07 May 2018

Why I’m Not Reformed (But Admire Them Anyway)

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

John Ehrett 2
02 May 2018

Miracles and Modernity

Signs. Wonders. Inbreakings of the divine into the mundane. Transcendence foisting itself upon the natural order of things. Is this what Christians are talking about when we describe miracles? People often think of miracles and magic as synonymous. From this standpoint, miracles rupture the fabric of reality—poking holes in a static backdrop of predictable causes and effects. But reality is not as static or predictable as we assume. In his book Historical Consciousness, John Lukacs

Benjamin Winter 2
25 Apr 2018

The Calvinist Conundrum

When Calvinists argue against the conceptual validity of libertarian freedom, they undermine their own theology of God. First, let’s clear up some terminology. Libertarian freedom, according to Robert Kane, has two main components: “We believe we have free will when (a) it is ‘up to us’ what we choose from an array of alternative possibilities and (b) the origin or source of our choices and actions is in us and not in anyone or anything

Jacob Quick 4
18 Apr 2018

Psalm 77 and the Embalming of a Dead God

“What are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?” – Friedrich Nietzsche One day, while arriving home from middle school, I walked into an uncharacteristically solemn household. Both my mother and father were home, which I thought odd because, due to their work schedules, neither typically arrived before five o’clock. There was a heaviness to the room. My parents sat me down and—with a gentle spirit—explained that my grandmother

AJ Maynard 0
13 Apr 2018

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God I have always loved the morning. There is something especially moving in the cool fresh air, untainted by the day’s hustle and bustle; there is something so provocative in the dawning of light; there is something reassuring in human quietude and nature’s songs to its Creator. Surely when the psalmists wrote things like: “Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”;

Joshua Schendel 1
11 Apr 2018

The Non-Denominational Reformation

Every 500 years or so in the history of the Christian church, a significant restructuring seems to take place. Around the year 500, a church council at Chalcedon published what most of Christendom calls the clearest explanation of orthodox Christology: Christ is one person with two natures. However, large swaths of Christians—the Oriental Orthodox (such as the Coptic, Syrian, and Ethiopian churches) and the Church of the East—found the Chalcedon Definition lacking. And so the

Jacob Prahlow 0
06 Apr 2018

Creation’s Revelation and the Hope for Discovery

Does knowledge hinder the adventure of discovery? After concluding some work in mainland Japan one winter, my father made his way south to Okinawa—where I lived at the time—for a weekend visit, before returning to the United States. We had talked about this particular visit for some time, as it would coincide with the seasonal visit of the humpback whales to the warmer waters of our region. My father and I made arrangements to take

Guest Author 0
04 Apr 2018

Is Doubt A Good Thing?

Considered generally, doubt is beneficial to human beings. While we all begin life in a state of ignorance—relying upon the care and concern of others to survive—too many of us eventually enter a state of arrogance. Neither position is desirable, but these are the two ends of the spectrum of knowledge spectrum toward which we gravitate. Christians who see pride as the root of all sin are inclined to value doubt when it counteracts pride.

Benjamin Winter 0
02 Apr 2018

Round Table: Can We Be Certain Of Our Salvation?

Throughout church history, the question, “Can we be certain of our salvation?,” has troubled many believers. This question naturally arises because different Christian traditions have divergent teachings on the nature of salvation itself. How one is saved and whether or not this salvation can be subsequently lost are the subject of much discussion between believers. One noteworthy response to these questions from church history was the development of the so-called “Protestant work ethic.” This idea

Various 1
30 Mar 2018

The Clash of Generations and the Spirit of Holy Week

In 1996, Samuel P. Huntington published his work The Clash of Civilizations, an assessment of the post-War order, and famously predicted: “In the emerging era, clashes of civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order based on civilizations is the surest safeguard against world war.”1 Huntington’s prediction may hold true, and in many ways has proven prescient, but economists and historians have recently begun speaking of a more pressing issue than

Timon Cline 0
28 Mar 2018

The Absurdity of The Passion

As I take a step back and observe the narrative of the Passion, I am struck by the absurdity of it all. The same crowd that welcomes Jesus into Jerusalem with praise and palm branches cries for his crucifixion before the week is finished. Jesus’ closest friends and followers betray, abandon, and reject him. The sinless is crucified with the sinners. If I’m honest, I can never follow the events of the Passion without holding

Jacob Quick 0
21 Mar 2018

The Mystery of Honesty and Truth

“I hate going to Confession,” I told my father-confessor recently. “As long as you keep on going,” he responded. Then he added, “Of course you do. It’s not easy admitting to failure.” I grew up in a dysfunctional household where disapproval reigned. Expecting chastisement or even condemnation is a hard habit to unlearn. I’d been anxious enough about making my first Confession that I had postponed my Chrismation and entry into the Orthodox Church for

Guest Author 0
19 Mar 2018

Troubles and the Life of Faith

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins (Psalm 25:16-18; NRSV). Preachers on television constantly promise their viewers lives of health, wealth, and welfare. If you are sick, you will be healed. If you are struggling financially, a material blessing is headed your way. If

Jarrett Dickey 0
14 Mar 2018

Should I Hide When Mormons Come Knocking?

One of the great privileges of serving in the local church is the opportunity to hear intriguing questions from congregants. A couple of weeks ago, I had such an experience after talking about evangelism. The topic of door-to-door Mormon missionaries  came up, and eventually our conversation turned to how to interact with non-Christian missionaries—and if they should be shown any sort of hospitality at all. One participant in the conversation mentioned that they do not

Jacob Prahlow 0
12 Mar 2018

A Vigorous Defense of “The Shape of Water”

Last week, Guillermo del Toro’s masterful film “The Shape of Water” won big at the Oscars. The movie took home not only the Academy Award for Best Picture, but also awards for Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. As a longtime admirer of del Toro’s work—his 2006 historical fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth” is my all-time favorite film—I was naturally delighted to see him receive the accolades he deserves. Make no mistake, “Shape” is

John Ehrett 0
07 Mar 2018

Christus Victor Clarified

Does torture satisfy God? Thanks to a book by Gustaf Aulen, the term “Christus Victor” (or CV) has become shorthand for the traditional Christian view of the atonement prior to the work of Thomas Aquinas. The view of the cross by Aquinas and the subsequent view of Protestantism are both commonly referred to as “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” (or PSA). Without taking sides between these two views, I hope to clarify three misunderstandings about Christus Victor.

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05 Mar 2018

“Carrying the Cross” in Lent

“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected   by the elders, chief priests, and scribes,   and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves   and take up their cross daily and follow me.   For those who want to save their life will lose it,   and those who lose their life for my sake will

Benjamin Winter 0
02 Mar 2018

Max Weber and Assurance

The relationship between Western Christianity and capitalism has occupied observers of the West for a couple of centuries now. Without a doubt there is an inextricable link between the two; many would argue there is a codependence. Others emphatically attribute the power of the West to the power of moral foundations of Christianity, specifically Protestantism.1 Over the past five hundred years, the “[W]estern model of industrial production and mass consumption left all alternative models of

Timon Cline 0
28 Feb 2018

Thoughts, Prayers, and Platitudes

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action,

Jacob Quick 0
21 Feb 2018

Douthat, Paradox, and Dialectic

When it comes to podcasts on religion and public life, Tyler Cowen of the Mercatus Center’s podcast has some rare gems. While most popular politically-charged podcasts are content to frame questions in secular terms, Cowen—an atheist—has a remarkable ability tease out which religious presuppositions are motivating his guests, including some very fine distinctions on points of intra-religious debate. So when the conservative Catholic New York Times columnist Ross Douthat appeared on his show a couple

Guest Author 0