In the Western church, there’s a prevailing sense that a right faith is a happy one. A lot of today’s bestselling Christian pastors/authors have founded their churches on the idea that God wants you to be happy. But is that the faith that has been handed down to us by Christian tradition? Or is it … Continue reading Gregory of Nazianzus: An Unhappy Faith
In my last post, I chatted a little about some of the wackier interpretations of Scripture that I’ve come across from the patristic era. I ended on a pretty positive note regarding it’s legitimacy: “Maybe the Holy Spirit has some crazy things to show us in our Bibles if we keep our minds open.” Despite … Continue reading Exaggerated Exegesis (Part Two on Wacky Patristic Interpretations)
I’m consistently shocked by the way ancient interpreters read Scripture. They draw some pretty wacky conclusions sometimes. Not bad conclusions, mind you. They’re great Christian advice most of the time! But the way they reach those conclusions feels totally removed from our modern ways of Bible reading. For example, Venerable Bede (a big name scholar … Continue reading Imaginative Interpretation with the Church Patriarchs
Sometimes, I forget the value of the creeds. Not that I’m not a creedal guy. The creeds are instrumental in giving us the basics of the faith! But sometimes, I see pastors emphasizing the creeds as the sole definition of orthodoxy because they happen to have an unorthodox theological stance that the creeds don’t address. … Continue reading Creeds: Underrated, Under-loved, and Surprisingly Helpful
The more I learn about Plato, the more I realize that patristic theologians relied heavily on his work to talk about God. I’m reading through Confessions right now, and it’s absolutely littered with echoes and quotations from Plotinus, a prominent Platonist philosopher. For example, here’s his classic definition of sin (the decision to act for … Continue reading Metaphysical Wonder: Plato and Patristics
I’ll admit that sometimes my studying can feel detached from my devotional life (probably because I’m usually tempted to skip prayer to get to reading, which is never a good thing), but this week, I ran across a delightful resource to help with that. I started a new class (The Major Works of Augustine) and … Continue reading Aquinas’s Prayer before Study
A few weeks back, I was chatting with my spiritual director and somehow I got on the topic of religious language. A friend of mine uses religious language that’s really foreign to me. For example, she might say: “I woke up this morning and was so grateful that the Lord gave me one more day, … Continue reading Can God Act? Charles Taylor and the Impact of Secularism
“God has a plan for all of us.” That’s a truth that exists in my brain that occasionally gets dredged up when I’m talking about theology, but I don’t think I really know it in my heart. Not when it matters, anyway. When life gets frustrating, I lose myself to anxiety, stress, and disappointment. God’s … Continue reading What We Fight is So Tiny: Trust and Rainer Rilke
I’m doing a little class about the cross at my church, and this week we’re looking at the Christus Victor model of atonement. It presents Christ’s death on the cross primarily as a victory over evil. In ancient times, it was usually tied to the ransom theory of atonement (Jesus was given over to Satan/evil … Continue reading The Acts of Pilate: Jesus Conquers Hell
I ran across the poet-priest George Herbert for the first time this week, much to my delight. I’d heard of John Donne (of Batter My Heart, Three-Person’d God fame), but I had no idea that there was a whole group of 17th century English poets that had an interest in religious writing! Apparently, they’re called … Continue reading Sanctify this Work: George Herbert’s The Altar
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