Christianity: Use only as directed

In Graham Greene's novel The Third Man, people suffer and die because of diluted penicillin purchased on the black market in postwar Vienna. American Christianity is suffering a similar fate, though our diluted faith is practiced in the open for all to see.New York Times columnist Ross Douthat raised the issue by pointing to the conundrum of Bible no-no's flourishing in the Bible Belt. Social scientists affirm the positive connection between religion and several measures of personal and … [Read more...]

The unity of heaven and earth in worship

In Lifted by Angels I mention the Cherubikon, or "Cherubic Hymn," which is sung during the Orthodox liturgy as the priests and deacons process with the Eucharistic gifts. I found this version here particularly beautiful and thought I would share it:The frescoes in the video are from two 13th- and 14th-century Serbian monasteries. My friend Borko sent me the link.The hymn itself is very ancient and reflects realities captured in passages like Revelation 4 and Hebrews 12.22, the latter … [Read more...]

Angels, demons, and C.S. Lewis

I'm profoundly honored to be featured in this week's Breakpoint with John Stonestreet. Cornelius Plantinga leads off with a discussion of the understanding of Satan in our post-Englightment culture. I follow with a similar discussion of angels, keying off my book Lifted by Angels. Listen to the interviews here.If you're interested in more, you can listen to part of chapter 1 of Lifted by Angels here:Belief in the angelic realm -- including the demonic -- might seem farfetched to … [Read more...]

Sen. Mark Kirk, his angels, and ours

Having suffered a life-threatening stroke, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk laid in his hospital bed unconscious and plugged into IVs and monitors. In what he described as possibly a dream or the side effect of his drugs, he suddenly became aware of angels -- three of them -- standing by."You want to come with us?" they asked."No," he said, "I'll hold off."With that, he woke up.Kirk recently told his story to the Chicago Daily Herald as he was preparing to return to the Senate after … [Read more...]

The real story of the Christmas angels

Luke tells us that on the night Jesus was born, shepherds near Bethlehem were watching their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared before them -- radiant, shockingly luminescent, and bright. Awash in the otherworldly light, the glory of God pooling around them, the shepherds were terrified. “Do not be afraid,” said the angel, “for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (2. … [Read more...]

In Christ we ascend beyond the angels

It is sometimes easy to focus on how sinful we are. Our frailty and failings stand in stark contrast to the life we hope and believe we can live in Christ. Focus on these things too long and we can become very discouraged. But there are reasons for encouragement, and one example can be found by looking at a song about Jesus’ mother.Orthodox and Eastern Catholic believers sing a short hymn about Mary called the “Axion Estin,” or “It is Truly Meet,” which declares her “more honorable than the … [Read more...]

Two powerful songs you may have never heard

Everybody knows the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, right? If you've stepped anywhere near Sunday school, heard an old-timey gospel song, or glanced sideways while your four-year-old watched VeggieTales, you've picked it up.It's an compelling story of faith and rescue, and today the Orthodox and Lutheran churches celebrate Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah -- their Hebrew names -- along with Daniel the Prophet. But what many may have missed are two songs, "The Prayer of Azariah" and … [Read more...]