Gratitude as Intellectual Virtue: On John Webster's "Theology in the Order of Love" (Part 1)

Gratitude as Intellectual Virtue: On John Webster's "Theology in the Order of Love" (Part 1)

Prayer and thanksgiving are not just something we do at the beginning or end of a morning’s theological work. They are the atmosphere in which theology lives, the native air our thinking breathes as the motion of our mind comes from and returns constantly to the God from whom, through whom, and for whom our intellectual labors exist. 


Conversion is Complicated – Faith, Doubt, and the Changeableness of the Human Heart

Conversion is Complicated – Faith, Doubt, and the Changeableness of the Human Heart

My text that Sunday morning was Romans 3:9-18, an exploration of human depravity, and I remember my goal was to get the hearts of my hearers “ready” and “needy” for a clear explanation of the gospel, which would come the following Sunday.  I prepared well for my message; I was genuinely excited for our congregation and positive that we’d see lives changed as a result.  The only problem was that, as I walked on stage to preach, I didn’t believe any of it. Not in God, not in the Gospel, not in the spiritual reality of the church.  In a flash I was a stone cold atheist.


Apostasy, Mystery, and the Means of Grace

Apostasy, Mystery, and the Means of Grace

When any Christian, particularly a leader in the church, renounces faith in Jesus, troubling spiritual and cognitive dissonances ensue for believers. The reactions range from fierce denunciations of the apostate, blame directed at the apostate’s theological and ecclesial tradition, and a melancholic sense of doubt over one’s own standing before God. Sometimes these reactions are all wrapped up together. Understandably, then, Christians reach for an explanatory theological framework for the reality of apostasy, and two readily present themselves.


Falling Away or Cut Off? Romans and the Question of Apostasy

Falling Away or Cut Off? Romans and the Question of Apostasy

The recent departure of Joshua Harris not only from Christian ministry but from Christianity altogether has brought questions related regarding apostasy and falling away to the forefront of recent evangelical dialogue. Can a true believer fall from grace? If someone commits apostasy, were they ever really saved? If it is indeed possible to lose your salvation, how does it happen? What’s the condition? How should we understand the notion of perseverance? And what does the Bible say about the matter? What do the key texts say about the issue?


St. Irenaeus, the Beatific Vision, and the Instrumentalization of Creation

St. Irenaeus, the Beatific Vision, and the Instrumentalization of Creation

Irenaeus consistently resisted the anti-body emphasis that emerged in later Christian theology. His eschatology is remarkably focused on the resurrection of the body, and the renewal of the cosmos; and he works overtime to avoid the “angelic soteriology” so prevalent in the later Christian tradition, namely the idea that humans become equal to the angels when they die. For Irenaeus, human beings, made in the image of the embodied Son of God, are at the top of the celestial food chain. Humans don’t become “equal” to angels when they die, but rather “pass beyond the angels” and ascend to God himself (Adversus Haereses 5.36.3).


Can we still learn from the Puritans?

Can we still learn from the Puritans?

It’s easy these days to dismiss the wisdom of the past. Given our improved technology and all our current collected learning, surely learning from the past would lead to regression, right? Plus, weren’t all these people basically racist, patriarchal, and generally mean-spirited? That’s, at least, how some perceive the Puritans. After all, we use the word “puritanical” only in a negative way, to denote someone who is self-righteous, morally rigid, and generally un-likable.


Pastoring like a Theologian: Four Lessons from Athanasius

Pastoring like a Theologian: Four Lessons from Athanasius

Athanasius became Bishop of Alexandria during the church's struggle with Arianism, in which Arians claimed that Jesus was merely a creature and not divine. This was despite rulings to the contrary from the Council of Nicaea (325 AD). So Athanasius spent his life promoting the Nicene understanding of the faith at a time when "the whole world groaned in astonishment to find itself Arian."


Pastoring like a Theologian: Six Lessons from John Calvin

Pastoring like a Theologian: Six Lessons from John Calvin

The name ‘John Calvin’ is synonymous with many things, depending on who you ask. A straw poll of Western Christians would probably reveal labels like ‘great theologian’ and ‘totally biblical’ being neck-and-neck with a descriptor like ‘theologically misguided’ and other terms not suitable for publication. There are few more polarizing figures in the church than this sixteenth-century reformer.