Thoughts About Prayer and Christian Politics

Perhaps my greatest struggle as an Orthodoxy Christian, indeed as a Christian in general, is the role of the church in politics. I have been thinking about this a lot in the wake of the refugee crisis and the Daesh attacks on Paris. Part of me wishes my church had a more cohesive response to these poignant issues. Yet another part of me is glad it does not.

Continue reading “Thoughts About Prayer and Christian Politics”

Orthodoxy and Democracy: A Response to Fr. Stephen Freeman

I get the distinct impression that many Orthodox Christians think they are supposed to have an emperor. This is only a feeling. It is hard to quantify. I get it when Facebook friends seem to do everything they can to put a halo on Putin, I overhear it in conversations at coffee hour, and sometimes I see it in a blog’s subtext, like this post Fr. Stephen Freeman wrote back in December. Continue reading “Orthodoxy and Democracy: A Response to Fr. Stephen Freeman”

The Blessing and Burden of Holy Tradition

Having been caught up in other projects and deadlines, I picked up Pantelis Kalaitzidis’ Orthodoxy & Political Theology last night after several weeks’ absence. The following words reminded me of how our love for “Holy Tradition” can kill our witness.

A certain version of theology…[has] turned Tradition into traditionalism and taught us to associate the identity of the church mainly – or even exclusively – with the past, making us accustomed to an Orthodoxy that is permanently out of step with its time and history in general. In fact, Orthodox theology often suffers…from a kind of inertia with regard to participating in history and the socio-cultural context…Speaking about the church’s transforming presence and activity in society, culture, and politics is reduced to nothing more than wishful thinking. Continue reading “The Blessing and Burden of Holy Tradition”

“Au Contraire Mr. Fugelsang!” – Three Legitimate Reasons Christians Oppose Welfare (and Why they are Wrong)

If you don’t want tax dollars helping the sick and poor, then it’s time to stop saying you want a government based on Christian values.

539326_167519193396548_1691013125_nI shared this picture on Facebook the other day because I agree with the sentiment, but I disagree with its simplicity. John Fugelsang correctly identified hypocrisy in the Christian Right, but he applied his diagnosis too broadly.

There are three legitimate reasons why a conservative Christian might want the government to get out of the welfare business: Continue reading ““Au Contraire Mr. Fugelsang!” – Three Legitimate Reasons Christians Oppose Welfare (and Why they are Wrong)”

Why Killing in Self-Defense is Still a Sin

St. George & the Dragon, detail [Wikimedia Commons]
St. George & the Dragon, detail [Wikimedia Commons]
I recently wrote that a Christian should not carry a concealed weapon because it violated the spirit of martyrdom and self-sacrifice the church tries to teach us. One common objection to this point was that to choose not to kill in the defense of another human being would be unloving. I agree. It would be unloving to the potential victim, and it would be unloving to the potential victimizer. In the Orthodox Church, killing in defense of self and country is still a sin. Continue reading “Why Killing in Self-Defense is Still a Sin”

The Public Role of Church and Theology

This morning I came across six theses by Pantelis Kalaitzidis on the role the church should play in public life. They are in his book, Orthodoxy and Political Theology, which was recommended by my friend Brandon Gallaher. When the book arrived, I flipped it over and read the following question on the back cover, “Why has Eastern Orthodoxy not developed a full-throated political theological voice?” This is the same question that drove my dissertation and drives my book. (Once again, Brandon hits the nail on the head!) Continue reading “The Public Role of Church and Theology”

Polycarp, Ignatius, and the NRA

The martyrs have been on my mind lately. The other morning I turned to the letter St. Ignatius wrote to the church in Rome, before he was executed. I read the following words,

I am corresponding with all the churches and bidding them all to realize that I am voluntarily dying for God – if, that is, you do not interfere. I plead with you, do not do me an unseasonable kindness. Let me be fodder for wild beasts–that is how I can get to God. I am God’s wheat and I am being ground by the teeth of wild beasts to make a pure loaf for Christ. I would rather that you fawn on the beasts so that they may be my tomb and no scrap of my body be left. Thus, when I have fallen asleep, I shall be a burden to no one. Then I shall be a real disciple of Jesus Christ when the world sees my body no more. Pray Christ for me that by these means I may become God’s sacrifice.

The early Christians understood martyrdom to be a privilege. Continue reading “Polycarp, Ignatius, and the NRA”