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
“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NRSV). Paul’s second missionary journey began as an excursion to revisit churches planted throughout Asia Minor on his first missionary journey (Acts 15:36). Along the way, the Spirit of God gave Paul
“The only second century Christian who understood Paul was Marcion, and he misunderstood him.” -Franz Overbeck Over the summer, I met a man at a conference for homeschool families who had some books in Hebrew. I assumed he was a seminary student, so I engaged him in conversation, asking him what books he was carrying. His response startled me some: “My family and I have decided to keep Torah.” For whatever reason, this is an
This is the 5th post in a series titled “In Defense of.” Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. Baptismal regeneration is the process through which the Holy Spirit makes the recipient of the sacrament of baptism a new creation by forming a covenant. whereby . This is different from conversion, where someone repents of their sins and has faith in God (i.e. the thief on the cross next to Jesus).
“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
In January I began teaching a series of evening Bible studies on the early Christian church as depicted in the book of Acts. Each week we began by re-reading Acts 2:41-47 as the focal point of our ongoing study. Over the course of our time, we dissected the practices, rituals, structures, and leadership patterns of the early church. Most of our study was free from debate and controversy. However, when we finally came to the
Our churches preach three different Christs: two with no center and one with no edges. Out of this difference arises our political divide. Is reconciliation possible?
When I was in high school, I really started to get serious at my faith because of a Calvary Chapel church in my area. While as an Anglo-Catholic my faith is quite different now, I greatly appreciate my brief sojourn with Calvary Chapel. I was reminiscing about those days recently and was reminded that one of the major distinctives of Calvary Chapel churches is that they do not pass a collection plate. Instead, churchgoers are
A previous version of this post originally appeared on my own blog, Undivided Looking, where I mostly talk about physics and theology. I have divided it into two halves for purposes of publication on Conciliar Post. Note: It is my custom when blogging to refer to all serious Christians by the title of “St.”, because I believe all Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit. My Own Testimony I suppose I may as well start
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
Thank you for persevering with us to the end of this conversation. This is the final and fifth part of a dialogue between Michael (LCMS Lutheran) and Benjamin (Roman Catholic) on the subjects of faith and works, sin and holiness, and salvation. To get caught up, read Michael’s opening statement, along with parts II, III, and IV. In this last part, we have decided to revisit the major points of the topics we have discussed,
“What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)? It all comes down to this. In the end, this is the primary question upon which Lutherans and Catholics are (perceived to be?) in disagreement. In this final “question-and-answer” section of the dialogue between Michael (Lutheran) and Benjamin (Catholic), we address various concerns that arise over salvation. To get caught up, read Michael’s opening statement, along with parts II, III. As always, we hope that others
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with a couple fellow Conciliar Posters for an all-too-brief book club meeting over Google Hangouts. I was a little surprised—and more than a little nervous—about the book the choice; it was a book I wrote. Well, it’s the book I wrote, as currently there is only one. It’s called Genesis of the Dead, and in it I reimagine the early histories told in the Bible as a
It was a warm, slightly sticky evening. Sitting towards the front of a crowd of friends and family, I observed the evening shade slowly growing on the mountains behind my friend. He, in his turn, was gazing back our way with (what I could only guess was) a mix of nervousness, fear, excitement, and joy. For, if the title hasn’t already given it away, my friend was looking past the rest of us toward the
Perhaps this is merely my experience, but I grew up hearing that some prayers were dangerous. The prayers for things such as greater boldness in witnessing, further opportunities to give, or greater love for the person who’s a thorn in your side. These prayers have a way of being answered, or rather, of creating opportunities to outwork the desires apparently behind our prayers. Naturally, these opportunities feel uncomfortable and, at times, even hurt a little.
The Law and the Christian (Click here to read Part I of Jesus and the Law) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least
Part I of II “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be
You are ugly. I’m sorry, but it is true. I have no idea what you look like, but I can say with absolute certainty that you are an ugly human being. This is because ugliness is inherent to being human in this fallen and sinful world and is completely independent of what you look like. Your body is broken and dying. With every passing moment you grow closer to the day when you will shut
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
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