29 Jun 2020

Reclaiming Original Sin in the Face of White Supremacy

NASCAR’s recent decision to ban the confederate flag from their events, coupled with an increased willingness amongst policymakers to remove confederate monuments from the public square, has ignited much debate regarding what is, and is not, racist. The debate presents a question: Can honoring a socially relative symbol of family history and geographical heritage be objectively racist? Many say yes. Others say no. Indeed, members of my own family can be counted amongst those proclaiming,

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17 Jun 2020

“Apocalypto” and the Exhaustion of a Culture

A few weeks ago, my wife and I sat down on a Friday night to watch Mel Gibson’s 2006 action flick Apocalypto. I hadn’t seen the film since college, and back then I was far more interested in chase scenes through the Yucatán jungle and brutal battles with snarling jaguars. What struck me upon revisiting the movie, though, was something quite different. About halfway through the film, our hero—a hunter peacefully dwelling on the edge

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15 Jun 2020

Whose Side Are You On?

America is at war. Worldviews are clashing and the culture is divided. The rift penetrates even Christianity. Last week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory spoke out against recent actions of President Trump. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò then wrote a letter in support of President Trump. The left sees God on the side of justice, equality, systemic change, liberation, and progress. The right sees God on the side of law, order, hard work, family, morality, and traditional values.

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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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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

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04 Jun 2020

The Desecration of St John’s

Many of us have encountered the frequently quoted phrase, “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” But this prophetic statement has never rung more true than on June 1st, 2020, when United States forces used tear gas and other violent methods to clear out St John’s Episcopal Church yard so that President Trump could stage a photo-op in front of it, Bible in hand.  These past

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Image of a laptop and cup of coffee.
11 May 2020

Church in the Time of a Pandemic

As I have written about previously on Conciliar Post, I attend a small church that meets in a home. On a regular basis I help with the preaching and music ministry at our Sunday morning services and weekday Bible studies. Even though we are a small church, we have a number of young families with children. On any given Sunday morning, 35-50 people typically attend, which is a large group for a house church. Due

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04 May 2020

The Pandemic and the Wrath of God

In dark moments, I have sometimes wondered whether, when disaster struck, I might lose my faith. Perhaps my God of unbounded kindness would fall away in the face of crisis—shown to be phantom conjured up by an over-hopeful imagination—sand leave me alone in the universe. Yet as it has turned out, the real danger was of this God morphing into a god of wrath, his face twisting into stern, unfamiliar expressions. In this midst of

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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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19 Mar 2020

Of the Plague that Stalks in the Darkness: What Coronavirus Taught me About Faith and Fear

I faced the first weeks and months of the COVID-19 crisis with a combination of steely eyed defiance and glib dismissiveness. The media never lets a crisis go to waste, I said, and this was just another lost Malaysian airliner on which CNN was capitalizing. I blamed social media for contributing to hysteria, and for promulgating false information. I cited statistics about how many people die from the flu in America (80,000 in 2019) and

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05 Feb 2020

A View From Above

How the birds must puzzle as they fly above the Midwest, the Northwest; When they fly over the Great Plains, the Great Mountains.   I flew over the Great Plains. There I saw the grid of man Laid out in straight lines marking plots and straight roads making access a higher priority than aesthetic. To like graph paper we have turned these plains, Upon which to chart yield production and calculate field efficiency; Upon which

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29 Nov 2019

John Dupré, Human Nature and the Limits of Science: A Review

John Dupré was, at the time of this book’s writing, a philosopher of science at Stanford University (now at the University of Exeter) and was part of the so-called Stanford School of the philosophy of science. This book targets ‘imperialistic scientism,’ which Dupré defines as “the tendency for a successful scientific idea to be applied far beyond its original home, and generally with decreasing success the more its application is expanded” (16). Thesis The thesis

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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

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07 Oct 2019

Withered Souls

“There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”[1] Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What happens when one consistently ignores their conscience? What kind of damage might that do to a person or people group? These are questions Martin Luther King Jr. took up, specifically regarding white people. King recognized that from the

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23 Sep 2019

A Theophany of Plants?

Last week, Union Theological Seminary—perhaps the epicenter of liberal Protestantism—tweeted out a photo that was roundly mocked across the internet: students “confessing to plants” in a chapel service, offering their “grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow” to “the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor.” In follow-up tweets, Union explained that the rite was a response to a recent visit by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Native American botanist

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12 Jul 2019

Abuse’s Perversion of the Incarnation

Despite a plethora of theological differences, the church of the 21st century is united by the common scandal of abuse. Moving forward involves (even) more than taking steps of prevention and accountability. Followers of Christ must also address the spiritual turmoil generated within the souls of victims and their families. This wound cries out for a healing process—one which includes a reconstruction of an incarnate understanding of Scripture. The testimonies of victims often point toward

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10 Jul 2019

Evangelicals and Environmentalism: A Review of Douglas and Jonathan Moo’s Creation Care

Creation Care and Evangelicals Discussion of issues related to the environment among American Evangelicals faces a number of challenges. Let me bring three important ones to the fore. First, American Evangelicalism notoriously lacks any kind of overarching governmental bodies or institutions. The best it’s been able to muster so far are alliances or coalitions of various sorts. But these hardly serve to govern evangelicalism as a whole, nor could they. This means that works coming

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04 Jul 2019

God Bless America

The 4th of July is an interesting American holiday; one celebrating both legal separation from Great Britain and the approval of the Declaration of Independence. American yards and beaches transform into gathering places for smoking grills, waving flags, and smiling faces. The night’s sky glistens amongst stunning aerial displays of light and color—symbolizing the hard-fought victories of our forefathers. Yet one particular—seemingly innate—aspect of the July 4th holiday has, for me, become problematic: The phrase,

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11 Mar 2019

What Does Healthy Theological Dissent Look Like?

Over the last couple of months, I’ve greatly enjoyed reading the work of Catholic theologian Paul Griffiths (an erstwhile professor at Duke Divinity School). His most recent book, Christian Flesh, is probably the most extensive reflection I’ve read on precisely what it means to be an incarnate being—and more particularly, a baptized incarnate being. And Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures is a sweeping work of speculative eschatology that considers the ultimate destiny of

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08 Mar 2019

Methodists, Global Christianity, and Human Sexuality

Over the course of four days at the end of February, delegates from the United Methodist Church (UMC) met in St. Louis for a special session of the General Conference to debate issues related to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. These topics had been debated before in the UMC at prior global church meetings, but the denomination had always voted to retain the traditional language of the Book of Disciple on matters

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