20 Jul 2022

The Utopian Trifecta

Once upon a time, there was a good and gracious King. Though he was king of all the land, he gave one of his lands to his oldest subject, but this man was soon tricked by the king’s enemy into giving up his authority over the land. The king’s enemy ruled with wickedness, and an iron fist. He allowed injustice, championed selfishness, and permitted evil. Under the evil king, the people of the land hurt

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15 Jun 2022

Walking and Running

I see it time and again…my two-year-old daughter, who has been walking for over a year, decides to take off and ends up falling flat on the floor. It’s very cute, and she gets up and acts like it was nothing, but my breath catches every time it happens. It catches because I know that this time, she could land awkwardly and break her arm or worse. She knows how to walk, and she knows

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09 May 2022

In Defense of the New Perspective on Paul (Part 3)

Unfortunately, Cara explains that the rest of his article will focus on works-righteousness, and that he will not undertake an examination of Old Testament covenantal nomism. It is unclear why he chooses to do this, but to ignore the entire basis for NPP soteriology (and Cara explicitly admits that covenantal nomism is the basis from which NPP theology develops) is argumentative malpractice. Cara cites only extra-Biblical Jewish texts in an attempt to show that at

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06 May 2022

In Defense of the New Perspective on Paul (Part 2)

To recap, Cara concludes that, in NPP soteriology, “Justification is no longer a once-for-all declaration that by grace alone God declares sinners to be righteous in his sight based on the work of Christ alone through the instrument of faith alone.” In stating this, Cara betrays a belief that justification is God stating that sinners are righteous even when we are not, because of Jesus’ work. The NPP belief is that justification is God stating

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25 Apr 2022

In Defense of the New Perspective on Paul (Part 1)

I am by no means an expert—in fact, I’m probably not even “well-versed”—in the New Perspective on Paul and the various views that fall under that umbrella. My education on the NPP came experientially, as I began to sense a disconnect between what my Lutheran upbringing taught me and what Scripture says, especially the gospels. I came to see that the version of Lutheran salvific theology I was raised to believe was not in the

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22 Apr 2022

Christians and Conspiracy Theories

“You’ve been vaccinated against COVID?” he said with a horrified gasp. “Don’t you know that the mRNA will cause your body to shed spike protein fragments, rendering people sitting next to you infertile while simultaneously introducing 5-G responsive nanoware that will leave your brain vulnerable to the influences of the deep state and the incoming Ko-Dan Armada?” OK, so the last part was a surreptitious nod to 1980’s nerd culture, but substitute George Soros or

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04 Oct 2021

The Hungry Heart of Eden

Perhaps one of the most overlooked passages in Scripture for Christian formation is the story of Creation. We are shaped so much and so obviously by the Fall, and the matrix of serpent-apple-temptation-nakedness resonates with our imaginations in such visceral ways, that it nearly seems genetic. As we consider, however, God’s first acts of creative goodness in Eden, we are invited to look upon a lost world, a world that will never return. That prelude

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02 Jul 2021

The Power of the Enemy or the Hands of a Friend?

It seems to me at this stage of my life that one of the harder parts of maturing in faith is coming to grips with the fact that all of scripture, all of our experience in Christ, all the core beliefs and convictions of the Christian gospel, all the ancient writings and creedal magnificence and great teachings and profound ideas of all the saints—all of this put together—is still not enough to answer some of

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16 Nov 2020

WE SING

  We sing because God sings, and the great mystery grows among lilies, lilacs and rose while mother dies, and the bell rings in a season we’re still to know.   We sing because God sings over us, a great mystery we each yearn to tone. “I will establish the throne of his Kingdom for ever,” heard Nathan, about a king, a king whose words we weep to sing:                 Restore unto me the joy of

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17 Oct 2020

Pensées, Reality, and le Coeur (Part Two)

In Part One of this Pascalian reflection, we considered Pascal’s first step in the path of the spiritual quest. At nearly every point of his Pensées, Pascal goads his readers to pay close attention to the movements of the soul in response to the wonders of the created world. There, he insists, you will find flickers of light, glimmers of reality breaking through the darkness. Those sparks, however, are the beginning, and not the end.

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26 Sep 2020

Book Review: Reading While Black by Esau McCaulley

Esau McCaulley, Reading while Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2020. 208 pp. Paperback $18.00. The Rev. Canon Dr. Esau McCaulley’s new book Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope offers timely contributions to the current discourse on several contemporary issues. Yet its greatest contribution lies in both articulating and modeling the hermeneutics of the Black Church. McCaulley serves as a priest in the Anglican

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24 Sep 2020

In Memoriam, Prof. Philip Rousseau

Early Christian Studies has just lost an important voice. No one will ask me to write a remembrance of Prof. Philip Rousseau, who passed away on September 3rd, 2020. I cannot claim to have been a family member, close personal friend, PhD directee or professional peer. Although I worked alongside him for seven years, I was formally his student for only a single semester—my first at the Catholic University of America—in 2008. Still, such is

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16 Sep 2020

Pensées and a Course in Reality (Part One)

In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal measures the relative space of a collection of small sculptures. Small. A few inches at most. And though there are 264 of them, they could all be put in an average-sized box and stored away on a shelf somewhere. De Waal recognizes, however, that these wee pieces, called netsuke, take up considerably more space than their actual size. Paraphrasing Lord Digory, they’re bigger on the inside

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14 Sep 2020

Dogma as an “Instrument of Freedom”

Flannery O’Connor once wrote “for me dogma is only a gateway to contemplation and is an instrument of freedom and not of restriction. It preserves mystery for the human mind” (The Habit of Being 92). O’Conner proclaims that dogma, that often maligned and mistreated word, is in fact an essential aspect of human freedom. How often do we hear that ‘dogmatization’ is wrong, limiting, restrictive, and contrary to our creativity, freedom, and personhood? Dogma has

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11 Sep 2020

Ruth as Hero: Responding to David Justice’s ‘Ruth: Model Minority’

The book of Ruth is the Bible’s only bucolic idyll and, as the great Hebrew scholar Robert Alter says, “one of the few truly successful stories in any literature that concentrates almost exclusively on good people.” It is, he concludes, “one of literature’s most touching stories with a happy ending” (vol. 3, 621, 624). Yet, despite its apparent superficiality, the book is deep, complex, and difficult. The most jarring moment is when Naomi advises her

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03 Aug 2020

Reading Tobit with Christic Eyes: Christ Images in the Book of Tobit

The Book of Tobit, found in the Septuagint and maintained as deuterocanonical/canonical in both East and West, is replete with Christological foreshadowing and imagery. Within the Anglican context, we see that Tobit is appointed regularly in the Lectionary thereby acknowledging its theological value. This book, and the other ‘apocryphal’ books mentioned in Article VI, are “read for example of life and instruction.” Thus, we see that there is a clear dialogical reality to the Deuterocanon

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27 Jul 2020

How the Liturgy Saved Me: A Psychologist Discovers the Solution to a Problem He Didn’t Know He Had

Liturgy is one of those things that can divide Christians. Some think of liturgy as rote prayers for people who are religious but don’t really know the Lord. I had one person leave the Anglican church I was pastoring because she could no longer pray liturgical prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, unless she knew she could consciously mean every word. By this, I understood that she thought her mind had to be fully engaged as

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15 Jul 2020

Turning Swords into Plowshares

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was watching a celebration on TV and at the same time reading Shane Claiborne’s book Beating Guns:  Hope for Those Who Are Weary of Violence.  Both celebration and book quoted John 15:13: “No greater love is this than the

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22 Jun 2020

Al Mohler, Slavery, and the Bible

If we want to know what the Bible has to say about American chattel slavery, we’ll need to do more than type “slave” into the Bible Gateway search bar. Perhaps that is the lesson we should learn from Al Mohler’s recently surfaced denunciation of runaway slaves on Larry King Live in 1998. In that interview, Mohler contended that Harriet Tubman — and others who ran from slave owners or abetted runaways — disobeyed St. Paul’s

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10 Jun 2020

Racism and Sin

“It is the divinely imposed task of the prophet to break down the wall of our indifference by voicing the suffering and anguish of the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed of our society.” -Abraham Heschel A wound, when it is not properly treated, will fester to the point that it will suppurate. This is not only true of our physical wounds but, also, our interior wounds. Imagine a couple who begin a

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