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Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 | 4 comments

The Nicene Creed: “One Church”

The Nicene Creed: “One Church”

**This post is part of a series reflecting on the Nicene Creed** << Previous post View series Next post >>     “And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” “Pope Says Having A Personal Relationship With Jesus Is Dangerous” ran the headline. Of course, the Pope had said nothing of the sort. He had only called dangerous the temptation to think that you can “go it alone” in your faith, without the support of others, a statement with which most Protestants would heartily agree.[1] But the accusation points to a crucial question with which the Pope and his accusers probably nonetheless differ: Is Christian faith communal by its very nature, or only by accident? Can someone be authentically Christian, a true disciple of Christ, if they have nothing to do with the Church? At first sight the answer would seem that faith can be individual. Believing in Jesus and following his teaching matters more than going to church services. Aren’t there millions of hypocrites who attend church but...

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Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 | 6 comments

Safety is not a Christian virtue

Safety is not a Christian virtue

In 1934, Dietrich Bonhoeffer addressed the ecumenical peace organization World Alliance for International Friendship through Churches in Denmark.[1] Centrally in this address, Bonhoeffer argues that the World Alliance must function as the universal Church by working for peace with the aim of not only ending war but finding victory over it. Victory over war involves understanding war “as the work of evil powers in this world, enemies of God.”[2] As Christians, Bonhoeffer reminds his audience that the work of peace is a mandate for the ecumenical Church, not an optional problem that needs to be dealt with. The mission of peace among Christians transcends and unites across any and all societal boundaries, be they “national, political, social, or racial.”[3] In this address, Bonhoeffer highlights the confusion of safety with peace: “There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture. It can never be made safe. Peace is the opposite of security.”[4] To pursue safety is to diverge...

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Posted by on May 25, 2015 | 2 comments

Romantic Idolatry: A Call for an Imagination for Singleness

Romantic Idolatry: A Call for an Imagination for Singleness

  The Church has a relationship problem. Sometime during my undergraduate years, studying Medieval philosophers who were perhaps a bit too much influenced by Neoplatonism in their denigration of the body, I looked around at my friends, Christian and non-Christian, and realized something was wrong. The thing was, between these two groups of friends there was no real discernible difference in their attitudes towards romance (beyond when they’d sleep with their significant other… or at least, when they’d admit to doing it). In both cases, romance was seen as a life cap-stone, a path to personal fulfillment, the source of love. If certain Patristic and Medieval thinkers had imbibed a little bit too many anti-material sentiments, my friends and I had taken in its near opposite almost whole-cloth.  It’s hard to imagine St. Paul, with his declaration that it is better to remain unmarried, or Jesus who praised those who would become eunuchs for the Kingdom, condoning such sentiments. Which is not to say that I think romance is bad,...

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Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 | 3 comments

Will Liturgy Save Us?

Will Liturgy Save Us?

When I entered college, I left the church I had spent most of my youth in. Fairly quickly, I found myself in an Anglican church and developed a deep love for the beauty and theological richness of the liturgy.[1] So much that I had found frustrating in my youth seemed answered in the carefully thought out rhythms of that form of worship. Being an individual chronically prone to philosophizing and theologizing, I naturally started to reflect on all the virtues that come with liturgy—how it teaches us as we worship, how it helps us avoid theological myopia, etc. I even became convinced of the notion that “the law of prayer is the law of belief.” Liturgy wasn’t just something I appreciated, it was objectively better. A big feature in this theory was a particular understanding of religious formation. It isn’t enough for us just to consciously acknowledge something, we need to have it constantly breaking into our lives and shaping us. Liturgy, I believed, had the power to do...

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Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 | 5 comments

Homosexuality and the Flesh of Christ: Identity and Suffering

Homosexuality and the Flesh of Christ: Identity and Suffering

What follows is modified from a paper submitted for Theology 602 at Regent College. In it, I deal specifically with homosexuality, and not other groups in the LGBTQ community. In the past decade, Western cultures have become increasingly comfortable with accepting active homosexual lifestyles. The church, in turn, has struggled with trying to resolve its traditional moral stance in the face of the changing climate. Do we stick to our old positions that seem bigoted? Or did we perhaps make a mistake? This is by no means an easy issue, but for my part I am not convinced that either the liberal or conservative theological responses, and their accompanying political action, have dealt well with the complexities of the issue. Part of the problem, I believe, is a deficient understanding of our own identity as the church and the relation of that identity to suffering. I recently wrote a paper on the ecclesiology of the Roman Catholic theologian Jean-Marie-Roger Tillard, and I am persuaded that his ecclesiology, if taken...

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