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
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?
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
“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
“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
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.
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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.
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
I’d like to ask the reader to take a moment and join me in a round of applause for women. I did not know this until recently, but they’ve all been fighting a very important battle in the Supreme Court these last few months, and it seems they have, at last, emerged victorious. I do not know how they all managed to cram in the courtroom at once, or even how they managed to do
This could be the sky Jesus flew up through And this could be the ground with the city around Where he left his disciples to wait for him too Because we still stand looking where he went Even though the angel is here we don’t seem to hear That he went away so we could stay and be sent Perhaps we are those same five hundred fed Who want to be given things and make
Many moons ago, I wrote an article titled The Divine Art of Funny, wherein I described the nature and purpose of humor from a Christian perspective. In short, humor is the study of incongruities in life and the world, and those incongruities which elicit a pleasure response like laughter and smiles are what we call “funny.” Whereas materialists are only able to describe humor in terms of evolutionary and psychological causation, I suggest that there
The world lost its mind while I was on vacation. I don’t believe this is my fault. However, I fully acknowledge this is not a very good excuse. If push comes to shove, I will take the blame—if for no other reason than to avoid the inevitable avalanche of tiresome op-eds about who is to blame for the world’s mind and the losing thereof. This will save time and, presumably, money for the publications who