18 Feb 2022

We’re All Erastians Now

One way to frame post-Reformation church history is by what Robert Rodes (a Notre Dame law professor, not the Confederate) identified as an Erastian-High Church dichotomy or “tension” working itself out across then-already-dwindling Christendom. In a narrow, most historical sense, Erastianism represents the views of the eclectic layman theologian-physician, Thomas Erastus. Presented by the Swiss Calvinist—once a suspected as a Socinian but later exonerated—was a posthumously published proposal in 1589 not all that radical: sacraments,

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21 Jan 2022

Karl Marx: Prophet of Authenticity, Part II

This is the second installment of a three-part series. Part I can be viewed here.  Inauthentic Man Marx’s final confidence notwithstanding, he (obviously) was taken up with the proximate, intervening problems standing in between man and his destiny. Namely, that modern man in the capitalist epoch of history is not living authentically. As a cog in the “automatic system” he is alienated from his labor which means that he is alienated from both himself and his

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17 Jan 2022

“Let Justice Roll Down”: A Short Reflection on MLK and Amos 5:24

The words of Amos 5:24, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” have been inscribed on the American mind through our annual remembrance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This favorite verse of King’s presents a beautiful image. However, because King is generally thought of primarily as a civil rights leader and not a Christian theologian, in

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10 Dec 2021

The Danger in Clinging to Life

As I sat in that room, which was filled with people who had more education and experience than me, I thought, “I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to be here.” At the time, I was an adjunct faculty member and this was my first time attending a faculty/staff meeting with the college president. It was well known that the institution was facing financial hardship, and the meeting was called to address concerns around potential

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12 Nov 2021

Karl Marx: Prophet of Authenticity, Part I

In his new bestseller, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman argues that Marx, along with Nietzsche and others, contributed to the plasticity of man. Meaning that human nature is contingent, not static, and subject to the desires and will of man himself for its ultimate meaning, manifestation, and final end. In sum, it is the erosion of metaphysics and traditional ontology. Marx, capitalizing on his predecessors, represents an inward turn in

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13 Aug 2021

Duty and Reciprocity in the Pandemic

I have spent a good amount of my Covid pandemic days imbedded in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New England election sermons, as well as older American case law regarding the state police power vis-á-vis past public health crises. The two seemingly disconnected inquiries have actually cohered quite well. This exercise has kept me, for the most part, from joining the hot take fray on pandemic-related topics. It has not, however, totally kept me from glancing up

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16 Jul 2021

Church and Conscience

American Christianity, in certain intellectual quadrants at least, is undergoing a reassessment of established conceptions of church and state. The Gelasian analogy (from Duo Sunt) of church and state, now carried on by contemporary integralists but also by many more before them, is that of soul and body. The former represents the spiritual power and the latter the temporal. This is a proper analogy that, in various forms, was invoked by the magisterial reformers (like

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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

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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

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08 Jan 2021

A Year of Revelation

It is (nearly) universally acknowledged that 2020 was, to put it technically, a dumpster fire. A global pandemic, economic turmoil, political chaos, isolation from loved ones, and massive loss of life across the globe combined to make 2020 one of the most difficult years to live through, both literally and metaphorically. In this short reflection I would like to focus, though, on what we can take away from this year. To be clear, this is

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04 Nov 2020

Divisiveness on Conciliar Post

We live in a divisive time. As I write these words, the outcome of America’s presidential election is uncertain (and may remain so for some time). Regardless of the result, it will leave many unsatisfied and will further foment tension. Now is a fitting time to remind ourselves that, at Conciliar Post, our mission is to facilitate meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions. This is becoming more and more difficult. The reality is that our own

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26 Oct 2020

The Longest Lent

Lent began eight months ago today.   Eight months ago I was in a cool, dark sanctuary, listening to my vicar say “You are going to die.” I didn’t know how accurate that statement would be for this year. We rose, row by row. Ashes were traced across my forehead, I returned to my seat. We rose, row by row, again going forward—this time to receive the bread, the wine. In darkness we stepped into

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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

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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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02 Oct 2020

Free Speech Roundtable: Speaking Freely in Christ

Let me begin with a confession: I do not know how freedom of speech should be legislated in a modern, democratic nation-state, and I will not do my readers the disservice of pretending otherwise. It seems probable to me that, in a fallen world, John Ehrett and Barbara White are correct: a largely unrestricted understanding of free speech is a substantive moral good and provides important safeguards against our sinful desire to control, coerce and

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01 Oct 2020

Free Speech Round Table: The Quiet Courage of Free Expression

Nobody likes free speech. This may seem incongruous or even controversial in a theological roundtable dedicated to weighing the relative merits and Christian response to issues of free speech, but I am convinced that it is true. Free speech guarantees that you will hear something you don’t like, or even that deeply offends and troubles you. You have to listen to mean people tell lies, sometimes about things you believe in. And despite this, I

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30 Sep 2020

Freedom of Speech Round Table: Revising Our Definition of Freedom

As Christians, our relationship to freedom of speech is complicated. On the one hand, it is certainly a gift. C.S. Lewis once remarked in Mere Christianity that it’s good Christians cannot impose their views of marriage onto non-Christians, because Christians would not want Muslims to forbid drinking alcohol. In an ever-secularizing world, freedom of speech is a necessity: I have to be okay with the existence of acts of speech like “Immersion (Piss Christ)” by

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29 Sep 2020

Free Speech Round Table: The (Substantive) Christian Case for Free Speech

The problem of liberty is a frequent motif among right-of-center political commentators these days. According to a growing number of writers informed by the Christian (primarily Catholic) theological tradition, the “traditional” or “libertarian” American case for personal freedom—understood in the sense of an abstract commitment to certain procedural limitations or an ill-defined ideal of absolute autonomy—is no longer sufficient. Rather, any arguments for social policies or practices must be founded in a substantive account of

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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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07 Sep 2020

Book Review: “Live Not By Lies”

A lot can change in three years.  In March of 2017, I found myself sitting in my New Haven apartment, with just a few months to go before graduating from law school, penning a review of Rod Dreher’s buzzy new book, The Benedict Option. While I appreciated its diagnosis of modern thought and clarion call to action, I’ll admit that I didn’t buy into its full vision. Following the unexpected results of the 2016 election

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