19 Apr 2019

The Necessity of Contingency, Part 2: Human Freedom

Last month I wrote a post called the “The Necessity of Contingency.” It was largely a response to an earlier post by AJ, though I also addressed some other issues surrounding the label of “Calvinism.” My basic argument, however, was that Reformed theology, properly understood, does not espouse determinism, and that the idea of real contingencies are essential to the Reformed conception of God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom.   An impromptu roundtable has emerged, which

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15 Mar 2019

The Necessity of Contingency

One of my favorite aspects of writing for Conciliar Post is the chance to engage with others of ecclesiastical traditions and theological persuasions different from my own. This requires the willingness to have my own convictions critiqued, and attempting, when able, to respond with all the charity and clarity that a sinner like myself can muster.   AJ Maynard, in his recent post, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and the Pitfalls of Calvinism, has offered another opportunity

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15 Feb 2019

Althusius, Symbiotic Man, and Reliving the Sixteenth Century

Introduction Back in December, historian Niall Ferguson gave a lecture in which he drew an analogy between today’s political polarization and the religious polarization of the post-Reformation sixteenth century, which as we know, led to a hundred-year decimation of Europe and culminated in the Thirty Years’ War. Ferguson’s analysis suffers from an overly materialistic focus, as secular historians are wont to employ, and fails to give due regard to theological motivations. This is forgivable since

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21 Jan 2019

Book Review: Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense

David Haines and Andrew Fulford, Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense (Davenant Trust, 2017), 142 pp. Introduction A recent book by David Haines and Andrew Fulford, and published by the Davenant Institute, called, Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense, seeks to acquaint Protestants with the natural law tradition as it was received and developed by the Magisterial Reformers of the sixteenth century and the Reformed orthodox of the seventeenth century. Natural

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17 Dec 2018

Sola Fide and Justification According to Works

I recently reread one of Matthew Bryan’s posts from December 2015 titled, “The False Gospel of Protestantism.” While I was reading it, I was struck first with regret that Matt does not write as regularly for CP anymore. I have always enjoyed his articles (although I almost always disagree with his position) and profit from engaging with him in the comments section. For being a “post-Protestant,” he certainly embodies what I consider to be a

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28 Nov 2018

What We’ve Been Reading: Fall 2018

Here at Conciliar Post, many of us are avid readers, both within and without our varied vocations. These are just a few of the good books we’ve been reading lately! Jeff Hart, Presbyterian Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age (Alan Noble) If you’ve ever wondered why it is so difficult to live out and share your faith in our modern context, you will benefit from reading Disruptive Witness. Drawing on the work of

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20 Oct 2018

Dialogue on Church History and Tradition

Over the past few years, Timon and myself (Ben Winter) have engaged in fruitful discussion—via the “comments” section on Conciliar Post—about church history and the authority of tradition. Recently, Timon stated that many of the questions we worked through “are very common . . .from both Catholic friends and fellow protestants.” In light of that, we have decided to reprise our debate. Our goal is to further expand ecumenical dialogue, while learning something new in

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24 Sep 2018

Book Review: Puritanism and Natural Theology

Wallace Marshall, Puritanism and Natural Theology (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016), 144pp. H.L. Mencken once famously defined Puritanism as that “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy!” Thanks to the work of Perry Miller and Leland Ryken, among others, the caricature of Puritans as “gloomy, obscurantist foes of science, merriment, progress, and learning” has been debunked (2). The popular-level image of Puritans always did owe more to Arthur Miller and Nathaniel Hawthorne than it

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22 Jun 2018

Modern Erasmian

Long before the Protestant Reformation, cries for church “reformation” could be heard throughout Christendom. Heiko Oberman posits that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the word was as ubiquitous and malleable as “democracy” is today.1 Thus, reform efforts took many different shapes, ranging from attempts to return to first principles to viewpoints with messianic expectations for society. First the Waldensians and Albigensians, and later the mendicant orders, vigorously pursued apostolic poverty as a fuller realization

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15 Jun 2018

Power Perfected in Weakness: Luther on Politics and the Church

During the terror of the Third Reich, Martin Luther, the “German prophet,” was widely misappropriated for the ends of Hitler’s tyrannical national socialism and anti-Semitism. To be sure, Luther’s often bombastic rhetoric supplied plenty of ammunition that did not always require alteration to arouse its desired effect. The anti-Semitic legacy of Luther’s later commentary (e.g. On the Jews and Their Lies (1543)) is, unfortunately, perhaps the best-known element of his life. In a sense, the

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25 May 2018

The YRRM and the Separateness of the Church

The New Calvinists of the Young, Restless, Reformed Movement (YYRM) burst into the public consciousness with Colin Hansen’s 2006 Christianity Today article and follow up book.1 I have recounted some of that history before and will not do so again at length here. In short, the YRRM was essentially a recovery of the doctrines of grace, sovereignty of God, and Calvinist soteriology (i.e. TULIP), predominately by evangelical Baptists. Since its inception, the YRRM has been frequently

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27 Apr 2018

Scripture as “Language” and MLK50

Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990) was an English philosopher of history and an essayist who has always been considered “a bit outside the mainstream of the conservative movement.” It has been said that he was a thinker who went beyond politics. While he remains little discussed by modern conservatives, his writings, particularly on the nature of historical inquiry, remain prescient. Oakeshott may also offer guidance for issues now facing American Christianity, specifically the discussion surrounding the recent

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30 Mar 2018

The Clash of Generations and the Spirit of Holy Week

In 1996, Samuel P. Huntington published his work The Clash of Civilizations, an assessment of the post-War order, and famously predicted: “In the emerging era, clashes of civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order based on civilizations is the surest safeguard against world war.”1 Huntington’s prediction may hold true, and in many ways has proven prescient, but economists and historians have recently begun speaking of a more pressing issue than

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02 Mar 2018

Max Weber and Assurance

The relationship between Western Christianity and capitalism has occupied observers of the West for a couple of centuries now. Without a doubt there is an inextricable link between the two; many would argue there is a codependence. Others emphatically attribute the power of the West to the power of moral foundations of Christianity, specifically Protestantism.1 Over the past five hundred years, the “[W]estern model of industrial production and mass consumption left all alternative models of

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02 Feb 2018

The Enduring Relevance of Reinhold Niebuhr

Once Reinhold Niebuhr entered the spotlight he never left it, even posthumously. This is so if only because so many continue to lament his absence and long for someone to fill the void. This past year, a new documentary was released chronicling his life and influence. It featured both his most ardent disciples and strongest critics, all of whom seemed to love him. Niebuhr has puzzled even some of his biggest fans, which includes everyone

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15 Dec 2017

God, James Dolezal, and the boy who cried ‘Scholasticism!’

It’s finals season, which means for every procrastinating graduate student like myself, that it’s time to find other things to devote attention to other than studying for finals. Accordingly, instead of studying for my evidence exam I have found welcome distraction in the budding theological debate over the doctrine of God taking place in Reformed and evangelical circles. Ironically, this past spring when I should have been studying for my doctrine of God final I

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17 Nov 2017

Movie Review: Calvinist

Over the past year, in the lead up to its five-hundredth anniversary, Protestants across the globe have been reminiscing and debating over the implications and ramifications of the Reformation. But another, more recent phenomenon has been receiving similar attention, at least in Reformed circles. Last September marked ten years since Collin Hansen published his now famous article, “Young, Restless, Reformed”, which chronicled the rise of so-called “new Calvinism.” Christian Century dubbed the phenomenon “Calvin’s Comeback.”

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26 Oct 2017

Round Table: Interpretation of Scripture

Introduction Christian life flows forth from the nourishing Word of God. Each generation encounters the sacred text, and responds in love to the divine laws written therein. And yet, the interpretation of Scripture is a topic that oftentimes divides more than it unites. The complexity of the text dictates that we may not all think the same way; yet, in line with our mission to promote meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions, we asked our authors

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20 Oct 2017

“Against the Enthusiasts”

Last month, Michael Horton, professor at Westminster Seminary (California) and host of the popular Reformed podcast, White Horse Inn, conceded defeat, so to speak, for Reformed Protestants to the Radical “enthusiasts.” Horton’s piece lamented how few American Christians are aligned with Reformed doctrine, and how many have been taken by Radical Anabaptist theology, “a utopian, revolutionary, quasi-Gnostic religion of the ‘inner light’” that—according to Horton—has come “to influence all branches of Christendom.” Anabaptists were a radical,

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22 Sep 2017

A Reflection on Reformation Five Hundred

As most Christians, whether Protestant or otherwise, know, the end of next month will mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I hope that such a momentous occasion will not only be cause for celebration if you are a Protestant, but also for deep reflection. The onslaught of Reformation-themed books (and movies) being published this year may be an indication that such reflection will take place for many (even Catholics). But I do not hope

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