21 Apr 2021

Three Cheers for Cultural Christianity

It is presently in vogue amongst evangelical cultural elites to decry “Cultural Christianity,” or alternatively, “Bible Belt Religion.” Ray Ortlund’s tweet from April 12th encapsulates this mood. “I rejoice at the decline of Bible Belt Religion,” he wrote. “It made bad people worse—in the name of Jesus. Now may we actually believe in Him, so that our churches stand out with both the truth of gospel doctrine and the beauty of gospel culture. To that

12 Mar 2021

Religious Liberty and the Patriarch of San Fernando

John MacArthur has created a ruckus, again. A couple of his recent sermons have seemingly disparaged both democracy and religious liberty, declaring neither to be biblical concepts, at least not strict or necessary ones. “You say, ‘Well, isn’t religious freedom important for Christianity?’” MacArthur said in a sermon on February 28th. “No, it’s meaningless. It doesn’t matter what law governments make or don’t make. They have no effect on the kingdom of God.” He went

15 Jan 2021

Viking Lessons on Cultural Decline

To distract myself from the chaotic and, frankly, embarrassing display in our nation’s capital during the first full week of the new year (desecrating the week of the Epiphany), I caught up on History Channel’s Vikings. If I’m being perfectly honest, it was also to distract me from studying for the bar exam…. In its sixth and final season, it did not disappoint, even though the fifth season lagged a bit. Disclaimer: this is not

26 Nov 2020

Religion is Downstream of Technology, Part II

The Dynamic Age (roughly spanning from the final decade of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century) was one of man’s liberation. Liberation from the outdated mores and the old superstitions, from agrarian life, from backwardness, and even from nature itself. Liberation came (or was promised to come) through mastery—mastery of the self and environment (and history). As part I attempted to show, this trend of the Dynamic Age, which radically changed

02 Nov 2020

Religion is Downstream of Technology, Part 1

It is often said, and usually attributed to Andrew Breitbart—though he certainly wasn’t the first to say it—that politics is downstream of culture, and that culture is downstream of religion. But a brief look at the dynamic changes of the period spanning from the late 18th century to the early 20th century (sometimes referred to as the “Dynamic Age”) suggests that, in fact, religion (or at least, religious form and expression) is downstream of technology,

05 Oct 2020

The History Wars

In 2013, a headline at The Guardian by Tristram Hunt read, “History is where the great battles of public life are now being fought.” Hunt likely had no idea how prescient this was. More specifically, the great contemporary battles are over historical or cultural memory. That is to say, battles over our collective identity, values, and aspirations—a form of cultural sparring, it must be said, that can only emerge in a society that has been

28 Aug 2020

Integralism as Default

The so-called post-liberal debate rolls on; as is to be expected in the midst of the greatest civil unrest and polarization many recent generations have yet witnessed. So long as present problems can be attributed to the status quo, then soul-searching will commence (hopefully on both sides of the ideological and class divide, but I would not advise holding your breath). And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Recent contributions from Sohrab Ahmari and

03 Jul 2020

On Original Sin and Racism

A great thing about writing for Conciliar Post: any time I’m unsure of what to write about, all I have to do is read recent posts from my fellow contributors and without fail a) a writing topic is sparked by one of their pieces, or b) I find something I disagree with and decide to respond. Both are welcome sights. This time, it’s the latter and directed at AJ Maynard (my resident competition in facial

05 Jun 2020

Antiracism Defined: A Response to David Justice

One of my favorite things about being part of the Conciliar Post community is getting to read about (and discuss) what other writers are reading. Although Joshua Schendel and a few others write more or less from the perspective of my own theological tradition, most do not. That’s the best part. David Justice’s recent review of Irbam X. Kendi’s big hit How To Be An Antiracist is no exception. David’s review comes at an opportune

13 Apr 2020

John Cotton, Protestant Integralist

What follows is, so far as I can tell, the basic tenets of Catholic integralism— a topic of heated debate lately— or what is sometime called “Gelasian dyarchy,” a reference to Pope Saint Gelasius’ letter to Emperor Anastasius in the late fifth-century which espoused the dualistic principle of church and state, (i.e. “duo sunt”). 1) There are two powers that rule humanity: a temporal power (the state) and a spiritual power (the Church). Since man’s

28 Feb 2020

On The Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method (A Book Review)

Niels Hemmingsen, On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method, trans. E. J. Hutchinson (Sources in Early Modern Economics, Ethics, and Law, 2nd Series, Grand Rapids: CLP Academic, 2018), 202 pp. Over the past couple of decades or so, there has been a remarkable surge of interest in post-Reformation Reformed theology, with a particular emphasis on republishing previously untranslated primary sources. A natural result of this trend has been an accompanying enthusiasm for assessing early

22 Nov 2019

Coming Apart in the Southern Baptist Convention

Earlier this month, eight bishops in the United Methodist Church—the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the country—called for a denominational split. The statement from the bishops laments the “brokenness” of United Methodism. Per the authors of the statement, the animating issues relate to LGBTQ+-identifying clergy, the performance of same-gender weddings, and broader questions of human sexuality and gender. Paradoxically, the bishops place a positive spin on the whole ordeal, calling for multiple “expressions” of the

Ohio State Library Stacks
13 Nov 2019

What We’ve Been Reading: Fall 2019

Here at Conciliar Post, many of our authors are avid readers. Below are some of the books we’ve been reading in 2019 along with a short review for each one. Feel free to join the conversation and offer your recommended readings. John Ehrett, Lutheran Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman & Todd C. Ream) The authors—professors at Christian universities—lay out a

25 Oct 2019

Why Everyone Should Study Church History

I recently argued for the indispensability of historical learning for church leaders. Borrowing from Sir John Seeley, I suggested that history remains an essential school of churchmen. This post serves as a sort of addendum to that argument. My fuller argument—that Christians, and especially church leaders, should possess a historical mind—proceeds in two stages. The case I previously made was that history provides the only data of human experience and therefore should be the “library”

03 Aug 2019

The School of Churchmen

Back in April (2019), David Doherty gave three reasons to study church history. His case was, in brief, that church history teaches us how to live well, inspires us to do so, and is ultimately an act of love for the Church. I wholeheartedly affirm David’s reasons. I would add at the outset that the confidence provided by the discipline is especially desirable.  R.G. Collingwood, the polymathic philosopher of history, and himself a committed Anglican,

08 Jun 2019

The Necessity of Contingency, Part 3: Act and Potency

This is the third installment in the series stemming from my original post, “The Necessity of Contingency.” You can view part two here. In the last post, I discussed the ontological presupposition behind classical theism, namely, man’s dependence. The goal of this post is to establish another foundational metaphysical presupposition of classical theism which will permit fuller discussion of causality, God’s knowledge, and human freedom in a later piece. What is laid out below is

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

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

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

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