05 May 2021

Theology as Reasoning Prayer

I was recently struck by a line from Peter Leithart’s review of Vern Poythress’ recent book, The Mystery of the Trinity. At the end of the review Leithart offers what he deems to be high praise for Poythress: Each chapter of Mystery of the Trinity ends with a prayer. Poythress and Frame want theology to speak to ordinary people in ordinary language, rather than become a playground for professionals who bandy intimidating technical terms about to keep

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17 Oct 2020

Pensées, Reality, and le Coeur (Part Two)

In Part One of this Pascalian reflection, we considered Pascal’s first step in the path of the spiritual quest. At nearly every point of his Pensées, Pascal goads his readers to pay close attention to the movements of the soul in response to the wonders of the created world. There, he insists, you will find flickers of light, glimmers of reality breaking through the darkness. Those sparks, however, are the beginning, and not the end.

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10 Jul 2020

First Reformed and the Impossibility of Grace

Note: this article contains spoilers. Paul Schrader’s 2017 film First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried, is a brilliantly dark film that explores profound religious questions. The story centers on Rev. Ernst Toller, a divorced pastor of the waning congregation at First Reformed, a historic Dutch Reformed parish in Snowbridge, New York. From the outset, it is apparent the pastor is undergoing a crisis of faith, which we glimpse by way of excerpts from

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26 Jul 2017

My Journey Back to Appreciating a Protestant Sermon

My previous post on the “Word of the Lord,” drew a few different comments encouraging me to expand on what I had written there. Many of them had to do with the fact that I hadn’t fully come to terms with what I wanted to say. I find that much of my writing reflects the fact that I am on a journey towards understanding, as Origen is fond of saying in his Commentary on the

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07 Jul 2017

Looking Inward and Upward: The Inner Life of the Church

Renowned church historian, Robert Louis Wilken, penned an essay for First Things back in 2004 entitled, “The Church as Culture.” Therein he outlines how the Church is a culture unto itself, rather than merely a mechanism for effecting change on secular culture (the world). Contra H. Richard Niebuhr, who formulated the Church’s mission as part of Christ penetrating the world as a theological idea, to Wilken, Christ is culture, “the fullness of life in the

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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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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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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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