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Isaac Newton, Theologian

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BeliefOn the history of the relationship between science and religion, Francis Collins describes the faith of early scientists.

Here’s one surprising fact he shares about Newton:

Isaac Newton produced more written materials on biblical interpretation than all of his groundbreaking contributions to physics and mathematics combined.

— Francis S. Collins, from the introduction to Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (p. ix)

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What I can’t tell Dad on Father’s Day

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Photo by Simona Balint

This is Dad’s first Father’s Day in advanced dementia. It’s the first time I really can’t tell him what he means to me. I miss him so much.

One thing I miss a lot about Dad is our conversations. He was thoughtfully open-minded, having earned a masters at seminary and completed a masters thesis too, so he was no stranger to thorough research and critical thinking.

He taught my brother and me to think outside the box and to think for ourselves. He encouraged us to take a good look at different ideas and didn’t limit or pressure us to have specific opinions.

But he didn’t just tell us to think for ourselves, he modelled it too. As a teenager he followed his honest convictions rather than giving in to pressure to submit to tradition.

As I grew up and had more mature conversations with him, I started to recognize how he still wasn’t swayed by tradition or peer pressure–his beliefs came from a combination of heart (conviction), mind (thinking), prayer and Bible study.

As a result he raised kids who pour hours into studying, thinking and praying about their belief systems, who don’t feel compelled by Christian status quo. That’s probably one of the biggest gifts he’s given us.

I miss our conversations. I miss his encouragement and the interesting things we always talked about. I miss my Dad.

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Church Bullies

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mans-face-in-shadows-1-by-xymonau-no-r Bullying.

Never a pleasant word. We’re used to hearing it talked about at schools, although not so much at church.

But as I process wounds we sustained from my parents’ former church leaders, and after finding this article at Christianity.ca, I realize we may have lived through a bullying experience.

We had no voice about my parents’ treatment by their congregation. When we asked questions about it, it was made clear–with silence from some, and with unsympathetic and angry words from others–that our questions were not welcome.

The Christianity.ca article explains:

In churches, bullying is often more subtle—church bullies use their power to intimidate people, to close off discussion and to force group decisions to their liking…

“All this has the effect of silencing and disempowering people,” …the problem is compounded because Christians believe they must “turn the other cheek” or give in to make peace in the congregation.

“We feel powerless to stop the bullying, or to confront the bully because we feel that we should respond to violence with kindness,” says Miller…”

This is exactly the inner conflict we’ve been feeling, and why it takes so much courage to speak out about what is clearly wrong. It’s even hard for me to write about these things here on my blog, where readers could assume I’m “unforgiving”, “bitter” or “condemning”.

Pastors, Sunday school teachers and Bible school profs don’t often teach how to handle church bullying, let alone that it exists. It’s no wonder we’re confused when it happens to us:

How do we respond? What if we anger people by speaking out? We don’t want to be accused of stirring up conflict. We don’t want to rock the boat, right? Shouldn’t we just “live and let live”…?

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