Grateful: a daughter’s blessing

From First Thoughts

Because God is the author of the entire creation, it is difficult to know where to start in offering thanksgiving for the many discrete blessings he has given us. I could run through any number of things for which I am grateful, but probably the greatest is my daughter, Theresa, who just turned . . . . Continue Reading »

The gospel for all of life

From First Thoughts

As Christians we confess with our hearts that our salvation is in Christ. More to the point, we acknowledge that God became man in Jesus, lived a sinless life on earth, suffered and died on the cross under the burden of our sins, and rose victorious from the grave. He ascended to the Father and has . . . . Continue Reading »

Singing the psalms

From First Thoughts

Nearly 25 years ago I made a discovery that would change my life profoundly, especially as it relates to the worship of God. While visiting Prague in 1976 I had purchased a copy of a Czech hymnal published in 1900 that contains the 150 Psalms in metre and some 350 hymns. But it was not until the . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptist brothers?

From First Thoughts

I have recently noticed the uncanny physical (though by no means ideological) resemblance between these two Baptist preachers, John Piper, of Desiring God Ministries, and the late Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian medicare and the first leader of Canada’s socialist New Democratic Party. . . . . Continue Reading »

Confessions of a Progressive Christian

From First Thoughts

My recent reading of the Progressive Revival blog provides a good opportunity to explain my own identity as a progressive Christian. Of course I must immediately point out that what the larger society deems progress may not necessarily be genuinely progressive, which raises the central issue of what . . . . Continue Reading »

Abandoning faith for credulousness

From First Thoughts

In my personal library are two privately-printed, soft-bound volumes (booklets, really) devoted to Hancock, Michigan, Remembered, written by Clarence J. Monette. Hancock is located in the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior as the northern-most contiguous point of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Reductionism and the narrowing of minds

From First Thoughts

In 1932 a 26-year-old Philip E. Wentworth published an article in the Atlantic Monthly titled: “What College Did to My Religion,” which the magazine has seen fit to post in its web archives. The author tells the tragic tale of how, as a young man, he was moved by an undergraduate Harvard . . . . Continue Reading »

Building our vocabulary

From First Thoughts

The following definitions are not from Webster’s or the OED:vegetarian, n. a person who avoids meat and eats only vegetables.seminarian, n. a person who eats only seeds.Schwarzeneggerländer, n. An inhabitant of California.Leningrad, prop. n. former name of St. Petersburg, Russia, from . . . . Continue Reading »

The fall of the wall, plus 20

From First Thoughts

The autumn of 1989 was an exciting time to be teaching political science, due to the extraordinary events occurring in the former east European Soviet bloc. The culmination was, of course, the dramatic opening of the Berlin Wall on 9 November. A political illusion that had seemed so immovable for . . . . Continue Reading »

Mercersburg

From First Thoughts

While in graduate school many years ago I subscribed briefly to the journal of the Mercersburg Society, which claims to carry on the legacy of the 19th-century Mercersburg movement. This movement was named for the city in Pennsylvania where the German Reformed Church in the United States had its . . . . Continue Reading »