back to the sources, and the Enlightenment liberated itself from the shackles of the sources. Don’t let your parents and pastors and Christian leaders tell you what to think! Think for yourself! Yeah, but what if they are right? And why aren’t your teachers at university allowing you to think for yourself?

On one hand, I am appreciative of the “enlightenment” more broadly speaking. Proverbs 25:2 states: “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” I can legitimize Kant’s attempt to get people to think. Some people simply don’t think. People blindly accept traditions. I have been taught to honour the authority of God’s Word, but when it comes to traditions, I was taught to think, to search, to look for deeper answers to deep questions, to test everything with the authority of God’s Word. I was taught to look into things when a fight breaks out. The Father in Proverbs on one hand calls on his son to bind the instruction of his parents to his heart, on the other hand he sends him out to wrestle with the darkness in the world. He tells him to call out for wisdom and insight. The father recognizes that he is not in control, and that his son must fight and search and seek to the glory of God.

On the other hand, I cannot legitimize the enlightenment and where Kant’s challenge went. While the Enlightenment sought answers, it also cast a cloud of doubt over those answers, because it overthrew authority. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path when we see it as authoritative. But when we lift ourselves above it, then we become doubters, we become agnostics. Renee Descartes used doubt as that foundation for knowledge. He said: “I think therefore I am”. He was a smart dude, and there is much we can learn from him. But we see the foundations for doubt being laid in the enlightenment as all authority was challenged, and reason was glorified. This might be akin to our day where reason is glorified, and science is deified, we raise altars to science and reason in our academic journals.

Higher Criticism and evolution in the 19th century took an axe to the authority of God’s Word. Dare to know became dare to doubt. Protestant denominations died a slow and painful death. In a last ditch attempt to save the Scriptures, many preachers and teachers became largely academic, trying to save the Word from the challenges of the critics. Others became unacademic. But in attempting to save it from their challenges, they began to take on their assumptions, and fell away from the truth. God was faithful. Through the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were revivals through the work of men like Kuyper, Bonhoeffer, and Barth, but at least Bonhoeffer and Barth struggled with the authority of God’s Word, and God still used them through their wrestlings. This is because His power is in the Word.

Where are We Today?

Today, science and the logic of science holds a crucial role in academic discussions. Many of the challenges of Higher Criticism have been answered by further discoveries in archaeology. Many have not. Questions still linger. Evolution has been a matter of debate, and the debate isn’t over. Especially for evolution, this might just be a matter of time before more evidence comes up. But the Word of God will never stop being under attack. This is why in the discussion of God’s Word and man’s Word, we must go deeper than the data. There are philosophical underpinnings, there are assumptions at stake.

I am a skeptic when it comes to science. The arguments a logical and persuasive element, but is their foundation authoritative? When you dig deeply into the philosophy of science and the philosophy of math, you are left with more questions than answers. These philosophers and scientists are accepting an authority that has a lot less basis than the testimony of Scripture. Rather than simply looking at the phenomenological data and drawing conclusions for the present, many re-write history, define gender, and try to cast the authoritative decisions on how we interpret Scripture. Yes, the Holy Spirit can use science, but the authority of the Holy Spirit works apart from Science, in the Word of God to shine the light on Christ in whose face we see the glory of the Triune God.

Yes, this statement is unscientific, it is unacademic, and it would never be published in a fine and scholarly journal piece. We must challenge man’s unbelief. There are very intelligent folks out there, who will find freedom when they submit to something other than their own intellect. We have just read in the passage above that the weapons we are using have divine power to destroy strongholds. And yes, this passage would not be published in a fine academic journal. And that is a problem when the Apostle Paul has less authority than academia. I do believe that there is a time for academic engagement, study, sensitivity in discussion. I loved reading Darwin and Lewis Thomas in college both of whom are atheists and evolutionists. I enjoyed reading Hitchens and all the new atheists. I love talking about the data and learning about radioactive dating, and Biblical manuscripts and all the ins and outs of these debates. But all these discussions can be used as a ruse. Yes, we have to be loving. But we have to be honest with ourselves and with the Church. The biggest stronghold that must be destroyed is unbelief. And only the pure preaching of the holy gospel from the inspired and inerrant Word of God can do that.

We believe testimony so often. It would be irrational for me to say that I was not born in London even though my parents have so often told me that I was. I could scientifically test it, but at this point all I have is testimony and I have to believe it. I don’t believe it would be irrational for me to believe it. My parents are a trustworthy source. I believe by testimony that I was born in London Ontario. I believe that when I get up in the morning, gravity will hold me down. It makes sense. To question these testimonies would be irrational.

Christianity cannot be compared to schizophrenia or other such mental illnesses, because the gospel wires us into reality. It is fully rational to believe in the testimony of God’s Word, and I would wager that it is more rational than to have your ultimate authority as reason or science. I have everything to lose if I reject this testimony. I have nothing to lose if I retain it.


The weapons of our warfare are capable to destroy strongholds. We have now moved beyond the data into spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:10–13 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” The Word of God is mentioned in vs. 17, which is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” Science is good. Reason is good. But the Spirit with the Word of God will take those disciplines, the Spirit will take academia, transform them, and take them captive for Christ. The Spirit of God is not limited to academia, but transforms academia. Once the evolutionist atheist hears a sermon, he will have to make a decision: to believe or not to believe. Belief would be the best choice he could ever make.

So academics is warfare. God’s Word cuts through academia. It cuts through my heart and through yours as we seek to fulfill our kingly role of seeking out what God has hidden. It takes all of our thoughts captive for Christ, rather than captive to the thoughts and philosophies that demand our allegiance in opposition to Scripture. But notice, if you accept foreign philosophies and assumptions blindly, you have been taken captive by something different than the Word of God.

When God’s Word transforms our academic pursuits, academics leads to doxology. In Mark 1 Jesus enters Capernaum, and the people respond: Mark 1:22 “And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” Are we astonished by his teachings? Are we astonishing our communities with His teachings and their authority? Or are we teaching them that they are impossible to understand unless you have the same level of learning as the scribes and the Pharisees? Are we prepared to take every thought captive? Or will we join the agnostics? Will we sit on the sidelines and criticize Jesus as He heals the souls of sinners by the power of His Word? Will we be more interested in academic accolades than the divisive nature of the gospel, which brings about repentance before it saves? When we rest on God’s Word, preaching will have authority. When we rest on the accolades of academia, preaching will be built on sinking sand. As the Word worked its destruction on the papacy while Martin Luther and his friends were drinking a pint of Wittenburg beer, so we can preach the Word and ask that God would work its power into the lives of those we come in contact with.

A Christianity Under the Cross

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I have often had discussions about politics. With Americans, with students at public university and in Christian higher education, with oil field workers and landscape workers, with Christians and Muslims and Budhists. I find that in every situation I have had to shut my mouth and listen to their viewpoints. It is way too easy to stereotype and even easier to generalize.

I have been called liberal, conservative, and some of the different insults in between. My viewpoints have changed over my short life thus far. I find myself more and more cautious about foreign intervention, government control (and yes Conservatives are controlling as well), and other contraptions that give the government more power. Some might call my views a mix of fiscal libertarian and social conservative ideas. Others might recognize the fact that I am a theocrat of some form that is quite unlike the theocracy of Louis Riel.

I’m also a seminary student and so I have to be careful when aligning myself with political parties. My duty is to preach Christ and His Word, and since He is Lord, He calls all men to repent and believe: conservatives, liberals, and revolutionaries.

I find the above TS Eliot quote interesting. He says: “But the Church cannot be, in any political sense, either conservative or liberal, or revolutionary. Conservatism is too often conservation of the wrong things: liberalism a relaxation of discipline; revolution a denial of the permanent things.” Truly, unless we can wholeheartedly agree with Eliot here we will have a difficult time finding our way towards a Christian society. The fact is, I can’t align myself with many forms of conservatism in North America, neither liberalism, nor revolutionarism.

I want a society that is increasingly shaped by the cross and the resurrection. I believe that when the gospel is declared from the pulpit, lives start to change. I have seen them change. And when lives start to change (including those of politicians), then you get a change in society. Yes, on this side of heaven, it will always be a Christianity under the cross. It must advance through conflict and repentance and forgiveness of sins as we journey towards the peace of the cross. But Jesus is Lord, and He calls all men and women to Himself.

Of course, if Jesus is Lord, our private and public lives must reflect that He is Lord. That means if I were to be a politician, His Word must be the ultimate test of good policy. I might be a member of the Conservative party, and I am seeking to bring it under His Lordship. But I also want to see every other party come under the Lordship of Christ as they are saved from their sins. The gospel speaks to all political factions. It is the only hope for peace.

The Battlefield of Imagination and Beauty


When a culture loses truth, our collective imagination becomes less anchored in reality. Imagination doesn’t have to be a bad word, and neither does ‘creativity.’ A renaissance in education necessitates a greater cultivation of creativity and imagination. There are real objective categories, not only in truth and goodness, but also in beauty. I will make a comment about Christian liberal arts education in the conclusion.

One of the strengths of Dante’s Paradise are his examples of the imagination. Its good to read an old dead guy like Dante. Dante is being guided through purgatory by Virgil when he comes upon a siren, an old witch. Dante is at first stunned by her beauty and stands there with his mouth agape. Immediately, Virgil walks up to her and rips her open at which point Dante realizes how ugly she is.

In any society there is a conflict of imagination: one man thinks or states that something is beautiful which is really just dead man’s bones inside. In our society this could be anything from homosexuality to pornography or the party culture. But when Christian imagination transforms a society these things are revealed to be what they are: ugly. That’s because imagination is transformed by the truth of God’s Word. In fact, pornography and homosexuality represent a destruction of the imagination, a society that has become unthankful towards God. Porn and homosexuality make us un-men, as CS Lewis so famously describes in his book Perelandra. Doestevsky writes: “The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.”

Merriam-Webster defines imagination in three ways: 1. “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality” 2. “Creative ability” 3. “A creation of the mind; especially: an idealized or poetic creation”. As with the Renaissance and Reformation of the 16th century, we need a powerful re-awakening of the imagination. The books we read, the movies we watch, the music we listen to are all examples of how we shape our imagination. But it extends beyond this as well: architecture, roads, company structures, landscaping, drilling for oil are further examples of images that are pressed upon the imagination of north America. The stories we tell about ourselves and our world not only tell us how we are shaping the imagination of North America, but how it’s imagination is shaping us.

The Christian liberal arts ought to help shape our minds and therefore our lives in a way that we can recognize the difference of an imagination without God so that we can create beauty in this world. A beauty that recognizes evangelical truth. A Christian education should engage our creative powers through truth, beauty and goodness. Of course, these categories must be in submission to the Lordship of Christ. While such a degree doesn’t guarantee one an automatic high pay check (but then, nothing will guarantee you a high pay check except for hard work and God’s grace), it ought to goad the student on to new avenues of Christian creative ability in a world that dances with darkness.

I believe that you will find New Saint Andrew’s College to be an interesting model of this kind of education in North America. It is an education structured around the classics and touching on the different educational disciplines, designed to cultivate Christian leadership in North American culture and academia. They try to give the tools and some of the necessary information and the students are given the task of using them creatively and with Godly integrity. I definitely enjoyed my four years there.

The Scandal of Prosperity


Our society is currently bombarded with sex scandals. The Church is also bombarded by many such scandals from within and without. On one hand, these issues are not always responded to directly. That is a problem. On the other hand, these issues are sometimes way too often discussed. They are on the minds and on the hearts of those sitting in the pew, especially since we all have to deal to some degree (and have dealt with) with sexual sin and 7th commandment related issues in our lives. Now, how to work with this problem?

I recently was reminded of another take on this issue. In a recent article posted on the Desiring God Facebook page, Jon Bloom talks about how abundance is at least as dangerous as porn (you can find it here). Bloom makes a good point that I have thought about in the past, but it can easily be forgotten about in our wealthy society. This is the concept that an abundance of entertainment, money, and time on our hands can lead to forgetting God, and of course, that takes you places you don’t want to be.

Rosaria Butterfield alerted me to this idea first in her book ‘Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert’. One thing that she realized as she was going from being a Lesbian English Professor at a prominent university in the United States to Christianity, was that there is a lot of sexual sin in conservative Reformed circles. Obviously a person coming from such a background would have to wrestle through some of these issues. Yes, the church is a hospital for sinners (including for Rosaria Butterfield and you and me), but we also must see growth in holiness taking place, which is often a struggle for church leaders to see.

At one point, she explains this passage:

Ezekiel 16:48–51 “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed.”

My explanation has her explanation in mind. God is speaking to Samaria in Israel (His people). Sodom’s sin was a variety of issues such as homosexuality, rape, incest, and other sins of a particularly sexual nature. But notice that God doesn’t mention this in this passage, but He mentions three things: pride, excess of food, prosperous ease, and not aiding the poor and needy. In our culture this could mean pride, expensive and large feasts, and lots of vacations and entertainment.

But God says that Samaria has committed more abominations than Sodom, and have made Sodom appear righteous. But He has targeted the culture. He has targeted the soil in which violations of the 7th commandment are cultivated. He has called on his people to aid the poor and the needy. James agrees with this in the New Testament: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)

Maybe we don’t have to say that wealth is, in and of itself, the issue (the love of wealth definitely plays a major role). There are very wealthy people who pour themselves out in service of God and His kingdom. The key is that we are all called to be pouring ourselves out in service of God and our neighbour, wherever God has placed us and however much money he has blessed us with. The key is not that all entertainment is wrong, but what is our primary orientation? Towards service or towards me?

God has blessed many in Conservative Reformed & Presbyterian churches with a lot of wealth, both financially and also in teaching and doctrine. But will we use this to aid the poor and the needy? Our generation has lots of time on our hands to watch netflix, browse social media, play sports, watch TV, play video games, work out, etc. But will we use that time to visit the hospitalized and shut-ins, bring the homeless food, visit those who are lonely and sad?

Because God has blessed us with all the riches of His mercy in Jesus Christ, it is our gift to aid the poor and the needy. If we have everything in Him, then we can also serve, rather than spending so much time allowing temptation to creep in. Obviously there are extremes, interpretations, people who still need to be saved by Christ although they are in the church, and all the wisdom to be sorted out in between, but Jon Bloom and Rosaria Butterfield have pressing and poignant points for our current church scene.

Patrick Brown, Rick Dykstra, and the Christian Response

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Jonathon Van Maren writes about how Patrick Brown’s downfall was not an injustice. He writes this on the Bridgehead. I’m afraid that Van Maren is right, in a sense of the word. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword (Matt. 26:52). In a sense, it is poetic justice for his deceit and treachery.

But the allegations are beginning to grow against those connected to the PC Party in Ontario. Rick Dykstra just resigned as president of the PC party due to more allegations. MPP Sam Oosterhoff, tweeted this morning: “The allegations brought forward against Mr. Dykstra are shocking and very serious. My thanks go to the brave women who have come forward this past week. All men must be held – & hold themselves -to a higher level of respect and integrity. This abuse must end.”

As corruption continues to come to the surface, and court-cases take place to verify the claims, it is a time for self-reflection among conservatives. I’m thinking particularly of Christian conservatives. MPP Oosterhoff’s words nailed it: “All men must be held – & hold themselves -to a higher level of respect and integrity.”

The problem with holding yourself to a higher level of respect and integrity means that you might have to suffer. And we don’t like to suffer mockery, those barbs that are pointed at men who like to keep a clean slate and be free of compromise. All to easily we excuse the sins of those who defend us (like Trump), because we say “that’s the only way to get anywhere in politics”. All to easily we make little compromises, all the while Wisdom is screaming at us to halt our paths, to come back to the ways of God.

Joseph kept a clean slate when a government official’s wife wanted him to get into bed with her. Because of that, he had false allegations pressed against him, and he was thrown into prison. After that, he quickly rose to become the Pharaoh of Egypt, and God used his faithfulness under pressure to bless His people and be a witness to His Name.

Are we willing to have this kind of integrity? Are we willing to give away all because we see by faith what God is doing in this world?

We live in a world of scandal. But the greatest scandal in the Roman empire 2000 years ago, was that a Jew who called himself God, was thrown on a cross. He healed the sick, forgave sins, and then he was crucified. But then He rose from the dead. His followers went out from Jerusalem calling for the peace that can only be found at the cross of Jesus Christ. For that they were stoned and called traitors. But many of them maintained the integrity of their message under enemy fire.

This is the hope for Ontario. This is the hope for maintaining Christian principle in our cultural gong-show. Now is more time than ever for Christian leaders in government to take a stand for the cross of Jesus Christ, and life that comes as we pass under it. Without Christ, it is all worthless anyways.

Patrick Brown and the Christian Response

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Ontario politics just blew up. Patrick Brown, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party has stepped down from the leadership of the Conservative Party. Two women have accused him of sexual misconduct during his time as a federal MP. If these allegations are true, then it is good for him to step down. He has abused his power, and has acted in a way not befitting of his position as a political leader, and has harmed two women in the process.

But how should Christians respond? Patrick Brown has not always treated Christians well. In many ways, he deceived Christian voters into thinking he was a social conservative. As Father Raymond J. de Souza points out, Patrick Brown did not act well when he tried to block social conservative, Sam Oosterhoff, from winning his riding in Niagara. Patrick Brown has sided with many of Premier Wynne’s social policies, and it has become difficult to trust Brown as even a fiscal conservative. He has not proven himself to be an entirely honest man, as de Souza so clearly points out.

But we should be cautious about how we respond to these allegations. After all, they are allegations, they are anonymous as Christie Blatchford clarifies, and a man should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Again, Biblical law, which to some degree is recognized in the courts of our land, demands two or three witnesses and a full court case to prove that a man is guilty (Deut. 19:15-21). This precaution is set in place because there are many malicious witnesses who might step forward to condemn a man (Deut. 19:16).

If the witness of these women are true, they should be commended for their boldness in stepping forward. Currently, the courtrooms have not been able to judicially evaluate their claims. The media has received the first round of claims, and we have to step back before making claims that might show us to be injudicious as the fall-out ensues, and Patrick Brown proceeds to cross-examine their story (Prov. 18:17).

These allegations may be true, and Patrick Brown will reap the consequences, and then Christians may rejoice that justice has been carried out. But even then we must be cautious. The writer of Proverbs tells his son in Proverbs 24:17–18 “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.” I’ve always had a hard time understanding this verse. But I see it along the lines of praying for our enemy and loving him. More specifically, I see this as a call simply not to rejoice when we see him stumble. Yes, justice must happen, but the Lord may show His mercy to Patrick Brown. For that, Brown must repent, and for that we must be clear first and foremost on the good news of Jesus Christ in the presence of Patrick Brown.

We should pray for Patrick Brown (I Tim. 2:2). He is not above the law, but as Christians, we must also judge with righteous judgement (John 7:24). We must call him to repent of what he has done wrong, not for what he hasn’t done wrong. Christians should be the most judicious when it comes to a fall-out in politics.

At the end of the day, we must wait for the courts to judge this case. We have to be careful, because it is becoming easier and easier to destroy someone’s political and/or public career, even that of a godly man. Yes, Brown must repent of some of his deceitful ‘politicking’ and many of his compromising viewpoints. He also must stand tall and ‘judge with righteous judgement’. But we must remember to speak the gospel in this political environment. Whatever the fall-out, we should point Patrick Brown to a perfect law that is found in Jesus Christ. He is the Ruler of kings on the earth (Rev. 1:5). He is the Lamb of God, the sacrifice, who not only takes away our sins, but the sins of who ever comes to Him looking for forgiveness and an ability to take responsibility for their sins and lead a godly life. May His kingdom come in our lives, in Patrick Brown’s life, and in our culture.