Christian choice in an age of fracture

Christians in the early church regularly fasted, but the practice could vary place to place. So when Augustine’s mother Monica moved, she was stumped. Should she follow the fasting regimen of her home church in Carthage or her new church in Milan? Augustine couldn’t provide a definitive answer. He wasn’t a communing member of the church at that point. But he put the question to their bishop who said the right approach…

What Christopher Hitchens missed about the gospel

In his book, Letters to a Young Contrarian, atheist provocateur Christopher Hitchens advised “permanent engagement with those who think they posses what cannot be possessed. Time spent in arguing with the faithful is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.” That line came back to me as I thought about Hitchens’ curious friendship with Christian apologist Larry Alex Taunton. Their relationship is vividly displayed in Taunton’s new release, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, a…

How God uses angels to assist our prayers

The word angel means messenger in Greek, and the witness of scripture and many ancient Christian writers suggests one of the main jobs angels undertake is to act as courier for our prayers. The archangels Raphael and Gabriel both identify themselves as angels who stand in the presence of the Lord. Raphael helpfully explains the purpose of this position in the twelfth chapter of Tobit, saying that he “present[s] the prayers of…

What are the books you come back to?

I spent half of Saturday organizing my library. I’ve always had an unwieldy number of books, more volumes than space, and it requires a fair amount of shuffling and reordering to get them shelved in a way useful to me and tolerable to my wife. It’s pure joy. Sorting through my library is therapeutic. There are few things more enjoyable and restorative than a casual browse of books you love. A sojourn…

The Orwell Trap: Or, how to misread the Bible in one easy lesson

Florence King once called George Orwell “Every conservative’s favorite liberal and every liberal’s favorite conservative.” Why? Conservatives invoke his critiques of totalitarianism, while progressives appeal to his attacks on reactionary politics. As it happens, Orwell is easily bent to many ends—just like the Bible and often for the same basic reason. “Since . . . we all agree with George Orwell, it usually follows that Orwell must agree with us,” explains David…