Church and State Part Four: The Reformation

This is the fourth and last installation of a series of articles in which I present my view of church history with a focus on the relationship between church and state. In my last article, I covered the middle ages. Today I cover the Reformation. Because excommunication was being used so much as a punishment inflicted by man rather than an edict given by God through man, the tide of Protestantism came about in the sixteenth century. The frustrations so many devout church members who disagreed with the corruption and abuse of the church—particularly from the papacy—fermented for many years … Continue reading “Church and State Part Four: The Reformation”

Christianity of the Third Millennium

I can see the merits of Sola Scriptura. I can see why so many people choose to adopt that ideology. Just as Jesus seemingly condensed the law into two rules, so a summary compilation of the tenets of the faith, the Bible, condenses the work of millennia. It’s easier to read, and, in theory, it’s all a Christian needs to learn the faith. I posit, however, that adhering to Sola Scriptura alone can lead to dangerous levels of oversight. In 2020 Anno Domini, poverty is considerably less of an issue than in 20 Anno Domini. Is the means of our … Continue reading “Christianity of the Third Millennium”

The Point of Denominations

In my region of the world, it’s a taboo for a church to have a denomination. Churches that have one are said to be divisive and misleading. I disagree. Christianity is the only ideology that can span all times, cultures, and situations, but show me a single organization that could manage that much territory. No nation has been able to do it in the history of the world. Those that have come close never managed to last a century after their peak. And that’s for good reason; some cultures mix about as well as oil and water. How well did … Continue reading “The Point of Denominations”

A Confutation on Circumcision

This article is a continuation of the discussion Zach, Anisha and I are having concerning whether circumcision is efficacious, a proposal that we both think has strong implications for Baptism. I want to revisit Zach’s most recent article and respond to its claims. At the beginning of Zach’s article, he problematically states that “Efficacy entails not only necessity, but also sufficiency.” This definition is not only inconsistent with regard to my beliefs but overcomplicates the discussion to include the technical words of ‘necessity’ and sufficiency’ which is not necessary for this discussion. Instead, I would say that efficacious circumcision means … Continue reading “A Confutation on Circumcision”

So that No Man may Boast

Oftentimes in conversations with Christians of the reformed tradition, a discussion of the goodness of man and how that relates to the divine plan of salvation will arise. During these conversations I have found that a difference in definitions to be harmful to actually discussing the issues at hand. Add to the differing nomenclature palates actual disagreements over a number of differing nuanced positions and the result is chaotic. In this article I primarily want to clear up the Catholic position, as far as I understand it; however, I will also do my best to show why it makes the … Continue reading “So that No Man may Boast”

Humility and Humiliation

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die. The words of the hymn Rock of Ages characterize a humility born from an awareness of sin, who we are before a holy God, and a complete dependence on him. Repenting from sin, recognizing that we have been playing God in our own lives and turning back to him, naturally necessitates a posture of meekness. There is a pattern of mourning over our actions … Continue reading “Humility and Humiliation”

A Protestant’s Reflections on Notre Dame

This bit comes from the journal of a Protestant reflecting on his first impression of the Notre Dame in Paris. I walked through Paris, taking some wrong turns but generally going in the right direction, noticing the old, pretty facades that make this city a bit of a wonderland, the aftermath of the previous night’s celebration–a toppled three-wheel motorcycle, quiet streets, and signs of drinking and festivities. The city was just beginning to wake, and once again it felt like a modern metropolis. O Paris, city of love, ailed by the uprooted immigrants, traumatized by war and occupation, yet still … Continue reading “A Protestant’s Reflections on Notre Dame”

Religious Freedom in the Original Colonies

Barry_Lawrence_Ruderman_thirteen_Colonies

We all hear about American founding principles, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to self-defense, and many others. Yet we less often hear about the fact that these founding principles were, in many ways, a crossover between competing sets of values. We even less often think about the fact that these sets of values remain in contest with one another to this day. The history of religious freedom in three of the most important colonies (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) says quite a bit about the contrasting sets of principles that compete for American values. I am uncertain … Continue reading “Religious Freedom in the Original Colonies”

Efficacious Baptism: A Conversation

Luther-diet-worms

The following is a conversational essay between Anisha O. (University of Texas at Austin) and Daniel S. (Loyola University at Chicago) regarding Mr. Sutkowski’s Baptism and Circumcision: Anisha: Thank you Daniel, for sharing your perspective in that article. I enjoyed learning about the relationship between baptism and circumcision and was glad to be reminded of how God sees Jews and then Christians as God’s people across the old and new testament. We both agree that baptism is a commandment that Christ gives us and should be honoured by Christians everywhere. On the other hand, we have significantly different beliefs on … Continue reading “Efficacious Baptism: A Conversation”

Chesterton and Christian (Counter-)Culture

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Evangelical Christians have long used this verse, and many others, to set the foundation for Christian counter-culturalism. And that not without reason. After all, we “are not of the world” (John 17:16), even though we are in the world. When mainstream culture worships the self, Christianity stands