Heavenly Minded

Years ago, I recall hearing someone complain about zealous Christians, “They are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” The truth of the statement depends entirely on the understanding of heaven and earth. It is possible to pursue a version of “heaven” such that the spiritual life is undermined. It is also possible to pursue heaven in such a way that the world around us is transformed. It is…

Our Selves, Our Souls, Our Bodies – More on Faith

And here we offer and present unto Thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice unto Thee… From Thomas Cranmer’s Eucharistic Prayer Regardless of what opinion one may have of the English reformer Thomas Cranmer’s theology, no one can deny him a central place in the history of the English language and the impact of his phrasing on the traditional prayers offered in…

Saving Faith

In a recent post I quoted Vladimir Lossky on the nature of faith. Several have asked me to expand on the Orthodox understanding of faith. I begin with Lossky’s quote: What one quests is already present, precedes us, makes possible our question itself. ‘Through faith, we comprehend (we think) how the ages have been produced’ (Heb. 11:3). Thus faith allows us to think, it gives us true intelligence. Knowledge is given to…

Hidden and Triumphant – Learning the Story

Orthodox Christianity has sometimes been called, “The World’s Best Kept Secret.” There is a certain truth to this – the ignorance in the Western world of Byzantine history, let alone Russian and Balkan history – is staggering. Many Orthodox are uninformed about the full story of their faith – as well as most modern converts. There is, at times, a make-believe history, created by lively imaginations of a pure Church somehow preserved…

Why Small Things Matter

A reader’s comment on an old posting of mine (from 2007) took me back to read the same. It seemed worth re-posting. Some things bear repeating – again and again, as they say. Perhaps one of the greatest disservices done to Christians by the spate of “Left Behind” novels and the like, and the romanticism that is inherent in the drama depicted – is that it makes the true struggle undergone by…

Mustard Seed

Christ said: “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20). +++ Skeptics and Naturalists through the years have always had a field-day with this verse. I recall a passage in Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, where a boy with a club foot, goes…

The Irony of Believing

Irony is probably too much to ask of youth. If I can remember myself in my college years, the most I could muster was sarcasm. Irony required more insight. There is a deep need for the appreciation of irony to sustain a Christian life. Our world is filled with contradiction. Hypocrisy is ever present even within our own heart. The failures of Church and those who are most closely associated with it…

To Live in Wonder

Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything – St. Gregory of Nyssa St. Gregory’s marvelous dictum is among a handful of things that describe what is required for the Christian life. So much of Christian history has been marked with a bifurcation – a split between those who study the faith and those who live it. It is not a necessary split – only a common one. Of course there is the larger…

Metaphors of the Atonement

Metaphors are very important when thinking about any aspect of our salvation. People can sometimes state what they believe as doctrine very precisely without thinking about what their beliefs imply about God, the world, or themselves. Metaphors can work in a very hidden way – particularly those that are referred to as “root metaphors.” A root metaphor is the over-arching imagery that generally governs how a train of thought goes. It provides…

The Change of the Most High

As we celebrate Christ’s Paschal victory – these thoughts are offered on the nature of our deliverance. One of the Psalms appointed for use in this season declares: “Now is the change of the Most High.” Pascha is indeed God’s change – which is why we ourselves are not the “agents of change.” As inhabitants of our modern culture, we find ourselves trapped in a world of “cause and effect.” It is…