07 May 2018

Why I’m Not Reformed (But Admire Them Anyway)

I have a complicated relationship with Reformed theology. Growing up, I first encountered Calvinist ideas in early high school. I was floored by the thought that anyone might really embrace a kind of theological “hard determinism,” in which anything could ultimately be causally attributed to God. It took only a little dot-connecting to see the implications: without free will, the Fall itself was an “act of God”… which, it seemed, would inevitably make God the

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23 Apr 2018

Why “The Prince of Egypt” Is the Bible Movie Viewers Deserve

Most “Bible movies” fall into two categories. On the one hand are saccharine, unchallenging films that cater to audiences’ predetermined tastes (anyone who’s ever browsed a megachurch library will immediately recognize the type). On the other are more daring secular takes that inevitably end up sparking some controversy or another (I’m reminded of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings”). But every year or so, I revisit DreamWorks’ 1998 animated masterpiece “The

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13 Apr 2018

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God I have always loved the morning. There is something especially moving in the cool fresh air, untainted by the day’s hustle and bustle; there is something so provocative in the dawning of light; there is something reassuring in human quietude and nature’s songs to its Creator. Surely when the psalmists wrote things like: “Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”;

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19 Mar 2018

Troubles and the Life of Faith

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins (Psalm 25:16-18; NRSV). Preachers on television constantly promise their viewers lives of health, wealth, and welfare. If you are sick, you will be healed. If you are struggling financially, a material blessing is headed your way. If

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12 Feb 2018

Book Review: “Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan”

“Epically ambitious” is a good way to describe Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan, Yale professor Anthony Kronman’s magisterial evaluation of Western theology, history and philosophy. Kronman’s grand goal—advancing and defending a theological “third way” between theism and atheism—is staggering in scope, a project that canvasses thousands of years of Western culture. And despite its voluminous page count, Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan is a spellbinding read. Confessions deftly weaves together art, philosophy, science, history, music,

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15 Jan 2018

“Mother!” Of God?

As far as I’m concerned, Darren Aronofsky is the best film director working today. The auteur behind movies as diverse as “Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Fountain,” “The Wrestler,” “Black Swan,” and “Noah,” Aronofsky creates works that blend surreal imagery, wrenching performances, and complex spiritual motifs. “Mother!,” his latest, is no exception—as Ben Winter recently noted. Indeed, it might be Aronofsky’s most ambitious work yet—and will undoubtedly be the most controversial. It’s impossible to

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20 Dec 2017

R.C. Sproul – A Former Protestant’s Gratitude

When I heard of R.C. Sproul’s death, my first impulse was to pray for his family and–since I am no longer Protestant but Catholic–for him. My second was to turn to my mother and say, “R.C. Sproul died two days ago.” Death has a strange, self-assured touch. Everything stops in its tracks, but the fact of it won’t register. Not truly a shock, it is more a suspension, a cessation of movement in the vicinity

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11 Dec 2017

Waiting for Resurrection

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, Their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; But the word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:6-8). On Sunday and Wednesday evenings, we attempt to have family devotions during dinner.

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06 Dec 2017

Advent

Advent Heavy lay the snow the last warm breath just lingering inside our gloves next to fatigue it slowed and chilled me and my brothers toying with a seam at winter’s hem until the cold was far too much we stumbled home and stood like living clouds of steam our thrown scarves garlands for the railing and the chairs Mother I even began to feel afraid when the last light topped its arc those slender

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20 Nov 2017

Christ, the Revelation of God’s Agency

This is the second part of a series based on notes from a lecture delivered by Rowan Williams at Saint Louis University on 7 March, 2017. Part One can be found here. Part One: Historical Perspective If we look at the way language about Jesus Christ develops from the earliest days onwards, what we see is a gradual clarification—not just of what is said about Christ, but of what is said about God. In the early

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23 Oct 2017

Metaphysics, Christ, and Creation

This article is based on notes from a lecture delivered by Rowan Williams at Saint Louis University on 7 March, 2017. Metaphysics and God’s Activity Austin Farrer was possibly the greatest Anglican theologian of our time. In a 1948 series of lectures (The Glass of Vision), he brought together philosophy, devotion, and Scriptural exegesis in a remarkably beautiful way. It was something of a theological watershed. In these lectures, Farrer builds on his major work Finite

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16 Oct 2017

Eating Food with Glad and Generous Hearts

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

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16 Jun 2017

Three Years of Conciliar Post

“God is a God not of disorder but of peace.” (1 Cor 14:33) Dear Friends, It has been a banner year for Conciliar Post. We have composed a new “About” page that updates our mission and looks ahead to the future. We have revised and simplified our leadership structure. We have added an SSL security certificate, and are now backing up the website daily. We would also like to share some encouraging statistics: As of today,

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15 May 2017

Webber on the Purpose of Worship

“My longing for a more satisfying worship grew as each route I took in worship led me to a dead end street. But after giving up the evangelistic approach to worship and after the unfulfilling experience of educational worship, I didn’t know what to do next. I was running out of reasons for being at church (Webber, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail).”1 In the opening quote above, Robert Webber’s personal experiences raise a legitimate question,

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06 Apr 2017

Why I Share Troubling Articles (And You Should Too)

About a month ago, I shared an article concerning one Christian woman’s positive experience with Planned Parenthood (PP). In this article, the author—who is also the subject of the story—seeks to shed light on a predicament lingering within much of conservative Christianity: widespread ignorance and shame concerning sex, especially among young girls. In this article, the author describes herself as a product of a quintessentially conservative Christian environment. Growing up, she, among other things, maintained

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20 Mar 2017

Coffee Shop Ministry

“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.”–John Wesley, Journal As an adjunct lecturer at several local colleges and the pastor of a small house church, I have been given the gift of a flexible schedule. My pastoral duties

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09 Mar 2017

Scandalous Sacredness: Until the End of Time

This article is Part II of the Scandalous Sacredness: A Note from the Chaplain Chronicles series.  To view Part I, click here.   “Doubt is Christian participation in the weakness of God, the weakness of the cross” — E. Frank Tupper My mentor told me, time and time again, that one day I would have a patient that got to me. My supervisor and several senior nurses told me it’s inevitable for anyone in a

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10 Jan 2017

How America Turned Its President Into a God

Gallons of e-ink have already been spilled over the 2016 presidential election outcome, and barrels more will undoubtedly be required by journalists and scholars in future decades. Until President-elect Donald Trump actually takes office, I have few concrete thoughts about the nation’s future trajectory. One element of the 2016 campaign, however, seems to have been underexplored in the flood of post-election hot takes: over the last ten years or so, some Americans have developed a

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25 Nov 2016

Five Ways to Respond to Questions About Your Love Life This Holiday Season

The hashtag #OverheardAtThanksgivingDinner trended on Twitter recently. Of the first twelve tweets I saw, twenty-five percent mentioned vexatious comments from family members concerning one’s relationship status. It’s a universal phenomenon—you go home for the holidays, you see someone that you haven’t talked to for a few months or more, and they ostensibly voice their surprise that an attractive, young catch like yourself hasn’t made it to the altar yet. My late Grandma Louise was a

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09 Sep 2016

On the Misuse of Christian Tradition: A Response

The proper relationship between the authority of Christian Scripture and authority of Christian Tradition avails itself to no easy answers. From a historical viewpoint, much of the early development of both remains hotly debated. From a theological perspective, centuries (and sometimes millennia) old debates continue to shape thinking and lead toward answers long before any explicit consideration of this relationship comes into focus. Yet there seem to be boundaries—a “highway of orthodoxy” if you will—which

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