The God who weeps

Where is God when we suffer? A new book by Frank Viola says he's there by our side, suffering with us.Viola's newest, God's Favorite Place on Earth, recounts the biblical stories of Jesus' time in Bethany, the town of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead in anticipation of his own resurrection.I read it leading up to Easter -- or Pascha as we call it in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which often differs several weeks from Western Easter. This year it was May 5. The … [Read more...]

The face of the devil and the mercy of God

What are we to make of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut?Later in the month, both the Western and Eastern church will observe the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, that tragic moment in which King Herod answered the Gospel by trying to murder the Messiah.As Matthew reports, "Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under. . ." (Matt … [Read more...]

Abraham Lincoln and the ‘bastard’ Jesus Christ

Abraham Lincoln's early years were marked by a rabid antagonism toward Christianity, but he ended his life as a believer.As my friend Stephen Mansfield details in his new book Lincoln's Battle with God (published by Thomas Nelson), he was an iconoclast, a gadfly, and an intellectual bully. Well versed in the contradictions and problems with Christian scripture and doctrine, he was more than happy to bat believers around the head with these things.Lincoln even published an incendiary … [Read more...]

Make room for suffering

There is a strain of Christianity that promises material blessing as a sign of God's favor: cars, homes, bank accounts, etc. Given the economic downturn over the last few years, this strain should strain all credibility. Did God decide to withhold 30 to 40 percent of his favor across whole neighborhoods as their housing values plummeted? … [Read more...]

3 approaches to dealing with grief

What do you do when you lose someone, when tragedy and misfortune befall your family? Pat answers will not serve a suffering heart, but there are helpful patterns for response after one’s private world collapses.When Nectarius, the future bishop of Constantinople, and his wife lost their son, their friend St. Basil wrote to consol them. He penned individual letters to father and mother both, tuned to their particular pain. These tender notes remain touching and edifying almost sixteen and a h … [Read more...]