29 May 2015

Grace and Catholicism, Part II: Theological Definitions

Introduction In this post, we’ll delve into definitions with the goal of clarifying the Roman Catholic understanding of grace. Admittedly, the discussion is complex and multifaceted. It must first be stated that the theological categorization of grace is never meant to detract from its mysterious and deifying activity. Rather, such reflections are undertaken—via a hermeneutic of faith seeking understanding—with the twofold purpose of clarifying and defending the Church’s essential teachings. These teachings were passed down

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20 May 2015

Growing Young (Or, Becoming Like Children)

“ ‘I’ll be darned!’ said Douglas. ‘I never thought of that. That’s brilliant! It’s true. Old people never were children!’ ‘And it’s kind of sad,’ said Tom sitting still. ‘There’s nothing we can do to help them.’ ”1 If you’ve read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine before, then you probably recognize this poignant surmise on aging. Ten year-old Tom’s insight is based on his interactions with the seventy-two year old Mrs. Bentley, a widow who moved

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06 May 2015

Thou Hast Not Left Me Here Without Grace

O my crucified but never wholly mortified sinfulness! O my life-long damage and daily shame! O my indwelling and besetting sins! O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart! Destroy, O God, the dark guest within who hidden presence makes my life a hell.1 This the final post in a series focused on God’s forgiveness. Not that three articles are enough to cover the topic—far from it. However, they should help lay the groundwork for

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01 May 2015

Life, Dreams, and Everything

When I was eighteen years old I purchased the film Waking Life, by director Richard Linklater. Its premise, plot, and production epitomize our postmodern moment. Linklater develops a story about dreams within dreams, in which a character travels seamlessly through surreal worlds while witnessing a plethora of philosophical conversations about life and death. The tagline reads, “Are we sleepwalking through our waking state, or wake-walking through our dreams?” Utilizing stunning visual effects,1 a haunting score,

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28 Apr 2015

Dialogue on Religion is Dead—and I Killed It

Back in January, I wrote an article about the dangers of individualism, warning that the dignity and agency of human beings is at risk in a society where we are required by law to treat others as black boxes and consider sacrosanct the freedom to close ourselves off from people and ideas. The recent controversy over the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act brought these thoughts back to my mind. Since then, I’ve again been wondering

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22 Apr 2015

Mercy: It’s Seriously Wonderful

I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law, the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns, the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls, yet I daily violate and contemn its precepts. Thy loving Spirit strives within me, brings me Scripture warnings, speaks in startling providences, allures by secret whispers, yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt, impiously resent, grieve, and provoke him to abandon me.1

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15 Apr 2015

Cosmic Communion (Part III)

The Role of Creation in our Journey with Christ: Part III There is a running joke that Orthodox Christians do everything in threes, so this will be my last article under this title.  In the past two articles I have been discussing the unique Christian approach to God’s earthly creation as a sacramental reality: that it can be and is in fact designed to be how we encounter intimate communion with God the Creator especially

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08 Apr 2015

Wilt Thou Forgive That Sin?

Glorious and Holy God, Provocations against thy divine majesty have filled my whole life. My offenses have been countless and aggravated. Conscience has rebuked me, friends have admonished me, the examples of others have reproached me, thy rod has chastised me, thy kindnesses allure me.1 The Resurrection was celebrated on Sunday, but now, it’s Wednesday. The festivities are over and a fresh week begun. And while this week provides new opportunities for faithful service, it

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01 Apr 2015

Round Table: Resurrection

This week, Western Christians celebrate Holy Week, the last days of Jesus Christ on earth before his crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate, torturous suffering on a cross, and death. Of course, the story of Christ does not end there, but continues on Sunday with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This act—the defeat of death—became the launching point of the Christian faith, the linchpin of the Gospel: God has come to earth and he

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05 Feb 2015

The Church According to Paul | Book Review

The Christian church is facing a crisis. It is losing face, hemorrhaging influence in the public sphere of Western civilization, churches decline in membership, and increasing swaths of people are not longer interested in what Christianity has to offer. This apparent decline is not a new trend to be sure—and stems, at least in part, from the ecclesiastical shift which began during the Protestant Reformation—but it is no less concerning. In order to address these

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02 Feb 2015

Grace is for Yuppies: How Reformed Theology Engages New York City

Over the past month, I’ve started work as an intern for a “big four” accounting firm in the heart of Manhattan for ten weeks, trading the small world atmosphere of my college campus in North Carolina for the rat race of New York City. I’ve moved from the sidewalk of the South where people nod and speak to passersby, to the concrete jungle where you pass by thousands of people on your morning commute. To

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10 Dec 2014

Love In His Voice

Christ has come to give us life, and that in abundance. He does not hold back. We ask to know Him, we ask for mercy, we ask Him to show us the path. And He answers us with the truth. There are no riddles to decipher or secret panels to open.

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04 Dec 2014

When My Impact Is Small

At a retreat several years ago, I had the chance to combine a few of my favorite things — great people and making music. Part way through one of our evenings, I pulled out my Mountain Dulcimer, was shortly joined by a Guitar, and we were shortly joined by a group of folks singing along. As we went around picking out hymns to sing though, I began to question the necessity of my contribution. At

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05 Nov 2014

What’s In A Name?

“When I forget my name, remind me.”1 Listening to Andrew Peterson’s song, “Dancing In The Minefields”, I was struck by this line. In particular, the importance of naming jumped out at me. The fact that names are special isn’t a huge surprise. One need only think about how strongly people feel about their own names to confirm this. Feelings aside though, when we look at Scripture, naming often appears to go beyond merely identifying an

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10 Sep 2014

The Perspective of Beauty

This fall I have the privilege of serving as a mentor at Summit’s Summit Semester program. One of the lesser benefits of this opportunity is the chance to spend the fall out in the gorgeous mountains of southern Colorado. So far, I’ve taken at least a few minutes each night to step out and look at the stars. Having grown up between Baltimore and Washington D.C., actually seeing stars is something of a novelty. As

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27 Aug 2014

Safety in Love?

The idea for the title came from a striking line in Lewis’ book, The Four Loves, which reads, “The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”1 The only safe place from the danger of love is Hell. Lewis’ thoughts might bring to mind my previous post, where we looked at the connection between a focus on self and Hell. The key

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30 Jul 2014

Resting Through Rejoicing

Rest is important. This may seem too obvious to need stating, but then again, some of my good friends will be surprised that I put rest and important in the same sentence. My personal sleep practices notwithstanding, the psalmist indicates that rest is part of God’s design for us when he says, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives

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07 Jul 2014

Social Justice Without the Resurrection Is Dead

In today’s cultural climate, much is thrown around concerning the term “social justice.” Many are passionate about seeing the many injustices and oppressions of this world reversed into true human flourishing, and seeing the way the world is as different from the way the world ought to be. The primary worldview used as the foundation and motivation for this term is a notion of “progress,” fueled by a passion to make the world better. While

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03 Jul 2014

In Defense of Saints

The practice of venerating Christian saints is one that is frequently misunderstood by certain Protestant and evangelical groups, especially those who, like me, were raised in the Southern “Bible Belt.” This misinterpretation, along with others, inhibits ecumenism and contributes to the disconnect between the so-called “high church” and “low church” traditions. As my understanding of theology and Church history has increased, so has my appreciation for saints. The problem for many Christians results from confusing

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20 Jun 2014

Real Work Has Its Reasons

Vivid memories are stored for numerous reasons – from shock or surprise, to excitement or pain. One such memory of mine is of a friend picking me up for a weekend adventure. Five minutes into our drive, she asked the question that made my hackles rise, “How long do you see yourself working in your current position?” Even now my heart rate increases and my blood pressure rises. I hear her underlying question, “When are

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