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Is the end near?

From First Thoughts

Christians have been engaging sporadically in eschatological speculation for most of the last two millennia, but a lot of people these days seem to be focussing on 21 May 2011 as the predicted Day of Judgement. Could this be part of an effort to preempt the Mayan . . . . Continue Reading »

The comfort of belonging

From First Thoughts

Easily the jewel of the 16th-century Reformed confessions is the Heidelberg Catechism, which begins in so memorable and moving a fashion as to work its way into the hearts of believers everywhere:Q & A 1Q. What is your only comfortin life and in death?A. That I am not my own,but belong—body . . . . Continue Reading »

Another floral acronym?

From First Thoughts

English-speaking Calvinists are generally familiar with the acronym TULIP, which is a handy way of remembering the principal doctrines of Reformed Christianity:Total depravityUnconditional electionLimited atonementIrresistible gracePerseverance of the saintsHowever, given that some might see TULIP . . . . Continue Reading »

The rhythm of Reformation

From First Thoughts

As tomorrow marks the 492nd anniversary of the event that traditionally marks the beginning of the Reformation, I thought it appropriate to post the following choral rendition of Luther’s Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott, sung in its original syncopated rhythm.This hymn is, of course, a . . . . Continue Reading »

Liturgy and archaic language

From First Thoughts

One of my esteemed colleagues, whenever he is responsible for leading faculty in prayer, almost invariably goes to the Book of Common Prayer as his primary resource. This is not at all a bad thing to do, as the BCP is filled with the vast liturgical riches of western Christendom, as well as with a . . . . Continue Reading »

Why I am not a social conservative

From First Thoughts

It’s true. I am not a social conservative, but that does not mean I am unsympathetic with the concerns of those who describe themselves as such. I am certainly much closer to them than I am to the economic libertarians in the conservative movement or to the lifestyle libertarianism that has . . . . Continue Reading »

Nurtured on the Word

From First Thoughts

Some Christians accept without reservation the teachings of their church, including the status of Scripture as the Word of God, but they nevertheless seldom read it and consequently do not know it very well. This is definitely not true of most evangelicals, who from an early age are taught to read . . . . Continue Reading »

The future of church decline

From First Thoughts

There is a once sizeable but now declining protestant denomination here in Canada that is said to be so well-heeled financially that it could keep going for decades after the last member has died.  Presumably this would provide a golden opportunity for market diversification at the corporate . . . . Continue Reading »

A confessional core versus pragmatism

From First Thoughts

I was born and raised in Wheaton, Illinois. For some people that might be thought to say everything. Wheaton is the home of Wheaton College, that 156-year-old bastion of evangelical higher education. The city itself hosts the head offices of numerous missionary and parachurch organizations, though, . . . . Continue Reading »