Learning from the Latter-Day Saints, Part I
A few years ago, I was working on a sermon, listening absent-mindedly to hymns on a list generated by YouTube. Deep in my writing, I suddenly became aware that the music floating through the background of my mind was filled with strange and unfamiliar words: If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye And then continue onward with that same speed to fly, Do you think that you could ever, through
Orthodox Pastoral Care and Psychotherapy
If there is any subject bound to divide members within the Orthodox Church today, it is the relationship between Orthodoxy and psychotherapy. Indeed, a line could be drawn down the middle of any Church nave with members on each side intent on coming to blows. One side is bound to consist of ROCOR1 priests and laity, enthusiastic converts, and the boomer faithful; on the other stand dual vocation priest-therapists, intellectuals, and younger, seasoned faithful. Each
How to Become a Friend of God
The Scriptures are clear: “Abraham was called the friend of God” (James 2:23) … A Sunday School teacher told me once that we should read the Bible every day, and I was an intense, introverted child: I followed her advice, opening my third-grade presentation edition after my evening shower, my hair dripping dimples onto the onionskin pages. Jesus, on the cusp of his crucifixion, called the disciples friends, not servants (John 15:15). I was raised
Orthodoxy and Relevance
Christians have long talked about life as a journey, whether as runners or pilgrims or travelers or something else. Journeys tend to involve forks in the road, decisions to make, and obstacles to overcome. Sometimes, the decisions of this journey are between light and darkness, holiness and sin, redemption and backsliding. In these instances, the follower of Christ is called to choose the path of faithfulness. Other times, however, the decisions we make along the
Book Review: “Authentic Christianity: How Lutheran Theology Speaks to a Postmodern World”
Peter Leithart’s slim 2016 volume The End of Protestantism outlined a bold vision for a post-denominational Christianity, but was skimpy on theological specifics. Now, Lutheran academic Gene Edward Veith and Lutheran pastor A. Trevor Sutton have answered Leithart’s call. Their new book Authentic Christianity: How Lutheran Theology Speaks to a Postmodern World is an ambitious, audacious case for confessional Lutheranism as a universal Christian denomination (or, in their words, a “metachurch”). Veith and Sutton go
Advent Euphemisms and the Assault on Language
The commercialization of Christmas is hardly news. Proclaiming a so-called “War on Christmas” is not enough for some, who ante up their virtue-signaling and cultural critique into announcing a “War on Advent.” In 2012, theologian Diana Butler Bass argued, specifically against Fox News, that the shopping frenzy before Christmas degraded Christ’s Nativity more than a cultural shift away from well-wishing “Merry Christmas” toward a more general “Happy Holidays.” Father Bill Olnhausen, a retired Orthodox pastor,
Contemplative Missiology-Part 1: A Critique of the Missional Church Movement
Be sure to check out Part 2 as well! “Although it is impossible to give exact statistics, the enormous numerical growth of the church in its first centuries is undeniable. This naturally leads us to ask how it achieved such growth. The answer may surprise some modern Christians, for the ancient church knew nothing of evangelistic services or revivals. To the contrary, worship centered on communion, and only baptized Christians were admitted to its celebration.
Women and the Priesthood: Viewing Tradition and Scripture in Light of the Eschaton
“Tradition is not static but dynamic, not stifling but liberating. Orthodoxy is a tool, not an end…I sometimes feel that a traditionalist means one who is effectively ignorant of the tradition in its richness and complexity but who clings, neurotically and fiercely, to the conventions of several decades past.”1 “Conventionality and orthodoxy are completely different matters, and that many who boast the name of Catholic would be surprised and shocked at what the tradition actually
World Christianity or Global Christianity?
As part of my ongoing quest to develop a more systematized theological background, I recently completed the coursework to earn a certificate in theology and ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. Among my theologically conservative friends, I caught some flak for this choice: traditionally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church–USA (PCUSA), Princeton Seminary has long been accused of heterodox theological liberalism. Indeed, such institutional trends impelled then-professor J. Gresham Machen to found Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929.
A Brief History of Communion (Part II)
This article continues the overview of the history of communion begun here. This post considers the history of communion from the medieval period until today. The Medieval Church During the medieval period, the Church began to use a common liturgy for Eucharistic celebration, with prescribed texts and traditions for services and practice. Some differences emerged between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity, differences which were formalized following the Great Schism of 1054 CE.1 In
“The Heresy of Today Will Be the Orthodoxy of Tomorrow”
“Heresy” apparently has become the new buzzword these days within Christian circles. There are plenty of individuals trolling through blogs and social media forums, posting articles, and publicly declaring others as given over to heretical ways of theological expression. All the while they themselves exude a confidence in their own aptitude to judge what’s what in terms of the parameters of orthodoxy. Personally, I am hearing the words “heresy” and “heretic” thrown around more these
A Brief History of Communion (Part I)
Christians of all sorts partake of some form of communion. Known by different names—the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion, Breaking of Bread, Mass—and taken at different frequencies—daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly—this practice involving bread and wine stands as a testament to both Christian unity as well as divisions. What do contemporary Christians believe about the Lord’s Supper? To begin answering this question, we must first look at the history of communion, beginning today with what the
The End of Protestantism | Book Review
Peter Leithart’s latest work, The End of Protestantism, is a grand book. Grand both in the sense that it is imposing and important, but also in its scope. Leithart’s purposes in writing the book are no less than to pray publicly for the unity of the church, outline a biblical theology of God’s actions to unite and renew, affirm the changes of the Reformation, critique the historical outworking of American denominationalism, outline the shifting paradigms
Do You Have to Be Anti-Western to Be Eastern Orthodox?
TJ Humphrey’s latest article, Why I Didn’t Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, is making the rounds on the internet as voices on social media and elsewhere join in to echo his main critique. The enthusiasm with which this article was received is indicative of a failure on our part as Eastern Orthodox Christians in general and a failure of Eastern Orthodox Christian converts in particular. What this calls for is not a defense of Holy Orthodoxy
The Eastern Orthodox Church and Evangelism
The Eastern Orthodox Church is often criticized for its “lack of emphasis” on evangelism; the Orthodox Church just does not care about “The Great Commission” or spreading the “Gospel” to the world—or so the argument goes. In my experience, the major proponents of this criticism are often low-church evangelicals who define evangelism according to a specifically narrow rubric. Within such communities, buzzwords like “The Great Commission,” “Gospel,” and “Evangelism”—and more recently “building the Kingdom”—are thrown
A Conversation on the Saving Work of Jesus
We asked two of our Editors—Ben Cabe and Ben Winter—to hold a discussion about an important theological question: How does your tradition view the saving work of Jesus? What follows are their replies, as well as responses to each other’s position. Ben Cabe Soteriology is inextricably connected to Christology. That is, what salvation is, how one “attains it,” and what it effects in the human person, cannot be understood without a proper understanding of who
Blindness and Light
There is a lot of talk in the gospels about blindness, for Jesus is the light of the world. Most people are not blind, they just have no light. I want all of us to experience the fullness of what the body of Christ is offering us. But we keep our eyes closed. Some may think that all that is required to be Orthodox is to wear a head covering and learn how to ask
An Ex-Calvinist’s Tiptoe Through TULIP – Limited Atonement
The Calvinist teaching of Limited Atonement is an understanding based upon a penal substitutionary model of Christ’s accomplishing salvation on the cross. That is, salvation is understood to consist in Christ receiving God the Father’s wrath and punishment on the cross in the place of mankind, which results in a legal acquittal in the sight of the Father of people who accept this substitutionary gift. However, since not everyone will accept this gift and be
How To Be orthodox With A Small “o” – Part 2
In the first part of this study a discussion took place of the diaspora of Christian beliefs and practices within contemporary Christianity in the West, and the concept of independent exposition of the Scriptures in order to avoid allegiance to any group since all allegedly contain pros and cons. It was concluded that some ultimate standard must be introduced in this confusion to avoid the complete dismantling of Christian “small ‘o’ orthodoxy.” This endeavor will
Is Protestantism a Heresy?
Is Protestantism a heresy? This question has recently been asked of me by a number of sincere Protestants. Well-meaning as they are, their questions have put me in a dangerous position. On the one hand, I could answer as I have addressed similar, though less pointed, questions by hearkening to my ignorance and the mercy of our gracious God. On the other, such an answer may lead those I love, among whom I count you