29 Aug 2016

On the Misuse of Sacred Scripture

Note: This article was originally published on my personal blog. Since then, several individuals (most of whom are Catholic) have kindly mentioned to me that this essay seems rather combative and extreme at points. However, I am unable to identify much that I can genuinely recant or replace, and thus have preserved most of the text in its original form. Nevertheless, my respect for the aforementioned individuals compels me to offer my sincere apologies to anyone who may share

3
01 Aug 2016

And the greatest of these is… Faith?

Invariably, soteriological discussions will surface the concept of “true faith”—generally sooner rather than later. Why does James say that we are justified by works and not by faith alone, even though Paul writes that we are justified by faith? Because James wasn’t talking about “true faith.” Why do some people fall away after professing faith in Christ? Theirs was not “true faith.” But what does this term really mean? This question plagued me as a

5
26 Apr 2016

A Deductive Polemic for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Pentecostals and Charismatics are the weird cousins of the Christian denominational family. They’re the ones that go on about how important it is to be “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and preach “the full Gospel” while they get slain in the Spirit and hold Jericho marches. But you usually just end up praying they won’t start speaking in tongues at the family reunion this year. The fervor of the Pentecostals and Charismatics for their

4
18 Mar 2016

Sola Scriptura and Interpretive Paradox

In most Christian circles, the simple statement that “Christians interpret the Bible in a different way than they interpret the Constitution” would probably be largely uncontroversial. The intuitive objection to juxtaposing the documents in this way–that the Bible is the Word of God, while the Constitution is man’s words–does not directly address the interesting paradox: why do many political and theological conservatives use interpretively “liberal” language (“underlying purpose,” “culturally specific,” “not literal”) in their interpretation

0
25 Jan 2016

An Open Discussion of Difficult Theological Issues

Theology is no good if done in isolation. God is a community of Persons; so are we. As followers of Christ, we are called to engage with the content of our Tradition(s), in order to better understand why we believe the timeless truths that have been handed down in Scripture. Conciliar Post is an apt forum for just this sort of activity. As an author on this website, I do not claim to hold a

23
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

7
11 Dec 2015

Gospel of the Lord | Book Review

Gospel Studies exists as a relatively neglected field that has long taken a back seat to the study of the Historical Jesus or perspectives on Paul. Yet—argues Michael F. Bird—this realm of study stands ripe with opportunities for research and theological growth. To begin addressing the historical problem of how the life and teachings of Jesus became the fourfold gospel accounts of the New Testament, Bird offers The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early

1
07 Dec 2015

“Fear Not,” Or, How I Learned to Love the Book of Revelation

By Blake Hartung The last book of the Bible, the Revelation (or Apocalypse) of John, has been a consistent source of mystery and bewilderment for Christians since its composition in the last decade of the first century. This is of course, shouldn’t be too surprising; we are, after all, talking about the book that has given us such bizarre tableaux as a pregnant woman clothed in the sun pursued by a dragon, four colorful horsemen,

0
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

18
05 Nov 2015

For the Love of Greek

The Spanish audience burst to life! I was in the jewel of Honduras, the island of Roatan. For this violent and impoverished nation, Roatan seems like the equivalent of America. The rampant crime and poverty of Roatan pales in comparison to that of its mainland nation. About 35% of Roatan’s residents speak English at home like Americans, and American cruise ships frequent the island’s harbors with wealthy tourists ready to spend money and enjoy the

5
26 Oct 2015

Sola Scriptura’s Relevance for the Modern Church

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, there arose a group of men and women that had become disillusioned by the excesses and misappropriations of the Roman Catholic church and, in a reactive movement, spawned the Reformation, and consequently, the Five Solas: sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura, sola Christus, and soli Deo gloria. While these five principles were never clearly grouped and articulated together by any one Reformer during that period of time, they have

42
23 Oct 2015

A Christian Defense of Dark Films

As a filmgoer whose personal tastes run toward the eccentric and the macabre (Guillermo del Toro and Darren Aronofsky are two of my favorite directors), I’ve seen plenty of films that fall into the “horror” or “dark thriller” category. It saddens me that this genre is often written off by persons of faith as crude and crassly exploitative, and I’ve written elsewhere about the fascinating theological implications that lie beneath its grim exterior. Thus, inspired

1
20 Oct 2015

Authorial Intent

I had the Bible down to a science: Six days exactly to create Seven years enough to destroy Three days and nights to recreate The Reed Sea or the Red Sea The Brazen Sea and the Dead Sea The sun stood still up in the sky The waters flowed while crested high Water to wine, crumbs to bread Sight to the blind, life to the dead From age unto apparent age From miracle to explanation

3
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

2
15 Sep 2015

On Zombies and Scripture

Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with a couple fellow Conciliar Posters for an all-too-brief book club meeting over Google Hangouts. I was a little surprised—and more than a little nervous—about the book the choice; it was a book I wrote. Well, it’s the book I wrote, as currently there is only one. It’s called Genesis of the Dead, and in it I reimagine the early histories told in the Bible as a

7
21 Aug 2015

Dealing With Pain and Suffering (Part I)

Grief Observed In A New Light It doesn’t take a philosophy degree to understand that pain and suffering are two things people are naturally inclined to try and avoid. It is in our nature to run away from suffering, and to simply try and avoid discomfort at all costs. No matter how strong pain makes us, very seldom does anyone truly welcome it. Although time has opened up the windows of my world to the

4
06 Aug 2015

Neglected Doctrines Surrounding Conversion

Just looking at the church in mainstream America, something is deathly wrong. The conversion experience is centered on meeting the needs of the seeker and God is touted to the lost as a panacea for hell, unhappiness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction-almost like a magic pill guaranteed to give you a better life. Certainly following Biblical principles will often have pleasant results- improved relationships with others, freedom from debt, peace in Christ-however, when we center salvation around

4
08 Jul 2015

Jesus and the Law (Part II)

The Law and the Christian (Click here to read Part I of Jesus and the Law) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least

0
11 Jun 2015

Jesus and the Law

Part I of II “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be

0
21 May 2015

Why the Fall Makes No Sense

A Baffling Story Christians need a coherent account of the Fall, but our forebears have not given us one. If they had, 20th century biblical scholars would not have written things like this: “The sheer irrationality of the command, not to eat of the tree, and of the threat to deprive of life if it was eaten, has had great effect on the history of understanding. . . . God . . . is placed

8