21 Apr 2017

The Heresy of Experientialism

In his post, “Does Experience Affect our Theology?” Peter Enns briefly speculates about the role of experience in the formation of theology. He concludes with this point, “We have to be willing to rethink who this God is, this God who isn’t as predictable as we might think.” This is a principle C.S. Lewis illustrates when it is said of Aslan: “He isn’t safe. But he’s good.” Christians should avoid feeling too comfortable with their

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14 Mar 2017

An Argument for Prima Scriptura

One of the great privileges of being a part of the Conciliar Post community is the opportunity to have meaningful conversations about substantive theological issues while remaining charitable toward our interlocutors. Not that we are the only website that promotes this type of dialogue. But in an era of increased incivility and rhetorical debauchery, it is a welcome relief to have a conversation rather than a shouting match. In this post, I hope to contribute

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08 Mar 2017

Fit for a Cassock

Today we’ll see if I measure up, Or maybe it’s more fitting to say I’ll be fitted, But I have a feeling it’ll feel like fig leaves covering up the things that ought to be laid on the altar and burned instead of covered in black lamb’s wool. There’s nobody more fitting to do the fitting for a new skin than the one who made my first birthday suit, and was part of the pattern

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01 Mar 2017

Sola Scriptura: A Clarification

Here at Conciliar Post, there have recently been a couple articles poking alleged holes in the Reformed doctrine of sola scriptura. This post should be considered less a full rebuttal of the points made in the previous posts and more of an extended comment that will hopefully act as “iron” (Prov. 27:17) for further discussion in the spirit of CP’s mission statement. If I am able to at all challenge and sharpen the positions of

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23 Feb 2017

Why Protestants Should Care About the Church’s Historical Tradition

When arguments break out about the Constitution in public life, almost everyone has a natural tendency to grab a copy of the document, point to a passage that appears to support their views, and declare that the question is immediately settled. The Constitution’s Ninth Amendment—“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”—is a prime example of this: most liberal and conservative scholars

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13 Feb 2017

The Poverty of Sola Scriptura

I deeply appreciate the great benefits which the Sola Scriptura mindset in Protestantism has produced. The attempt to trust Scripture alone has resulted in a widespread love for the Bible, a love which appears to me to far outshine that of the elder branches. The most devoted of Protestants spend much time every day in personal study of Scripture. They flock to group Bible studies, and it is Protestants who do the majority of translation work

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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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16 Jan 2017

Repite, por favor

I recently mentioned an article I had seen in First Things to a Baptist friend of mine as we were driving around the Greater LA Area. The article points out that societies without a deep appreciation for ritual often find themselves on a never-ending quest for sincerity. This observation corresponded with the experiences of both my friend and myself; our common evangelical upbringing was steeped in a desire for “realness”—undoubtedly a good-hearted phenomenon, but a

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11 Jan 2017

Water and Fire

There’s water in everything and everything is in water— except fire. Fire changes water completely: too much fire makes steam, which returns back to water as it cools; and too little fire makes ice, which melts. We are all steam engines: mostly water, with a fire in our bellies making us do more or less based on temperature and control. We can be hard to keep stoked up and fed with enough coal. Jesus didn’t

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05 Jan 2017

On Baptism (Part I)

Baptism has been on my mind lately, not only because there are some intriguing conversations taking place in the blogging world about baptism and American Christianity, but also because a member of my family is being baptized soon. In this two-part article, I offer some reflections on baptism, beginning in this post with the Bible and history and wrapping up with some musings on covenant and sacrament in the next. Baptism in the Acts of

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02 Dec 2016

Why Liturgy?

The crowd enthusiastically chanted, “TEN! NINE! EIGHT!” “SEVEN! SIX! FIVE! FOUR!” The smoke from the smoke machine filled the auditorium as the strobe light flickered with increasing intensity, and the giant screen above the center of the stage continued the countdown. “THREE! TWO! ONE!” Everyone immediately erupted in a glorious uproar as five hipsters ran onto the stage and began playing loud music with ripping guitar solos, cool sound effects, and a light show that

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25 Nov 2016

Five Ways to Respond to Questions About Your Love Life This Holiday Season

The hashtag #OverheardAtThanksgivingDinner trended on Twitter recently. Of the first twelve tweets I saw, twenty-five percent mentioned vexatious comments from family members concerning one’s relationship status. It’s a universal phenomenon—you go home for the holidays, you see someone that you haven’t talked to for a few months or more, and they ostensibly voice their surprise that an attractive, young catch like yourself hasn’t made it to the altar yet. My late Grandma Louise was a

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17 Nov 2016

Saint Phanourios: a Friend in Suffering and One Who Finds What is Lost

This is the continuation of my essay series on St. Phanourios.  You can read part 1 here.2 As it is for many, we often spiritually grow through suffering. Elder Sophrony3, when writing to his sister Maria, writes about what suffering can give us: Do you really think that my in my years of monastic life I have escaped periods when the vision of my ruin was so petrifying that it is not permitted to speak

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03 Nov 2016

Revealer of light: St. Phanourios

Years ago, in late September, I was at my sister-friend’s parish in Ottawa for a weekday liturgy. Afterwards, an older Greek lady gave out small pieces of bread called “Phanouropita” for St. Phanourios.  I have never had such good tasting bread. It was the perfect balance of sweetness and spices; surely it was made with prayer! Nothing tastes so good as when it is made with love and prayer. I remember the priest, after the

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20 Oct 2016

St Xenia and What Prayer Can Look Like

I went on a walk with a friend recently, we saw trees fully green and trees with delicate yellow leaves, falling in the wind, on green grass. Autumn in Northern New Jersey! While sitting on a bench, we talked about books, ideas and our dreams for life. I reminisced a bit. I told her how when I was in school, years back, outside Vancouver and new to the Orthodox Church. I saw 2 icons for

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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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07 Oct 2016

Anglicanism: Catholic, Evangelical, or Both?

When someone who was raised in an Evangelical Protestant setting goes to an Anglican church, it might seem very Catholic. There’s a crucifix with Jesus’ body hanging on the cross, the altar is at the center, and the pulpit is off to the side. There may be icons and a rail to kneel at for Communion. If they stay for the Mass, they might see something that very closely parallels a Roman Catholic service. The

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06 Oct 2016

(A Brief Synopsis) What I have been given in the Church ~ The Protection and Shelter of the Saints ~ Part II

Icon of St. Herman of Alaska from Holy Dormition Monastery. Icon of St. Herman of Alaska, made by my Ottawa Parish, from a print from Greece; Picture taken by author. Note: This is a continuation of my series on what I have been given in the (Eastern Orthodox) Church.  Part One is found here. The Protection and Shelter of the Saints ~ Part II: Saints Herman and Nicholas Saint Herman of Alaska While at St.

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26 Sep 2016

What Can Statistics Teach Us About Tradition?

It seems that the headnote over my last piece was more judicious than I realized at the time. Several responses—one from Ben Winter and another from Jacob Prahlow (both of whom are authors on this site)—have taken exception to one part or another of my article, with generous asides that they might have interpreted my article incorrectly. In my opinion, this is precisely what happened; I utterly agree with the theological assertions made by both of

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09 Sep 2016

On the Misuse of Christian Tradition: A Response

The proper relationship between the authority of Christian Scripture and authority of Christian Tradition avails itself to no easy answers. From a historical viewpoint, much of the early development of both remains hotly debated. From a theological perspective, centuries (and sometimes millennia) old debates continue to shape thinking and lead toward answers long before any explicit consideration of this relationship comes into focus. Yet there seem to be boundaries—a “highway of orthodoxy” if you will—which

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