What Is Liturgy, and Why Do We Need It?

A recent post by Peter Leithart questioning the role of high liturgy in sacramental theology has already sparked two responses on this site, and I wish to add to this collective response, though perhaps taking a different angle, specifically one that is surprisingly non-theological. Liturgy is as old as religion itself.  Sacrifices, altars, incense, priestly vestments, and so on, have all been found in…

Grace and Debt – How do we Understand Legal Terminology in Paul?

The discussion of justification in my past two posts have brought up a lot of good discussion in the comments revealing the great discomfort that Orthodox Christians seem to feel with forensic (i.e., legal) terms used to describe justification. Nevertheless, such forensic terms are quite dominant in Paul’s language, and the Fathers use them as well. We cannot completely rid ourselves of this…

Reconciling Paul and James: Thoughts about Justification

The following post represents some of my musings on the topic of justification which have proceeded in the comments to my last post. I do not intend these musings to be understood as reflecting a particular “Orthodox position,” as in “this is what the Orthodox Church teaches” and thus prescribing such belief. These ideas represent my own thoughts and opinions as I have dialogued…

What Do Orthodox Christians Believe about Justification? A Response to Protestant Criticisms

As Protestant Christians find their way to examining the Orthodox Christian faith, they very often remark about the inconsistency of Orthodox Christianity on the matter of justification by faith, or else they even say that Orthodoxy has no such doctrine of justification. Indeed, the term justification may be a bit curious to most Orthodox Christians who were not reared in Protestant homes, for one…

Newsweek So Misunderstands Bible It’s a Sin

Good biblical scholarship is important… really important. Not only does it help us understand our own Bible and biblical tradition better, it also enables us to spot quite easily when biblical scholarship is misused in ways that are frankly disrespectful to Christians of all stripes and contrary to all reason and good will. Such is the nature of “The Bible: So Misunderstood…

Finding Your Way in Online Orthodoxy

A recent online debate (not linked to here for privacy reasons) has once again shone the spotlight on the phenomenon of online Orthodox communities, which unfortunately are all too often places where heated arguments, angry personal attacks, and prideful arrogance take the place of simple, reasoned discussions. What purport to be sources of information and answers for troubling questions provide disinformation and…

“Show us the Father” – How The Father May or May Not be Depicted in Orthodox Iconography

Read through any collection of Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoons, and you will doubtless come across a cartoon image of God as an old man, usually gigantic in proportion and surrounded by the clouds of “heaven.”  This kind of cartoon image has become the popular depiction of God within our popular culture, from the Sunday morning funny papers to popular films such as Monty Python…

Iconography in Ancient Israel (Part 1)

The prominence of the Second Commandment has been the touchstone by which Christian iconography has been judged throughout history. it was the basis for the Byzantine iconoclastic periods of 726 – 787 and 814 – 842 as well as iconoclastic movements today such as those found in certain corners of Protestantism.

A Meditation on the Samaritan Woman: Orthodoxy as the Revelation of Personhood

The following is a meditation upon the narrative of Christ and the Samaritan woman informed by ancient Palestinian Jewish marriage customs and the place of women in Palestinian society. As such, it is presented as the opinions of the author and not a statement to the exclusion or contradiction of patristic commentary on this Gospel reading. The fourth Sunday of Pascha commemorates…

Is Racial Nationalism Compatible with Orthodox Christianity? A Theological Reflection on Holiness and Priesthood in the Old Testament

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” – Genesis 1:3-5 In response to growing sentiments of unrest online following…