17 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part II)

This post continues my reflections on baptism, focusing on the covenantal and sacramental aspects of Christian baptism. Covenantal Theology Those beginning an exploration of historic baptismal theology will almost immediately run into the concept of covenantal theology. As commonly defined, a covenant is a formal agreement made between God and humans, typically one that only God is capable of upholding in its entirety. Christians of various stripes will interpret covenants and their implications differently, but,

3
05 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part I)

Baptism has been on my mind lately, not only because there are some intriguing conversations taking place in the blogging world about baptism and American Christianity, but also because a member of my family is being baptized soon. In this two-part article, I offer some reflections on baptism, beginning in this post with the Bible and history and wrapping up with some musings on covenant and sacrament in the next. Baptism in the Acts of

5
21 Nov 2016

Justification in Catholicism, Part III

This is the third and final post in my series on Catholicism and Justification. The first two parts can be found here and here. Elsewhere in Paul’s letters, we find a similar commitment to a Catholic view of justification. One such example is found in his phrase, “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything” (Galatians 5:6, 6:15, 1 Corinthians 7:9). I will look at all incidents of this phrase in Paul’s writing. It is, of

32
03 Nov 2016

Revealer of light: St. Phanourios

Years ago, in late September, I was at my sister-friend’s parish in Ottawa for a weekday liturgy. Afterwards, an older Greek lady gave out small pieces of bread called “Phanouropita” for St. Phanourios.  I have never had such good tasting bread. It was the perfect balance of sweetness and spices; surely it was made with prayer! Nothing tastes so good as when it is made with love and prayer. I remember the priest, after the

3
10 Oct 2016

Justification in Catholicism, Part I

It may come as a surprise to some that, Luther’s attempt to add the word “alone” into Romans 3:28 notwithstanding, the words “alone” or “only” are never paired with “faith” in all of the Sacred Text except when the phrase is condemned in James. As a Protestant, this was the first fact to give me pause about my theology of salvation. If the phrase “faith alone” was really, as so many Reformers claimed, the best

2
08 Sep 2016

“Do not be afraid” ~ {While Experiencing the Abandonment of God}

I1 am nearing the end of a really beautiful book, called Dimitri’s Cross.2 Right now I am reading the letters he wrote his wife, Tamara, from his first place of imprisonment.  I already know, from reading this book, that he is later sent to Dora, a camp called the “Man-Eater” where Fr. Dimitri is forced to work in horrid, extreme conditions, ages quickly, becomes very ill and at the end, speaks of feeling the abandonment of

3
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

4
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

10
01 Aug 2016

And the greatest of these is… Faith?

Invariably, soteriological discussions will surface the concept of “true faith”—generally sooner rather than later. Why does James say that we are justified by works and not by faith alone, even though Paul writes that we are justified by faith? Because James wasn’t talking about “true faith.” Why do some people fall away after professing faith in Christ? Theirs was not “true faith.” But what does this term really mean? This question plagued me as a

5
01 Jul 2016

Taking Trump’s Theology Seriously

Perhaps Donald Trump’s professed Christian faith has gotten a bad rap. Back in January, the Pew Research Center found that among American presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, Trump was seen as the least religious.1 A recent GQ article argues that Trump “sure is bad at pretending he loves Jesus.”2 Erick Erickson in a tweet quips, “The more Trump talks Christianity, the more he sounds like he took a Rosetta Stone class on speaking Christian.”3 On

9
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,

1
14 Jun 2016

Why I Chose to Be Re-Baptized

Have you ever had the chance to take a look at your life with the knowledge that it was about to come to an end? Everything you know is about to change. The world was once a familiar, safe, beautiful, and even happy place, but you are moving on, choosing to let go—exchanging what you don’t know for the promise of something better. Most people come to the end of their life with a firm

5
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

1
11 May 2016

Confessions of a Single Mom

You know that feeling of knowing that serious pain is coming and there is no way out of it? Like knowing throughout a pregnancy that labor pains are coming one day and there is no way to make it out without feeling them? The type of situations that you dread but know deep down you’re just going to have to get through them? The ones where trying to think things through and analyze and rationalize

1
02 May 2016

Anticipation

In a frenzy of thoughts and emotions I wrote the first draft to this piece.  It was written in the eye of the storm, so to speak; that time right after the panicked shuffle to the hospital and right before the final stages of labor kicks in.  There was a small window of time when all was calm and the nurses were tending to my wife and I was able to write out my thoughts.  There

2
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

0
17 Mar 2016

Becoming Child-Like

As I stood in the sterile and strange new world of a hospital recovery room, having given birth less than 24-hours prior, one of my remarkable nurses walked in to check on me and my new baby. “How do you feel?” she asked. Such a simple question, but so many answers ran through my mind. Tired, sore, elated, uncertain. My answer was, “Empty.” I was not empty on an emotional level, rather empty in a

2
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

4
23 Feb 2016

Zacchaeus Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus Zacchaeus Put your money down Zacchaeus Zacchaeus Jesus has come to town Zacchaeus Zacchaeus You hope that I’ll see you Zacchaeus Zacchaeus Your old life will be through And though you’re a wee little man Who likes to grasp things in your hand When Jesus goes with you to sup You give all your life up Zacchaeus Zacchaeus Climb up in that tree Zacchaeus Zacchaeus The Lord you’re going to see Zacchaeus Zacchaeus You

0
28 Jan 2016

Blindness and Light

There is a lot of talk in the gospels about blindness, for Jesus is the light of the world. Most people are not blind, they just have no light. I want all of us to experience the fullness of what the body of Christ is offering us. But we keep our eyes closed. Some may think that all that is required to be Orthodox is to wear a head covering and learn how to ask

1