Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. The holidays have been eventful, so I decided to put the blog posts on hold for a while. Now that I’m back, I’ve decided to post some news and some things I’ve been thinking about during the last few weeks.
First item: I’ve been received into the Holy Orthodox Church through the holy mystery (or sacrament) of Chrismation. I had the good fortune of being received into the Church on January 6, the Feast of the Holy Theophany of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. During this great Feast, we celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ by His Forerunner, John the Baptist. At Christ’s baptism, God revealed Himself as Triune – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all present. It was a joy and privilege for me to become an Orthodox Christian during this wonderful Feast and I am especially glad and humbled to finally and fearfully be in communion with the Ancient and Apostolic Church. The Orthodox Church has always been a Eucharistic society, because it is in the Eucharist that we are able to physically participate in the life of the Trinity by taking the precious Body and Blood of Christ. This is the greatest of the holy mysteries and I am still humbled and in awe of the fact that God led me to the ancient, Holy Orthodox Catholic Church to partake of the fullness of the Faith and His Divine Gifts in the Eucharist. And to finally be in communion with the likes of St. Basil the Great, St. Irenaeus, and the rest of the Fathers of the Church… I can’t quite express how I feel. It all hasn’t quite sunk in, but I thank God for bringing me this far. I can’t wait to continue the journey!
I decided to take the name “Columcille” (or Columba, in the Latin form), after a pre-schism, Celtic saint. I wanted to take a Western name and because most of my ancestry is Celtic, an Irish name seemed appropriate. St. Columcille was one of the great Apostles of Ireland and he spent a good deal of his ministry in Scotland, preaching the Gospel to the people there and eventually set up several monasteries, including the monastery at Iona. Iona is still a working monastery and I hope to make a pilgrimage out there one day to honor my patron saint and experience this “thin place” where God’s grace is powerfully and noticeably present. My bishop, His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah, was at my parish that weekend and he got a kick out of the fact that I chose an Irish name, noting that the Orthodox faith has very deep roots in Ireland.
Now, I’d like to bring up a couple of other things. First, some suggested reading. I just finished a great book by one of my former professors at Perkins, William J. Abraham. Professor Abraham’s “The Bible: Beyond the Impasse” should be required reading for anyone interested in the current state of theology in the West, and especially for those in ministry. The book isn’t too long (only 115 pages) and provides an outstanding overview of the history of the place of the Bible in modern theology. He lays out the current difficulties in academia and in churches across the West (America in particular) and provides an interesting, fresh look at the traditional doctrine of sola scriptura. Abraham not only does a fine job of illustrating where we are as Christians in the West, but also provides a fascinating way forward into the 21st century. The book is actually constituted by the contents of Dr. Abraham’s Heck Lectures at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio in April of 2007. I cannot say enough about this book – it is an outstanding work on the theology of the Bible and I highly recommend it.
Speaking of books, I’ve decided to write one of my own. I’ve begun research for a book aimed at a more popular audience about heaven and hell. Ever since Rob Bell came out with “Love Wins”, Evangelical Christians have been in a very intense debate about heaven and hell. This is an extremely important discussion not only because it deals with the eternal fate of every human being who has ever drawn breath in this world, it also informs our understanding of who God is and what He is like. There have been a few notable replies to Bell from the more traditional Evangelical side and I recently finished “Erasing Hell” by Francis Chan, which is perhaps the most highly regarded reply to Bell amongst traditional Evangelicals. I was, frankly, horrified by what I read from Chan and decided to write a book in response. I think the Orthodox Church has a unique and very important view on this topic and I’m convinced that the Orthodox voice will be very helpful in clearing up this debate. I pray that God will help me and guide me as I continue this project.
That’s about it for now. Sorry for the extended absence, but I’m back. Cheers!