Over the past 40 years I have been asked to write articles on theological matters for various magazines. Some of them were of a transient nature and not worth a longer shelf-life that the day they were published. Other items were of lasting interest, and many of those are re-published here.
Many of these were published in Light And Life magazine, under the category of “The Deeper Path: Doctrine”. These were designed for those readers who wanted to dig a bit deeper into issues of theology. At the close of those articles there were 3 categories to further thought or application. They bear the subtitles (1) Think it Through, (2) Take Action, and (3) For the Small Group Leader. Feel free to follow their guidance or ignore them.
Other items were prepared for oral delivery at conferences, and were not always published in printed form, but may have been recorded on cassette or cd. Those I am publishing here in their printed form.
I have entitled these published articles under the rubric, Things Theological, since that is the over arching theme that unites them. They follow no particular order, other than alphabetical. They are not intended to be read in any particular order, some might pique your interest, others may hold no interest to you. Like a smorgasbord; take what you want, leave the rest for others of more peculiar taste.
David N. Ashton
A Journey with Jonah I remember the fight. It was my first semester in College. I had just been chosen to be the freshman class chaplain. A few days later a fellow student approached, saying she had a question she wanted to ask me. I was interested so stopped. Her question was “Do you think Jonah is fact or fiction?” I did not know this was a litmus test. If I was to be the chaplain of her class she wanted to find out if I was kosher. I did not pass the test. I responded, as only an English Lit major would, with an answer that sounded something like this: “I think it is a wonderfully told story, but I do not know whether it is fact or fiction.” She knew I had waffled on the question, and so began to educate me on the principle that if Jonah was not historically accurate, that put the whole Bible in jeopardy. And so began my interest in this short story. 50 years since that chat I have thought much about this controversial book. Here is the table of contents of my journey with Jonah: A Journey with Jonah The text of The Book of Jonah (NRSV)
1. The Fish is a Red Herring
2. The Renegade Prophet
3. Righteous Sinners & Wicked Saints
4. Jonah’s Pitiful Prayer
5. The Failure of Prophecy
6. The Repentance of God
7. Jonah & the Animals
David N. Ashton
In 2006 I was invited to Wesley Acres Family Camp in Southern Ontario to deliver a set of lectures on “The Temptations of Jesus”. It was a six day event that whet my appetite to continue to dig deeper into the theme in the years since. After another half dozen years of reflection on the theme, I decided to put into thoughts into print. You can find the 11 sessions by checking out the main menu of http://prodigalprof.com
Some years ago I wrote a paper on the doctrine of Purgatory. In recent days a request was made that it be posted so that others could view it. So here it is. Feel free to respond. This will forever remain a topic where friends can still agree to disagree. It is posted under the heading “Purgatory?”. Please notice the question mark.
Creed or Chaos
A recent trend has been causing me significant unease. The fixation with “contemporary” has caused many churches to retool themselves to attract young people to their sanctuaries. I applaud the goal. All of us would love to see our churches flooded with teens and young families.
But the methods often chosen to attempt this, however, have resulted in the removal of all that had been inherited from the long past. The diminishment of scripture reading to a brief text, rare reciting of creeds, declining frequency of the sacraments, an aversion to hymnody and written prayers, have been increasing in momentum. This trend has been in aid of making us as up-to-date as 24/7 news channels, the newest technology, and in step with new social media. One of the consequences has been to sacrifice content to style, mind to emotion, and deeds to devotion.
These recent trends make me want to taste the wares of that form of faith that preceded the current fixations. It is one of the reason that causes me to re-introduce an ancient creed for a post-modern age. I confess my attraction to the doggerel, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” (though I’m not sure what “blue” could mean in this context.) But if you are interested in something old and borrowed and yet ever new, I recommend you visit this website and explore the lines of the Apostles’ Creed under the heading “Creed or Chaos”.
David N. Ashton
Prof. David Ashton
I was born and raised in England, worked most of my life in Canada, and received a substantial part of my education in three countries.
Over the past 47 years I have served as pastor in five churches and have served three colleges as Professor and Academic Dean. My area of academic expertise has been in Biblical & Systematic Theology. Since retirement I have spent my time writing for publication, offering courses by distance education, traveling as a visiting teacher/preacher and serving as “pulpit supply” for various churches in several denominations in the US & Canada.
I have been married to Amy (Pippin) for 46 years. We have three daughters, three sons-in-law and six grandchildren.
If you want to communicate with me, here is my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some years ago I began reflecting and writing about the story known as the “Parable of the Prodigal Son“. This evolved into speaking at churches and conferences across North America about this story that Luke records in his gospel. In recent years my telling of that story “grew like Topsy” and as I entered retirement, still pregnant with the story, decided to give it birth.
If you would like to read it, check out the menu of this site under the heading “The Prodigal”