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
In the first part of this two part series on Psalm 46, I suggested that there are three strata of imagery in the psalm. The ‘city of God’ is a lush garden, providing for those inside her walls sustenance and shelter, calm and quiet, against all the wilds of life outside her walls. The city of God is, furthermore, protected against the judgement of God. The purging of evil involves God’s de-creative acts; yet for
I have a complicated relationship with Reformed theology. Growing up, I first encountered Calvinist ideas in early high school. I was floored by the thought that anyone might really embrace a kind of theological “hard determinism,” in which anything could ultimately be causally attributed to God. It took only a little dot-connecting to see the implications: without free will, the Fall itself was an “act of God”… which, it seemed, would inevitably make God the
When I heard of R.C. Sproul’s death, my first impulse was to pray for his family and–since I am no longer Protestant but Catholic–for him. My second was to turn to my mother and say, “R.C. Sproul died two days ago.” Death has a strange, self-assured touch. Everything stops in its tracks, but the fact of it won’t register. Not truly a shock, it is more a suspension, a cessation of movement in the vicinity
I believe we suffer from a propensity to look at people with whom we disagree and say to ourselves, “That person can’t teach me anything. They are so wrong in how they think, so insufficient in their intellectual capacities, so distorted in their worldview, that I could not possibly see reality more clearly by interacting with this person.” Think of the political divide. Republicans decry working with “the other side” as a compromise of values.
As part of my ongoing quest to develop a more systematized theological background, I recently completed the coursework to earn a certificate in theology and ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. Among my theologically conservative friends, I caught some flak for this choice: traditionally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church–USA (PCUSA), Princeton Seminary has long been accused of heterodox theological liberalism. Indeed, such institutional trends impelled then-professor J. Gresham Machen to found Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929.
Growing up in Texas, I was steeped in evangelical culture from an early age. This was incidental more than intentional, given that my own Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod occupies a unique space in the American ecclesiastical landscape: it’s too theologically conservative for the traditional “mainline,” but too liturgical and traditional to fit neatly within American evangelicalism. Yet when you live in the land of the megachurch, you tend to assume that the rest of American Christianity—if
The first half of this essay was previously posted here. Three Kinds of Unity Is the reconciliation of the major branches of Christianity even possible? And what can we do to make a difference? Catholics care the most about unity, and are willing to make practical accommodations for Christians from other backgrounds, such as allowing converts from other denominations like Anglicans to bring their own liturgical traditions in with them. Although they are a big
“What is truth?” (John 18:38) Pilate’s question from the theological gospel of Saint John is perhaps one of the Scriptures’ most relevant for our time. What is truth? It is a despairing question we ask primarily when presented with a variety of possibilities which compete for the title of “truth,” and between which we find ourselves unable to decide with surety. This was certainly Pilate’s dilemma—presented with, on the one hand, the serenity and love
A previous version of this post originally appeared on my own blog, Undivided Looking, where I mostly talk about physics and theology. I have divided it into two halves for purposes of publication on Conciliar Post. Note: It is my custom when blogging to refer to all serious Christians by the title of “St.”, because I believe all Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit. My Own Testimony I suppose I may as well start
Peter Leithart’s latest work, The End of Protestantism, is a grand book. Grand both in the sense that it is imposing and important, but also in its scope. Leithart’s purposes in writing the book are no less than to pray publicly for the unity of the church, outline a biblical theology of God’s actions to unite and renew, affirm the changes of the Reformation, critique the historical outworking of American denominationalism, outline the shifting paradigms
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or
I’m certainly a bit late to the party, but in the wake of some of recent studies on global Christianity, I picked up John MacArthur’s controversial book Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship. MacArthur—targeting everyone from African bishops to Southern prosperity preachers—takes aim at a broad swathe of religious doctrines and behaviors he identifies with the “Charismatic Movement” Naturally, plenty of ink has already been spilled on MacArthur’s theology
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!1” A few years ago my wife and I went to a Greek festival hosted by a Greek Orthodox Church in downtown St. Louis. As we were walking around the building trying to decide which food looked most appetizing to us, we stumbled across a bookstore right inside the doors of the church.
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,
“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
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
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
This nerdy niche that we’ve carved out on the internet for ourselves called “Conciliar Post” is a pretty neat place. Here we tell stories about how to live as a Christian in this world, theologize about the historical distinctions between liturgical and low-church worship, write poetry about how worthy the God-Man is of our worship, and debate the schisms and skirmishes of Christianity’s past. Some of us have more professional credentials to be doing this
When a Christian moves into a new town or city, typically one of the first things one does is look for a church. This situation commonly requires attending a number of different churches on Sunday mornings to see if the particular church fits in some way with predetermined criteria for how a church ought to be. Does the preaching proclaim the gospel? How is the music? How friendly are the people? What are the demographics