Is the Resurrection essential to Christian belief?

Just 42 percent of Americans identify the resurrection of Jesus as the point of Easter, according to a 2010 Barna survey, and only 2 percent "describe Easter as the most important holiday of their faith."I find this astounding. The Resurrection is the faith. A Christian faith not centered on the Resurrection is not fully Christian. "If Christ is not risen," said Paul, "then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty" (1 Cor 15.14). If the grave isn't empty, then our faith is.Yet … [Read more...]

Irenaeus on the purpose of Christ’s passion

As we reflect today on the events of Great and Holy Friday, observe Christ's descent into Hades, and look forward to his paschal triumph, here's a passage adapted from Irenaeus' Against Heresies worth considering:The Lord suffered that he might bring those who have wandered from the Father back to knowledge and to his fellowship. Having thus suffered and bestowing the knowledge of the Father, the Lord conferred salvation upon us. His passion gave rise to strength and power.For the Lord … [Read more...]

Preparing our hearts for the birth of Christ

Nativity Icon

Today marks the start of the Nativity Fast in the Orthodox Church. Like Western Advent, it is a time leading up to Christmas for the faithful prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.The period of fasting and preparation mirrors the fast before Easter, or Pascha as we usually call it. Also forty days, from the November 15 to December 25, it is like a little Lent. And not without reason. Christmas and Easter are intertwined. The feasts show the symmetry of God's providence, that the birth … [Read more...]

The real crisis in Christianity

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan's Newsweek cover story, "Christianity in Crisis," admirably argues for a "simpler, purer, apolitical" version of the faith. He condemns a politicized Christianity that is concerned with prosperity and morality but dismissive of self-sacrifice and sanctification. … [Read more...]

Merry Christmas! In March?

The Annunciation

Today is March 25. Merry Christmas!Well, sort of. Let me explain. There is a widespread belief -- or maybe a suspicion -- that Christmas is little more than a baptized version of a pagan winter solstice celebration. The idea is that the church "christianized" the celebration so recently converted pagans would celebrate Jesus instead of Saturn or Sol or what have you. … [Read more...]

What’s the point of Lent?

What's the point with Lent?

Lent is the time we’re supposed to forgo things, right? Television, alcohol, Facebook, dessert. We’ve all heard the commonly asked question, particularly at the start of the forty-day fasting period: “What are you giving up for Lent?”But why? What’s the point? For some, it’s personal. Fasting exercises a rarely used muscle in the human will—self denial—and giving up a self-indulgent activity can help build character and possibly bring us closer to God.For others, it’s health. Inspired by … [Read more...]

Connecting Christmas, Easter

Detail from mosaic depicting the Nativity

Christ is born!Do Christians put too much emphasis on Christmas and not enough on Easter? It may sound surprising, but it turns out that several serious theologians and Christian thinkers have been saying so of late. But not so fast! You can’t pit one holiday against the other. … [Read more...]


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