11 Oct 2017

Purgatory and the Playboy: Remembering Hugh Hefner

Purgatory and the Playboy: Remembering Hugh Hefner Two weeks ago today, Hugh Hefner died at the age of 91. Almost immediately, writers rallied to denounce (or acclaim) the fraudulent idea of his “legacy.” What he left behind him can be called a legacy only in the same sense as the aftermath of a disaster. My hope is that his life’s work, like that of the Marquis de Sade, will fade to the point that while

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30 Aug 2017

The King of All Creation

  The King of All Creation The Book of Tobit The demon Asmodeus swept the sky all ownership and prowess, casting through each curtain of wind, cresting toward the maiden’s bower. “I am the king of all creation, I am the high-rise towering over the tenements! I am the mighty Asmodeus, conqueror, seducer, deepest shadow of the strongest light, widower, crucible, biggest bubble in the soaphouse, bug of bugs!” Swifter than an accidental fart, he

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20 Jul 2017

Is Genesis A Literal Account of Creation?

Is Genesis 1 a Literal Account of Creation? Before we answer the question, it’s helpful to recall that there are two ways of understanding creation (or two “levels” of creation). Level 1) God Simultaneously Creates All Things (All that Exists) All matter is drawn forth from nothing.1 There is no part of creation that somehow comes into existence “later” or “after” the initial creative act.2 This simultaneous creation of all things is a reality expressed by

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23 May 2017

Bible Translations, Not Inspired

Debates over Which Bible Occasionally, I will run into someone who holds an especially high view of a certain version or translation of the Bible. Sometimes, this perspective follows denominational lines: Roman Catholics have the Douay-Rheims, Reformed churches laud the Holman Christian Standard Bibles (recently updated as the Christian Standard Bible), Dispensationalists fervently search their Scofield Reference Bibles, and Fundamentalists hold to the King James Version. Even when not holding rigidly to one particular version

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22 May 2017

The Only Name, Part III: The Case of Cornelius

This is the fifth essay is a series focusing on the distinctives of Catholicism. I have attempted to demonstrate in the previous essays that two broadly Christian theologies, the Incarnation and the Messianic Prerogative, are distinctly Catholic in origin and nature. I have also begun outlining the parallelisms between the Christian doctrine of exclusivity and the details of the Catholic theology of exclusivity. In my third essay, I outlined Catholicism’s unique claim to salvific exclusivity.

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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,

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https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
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

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17 Apr 2017

The Beauty of Bi-Vocational Ministry

A few years back I had lunch with a pastor of one of the larger churches in my town. During the course of our conversation, I described to him my weekly schedule. As the pastor of a small house church, I preach every other Sunday, teach an evening Bible study on a regular rotation, and meet individually with people during the week for discipleship. This leaves me with a lot of “free time” to be

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11 Apr 2017

How to Approach Difficult Bible Passages

As a teacher, I am regularly asked about Bible passages and the theology they convey. Sometimes the questions are straightforward; other times, not so much. Just last week, for example, as I was innocently trying to lead our community group through Romans 8:18-30, I was asked how to interpret verses 29-30 in light of that not-at-all-discussed-among-Christians topic of Predestination and Freewill. It happens. The vast majority of the time, I am more than happy to

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03 Apr 2017

After Baptism

In January I began teaching a series of evening Bible studies on the early Christian church as depicted in the book of Acts. Each week we began by re-reading Acts 2:41-47 as the focal point of our ongoing study. Over the course of our time, we dissected the practices, rituals, structures, and leadership patterns of the early church. Most of our study was free from debate and controversy. However, when we finally came to the

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20 Mar 2017

Coffee Shop Ministry

“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.”–John Wesley, Journal As an adjunct lecturer at several local colleges and the pastor of a small house church, I have been given the gift of a flexible schedule. My pastoral duties

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14 Mar 2017

An Argument for Prima Scriptura

One of the great privileges of being a part of the Conciliar Post community is the opportunity to have meaningful conversations about substantive theological issues while remaining charitable toward our interlocutors. Not that we are the only website that promotes this type of dialogue. But in an era of increased incivility and rhetorical debauchery, it is a welcome relief to have a conversation rather than a shouting match. In this post, I hope to contribute

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03 Mar 2017

The Problem With J. I. Packer’s Opposition To Iconography

In Knowing God, J. I. Packer delivers a harsh criticism of the use of icons in worship. While Packer does not specifically target icons, he follows theologian Charles Hodge in denouncing any use of images in worship as idolatrous. Packer’s position is inspired by his reading of the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters

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31 Jan 2017

The Bible in Thirty Chapters

What If… The Bible is a pretty large book. Although we might not immediately think of it as such, how many other 2,128-page1 books do you have laying around your home? Or which reader has four different versions of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare on their bookshelf? The Bible is unique, not only for its contents, but also for its construction and history. Though rightly regarded as the most important book you could ever

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17 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part II)

This post continues my reflections on baptism, focusing on the covenantal and sacramental aspects of Christian baptism. Covenantal Theology Those beginning an exploration of historic baptismal theology will almost immediately run into the concept of covenantal theology. As commonly defined, a covenant is a formal agreement made between God and humans, typically one that only God is capable of upholding in its entirety. Christians of various stripes will interpret covenants and their implications differently, but,

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05 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part I)

Baptism has been on my mind lately, not only because there are some intriguing conversations taking place in the blogging world about baptism and American Christianity, but also because a member of my family is being baptized soon. In this two-part article, I offer some reflections on baptism, beginning in this post with the Bible and history and wrapping up with some musings on covenant and sacrament in the next. Baptism in the Acts of

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25 Nov 2016

Five Ways to Respond to Questions About Your Love Life This Holiday Season

The hashtag #OverheardAtThanksgivingDinner trended on Twitter recently. Of the first twelve tweets I saw, twenty-five percent mentioned vexatious comments from family members concerning one’s relationship status. It’s a universal phenomenon—you go home for the holidays, you see someone that you haven’t talked to for a few months or more, and they ostensibly voice their surprise that an attractive, young catch like yourself hasn’t made it to the altar yet. My late Grandma Louise was a

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helluniversalism
10 Nov 2016

Round Table: Hell and Universalism

If “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) and “desires that all be saved” (2 Tim 2:4), how are Christians to make sense of hell? Is hell undoubtedly eternal (as passages like Matt 25:41 suggest), or is it possible that God’s Love will eventually conquer even the staunchest of resisting wills? What is the role of doctrine about hell in living the Christian life, in training new Christians, or in proclaiming the Gospel?  Today our

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05 Oct 2016

Will Beg For Work

Ray Gator was the owner of a successful family hot dog stand named O’Peter’s Pedigreed Dogs. Ray decided it was time to expand his borders, so he went to the best corner in town to open a new stand. When he got there, he found the corner was already occupied— by a homeless man, holding a sign that said “Will Work For Food”. Ray saw this as a boon: he acquired a corner and a

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Are you hungry for God?
20 Sep 2016

The Gospel According to Taco Bell

Those who believe the good news about Jesus often seem reluctant to share it with others. Why? At the end of the world wars, everyone was excited to share the news of victory or at least the end of the war with those who didn’t yet know. Why not be excited to share the victory of the spiritual war? Perhaps the answer is because we are missing something. Perhaps what we think of as the

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