My Daddy’s Demon

I hesitated before I wrote “My Daddy’s Demon,” as a title for this article – I mean no disrespect for my father. But it is a reference to my own life, for as I’ve grown older, I discover that the things I wrestle with are not very different than those with which my father wrestled. Perhaps his father wrestled with them as well. Recently I wrote that “we are all connected.” This…

Is Hell Real?

Because sometimes the people of God need a basic lesson in the nature of existence… On one of the roads leading into my small city a billboard has recently appeared. It is part of a larger campaign by a nationally known evangelist who is to have a revival in Knoxville. The sign is simple. In very large bright yellow letters (all caps), the sign says: HELL IS REAL. In small letters beneath…

Obstacles to Faith

My writing and thoughts often carry me to the “edges” – to the edge of unbelief and to the edge of the depths of belief. My instinct for these places is an instinct for the obstacles to faith. Why do some believe and others not? And what is the exact nature of belief and unbelief? There is a form of belief familiar to everyone. It is simply the manner in which we…

An Unnecessary Existence

In Dostoevsky’s The Demons, the character, Kirillov, is insanely fascinated with freedom. He cannot bear the fact that he did not choose his own existence. Life is a “given.” In what must be seen as a parable of the radical thought of the 19th century, Kirillov determines to kill himself, the only act of true freedom he can take. His insight about the necessity of his own existence and its lack of…

Is This All There Is?

It all depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. – President Bill Clinton Surely there are some things about which everyone can agree – or not. Either something exists or it doesn’t. Or is there more to the story? In the thought of the Fathers, existence has a number of qualities. That we exist at all is the gift of God. But the gift of God is not mere existence…

God and Creation

Conversations about “God” often discuss Him as though He were a concept, and idea that can be isolated, studied and considered. Of course, the word “God” can often be little more than a cipher for something whose meaning everyone thinks they know, but whose meaning may vary a great deal. This can especially be true when modern popular culture speaks of “God,” and we read the same word in a translation of…

From Mud to Light – the Saving Work of Christ

Man is mud whom God has commanded to become god. – St. Gregory of Nyssa +++ How do you create a God? How do you create a being that has true freedom, true love and thus, true existence? This is obviously not an entirely rational question – but it is a serious question for Christian thought. For, as St. Gregory of Nyssa notes, the creation of man is more than the story in…

To Tell the Truth

Abba Poemen said, “Teach your mouth to say that which is in your heart. +++ Speaking the truth is as fundamental as the Ten Commandments. It also receives a great deal of attention within the pages of the New Testament. Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the…

The Unreal Land

A few axiomatic thoughts… God is the “only truly existing God.” All existence is a gift from God who is our Creator. None of us has “self-existing” life. We exist because God sustains us in existence (“in Him we live and move and have our being”). Sin is the rejection of this gift of God – a movement away from true existence. +++ Much of our lives in the modern world engages primarily…