Few topics are more likely to cause a stir among Christians than universal salvation, or apokatastasis—the view that no person will ultimately experience eternal estrangement from God. Although the universalist view is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the authoritative teaching of most Christian churches, it is not consistently considered heresy on the level of, say, denying the Trinity or the hypostatic union in Christ. But the concept of hell as “eternal conscious torment” has undoubtedly been a part of the Christian theological fabric for centuries, and from the perspective of the broader Church catholic, the burden of proof is probably on any challenger wishing to disrupt that consensus.
Not many passages in the New Testament speak directly to political order. The first part of the thirteenth chapter of Romans is perhaps the most famous. I would like to focus in this essay on vv. 3-4, which may appear prima facie to be something of an interpretive crux. Are these verses descriptive or prescriptive? That is, are they simply declarative, or are they imperatival, telling us what magistrates ought to do?
Christian morality is not ultimately instruction in how to make oneself a member of the Christian club. It is not a self-help program whose rules are adopted by a small set of people who wish to better themselves. Christian morals, rather, are simply moral teachings that agree with the natural design of the universe.
No effort toward a “Protestant Christendom” will get airborne without the guiding lights of Hookerian nationalism and Althusian federalism.
When Thomas Paine published Common Sense in 1776, his was not the only commonly held sense of the term “common sense.” Ironically, the term was already complicated at the American founding.
The interpreter that undertakes to compare the works of Plato with the gospel must begin somewhere. Here I attempt to set out Plato’s view on gifts and divine dispensation, and would ask that you consider the two following texts:
In the third book of his Institutes, John Calvin argues that the church’s worship should begin with a corporate prayer of confession:
“Besides the fact that ordinary confession has been commended by the Lord’s mouth, no one of sound mind, who weighs its usefulness, can dare disapprove it….
In the last few years, few issues have been more controversial among Reformed evangelicals than the debate over the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. To the extent that God’s intra-triune life has been thought to be the foundation and model of inter-human relationships, many have perceived their various social programs (particularly in relation to the sexes) to be at stake, at times driving the debate’s resolution in a particular direction. One meta-issue continually at the forefront in the debate over eternal subordination concerns the traditional doctrine of God’s simplicity.
Liberalism has failed. Or so confidently declares Patrick Deneen in his obviously named Why Liberalism Failed. Deneen offers one of the more useful and concise attacks on the often vaporously defined liberalism that has, according to Deneen, plagued modern societies for the last several hundred years. Deneen’s proof of liberalism’s failure is not that it failed to change society, but that liberal societies became exactly what they were supposed to be. The liberal state increasingly worked towards removing cultural and social institutions responsible for governing society’s consumer and sexual appetites. Few orthodox Christians dispute that these are woeful problems. And Deneen deserves praise for identifying the ills that plague modern society. The book’s weaknesses are anachronism, and imprecise and lethargic taxonomy.
Most of us are very familiar with the Reformers’ polemics against the episcopate of their day, but it’s just as important to be familiar with long-standing pre-Reformation critiques of it. For it is there that we can find a major illustration of why it is wrong to claim that the Protestants were the heretics, rebels, and innovators who ripped to shreds the seamless robe of Christ and departed from “the ancient and constant faith of the universal church.”