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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10 Mar 2017

Book Review: “The Benedict Option”

I. Introduction This article has been percolating for a very long time. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t reflect on how my faith intersects with the evolving American public sphere, and I’ve probably spent more time writing and rewriting this review than just about anything I’ve worked on in the last couple of years. Plainly, American Christianity stands at a cultural crossroads. And with the release of The Benedict Option: A Strategy for

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06 Mar 2017

The Danger of Christian Primitivism

While writing my previous article that praised the virtues of Christian primitivism and its capacity to spark church renewal, it occurred to me that it would be appropriate to address the inherent dangers of Christian primitivism.  Simply put, Christian primitivism is an ideological viewpoint that attempts to restore Christianity to the original structures and practices of the New Testament Church because it is believed that the Church has strayed from its own foundation over the

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20 Feb 2017

The Beauty of House Church: Primitivism

This article is the fourth article in a series on house church. You can find the first article about my journey to house church here. The other articles in the series are about the communal nature of house church and the liturgy of house church. Throughout the history of the Christian church, believers have often found themselves drawn back to the New Testament Church as depicted in the book of Acts and the epistles. The

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16 Feb 2017

Round Table: The Purpose of the Local Church

Living in a post-Christian culture appears to be taking its toll on the local church. We no longer reside in small towns where people work together through the week and walk to church together on Sundays. We get in our separate cars from our separate neighbourhoods and homes, convene for an hour or two, and go home. Does this hour of the week change who we are? Does it connect us with the body of Christ?

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02 Feb 2017

The Lost Art of Evangelical Weeping, Part 2

As discussed in part 1, proper expressions of suffering and grief (spiritual and physical) seem to be largely discouraged in modern evangelical churches. Unfortunately, this trend may be less of a recent phenomenon than we think. Pastor Tim Keller has bemoaned that early Reformed and Lutheran churches may bear some responsibility, despite Martin Luther’s efforts to correct the medieval church’s promotion of stoic-like endurance in the face of suffering.1 Luther argued that Christians need not earn

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24 Jan 2017

We Need More Bart Campolos

“Even as faith endures in our secular age, believing doesn’t come easy. Faith is fraught; confession is haunted by an inescapable sense of contestability. We don’t believe instead of doubting; we believe while doubting. We’re all Thomas now.” – Charles Taylor Is the contemporary North American church in decline? If you do a casual search of the Internet or glance the titles of Christian publications over the past year, you will find a number of

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07 Dec 2016

On Earth as it is in Cyberspace

“And I saw the holy city, Facebook, coming down out of heaven from Zuck, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2, kinda.) The irony of any attempt to critique our dependency on the twin Babel towers of Facebook and Twitter, is that the number of readers who use those services to discover said critique is somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred percent. To even be in a position to publish such

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23 Nov 2016

Letters from the Gulag

November 9th, 2020. Can it be? Has it really been four years since that fateful morning after the election when I wrote, “The odds are high that Hillary Clinton will have unambiguously swept the electoral college by the time you read this”? Oh, how that seems such a different life now. I suppose it is. That was the era Before the Administration. I remember that time now only dimly, as if through something, uh, dim.

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17 Nov 2016

Saint Phanourios: a Friend in Suffering and One Who Finds What is Lost

This is the continuation of my essay series on St. Phanourios.  You can read part 1 here.2 As it is for many, we often spiritually grow through suffering. Elder Sophrony3, when writing to his sister Maria, writes about what suffering can give us: Do you really think that my in my years of monastic life I have escaped periods when the vision of my ruin was so petrifying that it is not permitted to speak

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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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09 Nov 2016

An Incomprehensible Good

But all the golden rams came at me. They drew closer to one another as their onrush brought them closer to me, till it was a solid wall of living gold. And with terrible force their curled horns struck me and knocked me flat and their hoofs trampled me. They were not doing it in anger. They rushed over me in their joy—perhaps they did not see me—certainly I was nothing in their minds. I

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07 Nov 2016

The Lost Art of Evangelical Weeping, Part 1

There is a mood and practice of forced buoyancy in American evangelical churches. In near Orwellian fashion, this frenzied gaiety tries to sanitize the church of any perceived negativity, sorrow, or grief. I have been in church services where the worship leader mounts the stage, “kicking off” the service with, “How’s everybody feeling this morning?” (implying the expectation of a positive reaction), followed by, “Oh, you can do better than that!” when the enthusiasm of

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18 Oct 2016

Reflections on Unity

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or

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28 Sep 2016

On Ghosts and the Hunting Thereof

We are once again on the cusp of October, and we all know what that means: all the good Halloween candy is already sold out and the only costumes left at Walmart are the counterfeit superhero get-ups that rip apart at the merest stretch of the fabric and bear names like “Wealthy Flying Robot Metal Man” and “Sticky Thrower Arachnid Boy.” Of course, these costumes must be dug out of the clearance bin, where they

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14 Sep 2016

Things I’d Rather Do on Sunday Morning Than Go to Church

The following, as the title of the article slyly implies, is a list of things I’d rather do on a Sunday morning than go to church. I am being only partly facetious with these. Make a fancy breakfast. I’ve taken a liking to the art of cooking these past couple years, and weekend mornings are an exceptional time to practice the craft. Duck confit rolled into crepes; poached eggs over arugula and toast, smothered in

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05 Sep 2016

On the Catholic Use of Sacred Scripture

This is a response piece to Christian McGuire’s article entitled: “On the Misuse of Sacred Scripture.” Dear Christian, As we discussed privately when I first read your piece, I agree with your basic premise that Scripture cannot stand alone as an authority without the vehicles of the Church (her liturgy, her teaching authority) and Tradition (the Fathers, the Doctors). Together, these three prongs of authority (Scripture, Tradition, and Church Magisterium) balance to form and inform a community

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05 Aug 2016

One…One Flesh…One Body

Somehow, upon turning thirty-one, I became more interested in blog posts about relationships, health, and inspiring fictional characters. I started thinking more about my retirement plan and drinking Jasmine green tea. I’m still sane, I promise. My proof? I have not stooped to getting into yoga (probably because I’m not flexible—among other reasons). Nor have I taken to drinking copious amounts of pour-over coffee…or any other kind of coffee, for that matter. I save so

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20 Jul 2016

The Desert Fathers Play Pokemon Go

Two monks left their cell and appeared before Abba Anthony, who was praying. “Abba,” said one of the monks, “My brother is in error, saying that Squirtle is the best starter when Charmander is clearly superior.” The other replied, “Nay, it is my brother who errs, for Squirtle has the best evolution.” Abba Anthony ceased praying and stood before the brethren. He pulled his own iPhone from within his robe and snapped it in half.

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18 Jul 2016

Racial Reconciliation: Sundays, from 4pm until the Line Ends.

Since moving to the DC area, I have been going to mass at a Church that is at least half Hispanic. Many parishioners don’t speak English as a primary language, if at all. Since I don’t attend services in Español—despite two semesters of Spanish, I am about as ignorant of the language as is humanly possible—I wouldn’t normally notice this fact. After all, I am nothing if not unobservant. But confessionals can make it hard

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