A Few Thoughts on Faith and Dogma

Makoto Fujimara’s illumination of John 4.

I’ve just finished reading through Teresa Morgan’s magisterial Roman Faith and Christian Faith. It is fundamentally worth reading for anyone doing anything related to Christianity. Having just put the book down, I wanted to write a short reflection on what its conclusions might mean for the practice of systematic theology—specifically, how its account frames the relationship between faith and the dogmas that theology seeks to elucidate. Continue reading “A Few Thoughts on Faith and Dogma”


Some Limits to Inclusion in Mainline Churches

BF2440C1-2C37-457B-889D-DAD30BC2CE75Picture: On the Road to Emmaus, Helge Bøe

‘Inclusive’ is a common descriptor among mainline and progressive churches. In my experience, it means that a given church welcomes those who have been marginalized, and either is or seeks to be a place of genuine diversity. It’s certainly an improvement on any state of affairs where being straight and white are prerequisites for sitting in the pews. Along with the positives, however, it is also a term which can entrench genuine harm. This post is an attempt to clarify what these might be.1 Continue reading “Some Limits to Inclusion in Mainline Churches”

Against Treating the Prayer Book as Theology

4F80E739-7A47-4C7C-BFC0-2AFC64D9C313One of the latent questions in  discussions around prayer book revision centers on the Book of Common Prayer’s theology, or theologies. The claim might be that Episcopalians haven’t lived into the theology of the current prayer book sufficiently, or that this theology has harmful consequences. Revision can be an opportunity to alter, augment, or newly introduce certain aspects of prayer book theology; preservation can retain a concrete and clear theology that has stood the test of time. In the midst of this, I want to argue that the prayer book shouldn’t have a theology at all.

Continue reading “Against Treating the Prayer Book as Theology”

Chris Pratt, Colin Kaepernick, and the Christic Image of the American Soldier


I really like Chris Pratt. I liked his ‘9 rules,’ which used a platform given by MTV (of all places) to deliver a few simple Christian messages—a person is of more than material value, embarrassment is nothing to be afraid of, kindness matters, and we are beloved of God.

Right at the end, though, there was a moment that my ears prick up: “grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood. Do not forget that. Don’t take that for granted.” The idea that American freedom was paid for in military blood is, of course, ubiquitous—throughout the controversy over Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests, no-one in mainstream discourse has questioned the idea that the freedom to protest is enjoyed because of military sacrifice. But before Pratt’s speech, I’d never realized this was an atonement theology.

Continue reading “Chris Pratt, Colin Kaepernick, and the Christic Image of the American Soldier”

Some Quick Thoughts about Responding to Trumpian Exegesis

6DF67959-05AA-4218-B0F3-FD4E5734418EJeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders’ invocations of Scripture to justify separating children from parents has rightly provoked uproar in a number of Christian circles. This is a good thing. As far as I can tell, it’s awful exegesis (for a number of reasons), and it’s important for non-Christians to see a public demonstration that many Christians disagree about how to read the Bible. Continue reading “Some Quick Thoughts about Responding to Trumpian Exegesis”

How My Conversion Shapes the Way I Study Theology


It’s the end of an academic year. Quite apart from the fact that I didn’t get into various PhD programs, this has invited reflection about why and how I’m trying to do what I’m trying to do—namely, study theology for the foreseeable future. Writing often helps me with this kind of reflection. And it’s my experience that reading another’s reflection can sometimes help one process one’s own thoughts. So, at the risk of self-indulgence, here’s a blog post reflecting on why and how I am so wrapped up in all this. Continue reading “How My Conversion Shapes the Way I Study Theology”

Forms Passing Away: Berkeley Senior Sermon

B31A18BE-F1A5-4A3F-8060-6F5BA2CA68CFHere’s my Berkeley senior sermon. It’s a bit different to the kind of thing I usually preach. It’s one of the few things I’ve put together which was very much designed to be spoken, rather than read. I also made the conscious decision to dive into a conceptual reading of Corinthians 7:26-29, and so preach from an explicitly philosophical/theological perspective. With that said, I hope it’s worth the read, and I hope that the pastoral import of the philosophical/theological manifests itself.

A dear friend described it—paraphrasing slightly—as articulating a ‘practice of how we might regularly evaluate what we presume to be normative, and why those presumptions might be what get in the way of our ability to experience mystery, chance, surprise, hope, grace.’ I think that’s exactly what I was trying to do.

For the present form of this world is passing away.

In our second reading today, Paul tells the Christians in Corinth that “the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none.” In other words, given everything’s going to get apocalyptic soon, be as if you weren’t what you are. In itself, this seems simple enough. It is complicated, however, by the verses right before, not included in our reading today. There, Paul writes that, “in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” In verse 26, then, ‘are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free.’ In verse 19, ‘let even those who have wives be as though they had none.’ Be married, and be as if you were not. Be—and be as if you weren’t.

Continue reading “Forms Passing Away: Berkeley Senior Sermon”