Therapeutic Substitutionary Atonement

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… (1 Cor. 15:3-4) No statement is more central to the Christian faith than St. Paul’s rehearsal of the Apostolic Tradition – for his words “delivered…received…” are specifically the words that describe the…

Sweet Commandments

Somewhere in the early ’70’s, I recall being in a group of Church youth. They were singing a song based on Psalm 19: The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring…

Reading in Communion

“Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear…” (Matt. 13:13) This is Jesus’ description of those who encountered Him but did not understand. Just because we see something doesn’t mean we see it. Just because we hear something doesn’t mean we’ve heard it. This is particularly true of Holy Scripture. Just because we read it doesn’t mean we’ve read it. Why do we read the Scriptures? I assume that…

Unmediated Grace

This Sunday the Orthodox Calendar commemorates St. Gregory Palamas – perhaps the most significant theologian and teacher of the late Byzantine period. He particularly is important when considering the nature of the Christian experience of God. Orthodoxy believes that it is truly possible to know God though He remains unknowable. The mystery of this true knowledge constitutes the heart of St. Gregory’s work. I first encountered St. Gregory’s writings when I was…

The Mystery, Upborne, Fulfilled

Orthodoxy has a number of “favorite” words – all of which fall outside the bounds of normal speech. Though we commonly use the word “mystery” (for example), popular speech never uses it in the manner of the Church. I cannot remember using the word “fullness,” or even “fulfilled,” in normal speech. More contemporary words have come to replace these expressions. This doesn’t mean that an English speaker has no idea of what…

The True Culture War

The cultural landscape of the modern world is continuing to shift and change. Opinions that were but shortly ago in the minority have moved into the majority and the political world is quickly realigning itself. Positions that were once traditionally Christian with wide public support or acquiescence are being marginalized. In various places Christians find themselves to be objects of scorn – even disgust. I think that we are headed into some…

The Fast that Keeps

Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who suffered in Hitler’s Ravensbruck for her work rescuing Jews, shared stories of her life within those death camps. I recall one of her remarks, “We did not keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept us.” Some years back I was filming a television show with the local Rabbi and a member of his congregation (who was a Holocaust survivor). In the course of the conversation, I…

Love and Freedom in a One-Storey Universe

I offer the first-ever guest article on the blog. My eldest daughter, Matushka Mary Holste, sent me this piece. I loved it and wanted to share with others. Enjoy. St. Augustine said, “Love and do what you will.” This statement describes a way of being that offers us both freedom and joy. We are to love and be transformed by love. We are not able to love fully without the strenuous work…

Saving Communion

Few things are as fundamental to the New Testament as the reality of communion (koinonia). It means a commonality, a sharing and participation in the same thing. It is this commonality or sharing that lies at the very heart of our salvation. This communion is described in Christ’s “high priestly prayer”: I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as…

Godless Morality

Is it possible to be moral without believing in God? I would venture to say that moral is pretty much all there is without God. To be moral requires that we have some understanding of the rules governing our behavior and a willingness to live by those rules. I have pondered many times why someone has rules if they don’t believe in God (though a culture without rules would be decidedly against…