Hell (Unfortunately) Yes: Why I Can’t Be a Universalist

I would very much like to be a Universalist. In terms of my Christian hope, in terms of my emotional attachments, I would love to believe that in the end, no one would harden their heart against the Love of our Lord Jesus Christ, all would repent and believe, and all would find salvation in the age to come. I believe that…

Grace and Wrath in the Orthodox Tradition

Eric Jobe’s recent series on justification (Part I, Part II, Part III) has spurred some discussion regarding the role of divine wrath in Orthodoxy. To simplify: Some readers seemed to believe that there was no place in Orthodoxy to speak of the wrath of God at all. Our salvation, to them, has nothing to do with deliverance from God’s wrath. Rather than…

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…

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…

Protestants and a Churchless Tradition: “Sola” vs. “Solo” Scriptura

One of my ongoing fascinations is what I have come to refer to in my head as “the Evangelical appropriation of tradition.” Charismatics are celebrating Lent. Baptists are talking about the Eucharist. The inscrutable maybe-universalist and now Oprah-darling Rob Bell is even using the phrase the tradition. Maybe this tradition stuff isn’t so bad. I can branch out a little. I can…

7 Reasons that Reading the Bible = Tradition

I recently came across a conversation online in which someone insisted that he didn’t need tradition at all, because he had the Bible. Why trust the word of men when you have the word of God? I was reminded again of just how complicated it is to try to believe in what the Bible says while rejecting Christian tradition. We’ve covered matters…

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…