Hitchens on Hitchens – Belief on Unbelief

For those of you who follow contemporary discourse – particularly that by contemporary atheists on contemporary Christianity – you will find of great interest this article by the brother of Christopher Hitchens. (Christopher Hitchens has made himself famous as one of the current proponents of the “new atheism.”) Peter Hitchens does an admirable job of speaking for contemporary Christianity: Why is there such a fury against religion now? Because religion is the one…

The Nature of Things and Our Salvation

Reflecting on yesterday’s post, I thought it worthwhile to share these thoughts again on the nature of our salvation. It offers a short summary of the difference between a moral and an existential understanding of the Christian faith and why the difference matters. Indeed, as I look through my writings I know this is a recurring theme. It recurs because it is so fundamental to the Christian faith and is at the…

The Grace of Repentance

From Archimandrite Sophrony’s On Prayer There, on the Holy Mountain, my life found its right track. Almost every day after the Liturgy I knew a feeling of Easter joy.And strange as it may seem, my constant prayer like some volcanic eruption proceeded from the profound despair that ahd taken over my heart. Two seemingly totally incompatible states met together in me. I am recording facts. I did not understand myself what was happeing…

Death’s Boundary

Most of the Saturdays in Great Lent are “Soul Saturdays,” days when the Orthodox remember and pray for the departed. Thus my attention each week is drawn back to this great cloud of the departed who bear witness to Christ and draw my attention to Christ’s final victory over death. These are some thoughts from several years back on the topic. Having spent two-and-a-half years as a Hospice Chaplain, I had opportunity…

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

Try to think about the absence of God, and do realize that before you can knock at the door – and remember that it is not only at the door of the Kingdom understood in the general way, but that Christ really says ‘I am the door’ – before you knock at the door, you must realize that you are outside. If you spend your time imagining that in a mad way…

The Centrality of the Cross

Fr. John Behr, in his book, The Mystery of Christ, takes a very close look at the earliest centuries of the Christian faith, and at the very heart of Orthodoxy itself which is to be found there. In particular he speaks with great clarity about the “rule of faith,” certainly known to all of the Apostles and to the Apostolic Church. If placed in words it sounds much like the Apostles’ Creed (which…

Publicans and Harlots and the Last Banquet

This morning’s gospel was a familiar story: the calling of Levi to be a disciple. As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and…

The Systematic Theology of the Cross

The following excerpt was sent by a dear friend and a frequent reader of the blog. It is taken from Richard Wurmbrand’s With God in Solitary Confinement. Wurmbrand, a Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned under the communists in Romania, always spoke well of the Orthodox whom he encountered in those places of confinement, and brings the insight that suffering for Christ often brings. I was deeply moved by this quote. +++ “I…

Redeeming the Time

In Ephesians 5, St. Paul speaks about “redeeming the time” warning those whom he writes that the “days are evil.” It is a phrase that has always reminded me of Christ’s admonition: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34). Both statements are among the most “down to earth” statements in Scripture. They speak to me…

A Southern Lent

One of the hallmarks of my generation in the South is that we never grew up without a great deal of attention to God. Whether it was the absolute assurance in the sermons of preachers who could say with some precision who was going where when they died, or even with assurance describe heaven, or the far more mundane mutterings of public figures giving lip-service to the God in Whom we believed.…