Stephen Jay Gould famously offered a solution to the religion v. science conflict: Consign each to its separate corner; they belong to separate domains; they don’t conflict because they don’t overlap. Problem solved. Not so fast, says John Lennox (Seven Days That Divide the World). One problem is that Gould’s solution often carries the covert implication “that science deals with reality, and religion with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and God. The impression that science deals with truth and religion deals… Read more

In the opening essay to Reflexive Modernization, Ulrich Beck defines the phrase in the book’s title as “the possibility of a creative (self-)destruction for an entire epoch.” This creative destruction is not the product of a crisis but the result of the “victory of Western modernization” (2). Quoting Marx and Engel’s famous description of social worlds melting into air, Beck explains: “If simple (or orthodox) modernization means, at bottom, first the disembedding and second the re-embedding of traditional social forms… Read more

Like his book on the sacraments, Henry de Candole’s brief study of the Eucharist, The Church’s Offering, shows that liturgical renewal is inevitably also a renewal of ecclesiology. De Candole distinguishes between private prayers and the public worship of the church. The latter “is not simply the gathering of a number of people to say their private prayers together” (17). Rather, public worship is an action of the whole body, and in that situation the society takes precedence over the… Read more

In After God, Tristram Engelhardt notes that autonomy is not merely a source of authority in secular culture, but “a cardinal directing value or goal.” In today’s world, one is “obliged freely to choose in conformity with very particular understandings of freedom. The result is that morally condemning autonomously chosen, peaceable, secularly acceptable life-styles and death-styles is considered to be immoral because it involves a failure to accept others as free and equal sources of moral authority and personal moral… Read more

Just before Luke records Jesus’ visit to the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50), he records Jesus teaching about the responses of the Jewish leaders to His ministry and the ministry of John (7:30-35). They don’t catch the tune of the times, but the tax gatherers and sinners do. That sets up the irony of the scene at Simon’s home: Pharisees charge that Jesus eats with sinners. Does he? You bet: He eats with Simon! This link between Pharisees… Read more

The following essay was first published at Lent is a time of renunciation and fasting, spiritual striving, self-examination, contrition, and penitence. It seems a grim and black season of self-accusation. But that’s all superficial. Lent is better understood as a season of Christian comedy. It’s not the glum waiting before the comedy of resurrection begins. Lent is the darkened path that winds toward the rising sun. It takes a playwright to see the comic potential of Lenten disciplines. Shakespeare… Read more

Even after the disciples have seen Jesus calm the storm and walk on the sea, even after they have eaten miracle bread, they don’t understand. They don’t know what we know – that Jesus is Son of God. The problem isn’t a lack of evidence. They have plenty of evidence to draw the right conclusion. The disciples don’t understand because they have a heart problem that produces an eye and an ear problem. They have hard hearts; and because of… Read more

What is tragedy? Some might think that it’s an easy question to answer. Crack open the nearest copy of Aristotle’s Poetics, and there you have it. It’s not so easy. What Chaucer meant by tragedy is not what Aristotle met, and in the modern age Hegel proposed a different theory of tragedy with predictably Gnostic overtones. To make things complicated, A.C. Bradley’s classic study of Shakespearean tragedy reads Shakespeare Hegelianly. Let’s refine the question: What is a Shakespearean tragedy? To… Read more

Jesus bursts onto the scene in Mark as a strong man, conquering enemy after enemy. After His baptism, the Spirit drives Him into the wilderness, where He overcomes the devil and survives wild beasts. He enters the synagogue at Capernaum to teach on a Sabbath, and is met by a “man with an unclean spirit.” Jesus rebukes the spirit and commands him to come out, and the spirit obeys. “What kind of authority is this?” everyone wonders: “He commands unclean… Read more

The following excerpt is taken from the first volume of my Matthew commentary, recently published by Athanasius Press. Jesus summoned the Twelve to Him and gave them authority and power (Matthew 10). He sent them out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He told them to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. He said that they would have power to heal, raise the dead, cast out demons, cleanse lepers. They didn’t even have to take any staff with… Read more

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