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Perfect Love Casts Out War

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The Machine of War

As I’m writing this, the news is breaking that Israel has invaded Gaza. This is the culmination of weeks of tension, which has now ratcheted up to all-out war. I can only observe this from a distance. I’m able to see the bloodshed and tears through video and pictures, on my TV screen while sitting in the comfort of my own living room. I don’t want to dismiss the lives of men, women and children who have been lost on either side.

This is why I want to be very careful in what I’m about to say.

The world today is in many ways safer but also scarier than it was past centuries. We also have bigger and more deadly weapons, capable of ending millions of lives in an instant. We continue to live in this cycle of war, in spite of our best intentions. We shroud the implications of death and violence with consequential reasons for defending the weak and the innocent. We constantly try to justify war through our belief that God sees is it as a moral imperative. My question is, “who or what really controls us when each individual has to decide the value of life, even the lives of those we deem ‘evil’?” I don’t believe it is God. I believe it is fear.  The question Christians need to ask is “why are we afraid when we have perfect love over us?”


 

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You Can Start a Podcast

I wrote this as a sample of my non-religious writing skills. I’m currently and building a portfolio. Enjoy!

You Can Start a Podcast

I used to believe that starting a podcast would be a Herculean task that only polished professionals or audiophiles could get into. This is not true though. Pretty much anyone can podcast if they take the time to get the right equipment and software.

However, to do a podcast well…that takes a bit more work.

The podcast I’ve started is called the Theologues Roundtable. I began the podcast as an idea with one of my good friends and launched it a few months ago. I did have to spend some money to get started it, but surprisingly, not that much.

Read the rest on LinkedIn…

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5 Reasons Not to Underestimate the Faith of Millennials

(Read the rest on Theologues.com)

I’m just barely a Millennial, being on the cusp of my 30s, but I did grow up during the dawn of the Internet, cellphones, and Homestar Runner. As I’ve grown up in this decade, I’ve seen friends and acquaintances grow and mature out of awkward teendom into having college degrees, jobs, spouses and kids.

In one sense the critics of the Millennial generation are correct when they state we are a very self-absorbed generation, but I think those same critics mistake the technological methods we gratify and glorify ourselves as some how more base and less noble than the methods the previous generations used to do the same. In another sense, every generation uses the next as a scapegoat for society’s ills and to increase their own sense of superiority.

Still, while a few Millennials may be decidedly “spiritual, but not religious,” I’m finding a vast number of people in my generation who’ve shed these trends and matured into actually having convictions and concrete beliefs based on deeply studying and grasping their own faith, embracing the wisdom of those who came before them and realizing that we don’t come by our beliefs alone. In many cases, Millennials were primed by the previous generation to be open and generous towards the old, the out-of-fashion and the traditional based on the fact that the previous generation discarded them, so their progeny are drawn by the novelty of such things.

(Read the rest on Theologues.com)

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More Than Bread & Wine

(Read the rest on Theologues.com)

Why the Eucharist Matters

For Christians around the world, the bread and wine (known as Communion to some and Eucharist to others) have been markers of true church life. Some churches see the bread and wine as a symbol or memorial of what Christ did for us on the Cross. Others see it as the very body and blood of Christ which we partake of at the table. Growing up, I took the former view as the orthodox view. I never fathomed that it could be possible that Christians would partake in a pagan practice akin to cannibalism. I know hold the latter view and it’s precisely because I know now that it was neither “pagan” or “cannibalistic.” I believe in the Eucharist.

The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word eukharistia and it means “thanksgiving.” The Eucharist is Christ’s own thanksgiving to the Church and it is the Church’s thanksgiving celebration which surrounds the table.

In learning more about the early church’s view on the Eucharist, I became astonished to see that the early Christians, such as Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, defended the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist  as what was taught by the apostles to the Church. In John 6, we see Jesus breaking the bread and distributing the wine to his disciples and those same disciples taught their understanding of the Eucharist to their disciples. In many cases, seeing the Eucharist as the real flesh and blood of Christ was not only defended by these early Christians but they also believed that the Eucharist provided a foundation for understanding a Christian’s own transformation in Christ.

 

(Read the rest on Theologues.com)

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4 People Who Successfully Argued With God

(Read the full post on RELEVANT.com)

As humans, we tend to pray most when we really need something from God. We pray before tests, job interviews or jumping out of an airplane. Our prayers are most often directed to God in times of desperate need. The rest of the time, we figure He’ll take care of the rest. But a big question that comes from prayer is that if God knows everything that will happen, why do we pray? What good does prayer actually do?

In many ways this is a question that has sparked some of the biggest divisions in Christian theology. Humans often want to know why God does what He does in our lives.

I think that is a question which we cannot completely answer with the limited knowledge we have, but through the Scriptures we do see many cases where prayer influences God’s decision (or appears to anyway). Maybe we can learn from them. I’ve found at least four cases where this has happened:
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/4-people-who-successfully-argued-god#9O3RXfLbgqHTvrX7.99

(Read the full post on RELEVANT.com)

 

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Shadows of the Gospel in the Old Testament (Pt. 2)

This article was originally posted to Theologue.com


The Old and the New Testaments need and compliment each other. 

Alpha and Omega

In my last post, I defined typology and how it helps us find Christ in the Old Testament. I want to provide some further examples of this, but I first want to talk about the way God relates Himself to us in the Old Testament (OT) versus the New Testament (NT).

It’s often hard not to think that the OT and the NT are pitted against one another in characterizing God. We can run the risk of Marcionism when we reject the God of the OT. We can also run the risk of creating a sadistic, distant God when we solely characterize Him through the OT. The fact is, God is whole and the Bible does portray a whole God, but His motives seem complicated because we’re only seeing a small picture. The scriptures are the footnotes of God’s cosmic plan.

The Reconciliation of All Things

In Colossians 1:19-20, we learn that God’s plan has always been to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth to Christ. The Cross was in God’s mind all along. Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, etc. and many more smaller bit-players in scriptures were all there to lead the world into union with God through Jesus Christ. The part that’s tricky is how we hammer out the most difficult, violent parts of scripture in regard to this sovereign plan. God was dealing with humanity in a way where humans could still draw near to Him and not be totally overtaken by the plague of sin.

St. Irenaeus said, “If anyone, therefore, reads the Scriptures with attention, he will find in them an account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling. . . . The treasure hidden in the Scriptures is Christ, since He was pointed out by means of types and prophecies.” 

In Jesus, all things were fulfilled in their meaning. (Gal. 4:4). Let’s examine some further examples of this:

The Bronze SerpentNumbers 21:4-9 is one of my personal favorites. In this story, the people of Israel were growing tired and impatient of waiting to get to the promised land (again), so God sent poisonous snakes to them. Of course, people got bitten and were sick from the poison. God told Moses to make a bronze snake statue and put it on a pole, so whoever looked toward the serpent on the poll would be healed. Now, there are many different ways to unpack this story, but the simplest comparison is to see the bronze statue as representing Christ and an allusion to John 3:16, where whoever looks to Christ and believes on Him will have life. The serpent also is interesting because it is a graven image. The Jews weren’t supposed to make graven images to worship, but Moses wasn’t making one to worship. He was making one as giving life to the people. This story is often pointed to be Catholics and Orthodox as a precursor to how icons are used and viewed in the Church.

Cities of Refuge: The Levites have been considered a line that leads directly to Christ throughout scripture, particularly in Hebrews (Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 4:14-16), but there’s also the various ways the Levites interceded for the sinners and criminals in Israel. In Numbers 35, the Israel is given instructions to provide cities to the Levites and not only that, but the cities were to be cities of refuge. Murderers could flee to the city to be detained until they saw justice. Just as these refuge cities were a place of peace, Christ is our refuge and peace.

The Fall of Jericho: In Joshua 6 we read the story which everyone knows from Sunday School – Joshua and the fall of the city of Jericho. The strongest parallel can be found in the walls crumbling down after the people had completed their walk around the city to Christ’s trampling down death during his three days in the tomb. Israel itself prefigures the Church and it was God who actually destroyed the walls, but Israel/the Church walked in faith through that. The priests trumpeting, according to the Orthodox Study Bible, are a representation of the prophets that heralded this coming victory and Christ’s own defeat of the Enemy.

Water from the Rock: In Exodus 17:1-9, we see Moses is dealing with some very crabby Israelites. They’re thirsty and weary from their journey so far, so God instructs Moses to go to a large rock in Horeb and strike it with his staff. He did it and the water came out for the people to drink. Pretty simple, huh? The symbolism is carried over by Paul in 1 Cor. 10:4 and Ambrose of Milan were a few sources we see pointing to the “rock” as being a shadow of Christ. The water that came from it symbolizes the water of life which Christ mentions more than once, most notably with the woman at the well in John 4:10. Furthermore, St. Ambrose points to this event as a shadow of the Eucharist and of Christ’s own body, because the rock brought forth water, which is against it’s very nature. Likewise, the bread and wine become something other in their mysterious state. The Eucharist, like the rock is a mysterious paradox.

In conclusion, my goal in pointing to these passages, whether obvious or not, is to direct your mind to seeing the Old Testament through the lens of Christ. The Israelites wandering through the desert is not some metaphor of how you’re wandering through life and you, personally, just need to find your purpose. Maybe it could be, but I find that reading more suspect than just looking at the bigger picture. What if Israel’s wandering through the desert is this – it is a shadow of the universal waiting the faithful have done since the beginning of the story of God (a.k.a., scripture) and the Promised Land is our eternal home with Christ.

If we focus less on ourselves, our wants and our needs…maybe we’ll find something more meaningful. Maybe we’ll find Christ. And the questions we find when reading the Old Testament will be either fulfilled in their meaning to us now or in the day of His return. Either way, we should always keep looking for Him in the pages of the scriptures.

Read part one here.

 

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Salvation (and How We Possibly Got It Wrong) (audio)

Our latest podcast episode is up now!

In this episode, Zach, Stan, Billy and our special guest Bp. Kenneth Myers talk about atonement theories (but mostly penal substitutionary atonement). The guys talk about our understanding of why Jesus had to die and what it means for our salvation. Zach uses a precarious Indiana Jones analogy and Ken talks about salvation and how/why we got it wrong. If you’ve ever wondered why some Christians believe or don’t believe in Christ’s sacrifice the same way you do, this is a great episode to listen to.

Subscribe on iTunes!

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Shadows of the Gospel in the Old Testament (Pt. 1)

The Bible Code

About a decade or more ago, the “Bible Code” book was gaining a lot of attention by Christians and non-Christians alike. It was a book from a reporter who had spent some time with researchers that had come up with a computer program that could scan to find acrostics, like buried secret codes within the aligned letters of the ancient Hebraic texts. Many of the acrostics were of many important current and future world events. For example, the JFK assassination date was presumed to be found deep within the writings.

Of course, people stopped paying attention after the concept was debunked by running the same software through other bulky texts, like Shakespeare.

The Pre-figured Gospel

In this series, I hope to help certain stories rise to the surface from the Old Testament that we don’t often think about in Christological terms. This is called “typology”. We sometimes read the scriptures looking for input into our own lives and our own situations, or to help us get a grasp on what the future holds. Yet, we don’t often read for the Gospel as the pre-eminent story which informs our understanding of many Old Testament stories. Maybe we consider reading typologically as primitive or irrelevant for today’s world.

Typology is exemplified in New Testament scriptures as well as early church writings. Many writers used typology a lot when explaining concepts in the epistles. Hebrews is a prime example, such as when Christ is proclaimed as “a priest in the order of Melchizedek” in chapter 7. The author dove into the Genesis text and saw Christ. He drew Christ out of the Old Testament text.

(Read the rest on my new website for bridging modern Christianity and Tradition with theology at Theologues.com)

Christian theology from the ground-floor

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