Were there priests in the early church? Garry Wills says no. He’s wrong, and here’s why

In reading Garry Wills' new book, Why Priests? A Failed Tradition, I passed through several stages: irritation, amusement, befuddlement, frustration, disbelief. Attesting to his immense talent, I occasionally felt all these things at once. Wills' argument is that priests are nowhere found in the New Testament, more or less, and that priestly power is advanced by a bogus understanding of the Eucharist and the inclusion of the Letter to the Hebrews in the Bible. And let's just pause to remember … [Read more...]

Why apostolic tradition matters, part 1

St. Paul the Apostle

How do know if a particular doctrine is true or false? What defines the boundaries of orthodoxy? We're not the first believers to face these questions. Within a generation of Christ’s death and resurrection, the church broke free from the orbit of Jerusalem and swerved into the path of the Gentile world and its bewildering array of pantheons, temples, astrologists, sorcerers, philosophers, and mystery cults. Some of the interactions proved beneficial. In Cities of God, Rodney Stark … [Read more...]

We are all Protestants now

We're all Protestants now

"[D]o nothing apart from the bishop. . . ." -- Ignatius of Antioch, Magnesians 7 One of the more intriguing narratives flowing out of the election concerns Roman Catholics bucking their bishops' entreaties -- some would say threats -- to abstain from voting for candidates who support abortion and the HHS contraception mandate. Regardless of the directive, a majority of Catholics punched the Obama/Biden ticket on November 6, acting as if the episcopal counsel counted for squat. This … [Read more...]

Bishop takes rook

Engraving of Jonathan Mayhew

One of the most fascinating figures I’ve discovered while researching about the life of Paul Revere is Jonathan Mayhew. He was the pastor at West Church in Boston. He is often cited as the first Unitarian, and in his letters you can read him complaining about, among other things, the average Bostonian’s “zeal for Athanasian and Calvinistic Orthodoxy." Paul Revere was more than a decade his junior, but they became friends in Revere’s later teens. Mayhew married the daughter of … [Read more...]