The Atonement – It’s Still About God

I am greatly interested in the discussion stirred up earlier this week in my posts on the Atonement. The discussions were good, and well behaved. Indeed, I would say that the conversation was productive. What fascinates me, is the interest we have in the discussion of the Atonement. The popularity of any particular blog post is still a bit of a mystery to me. I run about 700 views a day on…

Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

I am publishing this post a day early for the sake of the conversation generated by my recent atonement posts. I hope the conversation goes forward well. My recent post on “Are You Saved?” generated perhaps our longest list of comments, thus far, and, by far, the most erudite and serious. The subject of the atonement, and the picture of God presented by the doctrine have been a touchy subject between some…

Inside and Out

Some continuing thoughts on salvation… One of the weaknesses of theology over the past number of centuries has been an occasional lapse into viewing the category of morality has simply a category of our actions. In that sense, moral has to do with behavior, not with existence. It is how we act, not what we are. As I say, this is a problem, because it leads us into very problematic ways of…

“Are You Saved?”

My life in the South has been marked by the question, “Are you saved?” As a child, street preachers from the local fundamentalist protestant college would hold forth in front of the Dollar Store (which was also the bus stop), guaranteeing something of a captive audience. The question in that context had a simple meaning: a. you are born with the sin and guilt of Adam b. you are thus deserving of…

Hopko on the Apocalypse (with a slight nod to Narnia)

I drive around a good bit covering the area of my parish. One of my great joys is to listen to various tapes or CD’s by Orthodox speakers. Over the years, none have fed me more than Fr. Thomas Hopko. I offer a short quotation here from one of his most recent CD’s. I highly recommend it. I’ll offer an observation or two in a moment.  Speaking on the Apocalypse of St.…

Raising Christians

I enjoyed the wonderful responses I got to my recent article, How Hard Is It?, in which I looked at our need to teach the faith to the next generation. In offering further reflection, it seems to me that nothing can be more fearful, frustrating, or rewarding as teaching the faith to our children. It is probably the great test of our faith. Stanley Hauerwas, whom I was privileged to study under…

Fire and Light

Behold: I draw near to the Divine Communion. Burn me not as I partake, O Creator, For Thou art a Fire which burns the unworthy, Rather, cleanse me of all defilement. This short prayer, appointed for devotional use before receiving communion in the Orthodox Church, has always been one of my favorites. It draws out the great mystery of the Presence of Christ which is experienced both as threat and as consolation.…

Fullness and Reform

There is a certain givenness to life – at least a whole lot of it. I have gradually come to accept that thirty years, ok, forty years after my growth spurt, I will never be taller than 5’7″. I’ve even given up on adding the extra 1/2″ that I claimed for many years. You are what you are. There is something deeply anti-modern about such a confession. To agree that your gender…

Not the Fathers’ Christmas

Christmas [as a holiday] was long ago corrupted by our culture. Certain aspects of the story are too good to leave alone. The drama of Christ’s birth – the Virgin who has to explain the unexplainable – Wise Men looking for a King – a wicked old King looking for any challenge to his throne – no room in the Inn – and angels singing, “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.” How…

The Praying Mind

Writing on the life of St. Silouan of Mt. Athos, the Elder Sophrony said: The Staretz’ [Elder] life was spent, above all, in prayer, and the praying mind does not think – does not reason – but lives. Its activity does not consist in the manipulation of abstract concepts but in participation in being. The truly praying mind has to do with categories different in quality from those of rational reflection. It…