Author Archives: Peter Leithart

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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. […]

READ MORE

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. […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

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, […]

READ MORE

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 […]

READ MORE

Christmas Light

“In the Word was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness.” Thus John describes the incarnation of the Son. He comes as the living and life-giving light of the world. That’s good news. In the beginning, God spoke and light shone into the darkness, and unending […]

READ MORE

The Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is all about Jesus. The angels announce Jesus’ birth, shepherds and wise men come to see Jesus, Herod wants to kill Jesus. We occasionally think of the Father who sent the Son, but we keep returning to the Son made flesh in Bethlehem’s manger. Meanwhile, as always, the Spirit takes a back seat. Yet, […]

READ MORE

The Humility of God

Christmas is about many things, but one of the chief things revealed in the gospel of Christmas is the humility of God. We don’t often think of humility as an attribute of God. If God is glorious and exalted, we think, He must be haughty and proud and self-centered. We think this way because we […]

READ MORE

Advent of Unity

John famously begins his Gospel with a piece of theology: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Matthew starts with a genealogy. John celebrates Advent with a hymn, Matthew with a list. For John, Jesus is the Word of creation in human flesh. For Matthew, […]

READ MORE

Joyful Humility

Christmas is a joyful season, but for many it turns into something else. Instead of joy, it is full of disappointment and unhappiness. Instead of an occasion for family fellowship, it becomes an opportunity for opening old wounds, reigniting old arguments, giving new life to rancor that should have died long ago. Instead of being […]

READ MORE

Adam Ascended

David has become king. He has conquered the capital city of Jerusalem. He has brought the ark of Yahweh into the city and placed it in a tent. He has stationed Levites at the tent to offer sacrifices of praise. An anomaly hits him: He has a cedar-paneled palace, and the Lord is still enthroned […]

READ MORE

Reformational Catholicism, A Wish List

In a 2014 piece published in First Things, I offered a “wish list” for Protestant churches, a checklist for a future catholic Protestantism. The wish list doesn’t cover everything. It doesn’t mention those things that Protestants, especially Evangelicals, already do, often exceedingly well, things like missions and evangelism and mercy ministries. It gives some concreteness […]

READ MORE

Renewing Circumcision

When the Aaronic priests were ordained, the blood of the ram of “filling” was placed on the lobe of the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe (Lev. 8:22-24). Similarly, the cleansing rite for a leper included smearing the right ear lobe, thumb, and big toe with blood from the `asham (“guilt” […]

READ MORE