Why Ecumenism is Necessary

From First Thoughts

Recent global events have highlighted the ongoing challenge of ethnic and tribal divisions. Americans have also been reminded by events in Ferguson that divisions along race and ethnic lines are just down the street. These ongoing divisions forcefully highlight the need for greater efforts at ecumenism. Continue Reading »

Ars moriendi

From First Thoughts

Despite the lower mortality rates and longer life spans of the postmodern condition, the reality of death still looms large. Globalization and the new networks of social media keep death before the mind of a global public on a daily basis. The Gothic in literature and the arts pours forth at a . . . . Continue Reading »

On Memory and Reconciliation

From First Thoughts

The pope’s apology to Pentecostals during his visit to the church pastored by Giovanni Traettino speaks to the importance of memory. As Augustine recounts in his Confessions, the memory is a vast storehouse of many chambers filled with countless images. Continue Reading »

Time to Stand Against Rome?

From Web Exclusives

A recent joint statement by a number of Italian evangelical groups indicts the Roman Catholic Church as an “imperial” church and its call for evangelicals to “unionist initiatives that are contrary to Scripture and instead renew their commitment to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world.” Continue Reading »

We Need Freaks

From First Thoughts

When Flannery O’Connor called the south Christ-haunted, she was thinking not least of its freaks. The role of the freak takes on a theological tone in grotesque southern fiction because “it is when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some . . . . Continue Reading »

The Good Historian Resembles an Ogre

From Web Exclusives

On April 1st of this year, the great French medievalist Jacques Le Goff died at the age of ninety (1924-2014). There were obituaries in the newspapers of Britain and Europe, but not much in the American press. This is unfortunate. More than a mere historian, Le Goff was a strongly pro-European public intellectual whose historiography helped support the formation of the European Union. Continue Reading »

In Defense of Christian Perfectionism

From First Thoughts

Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion & Democracy has responded to my take on the rise of Protestant perfectionism in the past several decades with a plea for help from Reformed Christians. I appreciate the response in part because I think it illustrates the challenge for Wesleyans to clarify . . . . Continue Reading »

On the Feast Day of St. Bonaventure

From First Thoughts

Today marks the feast day of St. Bonaventure, the seraphic doctor. Unlike Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure represents the synthesis of medieval Augustinian mysticism. For this reason, he can be particularly challenging to interpret. Reading him is worth the labor. In Bonaventure one glimpses the . . . . Continue Reading »

Diogenes and the Delphic Oracle

From First Thoughts

The first century orator Dio Chrysostom narrates a conversation between the famous Cynic Diogenes and a pilgrim on his way to visit the oracle at Delphi. Delayed in his journey because of a runaway slave, the pilgrim runs into Diogenes who then engages him in a lengthy discussion that focuses on the . . . . Continue Reading »