As a child of the 1980s, Star Wars loomed large in my psyche. I built the models. I played with the toys. I named my pet goldfish Luke. But most of all, I watched the original trilogy of films – over and over and over again. By the time The Force Awakens came to theaters, my imaginal world was no longer populated by X-Wings and AT-ATs, but I dutifully purchased my ticket. I wasn’t expecting
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
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?
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
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
It may come as a surprise to some that, Luther’s attempt to add the word “alone” into Romans 3:28 notwithstanding, the words “alone” or “only” are never paired with “faith” in all of the Sacred Text except when the phrase is condemned in James. As a Protestant, this was the first fact to give me pause about my theology of salvation. If the phrase “faith alone” was really, as so many Reformers claimed, the best
Invariably, soteriological discussions will surface the concept of “true faith”—generally sooner rather than later. Why does James say that we are justified by works and not by faith alone, even though Paul writes that we are justified by faith? Because James wasn’t talking about “true faith.” Why do some people fall away after professing faith in Christ? Theirs was not “true faith.” But what does this term really mean? This question plagued me as a
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
A seemingly less discussed source of controversy within Christendom is the topic of prayers for the departed. In fact, I had never even heard of such a practice until more recent years. I believe that this is primarily due to a gaping paradigmatic difference in the understanding of soteriology [doctrines of salvation] from East to West that eventually led to the dispensing of this historically Christian practice from the memory of contemporary low-church Western traditions.
In American contemporary Christian culture the word “saved” gets thrown around quite often; so often in fact that the concept of salvation to which it refers seems to have become minimized to refer solely to the moment of one’s mental conversion to Christianity. The term has become overused within a fixed paradigm with very limited vocabulary in which a preaching individual presents the gospel or lays out the plan of salvation, to the point that
1 Timothy 2:1–4: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Peter 3:8–9: “But do not ignore
‘Tis the Christmas season. Our music, parties, concerts and plays, nativity scenes, lights, eggnog, and (if you’re lucky enough) snow tell us that Christmas comes swiftly. Gifts are being purchased. Plans to see family are being finalized. The busyness and joys of the Christmas season are pervasive, even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. But why do we celebrate Christmas? The “Christmas Wars” rightfully remind us the real reason for the season: the birth of