Public Theology

25 Jun 2021 What does it mean to be a good citizen? Disagreeing well… even on abortion

Last week a student from my church invited me to present to her high school civics class on the question, “What does it mean to be a good citizen?” Since I work with ARPA Canada and interact often with the civil government, she thought that I would know something about – or at least have opinions on – the topic. I love giving lectures to high schools and university groups. It’s a highlight of my job. But what made this invitation a little more unique is that the school is a...

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06 May 2021 Every Political Issue Requires A Biblical Perspective

ARPA Canada exists to bring a biblical perspective to our civil authorities. We give great attention to some issues – abortion, euthanasia, fundamental freedoms, Christian education, and gender and sexuality – a bit of attention to other issues – criminal justice, the environment, economics, and multiculturalism – and little attention to many other issues, such health care, poverty, and homelessness. This organizational focus on some issues and lack of attention on others is not because only certain issues are worthy of Christians’ attention. We confess that God is sovereign over all...

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15 Apr 2021 Our Presence Matters

Should Christians attend or organize public protests of bad laws, or rallies in support of good laws? That was the question I asked myself when presented with an invitation to attend an event on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The rally was being organized in support of a father who is in jail for the “crime” of going against a court order by expressing concern about how transgender ideology is affecting his child. I admit I was not especially excited to attend this rally on the steps of the...

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12 Apr 2021 Live Not By Fear: A Call To Exude Hope Amidst a COVID-Infatuated World

  This blog post was originally published in a print edition of Christian Renewal and is reposted here.   There are times when I see massive challenges on the horizon and can’t help but worry. Like the spies who scouted out Canaan and reported back to the Israelites, I can feel as small as a grasshopper compared to what I’m facing (Numbers 13:33). I’m not alone. Throughout this country, I see Christians who made it through the past year with more gray hair and lines of worry on their faces. Many are recognizing what...

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07 Apr 2021 Preparing to Make a Defense

As Bill C-6 (Conversion Therapy) inches closer to its final debate in the House of Commons and its likely passage into law, Christians must equip themselves on how to speak biblically and winsomely about issues of gender and sexuality. In the words of 1 Peter 3:15, “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” These conversations will not be limited to just political discussions. They will arise in our...

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01 Apr 2021 Throw Back Thursday: Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada (Part Four)

Today’s Throw Back Thursday article is the final installment of the four-part series entitled “Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada,” originally presented at a 2005 Burlington Reformed Study Centre event. The series was reproduced in the January 6, 2006, issue of the Clarion magazine, and reprinted on ARPA’s blog on July 3, 2009. Ron Gray was the leader of the Christian Heritage Party back in 2005, a position that he reliquished in 2008. He is the longest-serving leader of the Christian Heritage Party, with thirteen years at the helm. Ron Gray is...

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25 Mar 2021 Throw Back Thursday: Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada (Part Three)

Today’s Throw Back Thursday article is the third installment of the four-part series entitled “Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada,” originally presented at a 2005 Burlington Reformed Study Centre event. The series was reproduced in the January 6, 2006, issue of the Clarion magazine, and reprinted on ARPA’s blog on July 3, 2009. At the original time of writing, Ray Pennings worked at the Work Research Foundation. His comments were set in a context when many Christians were finding their political feet, deciding with which political party to support, and wrestling with the legalization of same-sex marriage. Today, Ray Pennings is the Executive Vice President for Cardus, a rebranded and expanded version of the Work Research Foundations. He continues to contribute to Christians' understanding of public theology; his 2013 article, The Devil's Advocate: Perfection Waits for Another World, builds up the article republished below. If you enjoy the article below, we encourage you to give the newer one a read as well!   Influencing for Good By Ray Pennings Introduction Winston Churchill reportedly once said that party democracy is the worst form of government except for all of the others. Reflecting on the questions provided by the organizers of this evening in their kind invitation for me to address this meeting, I could not help but wonder, “How would we respond to these questions if we asked them in the context of Winston Churchill, World War II, and the stark issues confronting Christian citizens in that time? Would we still regard Churchill with the same respect as I sense most of us do today? Would we have been active supporters of his leadership?”
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18 Mar 2021 Throw Back Thursday: Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada (Part Two)

Today's Throw Back Thursday article is the second installment of the four-part series entitled “Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada,” originally presented at a 2005 Burlington Reformed Study Centre event. The series was reproduced in the January 6, 2006, issue of the Clarion magazine, and reprinted on ARPA’s blog on July 3, 2009. The author of the second part of this series is Dr. F. G. Oosterhoff. Dr. Oosterhoff was a historian, active in secondary and post-secondary education, who specialized in European history, church history, and the history of ideas. Dr. Oosterhoff had already retired when she authored this article in 2005, and she recently passed into glory.   Christian Politics, What Does it Involve? By Dr. F.G. Oosterhoff Tonight and next week we speak about our calling as Christians in a secular society. Among the topics to be discussed are the causes of today’s secularizing trend, the strategy we should follow in trying to stem that trend, and the best means of organizing politically. With respect to the last issue, we would seem to have two options. One is to join a Christian political party, such as the Christian Heritage Party; the other is to do what many Christians south of the border are doing. It is to organize as a Christian alliance and so attempt to influence one of the mainline parties. In the United States that is the Republican Party. In Canada it would most likely be the Conservatives.
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11 Mar 2021 Throw Back Thursday: Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada (Part One)

Over the next few weeks, ARPA Canada will be re-posting a number of old articles on Throw Back Thursdays. Today's Throw Back Thursday article is the first instalment of a four-part series entitled "Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada," originally presented at a 2005 Burlington Reformed Study Centre event. The legalization of same-sex marriage was one of the most pressing issues facing Christians in that era. The series was replicated in the January 6, 2006, issue of the Clarion magazine, and posted to ARPA's website on July 3, 2009. The author of the first part of this series is Dr. Cornelis Van Dam. At the time when this series was first written in 2006, Dr. Van Dam was a professor of the Old Testament at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. In 2011, he published "God and Government: Biblical Principles for Today," an introduction and resource that many ARPA staff have greatly benefited from and that we highly recommend Reformed Christians interested in public theology to read. Dr. Van Dam is currently retired. Kingdom Citizens in Secular Canada: The Lord wants us to be salt and light in a world that has a tasteless morality and lives in darkness By Dr. Cornelis Van Dam Shaking foundations With the civic morality of our country dropping to ever lower levels as witnessed most recently by our national parliament passing the same-sex marriage bill last June, many Christians are asking themselves: What can be done to halt the apparently unstoppable slide of Canada going ever deeper into being a modern Sodom and Gomorrah? What used to be considered an abomination and sin, for the Lord said it was so, is now exalted as good and is defended as a human right. “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honoured among men” (Ps 12:8). There is no doubt about it; the fundamentals of our national life are being shaken. With the psalmist, we can ask: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3)
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16 Feb 2021 Submission to Earthly Authority: Christian Freedom and Responsibility

How comparisons to employment law and deference to office might help Christians better understand each other on church lockdowns and bring a sense of peace Over the past year, provincial governments in Canada have used their power to restrict to varying degrees the church’s corporate, in-person worship of God for the stated purpose of slowing the community spread of COVID-19. The multiplicity of public policy and legal issues arising from different provincial responses to COVID-19 has resulted in much tension and division within the Reformed community. I’ve tried to wrap my mind...

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