Author Archives: Peter Leithart

Hymn of the Justified

Romans 8:31-39 is better sung than commented upon. It’s a thrilling, ecstatic hymn of boisterous assurance that God’s purposes will be accomplished. Yet, I will attempt to comment on them. If we sing Paul’s hymn, let’s make sure we sing with understanding. Given the character of these verses, it’s easy and understandable that they, like […]

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The Tragedy of Asa

King Asa of Judah made a strong start, purging the land of idols, altars, and images, and winning a war against the ginormous Cushite army led by Zerach. It all unraveled in his final years. From his thirty-fifth year to the forty-first year, when his reign came to an end,  Asa was plagued by war and eventually suffering from […]

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Justified by the King

What appears to be Paul’s first recorded statement on justification comes in Acts 13, in a sermon at Pisidian Antioch. It’s can serve as a summary of Paul’s letter to the Romans, and throws some important light on the themes of that letter. Paul begins his sermon  with a quick survey of Israel’s history. Addressed […]

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Adam McIntosh Completes the Certificate Program

When Adam McIntosh was ordained as Pastor of Saint David’s Church (CREC) in Houston on June 11, 2017, it was the culmination of decades of preparation. Adam is the product of two continents and three Christian traditions. Born in Paducah, Kentucky, he lived his early years partly in Jericho, where his father had planted a […]

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Attaining Unity: A Reply to Mike Allen

Mike Allen of Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, scores some points in his review of The End of Protestantism. He lodges the fair complaint that my rhetoric sometimes outruns my evidence. He argues that more stress on the present reality of the church’s unity deepens the tragedy of division; divisions in the church “straightforwardly oppose reality.” […]

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Comic Trinity

I begin with two observations. First, on any millennial view, the Christian account of history is progressive, moving from the garden to the city. It is eschatological not only in that there is an end, but that the end is a glorified beginning, not merely a return to origins. To say the same in other […]

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Political Church

The church is a new form of polity that erupts into the world as much as the Son of God comes into the world. It’s a real-world political alternative to the polities of the ancient world. It resolves many of the political dilemmas of the ancient world, though not simply by splitting the difference. The […]

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Obedience of Rulers

One of the most extensive and penetrating responses to the Yoder-Hauerwas attack on Constantiniansm is found in Oliver O’Donovan’s Desire of Nations, in a chapter entitled “The Obedience of Rulers.” O’Donovan defines the word “Christendom” as “a historical idea,” specifically “the idea of a professedly Christian secular political order, and the history of that idea in […]

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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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