Church Scandals Must Come

Scandals must come (Matt. 18:7). These are the words of Christ. He tells us that scandals are not only likely to happen – but that they will happen. They are necessary (ἀνάγκη). Most readers will marvel that this is a quote from Jesus. The reason is simple: the Greek (ἀνάγκη γάρ ἐστιν ἐλθεῖν τὰ σκάνδαλα) is rarely translated in such a manner. “Stumbling blocks,” or “offenses,” is the more common way to render…

Emptiness

Our life in the Body of Christ begins with our Baptism into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3). This phrase explains what it means to be Baptized “into the Body of Christ” (I Corinithians 12:13).  To exist in the Body of Christ is to do so by existing in the death of Christ, as well as His resurrection. How this makes us “His body” is amplified when we see that “His death” is more…

The Cross of Christ and the Way of Life

The Mystery of our Salvation is contained within the Cross of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. And it is correct to say the “mystery of our salvation,” for what is contained there is more than a cosmic transaction (Christ pays for our sins): it is also the whole of our way of life. It is truly the mystery of our salvation. The extent of this mystery is hinted at in Christ’s…

Everything Is In Motion

For years I have been told that the meaning of the word hamartia (translated “sin”) means “to miss the mark.” This is certainly accurate. However, the image I have always had in mind has been an arrow aimed at a target and missing the bull’s eye. Thus I have thought of my life as a moral effort to hit the target. This is not incorrect but it leaves out important information. God…

The Word within the Word – The Sacrament of Time

Perhaps the most beautiful passage in all of Scripture is the prologue of St. John’s Gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men… In classical theology…

Justice Enough?

The human desire for justice is insatiable. And that is a problem. It is a problem because an insatiable desire can never be satisfied: there is no end to our desire for justice. It is a problem because many Christians use justice as a lens for understanding the work of our salvation. The fathers have a term for insatiable desires: passions. What human beings experience as a desire for justice is not a virtue –…

The Mystery of the Forerunner

There is a unanimous witness in the Christian gospels concerning the place of St. John the Baptist. In the Orthodox world he is generally referred to as the Forerunner. All of the gospels agree that he plays a key role in the coming of the Messiah. It is a role that is largely ignored by most of the Christian world. The gospels make reference to two Scriptures when they mention St. John.…

Life in a Sacramental World

At the ordination of a priest, the consecrated Body of Christ is placed in his hands. He is told to “Guard this!” until the coming of Christ. It is a very solemn moment – the beginning of a lifetime in which a man’s relationship to bread will never be the same. It is also something of a conversion – a movement from the secular inert character of matter towards a world of…

The Sacrament of the Heart

Scholars of the New Testament occasionally conjecture about what is termed the ipsissima verba of Christ, the “very words themselves.” It is a term for those sayings that are considered historically authentic beyond question. One saying which in my opinion belongs to such a category are the so-called “words of institution” (“this is my body…this is my blood”). They are certainly the words with the earliest attestation of any spoken by Christ.…

The Heart of Darkness – the Dawn of Mercy

The Christian faith is not about ideas – it is about things that are. As such, we do not need to cultivate theological systems – we need to know how to live. This also tells us something about darkness. The dangers we face are not found in mistaken ideas – they are found in the negation of what is. Scripture says that our adversary was a “murderer from the beginning.” It is…