There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

random reads

On Racial Equality and Sanctification

<<< previous post

I am part of a holiness movement. Both denominations that I serve, the Church of the Nazarene and the Free Methodist Church in Canada are descended from the Wesleyan Holiness tradition. I am saying this in part as a follow up on the post I made yesterday about justification by faith. In that post I was trying to say that the right response for us, when we become aware of the ways in which we are complicit with racial injustice, is not to try to justify ourselves, but to throw ourselves instead on the mercy of God in repentance, and seek in Christ’s death for our sins our only justification.

This is theologically true. One of the challenges, however, is that so often Justification gets separated from Sanctification in our understanding of the Gospel, so that the “right standing with God” that Jesus offers us does not ever result in a concrete change in how we love our neighbours as ourselves. 

This was, I think, one of the reasons the Holiness Movement began the way it did, to challenge the idea that a disembodied “faith” could save us, without ever needing to see it “play out” in concrete action in the world. This, too, has been one of the failings of the modern evangelical movement, I think, which has communicated that the Gospel is about getting people into heaven by having them “ask Jesus into our hearts,” without ever asking Jesus to change the way their hearts are beating. 

Essentially the Holiness Movement said no to this idea that the Gospel was simply “eternal fire insurance” for heaven, preaching instead that the necessary evidence of our faith in the Gospel was the way in which “Gospel fruit” showed up in our lives.

I’m bringing this up, in part, because many of the stories I have been hearing over the last few days have reminded me of how culpable the white evangelical church really is when it comes to racial injustice, either by actively acting racist, or at the very least by not actively resisting racism.

How could this be? When the Gospel so clearly indicates (at least on my reading it’s crystal clear) that racial equality is God’s vision for his Kingdom?

I would argue that one of the explanations is that white Christians have been content to be “Justified by Faith” without wanting to be “Sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” If we were truly, entirely sanctified we would loathe racial prejudice as the affront to the Creator that it is, and we would long for racial justice the way the Creator himself must long for it. And until we are entirely sanctified, I do not think we can expect to see real, lasting change when it comes to this issue.

So I’m saying this partly to bring Justification and Sanctification back together in this discussion: we can never talk about how we are justified by the grace of God, without wanting to be sanctified by the Spirit of God.

But I’m also saying it to address another impulse that I am noticing in myself, as a white middle-aged male, besides the impulse to self-justification. That is the impulse to “virtue-signal.” It’s one of the reasons I did not respond immediately on social media when news about the protests against racial injustice started to hit my Facebook feed last week. It seemed to me that to jump in with a “like” and a “share” that really cost me nothing would only come across as an empty signal of a phoney virtue I didn’t think I deserved. Of course, the irony is that not saying anything could also be a kind of virtue-signalling, too. If it’s concerned primarily with how my silence will “look to others” it simply becomes a way of saying, “Look at how sensitive I am… I get the issue well enough to hold my tongue….”

Lord have mercy.

Because what I am discovering as I process all this is that just like there is a desire to self-justify when it comes to the evil or racism, there is also a desire to self-sanctify, that is to find a solution to the problem of racism that does not require the supernatural transformation that only the Holy Spirit can effect.

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe that social action, speaking out, taking risks, political protest, personal sacrifice, engaging in dialogue, resisting evil, that all these things have a place. They are essential if we are ever to see justice roll down like a mighty stream. Racism is real, a deeply rooted sin that needs to be addressed as such. But the problem of racism is not that we are racist, per se, it’s that we are unsanctified, and if we were entirely sanctified we would find within us the spiritual resources necessary to address and resist the problem of racism.

I believe that the call which is sounding across the country right now, as cities burn and people protest, is not just a call for us to confront the evil of racism. I believe it is that, but that there is another call, echoing within it, the way deep calls out to deep. It is the call of Jesus to all his followers, and especially his white followers in positions of privilege, to be sanctified today by the Holy Spirit. This is what he always offers us when we repent of any sin: not just a divine forgiveness, but a divine change that empowers us to be different.

Without that divine change in my heart,  I honestly fear that my best efforts to fight racism on my own may amount to little more than an empty signal of a phoney virtue I’m not sure I really have.

0 comments: