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
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
06 May 2020

Mere Christianity for Today

Or Reflections on the Realities of Big Tent Christianity “As Christians, we are seekers after truth, not merely its custodians.” Michael Bauman1 The Situation “Christianity is in trouble,” everyone seems to be saying, for a variety of reasons. The rise of the “nones.”2 Increased dissatisfaction with institutional religion.3 The forthcoming disintegration of American evangelicalism over politics.4 The growth of the “spiritual but not religious” worldview.5 The general failure of the American Church’s members to reach

Jacob Prahlow 2
06 Apr 2020

Divine Dissatisfaction Part 2: Joy as the Realization of the Beloved Community

O. Fernandez, New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer / Public domain In part one of this article, Divine Dissatisfaction: Loving Rage and the Imagination of a Better World, I argued that an important aspect of Martin Luther King Jr.’s theology—what he calls divine dissatisfaction—can be better understood if connected with the concept of rage. Rage, in this context, I define as a refusal to operate within the status quo bounds of rationality, a

David Justice 0
28 Jan 2019

The Erotic Gift of Self-Denial

“The word ‘God’ defines a personal relation, not an objective concept. Like the name of the beloved in every love, it does not imply separation and distance. Hearing the beloved’s name is an immediate awareness, a dimensionless proximity of presence. It is our life wholly transformed into relation.” —Christos Yannaras, Variations of the Song of Songs THE EROTIC GIFT OF SELF-DENIAL         Love transforms existence into relation. Without love, the created order exists in a

Micah McMeans 0
14 Jan 2019

In Defense of Hymnals

When my wife and I first started attending our church, one thing in particular really stood out to me. Our church doesn’t print the texts of hymns or the elements of the liturgy in a bulletin handed to us on the way in. Instead, just like in the “olden days” we use real hymnals—heavy, leather-bound copies of the Lutheran Service Book nestled in each pew. This was unfamiliar to me, and took a bit of

John Ehrett 1
24 Oct 2018

What Is Church Planting?

You’ve seen them in your community. They’re popping up in old buildings, fields, and other empty spaces. They show up with catchy names and make lots of loud noise, often attracting quite a crowd in the process. But what are they? Where do they come from? And why are they here? I’m talking, of course, about church plants—when a new local church begins where none had previously existed. Church planting is the process of beginning

Jacob Prahlow 0
18 Jul 2018

Why Is Christian Liturgy So Repetitive? An Insight from Derrida

Christian liturgy involves cycles of repetition. We have recurring liturgical calendars, weekly gatherings of worship, the Eucharist, and the recitation of important prayers. The repetitive nature of Christian worship is, in my experience, one of its greatest strengths. It is through such liturgical repetition that we engage in disciplined spiritual formation, remind ourselves of the gospel, and actively engage in historic practices of the Church. But what is happening when we engage in these repetitive

Jacob Quick 6
27 Jun 2018

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (Part 2)

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

Joshua Schendel 0
14 Feb 2018

The Fast Before the Feast

The Lenten fast is often neglected or misunderstood. But this season offers the time and place to make us freer and stronger.   There’s a reason why fasting sounds exhausting. There’s a reason why people feel uncomfortable just envisioning a forty-day stretch of abstaining from certain foods or activities. The Lenten season is, after all, a long and tiring period for its participants. It’s hard. That becomes clear in the last days of Lent—the days

Guest Author 0
02 Oct 2017

Spending Time Together in the Temple

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple… (Acts 2:46a NRSV). This article is a continuation of a series of articles on Acts 2:41-47. The previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. I teach classes on the Bible, world religions, and humanities at several community colleges in my area. Each semester I notice that students seem genuinely surprised when they learn about the Jewish roots of

Jarrett Dickey 0
20 Sep 2017

What Are Multisite Churches?

A growing phenomenon among American Churches is the multisite movement. Generally, multisite churches are Christian gatherings where a single church organization holds services at two or more geographical locations. Although you have probably seen a multisite (or two) pop up in your neighbor, few Christians know about the history, forms, and purposes of multisite churches. In fact, few church statisticians have truly begun to examine the multisite movement.1 In this article, I briefly outline the

Jacob Prahlow 1
11 Jul 2017

Reflections on a Mega Church Experience

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending Bethel Church in Redding, California. For those unfamiliar with this church, Bethel was founded in 1952 by Robert Doherty and grew steadily from the 1960s to the early 1990s. Following the call of current senior pastor Bill Johnson in 1996, Bethel underwent a time of divisiveness followed by a period of tremendous growth. Currently, Bethel has approximately 9,000 weekly attendees—easily categorizing it as a mega church—and

Jacob Prahlow 3
27 Jun 2017

What do we mean in Church when we say, “This is the Word of the Lord”?

As a lifelong American protestant, it has always been taught to me that the fundamental bearer of truth is the Scriptural text. If ever I had a question relating to theological matters, I was directed to the text of Scripture. I have been told all my life that reading Scripture in a daily morning devotional (followed by prayer) is constitutive of true “walking with God.” When Sunday came around, one critical aspect of discerning whether

Chad Kim 7
23 Jun 2017

May We Be Selfless

Loving God, Our walls are too high Our gaze is turned inward We avert danger at the expense of love We seek ourselves to the extent of losing identity We focus on living so much that we never truly exist May the example of your Son be seen among us May his life be dramatized in the play of our lives May we improvise according to the story of the suffering king May we be

Jacob Quick 0
09 Jun 2017

Sorrow and Stars

Last light is leaping from hill to hill spilling like liquid from an upset cup, A golden haze spreading o’er rock and rill until, until, until the valley has its fill and the glory thins and wavers and is taken up     The clouds’ creamy bronze hues drain clear, drop by drop—suddenly they run ashen grey in an eye-blink, in the drip of a tear giving way to darkness, uncertainty, and fear as the

Johanna Byrkett 1
07 Jun 2017

Because of joy I am exposed

Because of joy I am exposed 2 Samuel 6:16-23 When God has brought me home to Him by coming home to me, I will be unable to listen to you, even if you weep. I have to go and thank Him. God has come into the city of my soul; each breath is like an exile freed. The truth no longer grieves me. My laughter is like tambourines. I will continue to dance with swinging

Daniel Hyland 1
15 May 2017

Webber on the Purpose of Worship

“My longing for a more satisfying worship grew as each route I took in worship led me to a dead end street. But after giving up the evangelistic approach to worship and after the unfulfilling experience of educational worship, I didn’t know what to do next. I was running out of reasons for being at church (Webber, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail).”1 In the opening quote above, Robert Webber’s personal experiences raise a legitimate question,

Jarrett Dickey 7
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10 May 2017

Soli Deo Gloria

Soli Deo Gloria    John 6:56-58 Soli Deo God alone gloria glory untouchable yet the light Comes down to this particular place all gathered and acclaiming With one voice one eternal song one renewal of one Face All light creating here that City without darkness this Word The City’s light Himself the small white votive candles and the liturgy Our prayers another voice the single Word resounding as light Giving each new birth each grace

Daniel Hyland 1
08 Mar 2017

Fit for a Cassock

Today we’ll see if I measure up, Or maybe it’s more fitting to say I’ll be fitted, But I have a feeling it’ll feel like fig leaves covering up the things that ought to be laid on the altar and burned instead of covered in black lamb’s wool. There’s nobody more fitting to do the fitting for a new skin than the one who made my first birthday suit, and was part of the pattern

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy 0