Up It Comes Again—the Whack-a-Mole Heresy

Some heresies never seem to die, but have a disconcerting tendency to pop up in every generation, rather like the emerging heads of the whack-a-mole in the children’s game one sees in Chuck E. Cheese:  whack them down as hard and often as you like, but they will pop up again someplace else. The Gnostic view of matter is like that.  Drawing upon Platonic dichotomies of the difference between spirit and matter,…

Call No Man “Father”

Like many Orthodox clergy, I have lost track of the number of times my Protestant brethren have objected to the priestly title (in my case, “Father Lawrence”), citing the Bible which commands that they “call no man ‘Father’”.  They are, of course, thinking of our Lord’s words in Matthew 23:9.  If I am feeling puckish and mischievous, I sometimes respond with a simple denial, insisting, “No, the Bible doesn’t say that” just…

An Orthodox Magisterium?

Recently I listened to a podcast in which Larry Chapp (a universalist Roman Catholic) interviewed Dr. David Bentley Hart.  In the course of the interview Dr. Hart asserted that, unlike Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy does not have an official and authoritative Magisterium.  By this he meant that Orthodoxy possesses no institutional organ (such as the papacy and the episcopate dependent upon it) that can routinely and authoritatively declare what is or is not…

Reflections on an October Event

Halloween these days provides a time for the predictable annual debate about whether or not Christians should participate in Halloween, and many participants in the debate express themselves very strongly.  As we approach that time, I would like to offer a few irenic reflections on the controversial October event. Everyone presumably acknowledges that there is nothing wrong with children dressing up as fairies, Disney characters, Marvel superheroes, and (my own favourite when…

“Can I Get an Amen?”

Those familiar with old-time Pentecostalist liturgy will identify the title of this piece as a part of that liturgy.  Not, of course, that tongue-speaking Pentecostalists of the old school would admit to having liturgy.  Liturgy, for them, is what the Catholics have (along with their step-children, the Anglicans) because they do not have God or the Holy Spirit.  Liturgy is usually described by them as “dead liturgy” because the people using the…

Sitting Lightly on Labels

I have just finished reading Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity:  The First Three Thousand Years.  It is a thoroughly enjoyable read, comprehensive, and engagingly written.  It is also a great doorstopper of a book, so large a hardbound tome that unless one has hands like those of the Incredible Hulk one finds it hard to hold the book in one hand while drinking coffee with the other.  The title (“the first three thousand years”)…