The Rejection of Universalism in the Triodion

One of the big problems with an Orthodox Christian embracing universalism is that he has to reject a large portion of the liturgical tradition of the Church in order to do so. The eternality of the punishment of the wicked is ubiquitous in the services of the Church. This may be less apparent if one does not have access to frequent church…

The Pastoral Malpractice of Preaching Universalism

Let us struggle with all our powers to gain Paradise. The gate is very narrow, and don’t listen to those who say that everyone will be saved. This is a trap of Satan so that we won’t struggle. —St. Paisios the Athonite We began a series on universalism here at O&H with Fr. Stephen De Young’s piece from the Biblical record. He…

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…

Tributes to Priest-Scholar Fr. Matthew Baker Pour In

It’s been about 36 hours, but we’re still stunned at the death of Fr. Matthew Baker, the promising and brilliant priest-scholar who somehow seems to have been the friend of so many, beloved by so many, and called “the next Florovsky” by so many. With so many who connected so deeply to him, there have been many tributes being written in remembrance…

On Spiritual Brothers – In Memoriam

Fr. Matthew Baker, beatae memoriae, was fond of speaking about the need for spiritual brothers. This brief word from St. Ambrose of Milan on the loss of his own brother also sums up the loss of such a spiritual brother. If you are able, please consider a gift to support his widow and their six children. We have brought hither, dearest brethren,…

Fr. Matthew Baker: Memory Eternal!

Friends, We just learned the very sad and shocking news that Fr. Matthew Baker, a promising, brilliant scholar and priest who has contributed a number of articles to this site and is the close friend of a number of us, passed away in a tragic car accident this evening while traveling home from his parish assignment in Connecticut. The following message has…

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…

“Born Again” Experience or Baptismal Regeneration?

 Soon after the Berlin Wall came down many American Evangelicals saw Eastern Europe as a mission field ripe for the Gospel.  However, they overlooked the fact that Orthodox Christianity had already been there for over a thousand years!  Mihai Oara wrote “Conversions and Conversions: Romanians between Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism” which describes how Evangelicals sought to evangelize Eastern European Orthodox. The typical narrative…

Is Liturgy Magic? A Response to Peter Leithart’s Puritan Sacramentalism

I must admit that it always bugs me a bit when someone tells me what I believe, especially when I do not actually believe it. And so the bug in my bonnet buzzed again a bit when I read Peter Leithart’s latest musings on liturgy over at First Things. In this piece, Leithart lets the Orthodox, Roman Catholics and other “high church”…

On Leithart’s Puritans and the Purity of Sacraments

Introduction In a recent article at First Things, Peter Leithart laments the “high-churchism” of non-Protestant celebrations of the Eucharist. For Leithart, the essential difference between “high” and “low” liturgies is that of the preparatory rites—not necessarily the external ornaments of incense, bells, and vestments. Beyond mere simplicity, the Protestant or “Puritan” sacramentalism was one that eschewed excessive and unnecessary foreplay: The low-church Reformers…