28 May 2019

The Strange Case of American Lutherans and the “Sin of Unionism”

Over the last few years, following my grandparents’ decision to downsize and move into an assisted-living community, my family has been sorting through a treasure trove of documents to piece together our ancestors’ story. As we’ve explored the letters and records left behind by our forerunners, perhaps the most prominent theme that comes through is their deep commitment to their Lutheran faith. In fact, we think they originally fled Europe in search of religious freedom

John Ehrett 0
14 Jan 2019

In Defense of Hymnals

When my wife and I first started attending our church, one thing in particular really stood out to me. Our church doesn’t print the texts of hymns or the elements of the liturgy in a bulletin handed to us on the way in. Instead, just like in the “olden days” we use real hymnals—heavy, leather-bound copies of the Lutheran Service Book nestled in each pew. This was unfamiliar to me, and took a bit of

John Ehrett 1
05 Nov 2018

When You’re Not Countercultural Enough

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything about the Benedict Option—permit me one more foray. Maybe I’m just beating a dead horse here, but it seems to me that this ongoing conversation gets at important issues surrounding the turbulent relationship between faith and civic participation in the modern West. Anyway, a few days ago, an anonymous blogger posted an extended review/critique of Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option” that’s worth engaging. It’s highly erudite

John Ehrett 0
08 Oct 2018

The Grace of God’s Immutability

For the last month or so, I’ve had a hard time writing anything substantive. Much of what I’ve written over the last few years focuses on the need for deference to the wisdom and insights of the past. I haven’t really seen any other alternative to the shifting, turbulent, incoherent landscape of modern life—all of which often seems to collapse into a Nietzschean nightmare of raw power politics. Whether or not we choose to admit

John Ehrett 1
16 Jul 2018

Cogs or Contemplatives: A False Dilemma?

Confession: I’ve been an admirer of Ayn Rand’s fiction for a long time—almost a decade, in fact. I realize there are plenty of circles where this admission risks drawing a hailstorm of rotten fruit. Many folks have deemed her doorstopper-length novels to be turgid and overwrought, laden with unrealistic characters and numbing speeches. Plenty more have decried her philosophy of “Objectivism” as a hideously amoral version of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake”—a social Darwinism

John Ehrett 1
09 Apr 2018

Book Review: “Authentic Christianity: How Lutheran Theology Speaks to a Postmodern World”

Peter Leithart’s slim 2016 volume The End of Protestantism outlined a bold vision for a post-denominational Christianity, but was skimpy on theological specifics. Now, Lutheran academic Gene Edward Veith and Lutheran pastor A. Trevor Sutton have answered Leithart’s call. Their new book Authentic Christianity: How Lutheran Theology Speaks to a Postmodern World is an ambitious, audacious case for confessional Lutheranism as a universal Christian denomination (or, in their words, a “metachurch”). Veith and Sutton go

John Ehrett 0
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

Various 1
24 Oct 2017

The Cross as Template: Kenosis, Justification, and the Cruciform Life

When I was a graduate student at a Lutheran seminary I was enamored with the thought of Cyril of Alexandria. His concern for the unity of the person of Christ influenced me greatly, and I developed a trajectory of thinking that was different than most of my fellow students. This made me feel like a bit of an odd duck, as the conversation at the seminary tended to be hyper-focused on justification. Being Lutherans, rock-ribbed

Guest Author 2
27 Jul 2017

Benedict Optioning, Protestant-Style

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rod Dreher’s much-hyped (and bestselling) book The Benedict Option in the weeks since its publication. While I had many critiques of the book’s lament-oriented aspects, I agreed with a great deal of it—particularly Dreher’s call to focus on developing doctrine among the youth of the church. However, Dreher’s book focused primarily on Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities’ approaches to fostering such catechesis, and largely left unanswered the question of

John Ehrett 0
09 May 2017

Round Table: Angels and Demons

Christianity makes some bold claims: God created the universe. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Human existence does not end at physical death. These statements all point to an important component of the Christian worldview: that which we can see, touch, and measure—the physical world—is not all that is. Reality is composed of something beyond the natural, physical material that we see all around us. Once one accepts the reality of the non-natural, an important question

Various 7
27 Jan 2017

The Inevitable Flagellation of Russell Moore

Though not a Southern Baptist (or Calvinist) myself, I’ve long admired the work done by Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Moore’s ministry has coupled rigorous theology (and an unwillingness to yield to ideological pressures) with willingness to advance a holistic Christian message across traditional partisan lines. Under his leadership, the ERLC has weighed in on criminal justice reform, racial reconciliation, immigration, and respect for Muslims’ religious

John Ehrett 0
14 Jul 2016

Sports, Virtue, and the Human Person

Perhaps I am simply a hopeless Luddite, but I find myself troubled by the recent push (by ESPN and others) toward competitive video gaming—“eSports”—as existing on a level playing field with traditional sports like football and baseball. This trend seems to violate some quintessence of sport, a set of characteristics that is compromised by massive expansion of one’s definitional boundaries. I suggest that our intuitive definitions of sport—definitions which would exclude professional video gaming—are bound

John Ehrett 1
24 Jun 2016

Conflicting Vocations and Professional Ethics — A Response to the “Buried Bodies Case”

I recently asked John Ehrett—our resident legal expert—about a fascinating podcast that discussed the ins and outs of what is known as the “Buried Bodies Case.” What follows is his response…   -Ben Winter Conflicting Vocations and Professional Ethics Among legal ethicists, few situations have received as much attention as the “buried bodies case,” a disquieting story in which the specter of a serial killer’s crimes lingered even after his conviction. The murderer in question

John Ehrett 2
17 Jun 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part V (Statement of Agreement)

Thank you for persevering with us to the end of this conversation. This is the final and fifth part of a dialogue between Michael (LCMS Lutheran) and Benjamin (Roman Catholic) on the subjects of faith and works, sin and holiness, and salvation. To get caught up, read Michael’s opening statement, along with parts II, III, and IV. In this last part, we have decided to revisit the major points of the topics we have discussed,

Benjamin Winter 1
10 Jun 2016

What the Benedict Option Gets Wrong

Though you may never have heard of it, the Benedict Option is an increasingly influential idea within theologically conservative circles. For more backdrop, see this article by Conciliar Post author Chris Casberg. Inspired by the closing pages of Alasdair MacIntyre’s influential 1989 book After Virtue, the modern Benedict Option proposes a strategic withdrawal from the project of secular governance, and a reorientation towards localism and community. In the view of its proponents, mass culture has

John Ehrett 1
20 May 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part IV (Salvation)

“What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)? It all comes down to this. In the end, this is the primary question upon which Lutherans and Catholics are (perceived to be?) in disagreement. In this final “question-and-answer” section of the dialogue between Michael (Lutheran) and Benjamin (Catholic), we address various concerns that arise over salvation. To get caught up, read Michael’s opening statement, along with parts II, III. As always, we hope that others

Benjamin Winter 1
22 Apr 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part III (Sin and Holiness)

In Part I of this exchange between myself (Catholic) and Michael (Lutheran), Michael outlined Lutheran views on grace and faith. Parts II, III, and IV are “question-and-answer” sessions where Michael and I debate the exact implications of his statements from Part I. We hope that others will find the information helpful, and that our dialogue can serve as a model for inquiry into the issues that, sadly, divide Christians across denominations. Whether or not we

Benjamin Winter 0
25 Feb 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part II (Faith and Works)

In Part I of this exchange between myself (Catholic) and Michael (Lutheran), Michael outlined Lutheran views on grace and faith. Parts II, III, and IV are “question-and-answer” sessions where Michael and I debate the exact implications of his statements from Part I. Although such a format is new to Conciliar Post, Michael and I hope that others will find the information helpful, and that our dialogue can serve as a model for inquiry into the

Benjamin Winter 4
30 Nov 2015

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part I

Recently, I completed a series of articles on the Catholic understanding of grace (find parts one, two, and three at these links). At the same time, I was working on a series of articles documenting my journey to Catholicism. After the second installment of that series, I received excellent feedback from an individual named Michael. Although we did not know each other before this exchange, Conciliar Post provided a forum for us to connect, and

Benjamin Winter 1
29 Oct 2015

On Lutheranism as “Reformational Catholicism”

On Lutheranism as Leithart’s “Reformational Catholicism” As a theologically conservative Lutheran who acknowledges the debt my faith owes to generations past, my celebration of the Reformation is bittersweet. What began as a pushback against corruptive authoritarianism and the exploitation of the weak eventually became an insurmountable, blood-soaked divide within Western Christianity. In this venue and others, I have argued in defense of the rigor and merit of Catholic thought, and in so doing critiqued the

John Ehrett 4