Inhabiting the Christian Year: Christmas

This is part 3 of a series looking at the Western Christian year. For other posts in the series, click a number: 12.
Last time we explored the meaning of Advent---the season of waiting. Now we'll look at Christmas--- the season of wonder. Christmas is a season (12 days), not just one day. As noted by Robert E. Webber in Ancient-Future Time, Christmas "points to the mystery of redemption that took place in the incarnation" (p. 57). Note the two elements: incarnation and redemption. Christmas celebrations within the church should address both for, as noted by Thomas F. Torrance, they are inseparably linked in God's plan of salvation through Christ:
It is in the resurrection that we have the unveiling of the mystery of the incarnation: the birth and resurrection of Jesus belong inseparably together and have to be understood in the light of each other.... We are to think of the line from the birth of Jesus to his crucifixion as the line of the hiddenness of God, the lin…

Inhabiting the Christian Year: Advent

This is part 2 of a series looking at the Western Christian year. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 3.
The Western Christian worship year begins with Advent---a season spanning the four Sundays prior to Christmas (in 2018 the first Sunday of Advent is December 2). Robert E. Webber, writing about the meaning of Advent in Ancient Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year, shares this comment:
Advent is the time when God breaks in on us with new surprises and touches us with a renewing and restoring power. In Christian-year worship and spirituality we call upon God for a new breaking in, a fresh outpouring of his Spirit. (p. 38) The Advent Season is a powerful and important reminder that God is not remote, aloof or uninvolved. It tells us that God has come, is coming and will come again ("advent" means "coming"). This truth helps offset a message that is prevalent in our me-centered, self-sufficient, individualistic culture: I can do…

Inhabiting the Christian Year: introduction

This is part 1 in a series looking at the Western Christian year. For other posts in the series, click a number: 2, 3

The goal of this series is to take us on a journey through the Western Christian Calendar, inviting us to think deeply about how its liturgy helps us inhabit, and so be shaped by the gospel---the story of the Triune God's work for our salvation, centered on Jesus. I believe that liturgy, rightly used, is of tremendous value in helping us understand (both cognitively and experientially) the gospel as viewed through the lens of an incarnational Trinitarian theology.
Some thoughts about liturgy In this series, I'll be looking at the Christian worship year as presented in the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian Church---the calendar that is the organizing framework of The Revised Common Lectionary(RCL). The RCL shapes the liturgy of many Protestant and Anglican-Episcopalian denominations (Catholic and Orthodox denominations use lectionaries similar to th…

How theology affects ministry

A few years back, I had a conversation with J. Michael Feazell, then Vice President of Grace Communion International (GCI). We talked about how incarnational Trinitarian theology impacts the practice of Christian ministry. A video of that conversation is posted on GCI's website at

"You're Included" interviews with Trinitarian theologians

GCI's video program You're Included features half-hour interviews with theologians on various aspects of Trinitarian theology. The catalog below links to more than 60 of those interviews, which were conducted with 12 theologians. For a transcript of each interview click on "program transcript" on the individual video page, or click here and here for PDF documents with transcripts of multiple interviews.

Interview topic
Ray Anderson

Starting Theology With Jesus. The importance of having our theological viewpoint based on God's revelation of himself in Jesus Christ.

Ray Anderson

God and the Prodigal Son. Relating our lives to God’s reality, what God has become in becoming human, adoption, the parable of the prodigal, our necessary connection with Christ, and the emergent church.

Jeremy Begbie

Music and Theology. Dr. Begbie shares his thoughts on the unique powers of music and how they enrich our understanding of theology.

Jeremy Begbie

Journey in Music and Theol…

Did God forsake Jesus at the cross?

Did God forsake Jesus at the cross? Tom McCall gives a thoroughly Trinitarian answer in his book Forsaken (click here for my review). The question is also addressed by several Trinitarian theologians in interviews on GCI's You’re Includedpodcast. Following are quotes from those interviews, beginning with Ray Anderson:

"The Trinity says that God is both above and he is below, God is involved. The one who dies on the cross has to be as fully God as the Father in heaven. Jesus says, 'God, my Father, why have you forsaken me?' This has to be, not only the language of Psalm 22, the human lament of forsakenness that Jesus takes on his own lips, but it has to be that God himself has, in a sense, assumed a humanity estranged from God, so that atonement begins in Bethlehem.

"T.F. Torrance said you have to go back to the fact that the one who was born from the womb of Mary was born to assume the human estrangement, to assume the sentence of death, so that, in that sense, …

What about evangelism?

I realize that the word "evangelism" makes many who read this blog uncomfortable. Some even think evangelism is contrary to incarnational Trinitarian theology. Let me ease your mind, by quoting from the book, Gospel, Church, and Ministry, in which T.F. Torrance is quoted as writing this:
The church today in its faint-heartedness and skepticism seems to have lost its nerve…adapting the gospel to modern man instead of bringing modern man face to face with the gospel…. The Church cannot discharge the task that Christ has laid upon it without offering unadulterated witness and engaging in pure evangelism, cost what it may in scorn and ridicule or oppression. If at the point the Church seeks to save its life it will lose it, but here if it is ready to lose it for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s it will find it. (p. 160, emphasis added)  Strong words these, and in this post I want to address the topic of engaging in what T.F. calls "pure evangelism." My goal is not to gu…