28 Feb 2017

A Brief History of Communion (Part II)

This article continues the overview of the history of communion begun here. This post considers the history of communion from the medieval period until today. The Medieval Church During the medieval period, the Church began to use a common liturgy for Eucharistic celebration, with prescribed texts and traditions for services and practice. Some differences emerged between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity, differences which were formalized following the Great Schism of 1054 CE.1 In

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14 Feb 2017

A Brief History of Communion (Part I)

Christians of all sorts partake of some form of communion. Known by different names—the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion, Breaking of Bread, Mass—and taken at different frequencies—daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly—this practice involving bread and wine stands as a testament to both Christian unity as well as divisions. What do contemporary Christians believe about the Lord’s Supper? To begin answering this question, we must first look at the history of communion, beginning today with what the

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12 Jul 2016

Augustine, Education, and the Pitfalls of Academia

Over the past three or four years I have had a few, percolating thoughts on theological training and education. Or, more particularly, thoughts on my experiences at various institutions and on my reading of so-called ‘academic’ literature. A couple of months ago I was asked by a professor why I was so cynical about ‘the academy’ and ‘academics’. My reply to him was convoluted enough that I thought I should attempt to write a little

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21 Jun 2016

Genesis 1 as a Model for Cultural Engagement

The debate about what to do with Genesis 1 is divisive. Many prominent Young Earth Creationists stake the entire truth value of the Gospel on whether or not the passage is describing a literal history, while those who identify as theistic evolutionists can be accused of playing “fast and loose” with the text. No matter what position one takes, understanding the background of this text is a pre-requisite to understanding its message. When Genesis 1

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27 Dec 2015

Allegory and Church Fathers

This article is based on notes from a lecture delivered by Dr. Robert Louis Wilken at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis on 3 December, 2015. Gregory the Great said that the Word of God exercises the understanding of the wise, and nurses the simple. To some it speaks openly, to others it holds things in secret—leading them to loftier matters. It is a river both shallow and deep. The lamb can find footing, but the elephant

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23 Dec 2015

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Irresistible Grace

In my favorite scene of the Jim Carrey flick Bruce Almighty––after Bruce has been given Divine powers only to abuse them, then hit rock bottom and seek reconciliation with his girlfriend––Bruce asks God [played by Morgan Freeman]: “How do you make someone love you without affecting their free will?” To which Morgan Freeman responds, “Welcome to my world, son.  You find an answer to that, you let me know.” For the Reformed Calvinist, this problem

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25 Nov 2015

Round Table: After Death

Living in a fallen world such as we do, death unfortunately remains a fact of life. We have all experienced the loss of loved ones, all struggled with the spectre of death. But what happens when people die? Do they go to heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Limbo? Furthermore, do all dogs really go to heaven, or is that merely the childhood fantasy relegated to the dumpster of bad theology? This month’s Round Table discussion reflects on

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20 Nov 2015

Citizenship in Heaven

“[Christians] live in their respective countries, but only as resident aliens; they participate in all things as citizens, and they endure all things as foreigners…They live on earth but participate in the life of heaven” ~Epistle to Diognetus 6.5, 9. As a former resident of Paris and its suburbs, I have shared the grief and pain of the attacks on that beautiful city.  I have always loved Ernest Hemingway’s, now almost cliché quote, “If you

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18 Nov 2015

Canon Considerations: Authority And The Heart Of The Discussion

Without the Bible—and more specifically, the New Testament—the Christian faith would not exist today. This is a fact that Christians of any branch would readily agree upon. But how did we get this collection of 27 New Testament books?1 How do we know that we have the correct books—that we haven’t left any out or included any spurious ones? To frame the question more poignantly, can we trust the collection of books we call the

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10 Nov 2015

Was Tolkien Manichaean?

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate….For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:15,19)1 Perhaps I am being a smidgen anachronistic, but I am starting to wonder if Paul, in composing those famous lines in his letter to the Christians in Rome,

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28 Oct 2015

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Total Depravity

While Tiny Tim’s song may be quite catchy, the following tiptoe through TULIP series is no light-hearted matter since, depending on how Christians respond to this Calvinist framework, our understanding of who God is and how we are saved can end up in radical opposition.  I was a five-point Calvinist from high school until my time at an Evangelical seminary, but subsequently, one-by-one I began to drop letters of the TULIP complex from my theology

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05 Oct 2015

Seminal Christian Thinkers: Augustine on the Lord’s Prayer

All Augustine sermon citations are taken from Sermon 80, Edmund Hill Translation1 Prayer has always been central to Christian communities. In America today, most are familiar with the text of the Lord’s Prayer, which Christ teaches his disciples in Matthew 6 (cf. Luke 11). The fact that such an ancient text continues to find relevance in the lives of each new generation says something significant about its worth. Yet popularity includes inherent drawbacks. Although millions can recite the

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07 Aug 2015

Why Study the Stars?

From time immemorial, humans have been fascinated by the stars. With the advent of a “blue moon” in July, my Facebook news feed was inundated with astrological speculation. Also popular were stories on the topography of Pluto, given the success of the New Horizons mission. And of course, the world is still reeling from the fact that scientists were able to land a probe on a speeding comet. The study of phenomena in this wide

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18 Apr 2015

Weekly Reads (April 18)

Happy weekend, dear readers! Here is a round-up of different religion, theology, and current events articles from our own authors and across the internet. The following articles do not necessarily reflect the views or mission of Conciliar Post. These articles have been selected based on their prevalence across popular blogs and social media and their relevance to current events. We invite you to engage in friendly and positive discussion about these articles. If you read a thought-provoking

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20 Mar 2015

My Journey to Catholicism: Part II

Hello again! Thanks for joining in on this second installment (Part I is here). I hope that my story encourages you—regardless of how you trace your Christian lineage—to delve deeper into the stories that shape our common past, while sharing your passion for truth in loving service to your own faith community. Last time, we chronicled my slow departure from childlike trust in the doctrines of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), and witnessed the

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02 Mar 2015

A Defense of Nagel, Part IV

The Problem of Consciousness for the Corpuscular Cosmos The biologist Kenneth Miller gives a charitable response to Nagel by interpreting him to say there are fundamental issues, like consciousness, which makes the materialist program in biology face obstacles it will not overcome in the near future. Nagel’s book today, Miller says, parallels Erwin Schrödinger’s book, What is Life? in 1956. According to Miller, Schrodinger said “that our then-current understanding of physics was incapable of explaining

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17 Feb 2015

The Skeletons in God’s Closet | Book Review

If you’re an even somewhat aware follower of Jesus in today’s post-Christian culture, then you’ve all but certainly encountered bizarre caricatures of God and Christianity hurled like spears at the faith by critics and detractors. Well-known English actor Stephen Fry recently went on a tirade against God in a now-viral television interview. Ricky Gervais’ 2009 comedy The Invention of Lying interprets religious belief as an emotional panacea, an outlandish lie we tell each other and

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16 Jun 2014

How Then Shall We Speak?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey As the above quote from Stephen Covey notes, far too often “dialogue” consists of hearing the perspectives of others not so that we may understand them, but in order that we may show them where they are wrong. This is especially obvious on the internet, where 140 character Twitter interaction, sound-bite news, rhetoric-oriented politics,#hashtagactivism,

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16 Jun 2014

Biblical Scholarship and the Church | Book Review

The sixteenth-century was a period of theological transformation and debate unlike any other time in the history of Western Christianity. In their work Biblical Scholarship and the Church, Allan Jenkins and Patrick Preston encounter issues of scriptural authority, translation, and interpretation within the context of sixteenth-century Christianity. In this work Jenkins and Preston examine three examples of controversy concerning the authority of scripture for Christian teaching and practice, especially scholarly concerns with the authority of

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