Public Theology

21 Jul 2020 State and church authority in a pandemic – An interview with Professor Koyzis

In We Answer to Another: Authority, Office, and the Image of God, David Koyzis explains that authority is intrinsic to humanity and everything we do, because “authority is resident in an office given us in creation,” and when we encounter authority, “we encounter nothing less than the image of God, which always points beyond itself.” Part 1 of ARPA’s interview with Professor Koyzis covered some of his book’s key ideas. Part 2, below, focuses on the nature and limits of political authority and tensions between political and church authority during COVID. PART...

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17 Jul 2020 The Key to Authority is the Office of Image Bearer – An Interview with Professor David Koyzis

  ARPA’s John Sikkema interviews David Koyzis In We Answer to Another: Authority, Office, and the Image of God, David Koyzis addresses modern skepticism of authority by arguing that authority is intrinsic to humanity and part of everything we do, both communally and individually. Why is that? Because “authority is resident in an office given us in creation.” When we encounter authority, “we encounter nothing less than the image of God, which always points beyond itself.” Professor Koyzis was kind enough to talk about his book with me. Part 1 of our interview,...

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15 Apr 2020 Book Review: The Victory of Reason

By Levi Minderhoud God has blessed Canada. Canada, along with Western countries, is consistently one of the most prosperous, freest, happiest, and most developed countries in the world. Why? In his book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, Rodney Stark, a professor of religious studies, argues that there are three specific reasons why Christianity – as opposed to other world religions – led to freedom, prosperity, and success in the West.   Reason #1: Christianity alone embraced reason as a method of understanding. Human reason requires a very...

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14 Feb 2020 A breach in Wall:  New court ruling casts shadow on church independence

In 2018, we told you about a Supreme Court case called Wall v Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In that case, Mr. Wall took a Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregation to court for “disfellowshipping” him. Mr. Wall succeeded in the lower courts, but lost his case at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). The SCC decided unanimously that civil judges have no business reviewing a religious body’s decision to expel a member where no legal right is at stake. That case raised the fundamental issue of churches’ freedom to govern themselves, particularly in...

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28 Nov 2019 Why liberalism and conservatism are both (mostly) wrong: Politics from a Christian worldview

by John Sikkema The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms acknowledges the "supremacy of God". Many see this as an inappropriate mixing of law and religion. Is it? What if the Charter stated instead that the individual is supreme? Or the people? Or the nation? Or the working class? Each of these would be a statement of the law’s foundational commitment, a statement of belief. We shouldn't think that politics becomes nonreligious simply by leaving out references to God. In his new book, Christian political philosopher David Koyzis helps us understand why. In...

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09 Oct 2018 Canadian governance: is optimism a thing?

by Daniel Zekveld As a young Christian interested in politics, I have heard questions such as, “Can Christians really be effective in politics today?” or “How much influence can you really have?” Other Christians will comment to the effect that politics is a hard task, and that it is difficult to retain the Christian faith while being involved in our political system. As a new intern with ARPA, I was also asked by a classmate, “Doesn’t ARPA get discouraged by the number of cases they work so hard on, and then lose?” The...

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04 Jul 2018 E-petitions, Ice Cream, and Blasphemy

by Mark Penninga Earlier this year, e-petition maker Citizengo.org posted a petition and call for a boycott in response to a Toronto-based chain of ice-cream stores called “Sweet Jesus.” More petitions like it quickly followed. It isn’t only their name that is blasphemous. The company mocks our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in their marketing, symbols, and even the names they use for their ice-cream flavours. The mainstream media, always on the look-out for examples of perceived Christian fundamentalism, were quick to pick up the story of the petitions and boycotts. TV networks...

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28 Jun 2018 Trinity Western University Considering Next Steps

(Lighthouse News - June 28, 2018) Trinity Western University continues to evaluate this month's Supreme Court of Canada decision on its application to open a Law School. The court ruled that law Societies in BC and Ontario were justified in refusing to admit graduates of that proposed school to the bar in their respective provinces. The ruling said that TWU’s community covenant, under which students and staff pledge, among other things, to only engage in sexual activity inside the bounds of heterosexual marriage, was discriminatory against the LGBTQ community, and...

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19 Jun 2018 Post-TWU: A time for courage

by Mark Penninga I’m often asked whether political and legal developments in Canada get me down. And my honest answer is that they rarely do. I’m often amazed and encouraged by the impact we can still have when we seize the freedom God has given us and take action. But I admit that last Friday’s Supreme Court of Canada TWU decision really hurts. It is a game-changer. I don’t think most Canadians realize just how profound an impact it will likely have on our most fundamental freedoms. At the risk of oversimplifying it,...

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28 May 2018 Handing over the keys to the State? The challenges of church as legal entity Part 3 of 3

  An ARPA Three-Part series on Church and State in Canada By André Schutten and John Sikkema The church, says the Belgic Confession, is “a holy congregation and assembly of true Christian believers” that “has existed from the beginning of the world and will be to the end” and “is not confined or limited to one particular place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world.” Yet in common parlance we use “church” to mean several other things. We may use it to refer to a certain denomination, or a...

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