15 May 2021

Atlantic Interconnections and the Origins of Brazilian Protestantism

Today, much of the discussion on Brazilian Christianity focuses on the charismatic movement within the Catholic church and the growth of neo-pentecostal churches such as the Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus. As I have discussed in an earlier article, the Brazilian pentecostal movement is over a century old today, and it owes its origins to a variety of transnational and Brazilian actors. However, the emergence of Protestantism itself in this predominantly Catholic country (70%

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The Good Place
12 May 2021

The Insufficient Eternity of the Good Place

Welcome! Everything is fine. That’s what the wall in front of you says the moment after you die. Or, at least, that’s what The Good Place suggests that the wall in front of you says immediately after the moment of your death. Appearing on NBC from 2016 to 2020, The Good Place is a fantasy comedy series that traces the journeys of four “Good Place” residents (along with their celestial architect friend and his AI

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07 May 2021

Jean-Louis Chrétien and the Wounded Word

Photo: Paul Gauguin, “Vision of the Sermon” (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel), https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/4940/vision-sermon-jacob-wrestling-angel …what would prayer be without this inward combat with the dumbness in us? This prayer that is so violent and at first uttered against our will— who can say if it is authentic or inauthentic? Jean-Louis Chrétien, “The Wounded Word” In his provocative essay “The Wounded Word: The Phenomenology of Prayer,” Jean-Louis Chrétien argues that prayer is the “religious phenomenon par excellence,”

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05 May 2021

Theology as Reasoning Prayer

I was recently struck by a line from Peter Leithart’s review of Vern Poythress’ recent book, The Mystery of the Trinity. At the end of the review Leithart offers what he deems to be high praise for Poythress: Each chapter of Mystery of the Trinity ends with a prayer. Poythress and Frame want theology to speak to ordinary people in ordinary language, rather than become a playground for professionals who bandy intimidating technical terms about to keep

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03 May 2021

Is God Patient?

Why this Question? In The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “We wait for the sun to move from east to west or for the hour hand to move around the face of the clock, but God is not compelled so to wait. For Him everything that will happen has already happened.” Wait.  God is not compelled so to wait? What does that mean? Does waiting even factor into His existence? If not, is

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26 Apr 2021

Book Review: “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos”

In a right-of-center journalistic landscape that seems, all too often, to have collapsed into a mass of indistinguishable pundits all saying roughly the same thing, Sohrab Ahmari has long been a more interesting presence. The first book of his that I came across, The New Philistines, was a lacerating indictment of modern art reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s The Painted Word. And in the wake of his conversion to Catholicism—a shift chronicled in his engaging memoir

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23 Apr 2021

Repentance and Resurrection

In the diocese in which I attended seminary, it is common practice to exclude the General Confession from Sunday worship during the 50 days of Easter. The argument, or so I’ve been told, is that we should focus on the joy of Christ’s Resurrection and take a break from being overly penitential. The implication, of course, is that Easter is no time to feel bad about ourselves, but to focus on Christ’s victory. The trouble

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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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14 Apr 2021

The New Testament in Order

Begin reading through the New Testament and, in addition to the grand story, you will eventually notice a few things. For one thing, the story of Jesus gets repeated four times, then you hear the story of the early church, and then you begin to read letters that don’t seem to be in any sort of coherent order. Why is the New Testament organized how it is, and not some other way? Why is the

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07 Apr 2021

Keeping History in Its Place

Over the past couple of years Conciliar Post has published several articles advocating for the study of church history. David Doherty has lamented that many Protestants seem to think that “Christianity lies in biblical interpretation and spiritual discipline…and forays into Church history are optional adventures for restless wanderers.” But this ought not be so, he replies. Church history teaches and inspires us to live well, and studying church history is actually an act of Christian

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31 Mar 2021

What the Church Does Best

As the body of the risen Master reels from aftershocks of lockdowns, a year of “virtual gatherings,” and the impact of capacity restrictions, I spent this past weekend being reminded of what the body of the King does best. The Church heals, and it heals most effectively when we spend time in the physical presence of one another. As someone who suffers daily from the effects of a rare spinal condition, one that surgery and

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19 Mar 2021

The Feminist Case Against “Inclusive Language” Liturgy, Part 1

I was in college the first time I heard someone argue for eliminating male pronouns in reference to God. “Calling God ‘Father’ just doesn’t work for me,” my friend said, “I have a terrible relationship with my father, and I don’t want to think of God like that.” At the time, I found the argument persuasive. We know that God isn’t a man, so why do we address him like he is? I even went

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17 Mar 2021

“Keeping Wide and Kind the Bounds of Christian Fellowship”: Robert E. Speer on Christians Working Together

Like congregations working together to carry out ministries of mercy in their local areas, our writing together at Conciliar Post is a kind of cooperative Christian endeavor, based on the idea that we can all learn from the various emphases that have been cultivated by our various traditions. While often this kind of action flows naturally out of shared Christian convictions, some have attempted to explain the basis of cooperation scripturally and theologically. One such

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10 Mar 2021

A Place of Hope and Healing (Part 2)

Additional Reflections on the Church as Hospital In Part One, I introduced the concept of the Church as a hospital and argued that the church should be a place of healing and hope. In this article, I want to further explore the metaphor of the Church as hospital by looking at what hospitals and churches are. Places of Care First, hospitals are places of care. Hospitals are places where you get taken care of, where

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05 Mar 2021

“I Have to Make a Faith Act”: The Story Behind the Letter From a Birmingham Jail

Image credit: Jim Forest, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/12219184015 It is April, 1963, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founded and led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is out of funds. [1] Not only is money scarce, it seems like support for the movement among supporters is faltering. In Montgomery, several years prior, tens of thousands had participated in the bus boycott and other actions for over a year, despite bombings, physical attacks, and harassment

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03 Mar 2021

On the distinction between thinking from and thinking to

Dicit mihi homo: “Intellegam ut credam”. Respondeo: “Crede ut intellegas”[1]   — Augustine, Sermo 43 Sed inrideant nos fortes et potentes, nos autem infirmi et inopes coniteamur tibi[2]  — Augustine, Confessions I went off to college with a head full of new learning, and high spirits on account of it. I had only a few years prior discovered that there was much gain in reading ‘old, dead theologians,’ and so left for college with a modest

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24 Feb 2021

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

The fact that I cannot sing in worship this Lent has not stopped the words of Isaac Watts’ beloved masterpiece, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, from rattling about in my mind. Throughout this incredible hymn, Watts speaks powerfully of Christ’s atoning death. He draws us into the pathos of the Crucifixion, and he causes us to reflect on the somber majesty of Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. At the same time, Watts also invites us

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18 Feb 2021

17 Engaging Theologians You’ve Probably Never Read

Each major Christian tradition has theologians who exercise strong influence beyond its borders. To give only a few examples, Roman Catholicism has Thomas Aquinas, the Reformed tradition has John Calvin, and Methodism has John Wesley. In addition to these great heroes, each tradition also has a catalogue of brilliant and engaging theologians whose influence does not typically extend beyond their own tradition or, in many cases, beyond a small circle of academic specialists. I like

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12 Feb 2021

A Place of Hope and Healing (Part 1)

Reflections on the Church as Hospital In the past year, I’ve spent more time in and around hospitals and healthcare facilities than perhaps at any other point in my life. First came my bout with COVID this past summer, then came numerous visits to my orthopedic doctor to address some long-standing back problems, and, most recently, several emergent visits for an electrical problem with my heart. While hospitals are viewed in different ways by different

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08 Feb 2021

Church History: Something That Tears Down or Builds Up?

The study of the history of the church can easily be frustrating and discouraging, dominated as it is with controversies and conflicts of opinion. At the end of a survey course, it is easy to imagine that a student could come away thinking that Christians have held a myriad of views on social and theological questions, and committed a multitude of both exemplary and lamentable actions, and then conclude that Christian history is characterized by

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