02 Dec 2020

Bonaventure on Prayer

Bonaventure’s entire theological project is deeply prayerful, and many of his most famous works are bookended by prayer. This is nowhere more evident than the Itinerarium, which begins by advising souls seeking peace to cry out in prayer, and ends with David’s words from Psalm 73—invoking mystical “passing over” into Christ through death. To read Bonaventure rightly is to stand in humility before God, the immeasurable Creator Whom no one can see and still live.

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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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18 Jan 2019

“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” and the Pitfalls of Calvinism

On December 28th, Netflix dropped Charlie Brooker’s latest Black Mirror offering: Bandersnatch; an interactive choose-your-own-adventure style film focused on the “choices” of Stefan; a young up-and-coming videogame developer. Depending on how one navigates the film, different events will occur, but with every choice, Stefan runs into obstacles [Spoilers ahead]. How does Stefan navigate these obstacles? He doesn’t. You do. In doing so, you, the viewer, are escorted behind the proverbial curtain and given the power

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13 Jul 2018

Open Theism Misses The Mark With Metaphysics (Review)

A friend and I recently conversed about possible positive appropriations of “open theism.”1 While initially ill-at-ease with the label, I soon began to understand why this movement has been so influential. In an effort to learn more, I read chapter three of The Openness of God (a seminal text for open theism). What follows is my critique. Metaphysics and Personhood Throughout this chapter, Pinnock goes out of his way to situate “metaphysics” in opposition to

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25 Apr 2018

The Calvinist Conundrum

When Calvinists argue against the conceptual validity of libertarian freedom, they undermine their own theology of God. First, let’s clear up some terminology. Libertarian freedom, according to Robert Kane, has two main components: “We believe we have free will when (a) it is ‘up to us’ what we choose from an array of alternative possibilities and (b) the origin or source of our choices and actions is in us and not in anyone or anything

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12 Jun 2017

Choosing the Best

The peanut butter aisle of a major grocery store presents the average shopper with a great moral dilemma. From the wide variety of options available, how does one select which jar of peanut butter to purchase? The discerning shopper has to be able to select between multiple brands and different price points. Furthermore, the all-important crunchy or creamy decision needs to be made. As the shopper makes his or her final choice, other factors must

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23 Feb 2017

Why Protestants Should Care About the Church’s Historical Tradition

When arguments break out about the Constitution in public life, almost everyone has a natural tendency to grab a copy of the document, point to a passage that appears to support their views, and declare that the question is immediately settled. The Constitution’s Ninth Amendment—“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”—is a prime example of this: most liberal and conservative scholars

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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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23 Dec 2015

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Irresistible Grace

In my favorite scene of the Jim Carrey flick Bruce Almighty––after Bruce has been given Divine powers only to abuse them, then hit rock bottom and seek reconciliation with his girlfriend––Bruce asks God [played by Morgan Freeman]: “How do you make someone love you without affecting their free will?” To which Morgan Freeman responds, “Welcome to my world, son.  You find an answer to that, you let me know.” For the Reformed Calvinist, this problem

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11 Nov 2015

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Unconditional Election

I have many thoughts and explanations to put forth on this topic so I will get right to it. THE DOCTRINE OF UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION I cite John Calvin to articulate what Reformed Christians refer to as “Unconditional Election” today: In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would

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28 Oct 2015

An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Total Depravity

While Tiny Tim’s song may be quite catchy, the following tiptoe through TULIP series is no light-hearted matter since, depending on how Christians respond to this Calvinist framework, our understanding of who God is and how we are saved can end up in radical opposition.  I was a five-point Calvinist from high school until my time at an Evangelical seminary, but subsequently, one-by-one I began to drop letters of the TULIP complex from my theology

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12 Oct 2015

Become Merciful

“Become merciful (it says in the Greek) even as your Father is merciful.” There is movement and action. The word become implies change and growth and development. God is merciful and loving and He never changes. We are the ones who are changeable. The scary thing is that we have the same potential to become unmerciful as we have to become merciful. We are Orthodox Christians. I am very comfortable with that statement. I am also comfortable with

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24 Jul 2015

Grace and Catholicism Part III – Repentance

Grace and Catholicism Part III – Repentance We approach the edge of a cliff. Flailing arms wildly, we careen toward the brink and launch outward into abyss. Abyss of inscrutability, abyss of love, abyss of justice. Abyss of knowing and unknowing, of God and man, of freedom … or something else? In line with the subject of our series, this abyss represents the dire difficulties raised when we speak about the human will in matters

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05 Jan 2015

The Problem of Predestination: Reformed and Catholic Theology in Dialogue

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s

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11 Sep 2014

The Foolishness of Walter White

My wife and I finally got around to “binge-watching” the immensely popular TV series Breaking Bad on Netflix. I was initially reluctant to watching this show given my general skepticism to all pop culture phenomena. I assumed this was just another “shoot em up” excuse to glorify sex, violence, and drug abuse. However, as I quickly found out there was much more to this particular show. The drugs and violence of Breaking Bad, in fact,

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