Why We Misunderstand the Beatific Vision

I’ve been reading Hans Boersma’s helpful and interesting book Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition (Eerdmans 2018). For a while I’ve been wanting to learn more about this intriguing and often neglected doctrine, so now I’m finally getting around to it. The beatific vision is widespread throughout the early and medieval church, East and West, and into Protestantism (especially the Reformed tradition). Yet many evangelical today have never heard of it, or misunderstand it. As Kyle Strobel puts it, “few doctrines are as ‘standard’ in the history of theology, and ignored in contemporary theology, as the beatific vision.”…

Is the Bible Pro-Slavery?

“The Bible is pro-slavery.” This is a common charge these days. It is a part of the New Atheist attack on religion, and it also comes from various progressive circles to defend certain social views (in line with the so-called redemptive-movement hermeneutic). It is not an incomprehensible claim. In fact, it has some apparent, face value support—and not just in Old Testament law regulations, but in New Testament epistles written by the very apostles of Jesus Christ: Ephesians 6:5: “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters” (all translations ESV). Colossians 3:22: “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters.” I Peter 2:18: “Servants,…

What Can We Learn About Democracy From John Adams?

Somebody once advised me that one of the best ways to learn history is to read biographies, and I’ve found that to prove generally helpful advice. The particular is the path to the universal: you set out to learn about a person, and you end up being sucked up into the larger world in which they lived. For instance, you read a biography of Augustine, and you can’t help but learn about the intellectual life of Carthage, the impact of the fall of the Roman Empire on Christianity, and so forth; or you read Marsden’s history of the first two…

Thoughts on the Enlightenment

My most recent doctoral seminar has been a study of the Enlightenment and its impact on the church. Its been fascinating. The Enlightenment is that period of history, especially in Western Europe and her related colonies, from about 1620-1800, in which fundamentally new ways of thought and life came about, resulting in the shift from what is commonly called “premodernism” to what is commonly called “modernism.” It was a multifaceted change, at once intellectual, cultural, technological, etc.—and one of the abiding lessons I take away from the seminar is how complex and multiform the Enlightenment was. Nevertheless, I think one…

Grateful for learning about CCCC

I’m currently in the process of seeking to have my ordination recognized by the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC). As of a letter in the mail today, my application has been approved and I’ve now entered into the required one year waiting period before obtaining full ordained ministerial standing in the denomination. To learn more about CCCC, I’ve been reading Modern Day Pilgrims: The First Fifty Years of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (Saint Paul, MN: CCCC, 2000). Its been a fascinating read, and I’ve really resonated with much of what I’m learning about CCCC. Here are several things that…

Looking Back At Favorite Blog Posts and Series

I’ve been blogging for just over 6 years now. Its been a far more enriching experience than I had expected. My primary purpose in blogging has always been my own learning: I find that I learn best in a dialogical, two-stage process of both (1) reading and (2) writing. Stage 1 typically involves carefully reading a book with my pen in hand, making notes on the pages and inside the back cover as I struggle with how to place and understand the book. (Sometimes, of course, it could also be an article, movie, etc.) The key in this stage is…

Is Christ in All of Church History?

Before moving to Washington D.C., I thought of it vaguely as a city in the “Northeast.” Having spent most of my life in the South and Mid-West, it was in my mind loosely associated with Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, as one of those Northern cities in which people were generally less friendly but culture seemed a bit more progressive. Then, after I moved to Washington D.C., I realized that I had lumped together a number of things that are really quite distinct. Washington D.C. is actually a part of the Mid-Atlantic region, which is quite distinct from the…