The Marks of the Church: the Church as One

Every Sunday we confess in the Creed that the Church is “one”—i.e. we confess the unity of the Church of God. But what does this creedal confession mean? In what sense is the Church one? It cannot mean that the one church is made up of all the various different Christian denominations, for when these words of the Creed were written these different denominations did not exist. Rather, the Creed is here…

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church: What Does the Word “Church” Mean?

Every Sunday the Creed is said in Church in which Christians say the words, “I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church”. It many ways it is an odd thing to say. In the Creed we confess things that are matters of faith, things contestable, maybe even controversial. Thus we confess that God the Father almighty made the heaven and the earth, including all things visible (such as animals and men)…

Knowing the Master’s Manger

In the opening verses of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we find the following words: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken: ‘Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against Me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know; My people does not understand’” (Is. 1:2-3). With these words the prophet begins his…

(Another) Merry Hipster Christmas!

The Hipster Nativity Set is (sadly) back in the news. A year or so ago, some enterprising entrepreneurs created this Nativity set, which includes the traditional figures, but all in a distinctly hipster form. Joseph has a man-bun and is taking a selfie. Mary is holding a Starbucks latte in one hand, making a peace sign with the other, and is making a duck-face. (The selfie, when she sees it, will reveal…

The Saints as Real People

You have probably all seen certain pictures of the saints—usually Western pictures—in which all the saints look more or less the same: the same doe-eyes, the same piously folded hands, the same soft, feminine features found on both women and men. These images offer a particular view of sanctity, proclaiming sanctity as soft, meek, harmless, quiet—and utterly ineffectual. Looking at these pictures you would never guess that those saints were real people,…

Jewish Evangelism: the Lessons of History

Finally in our dialogue with our Jewish neighbours we look to the patterns and lessons from Jewish history as interpreted by the Hebrew Scriptures. Thinking about the catastrophe that befell Israel in 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed and the people of Judea scattered through all the world, I would like to make two points. The first point involves the promises of God made to Israel through the prophets. The promise…