05 Aug 2019

Philosophy and the Re-evangelization of the West: An Interview with Elmer Thiessen

I find it interesting that many popular contemporary Christian figures are philosophers or at least philosophically oriented thinkers: William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Bishop Robert Barron, and others. Last year I went to hear Zacharias speak and was fascinated by the huge crowd that gathered to hear him talk about a few philosophical questions. As I thought about the event afterward, it reminded me of the accounts of the masses that would gather to hear

David Doherty 0
08 Apr 2019

Misunderstanding “Calvinism”?

I greatly appreciated reading Timon Cline’s recent piece, The Necessity of Contingency, written in response to AJ Maynard’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and the Pitfalls of Calvinism. In fact, I wish I’d read something like Timon’s piece a few years ago, during one of my more vitriolic anti-Calvinist stages. Indeed, over the last few years, I’ve come to learn (to my chagrin) that I’ve been trafficking in mischaracterizations of historic Reformed thought. In my concern to

John Ehrett 5
15 Mar 2019

The Necessity of Contingency

One of my favorite aspects of writing for Conciliar Post is the chance to engage with others of ecclesiastical traditions and theological persuasions different from my own. This requires the willingness to have my own convictions critiqued, and attempting, when able, to respond with all the charity and clarity that a sinner like myself can muster.   AJ Maynard, in his recent post, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and the Pitfalls of Calvinism, has offered another opportunity

Timon Cline 5
18 Jan 2019

“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” and the Pitfalls of Calvinism

On December 28th, Netflix dropped Charlie Brooker’s latest Black Mirror offering: Bandersnatch; an interactive choose-your-own-adventure style film focused on the “choices” of Stefan; a young up-and-coming videogame developer. Depending on how one navigates the film, different events will occur, but with every choice, Stefan runs into obstacles [Spoilers ahead]. How does Stefan navigate these obstacles? He doesn’t. You do. In doing so, you, the viewer, are escorted behind the proverbial curtain and given the power

AJ Maynard 2
25 May 2018

The YRRM and the Separateness of the Church

The New Calvinists of the Young, Restless, Reformed Movement (YYRM) burst into the public consciousness with Colin Hansen’s 2006 Christianity Today article and follow up book.1 I have recounted some of that history before and will not do so again at length here. In short, the YRRM was essentially a recovery of the doctrines of grace, sovereignty of God, and Calvinist soteriology (i.e. TULIP), predominately by evangelical Baptists. Since its inception, the YRRM has been frequently

Timon Cline 0
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
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
14 Aug 2017

Piper and Love

Dr. John Piper’s ministry (desiringgod.org) recently re-published a sermon entitled “The God Who Commands Our Emotions,” which defends Dr. Piper’s theology of moral psychology. Having previously critiqued Dr. Piper’s beliefs on this site, I thought it would be appropriate to engage with the argumentative development found in this sermon. I will note what Dr. Piper contributes to the conversation in the sermon, and afterwards provide my initial reactions. Affections Are Emotive Dr. Piper’s teaching raises

Christian McGuire 1
02 Jun 2017

Southern Baptist Revisionist History

In November of 2016, Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Seminary, effectively disavowed any Southern Baptist who subscribes to Calvinistic convictions or practices. Speaking at a chapel service at the seminary in which Rick Patrick, head of the Connect 3:16 group, had spoken, Patterson said, “I know there are a fair number of you who think you are a Calvinist, but understand there is a denomination which represents that view… It’s called Presbyterian.” At the outset, before

Timon Cline 5
19 May 2017

Permuting Atonement Theories: Leviticus 16 as a Typological Foreshadowing

In modern Western theology, we like to think in categories. While these are generally helpful, they can also cause polarization and controversy: Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Dispensationalism vs. Covenant Theology, Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism, Young Earth Creationism vs. Evolutionary Creationism, and the list could go on. While useful and necessary, it’s worth reminding ourselves that the original writers of the biblical text and their immediate audiences would be strangers to many of these labels. Instead of falling

Wesley Walker 2
28 Apr 2017

The Dark Theology of Stephen King

Stephen King’s brand isn’t exactly synonymous with spirituality. He’s undoubtedly best known for his prominence as a writer of horror fiction—from “Carrie” and “Cujo” to “Pet Sematary” and “Desperation.” His books are drenched in macabre darkness, packed from start to finish with imagery that ranges from horrifyingly visceral to utterly surreal. I’ve been a King aficionado for the better part of a decade (and have written about this subject before). I continue to find myself

John Ehrett 0
27 Mar 2017

The Only Name, Part I

This is the third essay is a series focusing on the distinctives of Catholicism. I have attempted to demonstrate in the previous essay that two broadly Christian theologies, the Incarnation and the Messianic Prerogative, are distinctly Catholic in origin and nature.   Throughout most of history, religion has rarely laid claim to an exclusive knowledge of truth or an exclusive path to salvation. Pagan polytheists aggressively adopted the gods and myths of foreigners. The more

Christian McGuire 7
23 Feb 2017

Why Protestants Should Care About the Church’s Historical Tradition

When arguments break out about the Constitution in public life, almost everyone has a natural tendency to grab a copy of the document, point to a passage that appears to support their views, and declare that the question is immediately settled. The Constitution’s Ninth Amendment—“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”—is a prime example of this: most liberal and conservative scholars

John Ehrett 2
04 Nov 2016

Anselm’s Ontological Argument for Universalism?

For my monthly contribution, I want to engage in an interesting thought experiment. Let me start off with the caveat that I am not, at this moment, a Universalist. In the upcoming November Round Table on Hell and universalism, I will described myself as a “Hopefulist” in the sense that I desperately want it to be true that God eventually saves everyone in the end, but I cannot definitively prove that this is the case.

Wesley Walker 3
09 Mar 2016

A Calvinist Reads Calvin: Knowing God Entails Relationship

Welcome back to our ongoing series following the thoughts of John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. If you are joining the conversation for the first time, you might want to take a moment to read the first paragraph of the first post in the series. Otherwise, I hope you find the ideas as irresistible as I do. When we last looked at Calvin’s thought, we examined the relationship between knowledge of self

Jeff Reid 1
27 Jan 2016

A Calvinist Reads Calvin: Where Knowing Starts

Thank you for electing to read this post!1 If you are just joining this series, I would recommend reading the first part of the first post in the series. It will give you the context for my own exploration of Calvin’s Institutes and why you are invited to join me. Ironically, the selection we will be exploring deals with our basis of knowing. In the grand scheme of the book, we are beginning the first

Jeff Reid 3
13 Jan 2016

A Calvinist Reads Calvin: Of Kings, Apologetics, and Introductions

As recounted in my last post, there is real value in exploring your tradition’s response to theological questions. This being the case, I thought that I should take a dose of my own medicine. To this day, despite my Reformed leaning, I have never actually spent any serious time reading Calvin. After challenging you all to spend more time studying the theologians that have impacted your beliefs, it seemed only right that I would begin

Jeff Reid 4
06 Jan 2016

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Perseverance of the Saints

The final tenet of the Calvinist TULIP doctrinal statement is the “Perseverance of the Saints.”  This teaching contends that after having undergone a genuine conversion experience, a Christian, being regenerated by the Holy Spirit, cannot turn from the faith and forego that seal of salvific assurance, having joined the elect.  Christ stated that no one can be snatched out of the hand of God [John 10:28-29].  Since it requires irresistible grace and unconditional election for

Joseph Green 2
02 Dec 2015

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Limited Atonement

The Calvinist teaching of Limited Atonement is an understanding based upon a penal substitutionary model of Christ’s accomplishing salvation on the cross.  That is, salvation is understood to consist in Christ receiving God the Father’s wrath and punishment on the cross in the place of mankind, which results in a legal acquittal in the sight of the Father of people who accept this substitutionary gift.  However, since not everyone will accept this gift and be

Joseph Green 5
11 Nov 2015

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Unconditional Election

I have many thoughts and explanations to put forth on this topic so I will get right to it. THE DOCTRINE OF UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION I cite John Calvin to articulate what Reformed Christians refer to as “Unconditional Election” today: In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would

Joseph Green 7