N.T. Wright Extends Debate with John Piper by Releasing Apostle Paul Tome

Orthodox Ruminations

wrightN.T. Wright Extends Debate with John Piper by Releasing Apostle Paul Tome

By Jonathan Merritt

N.T. Wright is one of the top five theologians alive according to Christianity Todayand given his accomplishments, it’s a difficult claim to dispute. Wright is currently Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at University of St. Andrews, and before that, he served as Bishop of Durham for The Church of England and taught New Testament studies for 20 years at Cambridge, McGill, and Oxford Universities. He has written a stack of widely-acclaimed and bestselling books, both academic and popular, and has a cult following among young Christian thinkers in the United States and Europe.

But Wright has also become a controversial figure in recent years, igniting a heated debate among American theologians with his so-called “New Perspective on Paul.” Many prominent Christian leaders wrote rebuttals of Wright’s perspective–most notably…

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Atonement, Theosis, and St. Paul

Orthodox Ruminations

paulGreat post from “The Preachers Institute“:

Atonement, Theosis & St. Paul

by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon

Orthodox Theology has only recently found its way into English, and much of that English is dominated by Latin terms: Trinity, Sacraments, Deification, Advent, Mission, Nativity, Presentation, Redemption, Salvation, and so on. Most Orthodox Christians appear to have no problem with this. Non-Latin English theological terms appear less frequently, Lent being the obvious exception.

Writing in English, consequently, I hope to be forgiven by other Orthodox Christians for using a uniquely English expression, “Atonement,” to designate what Christ the Redeemer accomplished on the earth. I am relying on this word, which is signified in its central, accented, and load-bearing syllable, to convey four ideas. Indeed, I am hard pressed to think of another English word that conveys all four of these ideas equally well:

First, “At-one-ment” conveys the force of the idea…

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Why Hooking Up Is Letting You Down

ISI_meaning-of-sex_Intercollegiate-ReviewWhy Hooking Up Is Letting You Down
By J. Budziszewski

Midnight. Shelly is getting herself drunk so that she can bring herself to go home with the strange man seated next to her at the bar. One o’clock.Steven is busy downloading pornographic images of children from internet bulletin boards. Two o’clock. Marjorie, who used to spend every Friday night in bed with a different man, has been bingeing and purging since eleven. Three o’clock. Pablo stares through the darkness at his ceiling, wondering how to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion. Four o’clock.After partying all night, Jesse takes another man home, not mentioning that he tests positive for an incurable STD. Five o’clock. Lisa is in the bathroom, cutting herself delicately but compulsively with a razor. She isn’t trying to kill herself. She doesn’t understand why she does it. She does it often.

This isn’t what my generation expected when it invented the sexual revolution. The game isn’t fun anymore. Even some of the diehard proponents of that enslaving liberation have begun to show signs of fatigue and confusion. Naomi Wolf, in her book Promiscuities, reports that when she lost her own virginity at age fifteen, there was “something important missing.” Apparently, the thing missing was the very sense that anything could be important. In her book Last Night in Paradise, Katie Roiphe poignantly wonders what could be wrong with freedom: “It’s not the absence of rules exactly, the dizzying sense that we can do whatever we want, but the sudden realization that nothing we do matters.” Desperate to find a way to make it matter, some young male homosexuals court death, deliberately seeking out men with deadly infections as partners; this is called “bug chasing.” At the opposite extreme, some of those who languish in the shadow of the revolution toy with the idea of abstinence—but an abstinence that arises less from purity or principle than from boredom, fear, and disgust. In Hollywood, of all places, it has become fashionable to talk up Buddhism, a doctrine which finds the cure for suffering in the ending of desire, and the cure for desire in annihilation.

Speaking of exhaustion, let me tell you about my students. In the ’80s, if I suggested in class that there might be any problem with sexual liberation, they said that everything was fine—what was I talking about? Now if I raise questions, many of them speak differently. They still live like libertines, sometimes they still talk like libertines, but it’s getting old. They are beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists. My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution, but theirs is paying the price.

I am not speaking only of the medical price. To be sure, that price is ruinous: At the beginning of the revolution, most physicians had to worry about only two or three sexually transmitted diseases, and now it is more like two or three dozen. But I am not speaking only of broken bodies. Consider, for example, broken childhoods. What is it like for your family to break up because dad has found someone new, then to break up again because mom has? What is it like to be passed from stepparent to stepparent to stepparent? What is it like to grow up knowing that you would have had a sister, but she was aborted?

A young man remarked in one of my classes that he longed to get married and stay married to the same woman forever, but because his own parents hadn’t been able to manage it, he was afraid to get married at all. Women show signs of avoidance, too, but in a more conflicted way. According to a survey commissioned by the Independent Women’s Forum, 83 percent of college women say marriage is a very important goal for them. Yet 40 percent of them engage in “hooking up”—physical encounters (commonly oral sex) without any expectation of relationship whatsoever. Do you hear a little cognitive dissonance there? Can you think of a sexual behavior less likely to get you into marriage? The ideology of hooking up says that sex is merely release or recreation. You have some friends for friendship and you have other friends just for hooking up—they’re called “friends with benefits.” What your body does is unrelated to your heart. Don’t believe it. The same survey reports that hooking up commonly takes place when both participants are drinking or drunk, and it’s not hard to guess the reason why: After a certain amount of this, you may need to get drunk to go through with it.

The fact is that we aren’t designed for hooking up. Our hearts and bodies are designed to work together. Truly, don’t we already know that? A writer who interviewed teenagers who hook up supplies a telling anecdote. The girl Melissa tells him, “I have my friends for my emotional needs, so I don’t need that from the guy I’m having sex with.” Yet on the day of the interview, “Melissa was in a foul mood. Her ‘friend with benefits’ had just broken up with her. ‘How is that even possible?’ she said, sitting, shoulders slumped, in a booth at a diner. ‘The point of having a friend with benefits is that you won’t get broken up with, you won’t get hurt.’ ”


The Faithfulness of Christ is the Gospel: Ruminations on the Gospel and Soteriology

Orthodox Ruminations

faithful“If someone were to ask me how to become a Christian, I’m not sure what I would tell them, except to follow Christ.”

A friend of mine on Facebook made this remark to me yesterday in response to some discussion on what is known as “The Sinner’s Prayer” (a prayer you pray asking Jesus into your heart). I had remarked, along side some other believers, that that prayer is dangerous and for lack of better terms, crappy. The gentleman had inquired as to why we would say that and that is wherein he wrote the sentence above, which prompted some quick thoughts in response. I wanted to elaborate on what I had said to him in response to what he asked.

Before I share that, however, I must dive into what we call the Gospel. As many following along here or on the Facebook page may know, I have been…

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Engaging The Culture: 8 Simple Ways

engaging-cultureEngaging The Culture: 8 Simple Ways

By Father John Peck

Here are 8 practical everyday actions  you can take to effectively engage the culture around you. These steps guarantee that the needs of those outside the Church are a serious concern – that is the foundation of successful evangelism.

1. Start conversations. Just talk to the people you come in contact with while going through life. These could be neighbors, co-workers, or even total strangers you come across in the course of daily activities like shopping or sight-seeing.

2. Hang out with people who enjoy the same things you do. Find non-believers who enjoy doing the same things you do – or who can teach you something you would like to learn to do. Find ways to hang out with them and enjoy them while exposing them to “Christ in you.” Find your new friends outside, as well as inside, the Church.

3. Volunteer somewhere. Be of service to your new found community and show them you want to help and be a part of them.

4. Tell stories. Everyone likes to hear a good story. Tell people about your life, or stories that illustrate important truths, even Bible stories.

5. Get to know your community. Ask questions. People are pleased when you express an interest in them and the history and values of their culture. Besides giving you a reason to talk with them you will find that you learn a lot and will gain valuable insights into understanding and relating to them better.



N.T. Wright on the Gospel and Advice to Young Christians

wrightN.T. Wright says some extremely beautiful and prolific insights in this short video. I really wanted to share it because I think he challenges us on so many levels whether it be how to present the Gospel, presenting the Gospel in a 5 minute window if asked, where repentance comes into play, and what the Gospel of Paul has to do with the Gospel of Christ (hint: they are the same). However, at the end he has some sage advice, especially for those like me who love theology, that is deeply practical, but full of wisdom.

When asked what advice he has for young theologians he recalls an email to a young man wanting to pursue graduate studies in Pauline theology (which was fitting to me like a glove to a hand). He remarked that he gave the young man the same advice he gives every body who desires to be a theologian/teacher/professor.

  1. “You just have to soak yourself in the Scriptures much more than you ever imagined doing; preferably in the original languages.”
  2. “You have to soak yourself in prayer.”
  3. “You have to listen hard to the cries of pain that are coming from the people next door who are your neighbors or from people on the other side of the world.”
  4. And he didn’t say it exactly, but he said we have to basically immerse ourselves in community and in the Sacraments, which Christ gave us for life and for a way of life.

I love when he says, “Jesus Himself and the New Testament itself teaches that the way we get to know who we are and where we’re called to be is through Scripture, through prayer, through the Sacraments (Divine Mysteries)…, and also [through] the cry of the poor [where we meet Christ].”

He goes on to say, “God wants to do new things, but he people through whom He will do those new things are people who are Bible people, are people who are prayer people, are sacrament people, and are people who are listening to the poor people. And somehow Jesus will come afresh to them and please God through them in ways that at the moment we can’t imagine, predict, or control.”

N.T. Wright is a brilliant man whom I respect and admire. He is a holy man filled with the light and love of Jesus. I hope his wisdom here is as beneficial to you as it was to me.


Ruining The Gospel: Lessons On Preaching And Movie-Making

great-ships-the-titanicSome great advice about preaching and teaching! Orthodoxy has brought me to experiencing the Gospel and not just hearing it! Read and share :)

Ruining The Gospel: Lessons On Preaching And Movie-Making

a post by A.J. Swoboda, PhD

I ashamedly confess to ruining a number of films for my friends over the years. A few instances come to mind. On one occasion, I accidentally unveiled to my congregation the ending of M. Night Shamalyan’s The Sixth Sense just following its release. Folks were ticked. I’ll refrain from repeating my sin here. Someone did the same to me at another point: explaining to me what happens in the Titanic just a day before going to the theatre myself. I went and saw it, but it was ruined.

What’s actually taking place when someone “ruins” a movie? What is being “ruined”? What do we mean by that?

For a movie to be “ruined” is not always the same as the outcome being unveiled in advance. I suspect that when Titanic was ruined for me, something much deeper was being stolen from me than the outcome of the movie. I’m a diligent amateur historian. I’m diligent enough to know the outcome of the whole historical Titanic story: the thing sank. Thus, when I ventured into a theatre and paid fifteen bucks to view a movie with an outcome I was already privy to, what was it I looking for? I knew what would happen in the end.

Hollywood isn’t successful because the world is searching for a good story. Good stories abound in book form around us all the time. In my opinion, the best stories humans have come up with are always the cheapest—found in stacks in the used book section at Goodwill—Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the Bible. If people were after good stories, Goodwill would explode with success. Hollywood is successful because we, the audience, endlessly lust for an experience of a good story. We pay top dollar for it. When given the choice between paying $5 for a used, battered copy in book form and paying $100 for the director’s cut version, we’ll always opt for the latter version of Lord of the Rings. The most exceptional achievements in movie making are the one’s that provide the most compelling experience of a story. I didn’t go see Titanic because I was ignorant of the outcome.

It’s Ruined!

Here’s my theory: a movie is “ruined” when someone unveils a film’s outcome without allowing space for that person to experience the film’s outcome on their own terms. A ruined film is outcome minus experience. And once ruined, a film can’t be un-ruined.

We ruin the gospel all the time. We describe the good story by not helping people experience the good story. Preaching the gospel isn’t simply telling people about the gospel. Preaching the gospel must, in some radical sense, entail helping others experience the gospel newly today.

By appealing to this dynamic call of a preacher’s vocation, Alan Lewis, just before his untimely death, wrote that we aren’t invited to simply tell the good news but share it as news. Preachers, as co-explorer, don’t simply present the facts of Scripture but the experience of the Scriptures. And the gospel. His insightful and balanced point must be re-heard today:

“It is consequently the test of good storytellers, writers, and actors whether they are able to preserve, for the sake of the audience, the full drama, suspense, or mystery, and hence the original meaning, or their material, even though they themselves know what is coming and have passed far beyond the unrepeatable experience of first-time hearing.”