Does the adulterous woman belong in your Bible?

The story of the adulterous woman, found in the Gospel of John, is a tricky text. The current scholarly consensus is that the account found in John 7.53-8.11 is not original to John, and modern translations often bracket the story and flag it as dubious.Here's a side-by-side comparison of the NKVJ, NIV, ESV, and the NRSV. Only the NKJV really attempts a defense of the story.These brackets, however, don't go far enough, according to Owen Strachan. Rather than bracket the text, he … [Read more...]

Why you need the church to read your Bible

'Shady Characters' by Keith Houston

It's easy to bash the church, and there are many that do. Of course most bashers are blithely unaware of the countless things they owe their battered victim, everything from doctrinal formulations they mistakenly assume are plainly explained in the Bible to holidays. What makes December 25 so special, anyway? You'll need to consult the church on that.I grew up around Christians who thought that all they needed for their spiritual life was a Bible. Not all of them, of course. But there … [Read more...]

Windows to heaven: Icons in church

My church, St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, has completed the first part of a lengthy iconography program. Here's a wonderful time-elapsed presentation of the work behind the altar.In time, it will look something like this church. It took Fr. Theodore Jurewicz six years to properly adorn St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Lackawanna, New York. The results of such efforts, as one monk commented, are "not like Rembrandt. It's other worldly." The icons are "supposed to transport you to another … [Read more...]

The problem with virtual communion

Ready Player One

Ernest Cline's New York Times bestselling sci-fi adventure Ready Player One imagines a future in which the majority of people live in a virtual world called the OASIS. As fortunes in the real world dip, the immersive simulations of the OASIS become the all-consuming preoccupation for anyone who can manage to log in.Everything happens in the OASIS: business, entertainment, love, even religion. The first-person narrator describes one "super-religious" side character who "spent most of her … [Read more...]

What we can learn from Augustine’s mom about community

When Augustine’s mother Monica moved to Milan, she was concerned about fasting. The practice was universal in the church from the beginning, but it differed in places. In Monica’s hometown the church abstained on Saturdays, but not the church in Milan. What should she do?Augustine, then a catechumen, had no idea; so he put the question to his bishop, Ambrose.“[W]hatever church you come to, conform to its custom,” said Ambrose. Even as a bishop he said that he observed the same rule (Let … [Read more...]

God uses humble means

I'm reading Samuel Tadros' new book Motherland Lost, a history of the church in Egypt. He starts at the beginning when the evangelist Mark showed up in Alexandria and tells a wonderful story about Mark's first convert.After he wandered all day in the majestic city, the apostle's sandal strap broke. Mark found a shoemaker who could repair it. His name was Anianus.While he was working, Anianus gouged his hand. "God is one!" he swore.Mark was moved with compassion. In a maneuver … [Read more...]

Why race matters in the church

When my wife and I were in Uganda in 2011 we attended liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Kampala one Sunday. Following the service, the priest Fr. Anastasios sidled up to a woman named Anastasia and joked that the two were siblings. Laughter ensued. The jest worked because they shared the same name but were obviously unrelated. Anastasia is white; Fr. Anastasios is black.I recently read a report about growing diversity in the church and came across a sentiment that hit me sideways. "Our … [Read more...]


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