Author

By In Culture

If Men Were Angels

The Constitution as an Expression of Individual Freedom

In his lionhearted defense of the Constitution, James Madison declared, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary…” (The Federalist No. 51) Madison argued that human nature and its tendencies toward the abuse of power demanded a tripartite constitution to restrain human governments. Yet the triumph of the American Constitution is greater than merely actualizing this Montesquieuan balance of power. Rather, the U.S. Constitution represents a revolution toward self-government. By its recognition of delegated powers, our Constitution not only protects individual freedoms, but expresses all political authority as derived from the cooperation of self-governing institutions. Today, in our time of political polarization, Americans must recover their founders’ constitutional hierarchy of authority. An inversion of the medieval hierarchy with the individual at its crest as the sole-grantor of powers for its servant: the constitutionally-restrained Federal government. Today, as communities fear overreach by the President, the Congress, and even the Judiciary – a return to the Constitution’s emphasis on self-government is the only remedy. (more…)

Read more

By In Podcast

Episode 14: Biblical Counseling with Paul Tautges

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and Dr. Paul Tautges discuss the role of Biblical Counseling in the Church.

“Counseling is the normal work of Christian Discipleship,” says Dr. Tautges, who also serves as senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

Where preaching is often considered the public ministry of the word, Tautges suggests counseling may be the “personal ministry of the word.” The two discuss the Biblical basis for Christian counseling and its relationship to psychology and the Church. Pastor Uri Brito is also a certified counselor through the Association of Biblical Counselors.

Read more

By In Podcast

Episode 13: The Nashville Statement

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastors Uri Brito and Peter Jones discuss the impact of the Nashville Statement.

On August 29, 2017, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) announced the release of The Nashville Statement, an evangelical coalition statement on biblical sexuality. The statement, comprised of 14 affirmations and denials, addresses issues related to the Christian view of human sexuality.

“When it came out, the reaction was quick and sharp by the progressives,” said Peter Jones, who published a reaction on Kuyperian entitled Mere Sexuality. Jones writes,”the reaction of progressive Christians and secular folks indicates that the document was necessary.”

In a guest post for Kuyperian, Alistair Roberts said that, “In signing the statement, I am not committing myself to walk in lockstep with a particular party, but am joining with fellow flawed Christians in bearing witness to what I believe to be essential Christian truth.”

The entire text of The Nashville Statement can be read here, with a list of endorsements for the statement found here.

“If you reject the substance of the document that is a serious issue” said Peter Jones, “In my mind, you are rejecting Christian orthodoxy and Christian morality…”

Read more

By In Podcast

Episode 12: Clergy Self-Care

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and the Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron discuss the idea of clergy self-care and pastoral life satisfaction.

“We ought to love the church,” says Uri Brito. “But never at the expense of our families.”

Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl. He is married to Melinda and is the father of four children. He is the editor of The Church-Friendly Family, author of The Trinitarian Father, and a certified counselor through the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC). Uri is also the founder and a contributor to Kuyperian Commentary and a board member of the Theopolis Institute. Rev. Brito received his M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently a doctoral student at RTS.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron shares on what constitutes a healthy and satisfying life and how to approach each of them. You can watch his entire video series on pastoral life satisfaction here.

Tony Baron is a psychologist, theologian, professor and author— he has successfully planted two churches, developed a Christian Healing Center, and started two consulting firms based on the concept of servant leadership. Dr. Tony Baron serves as the Director of Azusa Pacific Seminary in San Diego and Associate Professor of Christian Leadership and Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University. Baron is also founding president of Servant Leadership Institute, a resource think tank on leadership development and transformation, and has shared his expertise with churches and denominations worldwide. Ordained as an Anglican priest and serving as Canon for Clergy and Congregational Care for the Anglican Church in North America under Bishop Todd Hunter, Baron has a great love for current and future pastors who seek to live, learn, and love the Christ-life within the Church.

Read more

By In Interviews, Podcast

The Life of J.R.R. Tolkien

In this interview, Pastor Uri Brito discusses the life and legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien with Pastor Mark Horne.

Pastor Horne is the author of J.R.R. Tolkien of Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church.

“When Tolkien becomes famous he’s almost too old,” says Horne, who has written about Tolkien’s little known early life and career.

Born in South Africa and growing up in Great Britain, J.R.R. Tolkien, or Ronald as he was known, led a young life filled with uncertainty and instability. His was not a storybook childhood- his father died when Ronald was three years old, and his mother died just before he reached adolescence. Left under the guardianship of his mother’s friend and priest, Ronald forged his closest relationships with friends who shared his love for literature and languages.

As Tolkien grew older, married, served as a soldier, and became a well-respected Oxford professor publishing weighty works on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf, the Christian faith that his mother had instilled in him continued as an intrinsic element of his creative imagination and his everyday life.

It was through The Hobbit and the three-volume The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien became a literary giant throughout the world. In his fiction, which earned him the informal title of “the father of modern fantasy literature,” Tolkien presents readers with a vision of freedom- nothing preachy- that a strong, unequivocal faith can transmit.

Read more

By In Theology

The Unlikely Ascension of Jesus

Ascension Of Jesus Ascension Day

The Ascension of Jesus can be a confusing scene. It is to be counted among the high holy days of the church calendar. Events on the church calendar are limited to items of theological significance, which is why the nativity (Christmas), passion (Good Friday), and resurrection (Easter) of Christ are memorialized with such pomp. Yet the Ascension is easily the least understood of the great feast days. This is to the detriment of the modern church which desperately needs to recover the meaning of the Christ ascended on high.

A Textual Confusion

Part of the problem is that the Biblical authors have offered limited descriptions of what actually happened at the Ascension. Our Scriptural references to the event are limited to a few quotations. One such description comes from St. Matthew’s Gospel following the words of the Great Commission.a Where Christ gathers his disciples at the mountain where he will presumably ascend. The Ascension in this account can only be inferred by its correlation with the descriptions offered by St. Luke in his Gospel and in the Book of Acts. St. Luke’s Gospel gives us a description of Jesus taking his disciples to Bethany, blessing them, and then, “He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” b Later in the first chapter of Acts, St. Luke describes the scene as Jesus boarding a cloud rising up through the sky. c

So that the general picture we get from the text is that the resurrected Christ gathers his disciples, gives them a sort of farewell speech, and then zephyrs his way into Heaven.

Why does it matter that Jesus ascended and why does the Church calendar mark this event as significant in the theological history of the Church?

Sorrow in Separation

Perhaps the Apostles were expected to understand the Ascension in the context of the Old Testament? How often is Christ compared to the Prophet Elijah, who himself was taken up into heaven by a chariot of fire? d But is this event similar the Ascension of Christ? Do the disciples of Christ rend their garments in grief and anguish as did Elisha? No.

Christ’s words seem to imply the reverse. Rather than separation, Christ teaches that his presence has penetrated the two planes of existence by the reality of the Incarnation and by the work of the Holy Spirit. Where Elijah was taken away from Earth, Jesus teaches that in the Ascension the Kingdom of Heaven is coming into contact with Earth in a way that is only comparable to how his own divinity took on human flesh. (more…)

  1. The Holy Gospel of St. Matthew Ch. XXVIII:16-20  (back)
  2. The Holy Gospel of St. Luke Ch. XXIV:51  (back)
  3. The Acts of the Holy Apostles Ch. I:9  (back)
  4. Fourth Book of Kings Ch. II  (back)

Read more

By In Theology

Bible Study With The Church Fathers

Church Fathers Bible App Catena

An App for the Church Fathers

I recently downloaded a new Bible study tool with an emphasis on the Church Fathers. It is called Catena and it lays out interlinear commentary from the Church Fathers in a Bible app. A double-tap on a particular verse pulls up related content by Church Fathers like St. John Chrysostom and St. Cyril of Alexandria. And if you aren’t familiar with a particular author, clicking on his name reveals his wikipedia page. The app describes itself as, “a collection of commentaries on the Bible from the early Church Fathers. With 35,000+ ancient commentaries, and growing, the goal is to provide the most insight possible into the Word of God.” Available for iOS and Android here.

The Hermeneutic of the Church Fathers

In 2015, Pr. Uri Brito penned an article called “Interpretive Maximalism and James B. Jordan” which came to mind as I was using this new app. In that article, a quote from Jordan explains that the commentary offered by the Church Fathers was not always limited to a strict grammatico-historical method of interpretation. Using an app like Catena could aid the modern bible student is exposing him to historical insights or alternate readings of familiar texts. According to Brito, Jordan sees the grammatico-historical interpretation to be valid, but incomplete without the aid of a rich biblical theology that also includes narrative and symbols.James B. Jordan

In a culture thirsty for an ancient faith, Reformed leaders would do well to once again reclaim the Church Fathers as their own heritage. As David Steinmetz of Duke Divinity School once noted in Christianity Today, “The Reformation is an argument not just about the Bible but about the early Christian fathers, whom the Protestants wanted to claim.” Even in their great diversity, the Church Fathers offer a consistent emphasis on the importance of personal holiness, fidelity to the church, and the importance of the scriptures to guide believers. Are the fathers important to Reformation theology? A quick glance at the number of references to Church Fathers in Calvin’s Institutes says yes.

Church Fathers in Their Context

Of Course, the best practice is reading the fathers directly and in the context of the entire work and historical period. Catena could be a tool to whet your appetite for the patristic and historical commentaries. I was first introduced to the work of St. Athanasius through the snippets introduced in David Chilton’s Paradise Restored. I then stumbled through the patristic masterpiece “On the Incarnation of the Wordwith a bit of encouragement from a preface by C.S. Lewis.

A word of warning is also due. The Christian faith did not climax at Nicaea (in the same way it’s zenith is not Westminster) and our patristic authors do not claim the final word on Biblical interpretation. As James B. Jordan puts it, “When we see that God’s history will span thousands of generations, we see how silly it is to assume that history ended in the early centuries, everything was settled, and no significant progress remains to be made.” a

  1. Biblical Horizons Newsletter, No. 62: Thinking About Church History  (back)

Read more