10 Jul 2020

First Reformed and the Impossibility of Grace

Note: this article contains spoilers. Paul Schrader’s 2017 film First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried, is a brilliantly dark film that explores profound religious questions. The story centers on Rev. Ernst Toller, a divorced pastor of the waning congregation at First Reformed, a historic Dutch Reformed parish in Snowbridge, New York. From the outset, it is apparent the pastor is undergoing a crisis of faith, which we glimpse by way of excerpts from

Wesley Walker 1
08 Jul 2020

Discovering the Late 19th Century Arguments for Women’s Preaching and Ministry

For all of my life, I have been a part of a US Presbyterian denomination which does not ordain women to the ministry. The extent to which women are allowed to teach men in church settings, lead in formal worship, or serve in non-ordained diaconal roles varies a good deal congregation by congregation. Nevertheless, across the board, preaching in regular services and serving as an elder is possible only for men. This fact, of course,

Guest Author 0
Locked ballot box used in Carson, North Dakota on October 30, 1940. Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration. (USDA)
06 Jul 2020

The Right to Not Vote

If you’ve ever been to a neighborhood association meeting or a church committee meeting, you’ve observed something close to true direct democracy. When a decision needs to be made, a vote is taken. All those in favor of the proposition say, “Aye.” All those opposed say, “Nay.” Everyone gets a say, and the simple majority wins. It’s an effective way to do things on a small scale. However, this is nearly impossible on a larger

Jarrett Dickey 0
01 Jul 2020

Trinity Brings Unity: Hope for a Divided World

Not long ago, my parish was offering the Prayers of the People as part of our Sunday liturgy. Worshippers were free to raise their own voices and add their personal petitions to those of the Book of Common Prayer. As we did so, two seemingly different prayers arose from our midst. One prayer was for the protection of police officers and first responders. Another was for the protection of protesters and all those seeking justice

Guest Author 0
22 Jun 2020

Al Mohler, Slavery, and the Bible

If we want to know what the Bible has to say about American chattel slavery, we’ll need to do more than type “slave” into the Bible Gateway search bar. Perhaps that is the lesson we should learn from Al Mohler’s recently surfaced denunciation of runaway slaves on Larry King Live in 1998. In that interview, Mohler contended that Harriet Tubman — and others who ran from slave owners or abetted runaways — disobeyed St. Paul’s

Guest Author 2
19 Jun 2020

“Critical Race Theory” and Its Dissidents

Given the continued protests and social unrest over structural racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, many American Christians have found themselves intensely grappling with the issue. In my own Anglican context, it has become a controversial topic as critiques like “Can the Christian Use Critical Theory” by Fr. Matt Kennedy and “Race and Redemption” by Fr. Gerry McDermott have been published in response to a statement on anti-racism put out by some clergy

Wesley Walker 2
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.

Luke Townsend 0
12 Jun 2020

Who’s Afraid of Trinity Sunday?

If you worship in a Western Christian tradition that makes use of the liturgical calendar, then you probably already know that the first Sunday after the Feast of Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. What you may not know, unless you come from my particular Western Christian tradition, is that it is the unofficial practice of parish priests to invite their seminarians to preach on this feast day.  This is a recipe for theological and homiletical disaster,

Barbara Gausewitz 0
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

Guest Author 0
08 Jun 2020

Christus Victor in Romans 5

Here I belatedly conclude a three part series on Christus Victor, first having attempted to clarify the meaning Christus Victor, then having considered its place in the Old Testament, and now pointing out one of its clearest presentations in the New Testament. To summarize the previous articles:  Circa A.D. 1200, Thomas Aquinas taught the Roman Church something utterly novel to the Christian tradition. He said that the suffering of Jesus satisfied God’s need to punish

Matthew Bryan 4
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

Timon Cline 3
03 Jun 2020

Crisis Calls Us to Continue Community

This article is an adaptation of a sermon delivered on Mother’s Day as part of a “COVID Christianity” series at Rooftop Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Even when life is normal, mom-ing is hard—it calls for spending all day with tiny people who are cute, yes, but who are also demanding and exhausting. Moms need time with fellow adults, moms need time with friends: moms need community. Of course, what’s true in normal life is

Jacob Prahlow 0
27 May 2020

In Lucem Beatissimam

Why squint, O eyes, which love the night, At grey bodies blurred that creep? What hope have you to see the form Of light itself? Veni, Spiritus, da tuis fidelibus sacrum septenarium.[1] Dispel this seven-fold dark.   Love for pleasure inordinate Downward tends me on broken wings. ’Til pierced my flesh with your fear be, I Wallow low. Sancte Spiritus, doce principium sapientiae nobis.[2] Hands kept from evil grasp good.   With sinner’s crowd I

Joshua Schendel 0
25 May 2020

Personal Prayers

Virgin Soul (Isaiah 43: 1-8) Like a virgin bride that waits for her bridegroom, my virgin soul waits for You, oh, Lord! My virgin soul waits to be impregnated with Your Word. Speak It in the recesses of my heart, my being, my virgin soul. My beloved speaks in the dark night, early morning, midday, late noon, early evening. He whispers in my ear as I embrace him in my arms:   I have created

Guest Author 0
22 May 2020

When liturgy Is Not “The Liturgy”

“Liturgy” has become an increasingly pervasive buzzword in Evangelical circles. Books like James K.A. Smith’s You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit and Tish Harrison Warren’s Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life have resonated with Evangelicals, inspiring a cascade effect of articles about liturgy. If you type the word “liturgy” into some popular Evangelical websites, you get pieces like “#OccupyWallStreet: A Liturgy,” “Buying Used: A Life-Shaping Liturgy,” “The Quiet

Wesley Walker 1
18 May 2020

Book Review: “Theological Territories: A David Bentley Hart Digest”

If you are the sort of person likely to pick up Theological Territories, you are probably also the sort of person who already has a fairly settled opinion—whether positive or negative—about its author. (I count myself in the former camp.) Unlike last year’s controversial That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation, this time around Hart isn’t writing for general audiences: Theological Territories is, for the most part, a collection of addresses and

John Ehrett 0
15 May 2020

None for Me, Thanks: The Challenge of Reaching the Unaffiliated 

Let’s talk about the “Nones.” The term refers to those who have no formal religious affiliation, and the group’s rapid growth has been the source of much hand-wringing in Christian America in the last decade. In 2014 the Pew Research Center’s study on religion in America showed that Christianity, which is still the dominant religion in America, was shrinking. Subsequent reports have shown that the decline is happening even faster than was initially indicated. A

Barbara Gausewitz 0
13 May 2020

The Turbulent Life of Canada’s First Methodist Missionary

At some point in the early 1750s, travelling preachers visited the small Irish village of Drummersnave (now Drumsna), in County Leitrim. They were affiliated with an organized religious movement called Methodism, which at that point was not a denomination but rather a society that primarily sought religious renewal within the Church of England. It was characterized by strong preaching, often carried out by itinerants; the encouragement of personal piety and surrender to God; and involvement

David Doherty 0
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

Jarrett Dickey 2
08 May 2020

Contextual Theology, part II

In Part I of this two-part series on contextual theology, I set about addressing the question: What is the primary context, the fundamental context, of Christian theology? Because the Triune God is the object of theology, I argued, the context of the study of God must first, i.e. fundamentally, be God (for God is, to speak improperly, his own context). Because the Triune God is essentially communicative, there is the possibility for creatures to be

Joshua Schendel 0