02 Jul 2021

The Power of the Enemy or the Hands of a Friend?

It seems to me at this stage of my life that one of the harder parts of maturing in faith is coming to grips with the fact that all of scripture, all of our experience in Christ, all the core beliefs and convictions of the Christian gospel, all the ancient writings and creedal magnificence and great teachings and profound ideas of all the saints—all of this put together—is still not enough to answer some of

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08 Jan 2021

A Year of Revelation

It is (nearly) universally acknowledged that 2020 was, to put it technically, a dumpster fire. A global pandemic, economic turmoil, political chaos, isolation from loved ones, and massive loss of life across the globe combined to make 2020 one of the most difficult years to live through, both literally and metaphorically. In this short reflection I would like to focus, though, on what we can take away from this year. To be clear, this is

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01 Jul 2020

Trinity Brings Unity: Hope for a Divided World

Not long ago, my parish was offering the Prayers of the People as part of our Sunday liturgy. Worshippers were free to raise their own voices and add their personal petitions to those of the Book of Common Prayer. As we did so, two seemingly different prayers arose from our midst. One prayer was for the protection of police officers and first responders. Another was for the protection of protesters and all those seeking justice

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19 Mar 2020

Of the Plague that Stalks in the Darkness: What Coronavirus Taught me About Faith and Fear

I faced the first weeks and months of the COVID-19 crisis with a combination of steely eyed defiance and glib dismissiveness. The media never lets a crisis go to waste, I said, and this was just another lost Malaysian airliner on which CNN was capitalizing. I blamed social media for contributing to hysteria, and for promulgating false information. I cited statistics about how many people die from the flu in America (80,000 in 2019) and

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07 Feb 2020

I Have Not Known Great Evil – A Lament from a Place of Privilege

Photo by: Ken H. Wright Date: May 12, 1956   I have not known great evil. Yet it haunts my past and shapes my present. Who can say that the enslavement, brutal lynching, and systematic dehumanization of a kidnapped race does not haunt America and the world? Who can hear the reported words of a young girl who inexplicably survived the gas chamber saying “I want my mommy,” and not think the world forever marred

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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

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03 Feb 2017

Deliver Us From Evil

January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. For the first time, the White House released a statement to the press which mentioned neither anti-Semitism nor Jews. Why would the US Government issue a statement on such a day that fails to mention the victims of one of the most grotesque human evils in recent history? Thankfully, Reince Priebus, President Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, answered the question for us: “If we could wipe

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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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suffering round table
02 Sep 2016

Round Table: Suffering

“Why does God permit human beings to suffer and die?” There is no simple or easy answer to this question. Perhaps the best response is to pray, with Jesus Christ: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). Our Lord experienced the groaning of creation (Rom 8:22). He shed immortality and impassibility to take the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), to identify

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17 Jun 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part V (Statement of Agreement)

Thank you for persevering with us to the end of this conversation. This is the final and fifth part of a dialogue between Michael (LCMS Lutheran) and Benjamin (Roman Catholic) on the subjects of faith and works, sin and holiness, and salvation. To get caught up, read Michael’s opening statement, along with parts II, III, and IV. In this last part, we have decided to revisit the major points of the topics we have discussed,

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20 May 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part IV (Salvation)

“What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)? It all comes down to this. In the end, this is the primary question upon which Lutherans and Catholics are (perceived to be?) in disagreement. In this final “question-and-answer” section of the dialogue between Michael (Lutheran) and Benjamin (Catholic), we address various concerns that arise over salvation. To get caught up, read Michael’s opening statement, along with parts II, III. As always, we hope that others

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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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22 Apr 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part III (Sin and Holiness)

In Part I of this exchange between myself (Catholic) and Michael (Lutheran), Michael outlined Lutheran views on grace and faith. Parts II, III, and IV are “question-and-answer” sessions where Michael and I debate the exact implications of his statements from Part I. We hope that others will find the information helpful, and that our dialogue can serve as a model for inquiry into the issues that, sadly, divide Christians across denominations. Whether or not we

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08 Mar 2016

Round Table: Christian Self-Defense and Lethal Force

Gun violence and lethal force have been hot topics on the evening news and the subject of debate in the social and political spheres for quite some time. Because of this, people are often categorized in one of two camps: those who are for and those who are against lethal weaponry. Instead of jumping into a heated political debate, we here at Conciliar Post asked our authors how they believe Christians should understand lethal force in self-defense.

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25 Feb 2016

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Grace: Part II (Faith and Works)

In Part I of this exchange between myself (Catholic) and Michael (Lutheran), Michael outlined Lutheran views on grace and faith. Parts II, III, and IV are “question-and-answer” sessions where Michael and I debate the exact implications of his statements from Part I. Although such a format is new to Conciliar Post, Michael and I hope that others will find the information helpful, and that our dialogue can serve as a model for inquiry into the

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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

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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

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06 Feb 2015

Brutality or Beatitude?

“So this is where we are. Ashes, ashes, all fall down. How could I have forgotten? Didn’t I see the heavens wiped shut just yesterday, on the road walking? Didn’t I fall from the dark of the stars to these senselit and noisome days? The great ridged granite millstone of time is illusion, for only the good is real; the great ridged granite millstone of space is illusion, for God is spirit and worlds his

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Photo of a window in a decaying wall, by _Marion http://pixabay.com/en/users/_Marion-36647/)
30 Jan 2015

Why the Problem of Evil is Incoherent

There’s something economic about theodicies. “After calculating the costs and benefits, God decided that x was worth the price of y.” Plug in “free will” or “a habitable planet” for x. Plug in “murders” or “hurricanes” for y. There’s no money involved, but it still feels kind of crass. This is not to say that theodicies aren’t important. They help us see that theism isn’t irrational, even if the attributes of God and the world

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02 Dec 2014

Reflections on Suffering (Part Two)

In my previous post, I reflected on some of the answers which have been offered to the “question of suffering,” the query about why there is evil and suffering in the world if there is a good and all-powerful God. In today’s post, I hope to begin crafting an “answer” to this question—not an answer in an absolute sense, but rather an perception and understanding by which we can try to make some sense of

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