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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18 Jul 2016

Racial Reconciliation: Sundays, from 4pm until the Line Ends.

Since moving to the DC area, I have been going to mass at a Church that is at least half Hispanic. Many parishioners don’t speak English as a primary language, if at all. Since I don’t attend services in Español—despite two semesters of Spanish, I am about as ignorant of the language as is humanly possible—I wouldn’t normally notice this fact. After all, I am nothing if not unobservant. But confessionals can make it hard

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08 Jul 2016

What is Love?

To love is to give— to give yourself, your heart a door flung wide to give another power over you to wound. . . . . . or to heal If God is Love, then think of the power He gives us over Himself, how He gave Himself so fully to us, Wounded for our healing     to love is to give. . .

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23 Jun 2016

Religious Reasons in Public Debate: On Stopping Conversation

The first article in this series argued that religious reasons ought to be included in discussions surrounding issues of public policy. Barth’s rejection of natural theology makes it clear that, while natural premises might be shared by nearly all, they are ill-equipped to communicate religious ideas. With Stout’s second option, to translate theological reasons into reasons based on shared or natural premises, rejected as an unworkable compromise for the religious interlocutor, the second article in

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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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17 May 2016

Round Table: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? This is a question which has received much attention in recent years, with numerous theologians and cultural commentators weighing in on what has become a hotly contested debate. And rightly so, for as Christian and Islamic civilizations clash, a clarification of the foundations of each worldview remains necessary for understanding each religion and what is at stake. Yet the question of this month’s Round Table discussion does

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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

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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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15 Apr 2016

Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity? Part I

Introduction: Tracing the Implications of Metaphysical Theology The branch of philosophical theology known as classical theism has long written of a God who is the Ground and Source of Being, both wholly transcendent and wholly immanent (Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart’s brilliant exposition and defense of this concept, The Experience of God, is still one of the most influential and thought-provoking books I’ve ever read). This concept, implicit in Eastern Orthodox and much Catholic

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05 Apr 2016

What John Calvin Taught Me about the Sacraments

By Peter Schellhase I became a Calvinist in my teens. Before this, my religious understanding had been stunted by my family’s involvement in a cult-like parachurch group. Reacting to toxic fundamentalism, I found new life in the rich soil of Calvinistic theology. Yet, after almost ten years, I was still a “teenage” Calvinist. Much like Jeff Reid, I had read many modern, derivative theological works in the Reformed vein, but nothing by the great Protestant

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01 Apr 2016

A Barthian Public Theology

The first article in this series argued that religious reasons ought to be included in discussions surrounding issues of public policy. Barth’s rejection of natural theology makes it clear that, while natural premises might be shared by nearly all, they are ill-equipped to communicate religious ideas. With Stout’s second option, to translate theological reasons into reasons based on shared or natural premises, rejected as an unworkable compromise for the religious interlocutor, we will now turn

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18 Mar 2016

Sola Scriptura and Interpretive Paradox

In most Christian circles, the simple statement that “Christians interpret the Bible in a different way than they interpret the Constitution” would probably be largely uncontroversial. The intuitive objection to juxtaposing the documents in this way–that the Bible is the Word of God, while the Constitution is man’s words–does not directly address the interesting paradox: why do many political and theological conservatives use interpretively “liberal” language (“underlying purpose,” “culturally specific,” “not literal”) in their interpretation

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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

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09 Mar 2016

A Calvinist Reads Calvin: Knowing God Entails Relationship

Welcome back to our ongoing series following the thoughts of John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. If you are joining the conversation for the first time, you might want to take a moment to read the first paragraph of the first post in the series. Otherwise, I hope you find the ideas as irresistible as I do. When we last looked at Calvin’s thought, we examined the relationship between knowledge of self

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22 Feb 2016

Is Sprinkling the Best Way to Baptize?

Here in the Bible Belt, sacramental Christians sometimes feel like the nerdy kid on the playground when it comes to explaining our practices of baptism.  In many Baptist, Pentecostal, and nondenominational congregations, baptism is only done “as John the Baptist did it.” That means getting dunked like an early morning cruller in hot coffee. For many in my part of the world, baptism means one thing: immersion. United Methodists actually aren’t against immersion (which is

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11 Feb 2016

Religious Reasons in Public Debate: A Conversation with Karl Barth

Christianity and Democratic Dialogue: Part One Need we suspend our faith for the sake of conversation? Western Democracy has given Christians religious liberties that few throughout history have enjoyed, while also saving the Church from the shame of statecraft. Foundational to these democratic systems of government is a form of civil dialogue that seeks to include all reasonable voices in the conversation. However, secularization in the Western world has lead many, both atheistic and theistic,

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27 Jan 2016

A Calvinist Reads Calvin: Where Knowing Starts

Thank you for electing to read this post!1 If you are just joining this series, I would recommend reading the first part of the first post in the series. It will give you the context for my own exploration of Calvin’s Institutes and why you are invited to join me. Ironically, the selection we will be exploring deals with our basis of knowing. In the grand scheme of the book, we are beginning the first

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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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