Christ Was No Bore

Good words from Dorothy Sayers:

The dogma we find so dull - this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and hero - if this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore - on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him "meek and mild," and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. Those who knew him, however ... objected to him as a dangerous firebrand. (Dorothy L. Sayers: A Careless Rage for Life)

Theology Pub Toronto

Back in 2007 I got thinking about the group that met in the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford. This pub was the haunt of the Inklings, a writers' group that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. They met there every Monday or Friday before lunch to drink and talk. I began dreaming of some good theological talk over some good food and drink here in Toronto. Here's what I wrote:

I belong to various groups and attend meetings. I don't expect to ever replicate what happened above, but I don't think we're trying hard enough. Although I have a few friends who fit the bill, and I've experienced a little about what I'm about to describe, it's only enough to tease me and make me want more.

Here's what I'd love to find: a group of people who get together and:

  • Eat. There has to be food. Something happens when you turn to others around a table and eat steak and kidney pie or whatever, and lift a glass together. The whole experience becomes relational.
  • Discuss theology. I am tired of pragmatism. We need to get practical but we can't start there. We can't just emote, neither can we only talk how-to's. Ideas have the power to change the world. I love sitting together with others who are not just wrestling with what to do but who are talking about what to think, who are dipping into some of the best thinkers of the past, and who believe the good stuff is found at the theological, not the methodological, level.
  • Are open but orthodox. Some of my best interactions have been when people from different backgrounds and beliefs are thrown together. Some groups I'm part of are too insular. I want a group that is orthodox but in which we benefit from those who think differently. In other words, it has to be a group in which we talk about our differences honestly but without getting all polemical.
  • Care about mission. If people like Christopher Wright are right (and I think they are) and mission is the basis of the entire Bible, then good theology will propel us into mission. We should become a group of people who are changing the world around us.

As I say, I have hints of some of these, but I want more. I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

Ken Davis responded:

There is not a pub in the city that would object to this kind of meeting as long as we bought something - food, pop ... I'm in - seriously. Let's talk about it. Let us not make the mistake however, of thinking we are inkling-like.

That's kind of how Theology Pub Toronto got started. We're not the Inklings, but I've enjoyed our time together and I've learned lots.

The pub has been going for a couple of years now. It's had its ups and downs. Some have been better than others, but I've enjoyed each one, and I've deepened some friendships in the process.

If you're in the Toronto area and want to check the pub out, then consider joining us on November 22 at 7:00 PM. We're going to be meeting at the Bishop and Belcher near Bloor and Church downtown. The topic is "Learning from Lausanne" - but you never know where the conversation may turn. I'd love to see you come out.

Visit for more details, and let me know if you're coming so we can save you a seat.

Grace Makes It Possible to Hear the Hardest Things


Jack Miller on how grace changes the heart:

I'm glad for what God enabled you to emphasize - that God has a gracious heart toward us in our sins and that sanctification as well as justification is of grace. You would think that would be self-evident, wouldn't you?

...I do not think that an emphasis on grace leads to a soft ministry on sin and the severe demands of the law. Actually it seems to me that such grace teaching makes it possible for sinners like us to hear the hardest things said about our sin patterns, and that can lead to a healthy sorrow which then leads back to sanity, i.e. repentance. (pp. 59-60)

Reformed with a missional edge

I could be wrong, but I sense that the ground has shifted.

A few years ago, what we now call the emerging church was fresh and connected with a lot of us who were a little weary of the church growth movement and a pragmatic approach to faith. This movement has been somewhat helpful, but it wasn't without its problems - some theological and some due to the fact that it was still, well, emerging or deconstructing. But I sense this first phase has lost some steam - not a completely bad thing. The emerging church was never the point. (By the way, LT has a stimulating post on this today).

It really seems that just as the emerging movement seems to be slowing or changing, the Reformed movement has taken over, as suggested by Christianity Today and others. What's interesting is that there is a real missional edge to this, as evidenced by guys like Tim Keller (see Keller's The Missional Church in PDF). It's not your mother's Reformed church. It's theologically robust but also contextual and it's making an impact. It's also more theologically conservative, but it's solidly missional.

What do you think? Do you sense some of the same things happening?