03 Oct 2020

Round Table: Free Speech

“How should Christians think about free speech?” We asked three of our editors to reflect on this question. Their essays raise fundamental issues Christians must wrestle through if we hope to facilitate real dialogue in our increasingly polarized society. These reflections center on the definition of free speech, when free speech becomes a problem, and what sort of action ought to be taken in our current moment. In the spirit of Christian charity, we have

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28 Sep 2020

Free Speech Round Table: When to Speak and when to be Silent

The July 7th publication of A Letter on Justice and Open Debate in Harper’s Magazine sounded an alarm: “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” Glancing at the list of signatories, many of us will find figures we respect—or at least figures to whom we listen. Their letter argues against “swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.” It

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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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29 Jul 2020

It is a Sin Not to Wear a Facemask

Anyone perusing social media these days will be well aware that the latest politicized controversy dividing American society is about wearing facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic. One cannot make a simple trip to the grocery store without becoming bogged in a morass of invisible social pressure, judgment, and labels regarding whether one decides to don a face covering or not. Christians and Christian Churches are divided, largely along political lines, as to the compulsoriness of

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22 Jul 2020

Mystical Death

The Situation If there’s one thing we don’t like thinking about, it’s death. Yet there is nothing more important, nothing that more defines who we are and how we act, than our approach to death and our understanding of its significance. “Look to the end,” Thucydides and Herodotus remind us, to determine the utility and worthiness of a human life. “Persevere to end,” the martyrs and saints remind us, to gain the crown of life

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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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20 May 2020

Wasteland Christianity

Recently, Tara Isabella Burton published a great column in the New York Times opinion section on the “weird” present and future of American Christianity. She contrasts the slow decrease in religious affiliation among Americans with the increased traditionalism in the thought and actions of those Americans who remain Christian. Ms. Burton’s point ultimately consists in her recognition that many Americans find ourselves increasingly disenchanted with the social and cultural order that we inhabit—whether that discontent

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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

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17 Mar 2020

Round Table: Do Animals Have Souls?

In Genesis 1, God creates the animals of the sea and sky on the fifth day and subsequently creates land animals on the sixth. On this same day God also forms a certain kind of land animal in God’s own image and likeness—humankind (Gen 1:26-27). As with the animals of land, sea, and sky, humans are told to “be fruitful and multiply,” but then receive a unique set of instructions from God: “Fill the earth

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04 Mar 2020

Evangelicals and Catholics Together…Have Gone Amnesic

The past month or so has seen the virtual world ablaze with comments about another high profile, evangelical-Catholic ecumenical…what shall I call it…‘incident.’ I am normally loathe to chime in on such occasions of internet natter. Only rarely do I judge them worthy of notice, rarer still do I find them worthy of attention. Perhaps rarest of all do I judge myself as having anything of worth to add. But the case of influential Protestant,

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01 Jan 2020

Above All, the Glory of Christ: John Duns Scotus on the Incarnation

During the Christmas season, this passage from the Nicene Creed regarding our Lord Jesus Christ assumes particular significance: For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: By the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. That Jesus was incarnated (cf. John 1:14) and the means by which it happened (cf. Matthew 1:18-25) are universal Christian truths. And at first glance it also seems

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28 Oct 2019

Hamilton as a Catholic Allegory

I will admit that I am late to the party. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has been a cultural craze since its debut in early 2015. At the time, I was still a poor graduate student. Only recently were my wife and I able to see the show in Chicago. As we entered, my wife was more excited to see the show than I, but as we left, I was the one charged with energy. From reviews,

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02 Sep 2019

Round Table: The Knowability of God

The Scriptures are somewhat ambiguous about how fully God can be known by human beings. On the one hand, the Son has revealed God to be our Father and has pioneered the path of faith—offering unprecedented access through grace. Jesus teaches that the pure in heart “will see God” (Matt 5:8). Likewise in the first Johannine epistle: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do

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06 Mar 2019

Compendium of Round Table Responses

Below, you can find an up-to-date catalog of my responses to various Conciliar Post Round Tables, as well as links to where they originally appeared. I pray that these thoughts will be helpful to some, and will encourage all to delve further into the mysteries of faith. September, 2019: The Knowability of God “[The LORD] made darkness his covering around him…” –Ps 18:11 Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of discursive practice in Christian theology:

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11 Jan 2019

Nature, Grace, and Learning: Aquinas on Catechesis and Infant Baptism

One thing that the historical Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions have generally shared is a conviction that catechesis is vital to a robust faith. While the word catechesis today may have a slightly more Catholic flavor—especially since the implementation of the RCIA and the publication of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church—any quick glance at the sixteenth century will show the affinity with which reformers of all stripes displayed for catechetical instruction. We might

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09 Jan 2019

Theological Education – Why?

Theology “Then and Now” More than four years ago, I published my first essay on Conciliar Post. It laid out what I consider to be the first principles of theological reasoning, but it also noted that—like all of us—I am still “on the way.” I stand behind these principles: the centrality of Christ, the contingency of created order, the need for grace, and the soul’s ascent to God. I also stand behind the fact that

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12 Dec 2018

Reformed Catholicity: A Review

Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation, by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain Importance of the book Michael Allen and Scott Swain have written (and Baker Academic has published) an important book. Let me highlight three reasons for its importance. First, they are seeking to recover and reappropriate what was an essential Protestant polemical claim early on, that Protestants are heirs of the catholic tradition. In a time when being

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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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12 Sep 2018

To the Church, from a Convert

It’s taken me too long to write this. About three years ago, I converted from a tradition that emphasizes individuality to one that champions the authority of the Church. I think I overreacted. That’s not to say that I don’t still believe in the claims of the Catholic Church. But when I made the decision to submit to Rome, I had only experienced one excess: the doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura, which have contributed more than

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14 May 2018

Theology, Sanctity, and the Academy

It could be said that, throughout history and even now in the “less enlightened” parts of the world, the cults of the Saints drive not only the practice of Christianity but also speculation (in the older, more revered sense of the term) about Christianity itself. That is, hagiography as such – the vitae Sanctorum – is not a strange collection of bygone myths (in the newer, less revered sense of the term), but the pulse

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