The Dormition of the Mother of God: What Actually Happened?

Some time ago I finished reading an excellent book on the extant literary sources for the Dormition/ Assumption narratives of the Mother of God, a magisterial work by Stephen J. Shoemaker entitled, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption, published by Oxford University Press. Shoemaker makes the case that the various divergent narratives about her death and glorification to paradise all appeared more or less at the same time around…

Where Does the Rain Come From?

I think it was in grade eight that I first learned about the Water Cycle. According to this science lesson, the air is full of water vapour. Condensation occurs as the sun causes the water to evaporate and rise into the sky, so that the water vapour turns back into liquid water, which we see in the big, fluffy clouds floating overhead. When the water droplets in clouds combine, they become heavy…

The Despair of Elijah

The prophet Elijah (whose feast day is July 20) is perhaps best known for his final ascent to heaven in a chariot of fire. He is also famous for being fed by a raven, and also for the dramatic contest on Mount Carmel. This last event was arguably the pinnacle of his prophetic career. Elijah served God in very dark days. Israel had always carried on a foolish and fatal dalliance with…

Understanding Pauline Universalism

In any discussion of Christian universalism, sooner or later someone is bound to mention Paul’s words about Christ saving everyone. Some of the passages are Romans 5:18-19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21f. One could add Paul’s words about Christ being the Saviour of all men (in 1 Timothy 4:10) and of Him appearing on earth bringing salvation to all (in Titus 2:11). One might broaden the exegetical field by referring to the Johannine…

Snake Handling

Every religion has odd things on its fringes, things that make most of its adherents cringe and wince, and which they are not eager to share with outsiders. These things are not so much dirty little secrets as examples of pathology, unwell people who express their psychological illness in religious terms. Every religion is keen to put its best foot forward and to present itself to the world in a way which…

A Loving God

Recently I was asked the question, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” I appreciated the question because it provided an opportunity to focus more closely upon the question of what we mean by the phrase “a loving God”. It is my conviction that our modern age has no clue what real love means or what the Scriptures mean when they assert that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). That…