02 Oct 2017

Spending Time Together in the Temple

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple… (Acts 2:46a NRSV). This article is a continuation of a series of articles on Acts 2:41-47. The previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. I teach classes on the Bible, world religions, and humanities at several community colleges in my area. Each semester I notice that students seem genuinely surprised when they learn about the Jewish roots of

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18 Sep 2017

Assembling Day by Day

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46 NRSV). This article continues a series of articles on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Previous articles in the series are available in the author’s archives. As discussed in the previous article in this series, the early Christian church was marked by a spirit

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14 Sep 2017

Assurance and Development, Part II

The road to doctrinal certainty, as I outlined in a previous essay, is fraught with false shortcuts. There are a million wrong ways to achieve peace of mind about one’s religion; nevertheless, only stability will satisfy our spiritual longings. If these inward groanings are satiable, then there must be a right way to pursue them. The trouble with each of the aforementioned approaches to certainty lies in a presupposition that was mostly foreign to Christian

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04 Sep 2017

Holding All Things in Common

“All who believed were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44 NRSV).” This article is a part of a continuing series on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Past articles in the series can be found in the author’s archive. In the previous article in this series, we examined how signs and wonders in the early church were the result of the Spirit’s presence and the in-breaking of the kingdom

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21 Aug 2017

Signs and Wonders

“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles (Acts 2:43 NRSV).” Having analyzed Acts 2:42 in a four–part series of articles, this week we turn our gaze toward the subsequent verses that elaborate on the daily and weekly rhythms of the early Christian church. Acts 2:43-47 offers a briefly sublime account of the church after the day of Pentecost. The first believers shared all things in common and

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07 Aug 2017

Devoted to Prayer

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42 NRSV).” This article is the fourth article in a series on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. The first three articles were on the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, and the breaking of bread. Both the Renaissance humanists and the Protestant reformers were guided by a similar ethos–a return to the original sources (ad fontes).

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24 Jul 2017

Devoted to the Breaking of Bread

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42 NRSV). This is the third article in a series on Acts 2:41-47. The first article can be found here, and the second article can be found here. Acts 2:41-47 offers an elegantly simple portrayal of the first Christian church. After Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, Luke tells us that the new believers were baptized

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10 Jul 2017

Devoted to Fellowship

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42 NRSV).” (This is the second article in a series on Acts 2:41-47. The first article can be found here.) The verses immediately following Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2 offer an important look into the practices and structures of the first Christian church. Many of these early practices continue to be the bedrock of Christian worship

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26 Jun 2017

Devoted to the Apostles’ Teaching

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42; NRSV).” Acts 2:41-47 provides us with an important window into the Jerusalem mother church, the source of all holy, catholic, and apostolic churches in the world today. Given that nearly 2,000 years have passed since the day of Pentecost, modern Christians do well whenever they re-investigate the roots of their own faith and practices. When we

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15 Jun 2017

In Defense of Invoking the Saints

This is the third in my “In Defense of” series. Be sure to check out parts one and two! Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. At my ordination to the priesthood, there was a beautiful litany led by

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12 Jun 2017

Choosing the Best

The peanut butter aisle of a major grocery store presents the average shopper with a great moral dilemma. From the wide variety of options available, how does one select which jar of peanut butter to purchase? The discerning shopper has to be able to select between multiple brands and different price points. Furthermore, the all-important crunchy or creamy decision needs to be made. As the shopper makes his or her final choice, other factors must

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09 May 2017

Round Table: Angels and Demons

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

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A man with a video camera silhouette; American flag in background.
08 May 2017

Are We Hypocrites or Antiheroes?

The leaders we follow are often problematic. But are they hypocrites, or “morally-complex” antiheroes? What’s the difference? And what about you and me?

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01 May 2017

Nouwen On Christian Leadership

For Christian leaders, each year offers a whole slate of conferences to attend for the purpose of honing and developing the skills needed to lead the church in the next millennium. A few notable examples of popular conferences, especially with younger evangelical leaders, are Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Catalyst, and Q. These conferences host keynote speakers from both within the church and from the wider culture. Attendees listen to talks from pastors, military leaders, business

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17 Apr 2017

The Beauty of Bi-Vocational Ministry

A few years back I had lunch with a pastor of one of the larger churches in my town. During the course of our conversation, I described to him my weekly schedule. As the pastor of a small house church, I preach every other Sunday, teach an evening Bible study on a regular rotation, and meet individually with people during the week for discipleship. This leaves me with a lot of “free time” to be

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28 Mar 2017

A Proposal for Approaching Theology Historically

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to present a paper at a regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. There is nothing quite like the amassed scholarship of these conferences, the gathering of minds eager to pursue knowledge and discuss the finer points of theology, biblical interpretation, and Christian praxis. Of course, it would not truly be a meeting of evangelicals (evangelicals gathered at a Southern Baptist seminary, to wit) without some disagreement over

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17 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part II)

This post continues my reflections on baptism, focusing on the covenantal and sacramental aspects of Christian baptism. Covenantal Theology Those beginning an exploration of historic baptismal theology will almost immediately run into the concept of covenantal theology. As commonly defined, a covenant is a formal agreement made between God and humans, typically one that only God is capable of upholding in its entirety. Christians of various stripes will interpret covenants and their implications differently, but,

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21 Nov 2016

Justification in Catholicism, Part III

This is the third and final post in my series on Catholicism and Justification. The first two parts can be found here and here. Elsewhere in Paul’s letters, we find a similar commitment to a Catholic view of justification. One such example is found in his phrase, “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything” (Galatians 5:6, 6:15, 1 Corinthians 7:9). I will look at all incidents of this phrase in Paul’s writing. It is, of

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24 Oct 2016

Justification in Catholicism, Part II: Romans 4

In my last post, I promised my readers that I would post a follow-up argument from the Scriptures on behalf of the “Catholic interpretation of ‘justification by faith:’ i.e., continual, infused righteousness, sacramentally transmitted, on the basis of faith that is ongoing and uninterrupted by mortal sin.” After I began an outline for that argument, I quickly realized I could not do it justice in a single post. Therefore, I have narrowed my argument in

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18 Oct 2016

Reflections on Unity

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or

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