28 Jul 2021

Learning from the Latter-Day Saints, Part II

In the first part of this article, I attempted to show how Latter-Day Saints relate to doctrine in a robustly positive sense, seeing it not as mere “head knowledge” or a burdensome inheritance from the past, but as a path for life. This pragmatic approach to doctrine is commonplace within the Latter-Day Saint community, so much so that one can almost be forgiven for thinking that the tradition is bereft of, or at least uninterested

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14 Jul 2021

Learning from the Latter-Day Saints, Part I

A few years ago, I was working on a sermon, listening absent-mindedly to hymns on a list generated by YouTube. Deep in my writing, I suddenly became aware that the music floating through the background of my mind was filled with strange and unfamiliar words: If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye And then continue onward with that same speed to fly, Do you think that you could ever, through

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17 Mar 2021

“Keeping Wide and Kind the Bounds of Christian Fellowship”: Robert E. Speer on Christians Working Together

Like congregations working together to carry out ministries of mercy in their local areas, our writing together at Conciliar Post is a kind of cooperative Christian endeavor, based on the idea that we can all learn from the various emphases that have been cultivated by our various traditions. While often this kind of action flows naturally out of shared Christian convictions, some have attempted to explain the basis of cooperation scripturally and theologically. One such

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24 Jun 2019

The Importance of Hospitality

The book of 3 John is both one of the shortest books in the Bible and one of the most unique. Being short, the letter is easy to read straight through, and one can easily grasp the basic themes. Being addressed directly to “the beloved Gaius,” the book is unique in that it is a personal letter (3 Jn 1). In the opening, the author, John, identifies himself as “the elder” (Gk. presbuteros). In the

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05 Jul 2018

Orthodoxy and Relevance

Christians have long talked about life as a journey, whether as runners or pilgrims or travelers or something else. Journeys tend to involve forks in the road, decisions to make, and obstacles to overcome. Sometimes, the decisions of this journey are between light and darkness, holiness and sin, redemption and backsliding. In these instances, the follower of Christ is called to choose the path of faithfulness. Other times, however, the decisions we make along the

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22 Nov 2017

The Eucharist: A Brief Apologetical Discursus on John 6

This piece is less of a precise exposition, and more of a contribution to several ongoing conversations on this subject with those I love; particularly my father, who along with my mother first demonstrated to me the priestly, prophetic, and kingly role of Christians. Our Eucharistic Lord This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. It puts me in mind of His words to St. Faustina Kowalska, explaining to us what kind of king

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06 Sep 2017

Spaces for Dissent?

I’ve always been intrigued by the phenomenon of “Catholics in dissent”—those who claim affiliation with the Catholic Church, but aren’t shy about registering their opposition to certain more-or-less authoritative teachings. At least some commentators have argued that “in order to protect the intellectual vitality of the Church’s understanding of itself, responsible dissent is not only allowed, it is required.” As a low-level dissenter from the official doctrine of my denomination—I don’t adhere to the view

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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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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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29 Apr 2016

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity? Part II

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity Part I. I. The Reality of Sin in Apophatic Theology Viewing God as the ultimate embodiment of moral rightness means that moral action, and the moral life, is intrinsically oriented away from the self: one ought to sublimate one’s own will and desires when those sentiments impel toward self-aggrandizement or self-centeredness. Moral evil, then, is a self-oriented derogation from the moral perfection God epitomizes. Spong correctly (and in line with

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15 Apr 2016

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity? Part I

Introduction: Tracing the Implications of Metaphysical Theology The branch of philosophical theology known as classical theism has long written of a God who is the Ground and Source of Being, both wholly transcendent and wholly immanent (Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart’s brilliant exposition and defense of this concept, The Experience of God, is still one of the most influential and thought-provoking books I’ve ever read). This concept, implicit in Eastern Orthodox and much Catholic

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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

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08 Jan 2016

Of Tribalism and Churches (Part I)

Recently I have been thinking about the topic of tribalism. By tribalism I mean adapting one’s behavior and thinking to accord with the group of people with which we are associated. I have been thinking a lot about this issue not because I am thinking about becoming a St. Louis Cardinals fan (my fellow Cubs fans will be happy to hear). Rather I have been thinking about tribalism in the context of baptism and the

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03 Dec 2015

The False Gospel of Protestantism

This article marks the close of my bi-weekly writing at Conciliar Post. It has been a joy to contribute and discuss the faith here. I hope I have produced a coherent framework in these articles for viewing all five branches of Christianity as one common faith to be embraced and learned from across denominations and lines of tradition. In my final regular article, I have no intent to malign Protestantism since I myself continue to

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24 Sep 2015

Charismatic in an Anglican World

From experience, I tend to believe that doctrine is an important factor to consider in choosing a church. For a Charismatic Christian who practices the gifts of the Spirit, it would be foolish and very difficult to become part of a community that regularly denounces my Christian practice. Similarly, if the peace of a Christian community is threatened by my beliefs, the loving response may be to walk away. The danger is that I could

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04 Sep 2015

How To Be orthodox With A Small “o” – Part 2

In the first part of this study a discussion took place of the diaspora of Christian beliefs and practices within contemporary Christianity in the West, and the concept of independent exposition of the Scriptures in order to avoid allegiance to any group since all allegedly contain pros and cons.  It was concluded that some ultimate standard must be introduced in this confusion to avoid the complete dismantling of Christian “small ‘o’ orthodoxy.” This endeavor will

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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

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06 Jul 2015

Embracing the Aesthetics of the Lab

I often enjoy visiting the various Smithsonian museums, particularly the National Museum of Natural History – and this past weekend, I did just that. Yet this time was different: wandering through the Hall of Mammals and into the Hall of Human Origins, surrounded by old fossils and countless instances of the the “millions and millions of years ago” language criticized by some as Darwinian indoctrination, I was abruptly struck by a hitherto-unfelt realization. The aesthetic

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29 May 2015

Grace and Catholicism, Part II: Theological Definitions

Introduction In this post, we’ll delve into definitions with the goal of clarifying the Roman Catholic understanding of grace. Admittedly, the discussion is complex and multifaceted. It must first be stated that the theological categorization of grace is never meant to detract from its mysterious and deifying activity. Rather, such reflections are undertaken—via a hermeneutic of faith seeking understanding—with the twofold purpose of clarifying and defending the Church’s essential teachings. These teachings were passed down

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28 May 2015

Discerning Division, Undertaking Unity

If you drive through any appreciable stretch of the United States, you are bound to come across churches. In some sparse locales, these places of worship are few and far between, much like the dwellings of those who attend them. In other places, churches abound, with nearly every street seeming to possess its own house of God. When my wife and I lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, one of our favorite pastimes was driving through

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