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Entries in Canada (2)


Canada and the US: the difference was Victoria

I've been reading a book by the Canadian biographer and historian, Charlotte Gray. Gray is British by birth, but has spent her career in Canada, writing about her adopted country. Her book The Promise of Canada, was written in anticipation of Canada's 150th birthday. It is filled with stories of people who have contributed to Canada's history. In the opening chapter, she talks about some of the prominent figures of Confederation.

I loved high school history. When I was in my last year of high school, I took Canadian history, and the year's study focused a great deal on the differences between Canada and the United States. The teacher, Mr. O'Hearn, was one of my favourite teachers. I think he would endorse Charlotte Gray's observations about Confederation.

Unlike Amrerican independence, Confederation in Canada was achieved apart from the blaze of revolution. Confederation was not meant to permanently sever the link between Canada and England. Gray makes an interesting observation about how Confederation would have affected the ordinary Canadian:

The truth was that the central government was almost irrelevant to most people's lives. Citizens expected little from the new federal government in Ottawa: municipalities provided most policing; provincial governments administered most laws; people looked to churches and service clubs for charity. There was only one national symbol in the Dominion, and that was a symbol that resided elsewhere. In parlours across Canada, you would likely find a picture of Queen Victoria -- dumpy, unsmiling, but a crucial part of Canadian federalism. Loyalty to the distant monarchy was a defining difference between Canadians and Americans (emphasis mine).

I believe that last sentiment is an important part of understanding the differences between Canada and the United States. I think it would be a fascinating study to track the implications of that loyalty to the crown and see how those differences influenced Canada over its last 150 years.


Please come home

I recently read an article in the magazine Convivium. In the September 2014 issue, a lawyer, Don Hutchinson, comments about the impact of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it relates to protection of religious rights for Christians here in Canada. In a nutshell, it's not great, but that's not what drew my attention. It was this:

In 2005, Canada was listed for the first time by the Voice of the Martyrs Canada as a nation displaying early signs of a general, government accepted persecution of Christians. The early signs are efforts to i) stereotoype, ii) vilify, and iii) marginalize Christians simply because of their faith. (The two remaining stages are iv) criminalizing the target group and/or its works and v) outright, open persecution.)

This country is indeed becoming increasingly intolerant of religious beliefs. I'm not an expert, so I'm not going make ignorant speculations as to why and how. However we arrived here, Canadian Christians recognize the need for faithful men and women. In short, we need solid, gospel preaching churches. We need people committed to this country, who desire to see the faith grow here.

Quite often, I hear about young Canadian men who seek seminary training in the well-known American seminaries. For some, it's not even a question: the place to go is Southern Seminary; or RTS; or Liberty; or Dallas. As I contemplate seminary in the future, my options are obvious: I stay close to home.

We don't have famous seminaries like Southern or Dallas. There are places to attend like Toronto Baptist Seminary or Tyndale. I don't know how they compare to those American schools, the ones with famous professors and presidents. For some young men, the thought of enjoying a church history class with the entertaining Dr. Trueman might be the thing that attracts him to Westminster. 

I have one thing to stay to young men (and women) who leave Canada to attend seminary: please come home. We need you. 

We have friends whose kids went to school in the U.S., and they stayed. It's understandable. They develop relationships, build lives, and put down roots. But for the men and women who are going away to be educated with the hopes of entering the ministry, consider coming back to your home and native land. This country needs you, too. As the cultural landscape becomes more and more diverse in Canada, there is a great need everywhere. 

In my small town, we have a few gospel preaching churches, but we could use more. Some people drive for an hour to be in a bible-preaching church. If my church was to disappear tomorrow, we would have to do the same. The options aren't huge here in this little town. You might not become a famous preacher here, but you might be the means of bringing the gospel here to someone who needs it. 

So, by all means, attend school with famous profs. Bask in their teaching. But, please don't forget that this country needs the gospel, too.