21 Apr 2021

Three Cheers for Cultural Christianity

It is presently in vogue amongst evangelical cultural elites to decry “Cultural Christianity,” or alternatively, “Bible Belt Religion.” Ray Ortlund’s tweet from April 12th encapsulates this mood. “I rejoice at the decline of Bible Belt Religion,” he wrote. “It made bad people worse—in the name of Jesus. Now may we actually believe in Him, so that our churches stand out with both the truth of gospel doctrine and the beauty of gospel culture. To that

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14 Apr 2021

The New Testament in Order

Begin reading through the New Testament and, in addition to the grand story, you will eventually notice a few things. For one thing, the story of Jesus gets repeated four times, then you hear the story of the early church, and then you begin to read letters that don’t seem to be in any sort of coherent order. Why is the New Testament organized how it is, and not some other way? Why is the

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07 Apr 2021

Keeping History in Its Place

Over the past couple of years Conciliar Post has published several articles advocating for the study of church history. David Doherty has lamented that many Protestants seem to think that “Christianity lies in biblical interpretation and spiritual discipline…and forays into Church history are optional adventures for restless wanderers.” But this ought not be so, he replies. Church history teaches and inspires us to live well, and studying church history is actually an act of Christian

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24 Mar 2021

Marriage is the Guardian of Love

When I was newly-married and newly-ordained, I often spent time trying to imagine my future. I envisioned book-lined studies, glorious liturgies and long evening walks hand-in-hand with my beloved. Needless to say, I never suspected I would one day find myself sitting before a giant, tottering Jenga tower, watching a dear friend and her new husband carefully remove block after block while my four excitable children crowded around and cajoled them, running back and forth

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19 Mar 2021

The Feminist Case Against “Inclusive Language” Liturgy, Part 1

I was in college the first time I heard someone argue for eliminating male pronouns in reference to God. “Calling God ‘Father’ just doesn’t work for me,” my friend said, “I have a terrible relationship with my father, and I don’t want to think of God like that.” At the time, I found the argument persuasive. We know that God isn’t a man, so why do we address him like he is? I even went

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17 Mar 2021

“Keeping Wide and Kind the Bounds of Christian Fellowship”: Robert E. Speer on Christians Working Together

Like congregations working together to carry out ministries of mercy in their local areas, our writing together at Conciliar Post is a kind of cooperative Christian endeavor, based on the idea that we can all learn from the various emphases that have been cultivated by our various traditions. While often this kind of action flows naturally out of shared Christian convictions, some have attempted to explain the basis of cooperation scripturally and theologically. One such

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15 Mar 2021

Through the Rain

The wind howls; People cower As doors sigh then clang shut, Metal latches loud and angry; We feel safe indoors, unaware That time thus drains our alkaline train Of thoughts battered with each gusty grey sky Colliding water and heat, steaming brains. Yet not all storms are tears, pain, fears; In years they can grow crops of stronger Rain, a cleansing rest: The mud, the Flood, the waking lungs, expanded chest — Close your eyes,

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12 Mar 2021

Religious Liberty and the Patriarch of San Fernando

John MacArthur has created a ruckus, again. A couple of his recent sermons have seemingly disparaged both democracy and religious liberty, declaring neither to be biblical concepts, at least not strict or necessary ones. “You say, ‘Well, isn’t religious freedom important for Christianity?’” MacArthur said in a sermon on February 28th. “No, it’s meaningless. It doesn’t matter what law governments make or don’t make. They have no effect on the kingdom of God.” He went

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10 Mar 2021

A Place of Hope and Healing (Part 2)

Additional Reflections on the Church as Hospital In Part One, I introduced the concept of the Church as a hospital and argued that the church should be a place of healing and hope. In this article, I want to further explore the metaphor of the Church as hospital by looking at what hospitals and churches are. Places of Care First, hospitals are places of care. Hospitals are places where you get taken care of, where

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05 Mar 2021

“I Have to Make a Faith Act”: The Story Behind the Letter From a Birmingham Jail

Image credit: Jim Forest, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/12219184015 It is April, 1963, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founded and led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is out of funds. [1] Not only is money scarce, it seems like support for the movement among supporters is faltering. In Montgomery, several years prior, tens of thousands had participated in the bus boycott and other actions for over a year, despite bombings, physical attacks, and harassment

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03 Mar 2021

On the distinction between thinking from and thinking to

Dicit mihi homo: “Intellegam ut credam”. Respondeo: “Crede ut intellegas”[1]   — Augustine, Sermo 43 Sed inrideant nos fortes et potentes, nos autem infirmi et inopes coniteamur tibi[2]  — Augustine, Confessions I went off to college with a head full of new learning, and high spirits on account of it. I had only a few years prior discovered that there was much gain in reading ‘old, dead theologians,’ and so left for college with a modest

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24 Feb 2021

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

The fact that I cannot sing in worship this Lent has not stopped the words of Isaac Watts’ beloved masterpiece, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, from rattling about in my mind. Throughout this incredible hymn, Watts speaks powerfully of Christ’s atoning death. He draws us into the pathos of the Crucifixion, and he causes us to reflect on the somber majesty of Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. At the same time, Watts also invites us

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22 Feb 2021

Timeless Eternity Is Not Divine Frozenness

Over the last few centuries, God’s timeless eternity has not been a strongly emphasized divine attribute. For many Christians, this precept reflects a particularly troublesome Hellenistic influence, given that the Platonic tradition laid great weight on the immutability of the eternal Forms and their corresponding immunity to corruption and decay. A doctrine of timeless eternity, in the eyes of its critics, necessarily calls into question the ability of God to work in history or respond

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19 Feb 2021

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Several years ago, I tripped down an internet rabbit hole and found my way to an article by Laurie Penny, a writer for the British political magazine New Statesman, entitled “For many in my fearful, frustrated generation, ‘having it all’ means opting out of monogamy.” Penny’s argument is that polyamorous relationships, which she defines as “any arrangement in which you are allowed to date and snuggle and sleep with whomever you want, as long as

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18 Feb 2021

17 Engaging Theologians You’ve Probably Never Read

Each major Christian tradition has theologians who exercise strong influence beyond its borders. To give only a few examples, Roman Catholicism has Thomas Aquinas, the Reformed tradition has John Calvin, and Methodism has John Wesley. In addition to these great heroes, each tradition also has a catalogue of brilliant and engaging theologians whose influence does not typically extend beyond their own tradition or, in many cases, beyond a small circle of academic specialists. I like

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08 Feb 2021

Church History: Something That Tears Down or Builds Up?

The study of the history of the church can easily be frustrating and discouraging, dominated as it is with controversies and conflicts of opinion. At the end of a survey course, it is easy to imagine that a student could come away thinking that Christians have held a myriad of views on social and theological questions, and committed a multitude of both exemplary and lamentable actions, and then conclude that Christian history is characterized by

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05 Feb 2021

Black Women’s Long Fight for Justice: A Review of Black Women’s Christian Activism

Black Women’s Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb by Betty Livingston Adams New York: NYU Press, April 2018. 240 pages. $26.00. Paperback. ISBN 9781479814817. For other formats: Link to Publishers’ Website. How did Jim Crow segregation affect Black women in Northern “liberal” states during the first half of the twentieth century? And how did Black women navigate this Northern world, which was thought to be the Promised Land by the millions of

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03 Feb 2021

What is Reformed Theology? A Review of the OUP Handbook of Reformed Theology

The year 2017 saw a flurry of publications on Protestantism, the Reformation, and its various theological traditions. Some were good. Many were merely opportunistic. The recent publication of The Oxford Handbook of Reformed Theology, edited by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain, is not merely opportunistic. This volume is rather clearer-headed regarding its aims, organization, and content than many of those that made an appearance in the publishing frenzy of 2017. Though not opportunistic, I

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27 Jan 2021

A Dangerous Question

When I first arrived at my parish, we put up fresh banners to remind the local neighborhood of our ministry and presence. We thought our new signage needed a slogan, a tagline, so we chose “Open your heart; change your life.” It wasn’t a bad first try. Eventually, we decided upon something a little more humble, hopeful and descriptive of the kind of community we were trying to be. We changed our tagline to “Rooted

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25 Jan 2021

The Passion of Night City

Like millions of other folks, I spent a solid chunk of my December holiday embedded in the eerily lifelike world of Cyberpunk 2077, the latest big-budget, open-world video game by Polish studio CD Projekt Red.  Heading into Cyberpunk’s setting—the futuristic Northern California metropolis of Night City—I expected a world characterized by rigid secularity. For all their philosophical meditations on the nature of humanity, canonical cyberpunk sources like the Blade Runner film series or Neal Stephenson’s

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