One argument against patristic ways of reading Scripture is that doing so somehow diminishes the unique witness of the Old Testament to Yahweh’s salvific acts in Israel’s history (a topic I’ve written about here). In our desire to see Christ in all of Scripture, we—like the Fathers—might read in a way that minimizes the event or the literary presentation of the event by ignoring the original context, thereby superimposing a Christian hermeneutic onto a pre-Christian
Below, you can find an up-to-date catalog of my responses to various Conciliar Post Round Tables, as well as links to where they originally appeared. I pray that these thoughts will be helpful to some, and will encourage all to delve further into the mysteries of faith. September, 2019: The Knowability of God “[The LORD] made darkness his covering around him…” –Ps 18:11 Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of discursive practice in Christian theology:
“The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.” -Genesis 7:17 (NRSV) Recently, I had occasion to complain to a friend about the elasticity of the word “literal” when wielded in discussions concerning hermeneutics. The word is frequently used as a placeholder for vapid personal interpretations derived in absentia of authorial intent, historical context, and the traditions of the Church.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9 (RSV) As an Anglican priest, I am often reminded by my Baptist friends that members of the Church are part of the “universal priesthood of believers.” I have no serious qualms with this terminology but I also
A few months ago, I began to incorporate the practice of guided meditation into my daily schedule. This particular form of meditation focuses on embodiment, which involves being more in tune with and aware of the body. What I have discovered so far is that this form of meditation not only has concrete benefits, such as remaining calm and being “present,” but also profound theological implications. In fact, I would go so far as to
Our lives are often guided by the questions we ask. Great inventors are driven by the impulse to build a better world. Explorers ask what lies beyond the edges of their map. Great philosophers question and question until they find a satisfactory answer. The curiosity of children leads them to wonder “why?” without end. A question that has dominated my own life is, “How do I know what God’s will is?” I’ve asked this question—in
In a sermon preached the same year that Augustine began to write his City of God, he told his congregation: “Brethren, when I speak of that City, and especially when scandals grow great here, I just cannot bring myself to stop…” (Enarr. In Ps. 84.10). As in Augustine’s time, so in ours as well scandals increase. Whether they do so more in our own time, I am not one to judge (though I rather doubt
They broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46b NRSV). This article is part of a continuing series on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. The first Christians in Jerusalem formed a community of faith wherein they met in private homes for corporate worship while also continuing to participate in the life of
Is Genesis 1 a Literal Account of Creation? Before we answer the question, it’s helpful to recall that there are two ways of understanding creation (or two “levels” of creation). Level 1) God Simultaneously Creates All Things (All that Exists) All matter is drawn forth from nothing.1 There is no part of creation that somehow comes into existence “later” or “after” the initial creative act.2 This simultaneous creation of all things is a reality expressed by
The basic doctrines that distinguish Christianity from all other religions have, at their root, assumptions that also differentiate Catholicism from all other forms of Christianity. I have spent some time illustrating this phenomenon in the case of several dogmas—the Incarnation, the authority of Christ, and the exclusive claim to grace. However, if you are just joining me now, don’t be daunted. Each essay is independent in its argument, since each one examines a different facet
Christianity makes some bold claims: God created the universe. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Human existence does not end at physical death. These statements all point to an important component of the Christian worldview: that which we can see, touch, and measure—the physical world—is not all that is. Reality is composed of something beyond the natural, physical material that we see all around us. Once one accepts the reality of the non-natural, an important question
Our churches preach three different Christs: two with no center and one with no edges. Out of this difference arises our political divide. Is reconciliation possible?
The debate about what to do with Genesis 1 is divisive. Many prominent Young Earth Creationists stake the entire truth value of the Gospel on whether or not the passage is describing a literal history, while those who identify as theistic evolutionists can be accused of playing “fast and loose” with the text. No matter what position one takes, understanding the background of this text is a pre-requisite to understanding its message. When Genesis 1
Twenty-four hours ago, my back yard featured a pair of mammoth lilac bushes perhaps fifteen feet in diameter apiece, both towering some nine feet above the earth. Behind the wall of green leaves and purple flowers, lilac bushes are dense forests of thin, whiplike branches that bend backwards and then shoot forward, raking your arms, legs, and face. If you’re me, these branches will whip the cigar you’re puffing as you push through the foliage
Genesis 1 tells a story of God creating, forming, and filling the universe, while continually delegating responsibilities to created things. Chapters 2 and 3 extend the story by showing how God begins teaching humans to see good. I argued last time1 that this process of delegation and teaching explains both why the Garden contains the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and why God is not around when the serpent appears in chapter
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
Our day-to-day lives constantly involve measuring size. Heading to bed we consciously (or unconsciously) determined the length of our sleep. At breakfast, we count calories (if on an appropriate diet) or at least guesstimate how much oatmeal to put in the bowl, or butter on the toast. Then there’s the time it’ll take to get to work, how long the gas will last in the vehicle, the number of items on the to-do list .
Transferring Responsibilities Last time, I claimed that Genesis 2–3 extends the narrative trajectory of Genesis 1. But what is that trajectory? There are three interconnected movements in the Creation Story. There is a movement from formlessness to form, a movement from emptiness to fullness, and a movement or transfer of responsibilities. Throughout Genesis 1, God gradually delegates responsibility for forming and filling to various parts of Creation. To the Lights, God delegates the responsibility of
A Baffling Story Christians need a coherent account of the Fall, but our forebears have not given us one. If they had, 20th century biblical scholars would not have written things like this: “The sheer irrationality of the command, not to eat of the tree, and of the threat to deprive of life if it was eaten, has had great effect on the history of understanding. . . . God . . . is placed
A common criticism of medieval Christianity theology centers on the practice of speculative theology, often defined as the asking of seemingly obscure questions which have little bearing (or none at all) upon the vicissitudes of human life or Christian faith. This article considers the value of speculative theology by reflecting on the question of whether or not Christ would have become incarnate if humanity had not fallen into sin.