Author Archives: Peter Leithart

Church on the Cross

Life, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy says, is suffering, battle, pain, shock, failure, elation. Human beings are always torn, always riven. Much of human life, individually and col­lectively, is an effort to deal with suffering and death. By being the first Man, Jesus establishes the possibility of a different stance toward suffering and death. Life after the cross, […]

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Philanthropic God

Again and again the liturgy of St Chrysostom calls God a lover of mankind. He is Philanthropolos Theos (man-loving God), Kurios Philanthropolos (man-loving Lord), Philopsychos (lover of the soul). Philanthropy wasn’t a Christian invention. Roman benefactors gave benefits to subordinates. What was new was the shape of philanthropy, for the philanthropic Christ doesn’t bestow benefits […]

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Church in the Metropolis

It seems that denominationalism has had its day. A 2009 Barna survey found that denominational commitments have gone squishy in mainline Protestant churches, and Evangelicals don’t fare much better than the rest. After a similar survey, Ron Sellers of Ellison Research said that Protestants are as “loyal to their denominations as they are to their […]

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Myth of Religious Violence

Revisiting William Cavanaugh’s devastating 2009 The Myth of Religious Violence. The myth of Cavanaugh’s title is a well-known one. According to the myth, religion is a distinct sphere of human life and practice from the rest of human social life, a universal impulse in human beings, and is dogmatic, private, and interior. Since the early […]

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Thomas and Us

An octave is a repetition, a repetition with a difference. It’s not the first note played again, but the first note played at a higher pitch. Octaves have always marked new beginnings. Hebrew boys were circumcised on the eighth day. Firstborn sheep were dedicated to Yahweh on the eighth day. Aaron entered the priesthood on […]

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Resurrection: The Best and Worst News

We say Jesus’ resurrection is good news. It wasn’t good news for the disciples on the first Easter. More like perplexing, bewildering news. For others, it wasn’t perplexing, and it certainly wasn’t good. It was plain old bad news. Early in Luke’s gospel, Herod is terrified that Jesus might be John the Baptist raised from […]

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How the Reformation Failed

The Reformers did not start out with a plan to found separated churches. Their goal was to reform the entire Latin church. In this they failed. The paradox is sharp, and we need to feel its point and its edge if we Protestants are to reckon honestly with our history during this year of celebration. The […]

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Borderland

Rousing Soviet songs surround us as we pass through a gloomy gauntlet of titanic statues on our way to Kyiv’s Museum of the Great Patriotic War. My friends, a Polish and a Ukrainian pastor, remember the songs, which played incessantly on the radio during their childhood. The sculpture complex depicts lunging soldiers and hardy peasants […]

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More Anti-Catholic Than Thou

The “second Reformation” introduced Reformed liturgy and teaching into Lutheran Germany. This was seen by some as a continuation of the Reformation and a purgation of Catholic remnants. The effort to carry on “further reformation” led to disputes with Lutherans. As Bodo Nischan has put it, the hottest debate in German Protestantism in the late […]

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God In the Dock

Idolatry has deprived Israel of her senses. This was one of the early messages to Isaiah (Isaiah 6). Yahweh sent him out to a people who had been deprived of their senses because of their commitment to idols. They become like the idols they serve. They still have eyes, but they can’t see. They still […]

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Triune Personhood

In the current climate of Trinitarian discussion concerning personhood, it’s good to reach back to David Bentley Hart’s treatment of the subject in his wonderful Beauty of the Infinite. Hart addresses the dangers of misreading Rahner’s rule, namely, the danger of dissolving the ontological Trinity into the economic. In this section, he discusses the opposite […]

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Chris Kou Completes the Certificate Program

Chris Kou is the oldest son of Chinese immigrants. Chris and his brothers run a branding and marketing business, Imagineering, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. In his spare time, he takes online courses from Reformed Theological Seminary, and aspires to be a pastor. Chris is also one of our first and most loyal Theopolis […]

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House of Living Stones

The following was delivered as the Solemn Charge and Exhortation to Theopolis students beginning the Easter term course on Architecture and Liturgical Space. As we will be reminded repeatedly throughout the week, the Bible has a lot to say about building and buildings. Long stretches of Exodus, Kings, Chronicles, and Ezekiel are verbal blueprints, and […]

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Footstool of His Feet

The translation and theology of the Hebrew term kapporet have long been puzzling to scholars. On the translation of the term, I have nothing new to offer. I wish instead to concentrate on the theological symbolism of the kapporet. The kapporet was the solid gold slab that laid “above” or “upon” the ark of the […]

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School of Suffering

As evangelicals, we’re convinced that Christ’s work is finished, complete, and utterly sufficient. For many evangelicals, this is the gospel: Nothing can take away from Christ’s work, and surely nothing can be added to it by my works or my penance, by self-denial or sacraments or sacrifice. Nothing is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. […]

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Anthropomorphism and Christian Humanism

Medieval bestiaries are packed with quaintly inaccurate information about animals, birds, and other created things. Foxes and snakes are devilish critters; stags, pelicans and elephants are Christlike in their various ways. Of course, the medievals picked this up from the Bible, where bestiary observations are fairly common. “Go to the ant, you sluggard” is the most famous. […]

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Kingdom First

Whatever else the 2016 Presidential cycle has accomplished, it has brought the chasm between nationalism and globalism into sharp relief. Many see this divide as the issue of the campaign (Robert Merry) or of the century (Pat Buchanan). It seems to be a choice we have to make. Christians must refuse the choice. We are […]

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God, Gift, Sacrament

Salvation is a gift. The righteousness of justification (Romans 5:17) and eternal life (Romans 6:23) are gifts freely offered. According to Risto Saarinen (God and the Gift), “God is directly called the giver 104 times [in Scripture], of which 42 are in John’s Gospel and John’s Letters. In addition to these, the so-called divine passive […]

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Epiphany and Mission

God’s people are a missionary people, and this is not true only of the New Testament church. God called Abraham to bless the Gentiles through him, and one of Israel’s recurring sins was her failure to carry out this mission. Israel was supposed evoke praise from the Gentiles, but instead her idolatries and sins caused […]

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Readiness Is All

Are you ready for the New Year? Are you ready to follow Jesus wherever He takes you this year? Are you read to follow Him into the garden? Are you ready to stay at His side to be arrested, interrogated, tortured, crucified, buried? Are you ready to follow Jesus wherever He leads? Are you ready […]

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Exodus to Eden

From Genesis 3, West-to-East movement is always movement away from God’s presence and His house (cf. Genesis 3:24). Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden to the east, and when Cain was later cast out he was sent to the land east of Eden. The men of Babel, the nations that descended from […]

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Immanuel’s Table

In his account of Jesus’ birth, Matthew cites a prophecy assuring Judah of her victory over Israel and Aram. Immanuel is also a sign of the Lord’s judgment. When God comes near, He comes to bless and to curse, to save and to condemn, for deliverance and for judgment. The Lord’s table is the table […]

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Holy Innocents

For many in the modern era, Christianity has been seen as an apolitical religion. Christianity is a private, spiritual religion. It’s a convenient myth for modern people. After the Reformation, Europe entered a period of protracted and often vicious conflict that left large portions of Western Europe devastated. Many concluded – inaccurately – that “religion” was […]

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Christmas Light, Christmas Love

The Christmas gospel announces the coming of day. Those in darkness see a great light, as the Sun rises with healing in His wings. The light has come into the world that lightens every man, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. The Light of God Himself, […]

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Word Made Food

How do we know God loved the world? John tells us that He demonstrates His love in sending His Son. To paraphrase Paul, God has demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ was born for us. He sent His Son to take on human flesh, to live and die […]

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