Why Would God Send Anyone to Hell?

This is one of those questions that tends to come up a lot in conversations with people in the community around me, even amongst professing Christians. When it is raised, it is not typically meant as an exegetical argument that challenges the Christian doctrine of justice, but it is a question that comes from a… Read More

Worship and Wrath: Are they mutually exclusive?

As a child, I grew up singing old hymns of the faith — Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley, and the like. Even today, many of these hymns are deeply ingrained in me. Then, somewhere in my early twenties, praise music became all the rage in the church I attended. And so, I was introduced… Read More

Unity, Busyness, Tolerance, and Compromise: Not Synonymous

One of the attributes of the church, toward which we are called to strive, is unity. Indeed, how “good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1) and how important it is that we strive to maintain the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” that must exist within… Read More

My Land or God’s Land?

“And Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Sons of Ammon, saying, ‘What do you have against me? For you are coming to me and fighting in my land.” (Judges 11:12) You will notice how relationships have now changed in the eyes of Jephthah. Before he was an alien toward the land of Gilead… Read More

Good Confidence

In the original German edition of the catechism, the phrase here speaks of having guter zuversicht, it speaks of a good “confidence,” a good “trust,” or a good “faith” in our faithful God and Father. But what does it mean to have a “good confidence” or a “guter zuversicht” in God?  Confidence refers to the… Read More

Thankful in Times of Prosperity

You might be tempted to think that being thankful in times of prosperity is a given — an easy thing for believer and non-believer alike. You might be tempted to think that thankfulness during good times is quite natural. But, were this the case, the authors of Heidelberg would never have needed to ground faithfulness… Read More

The Elders, Force, and Bad Decisions

“And it came to pass in several days time that the Sons of Ammon fought with Israel. And as the Sons of Ammon fought with Israel, the Elders of Gilead went to take Jephthah from the land of Tob.” (Judges 11:4-5) And thus, the thing predicted took place: The Ammonites wage war in Gilead and… Read More

Patience in Times of Trouble

The thing that amazes me sometimes (and here I am preaching to myself also!) is how often we are surprised when bad things happen. No, I am not suggesting that people ought always to be looking at things pessimistically or be a “gloomy Gus” all of the time, or become a “nattering nabob of negativism,”… Read More

What is Providence?

In today’s Christian sub-culture, it is common for people to claim that just about anything unusual is a miracle. People talk about the “miracle of childbirth” or they speak of the raise they got at work as “miraculous” because it was unexpected and beneficial in its timing. Recovery from a disease or surgery is also… Read More

The Church Oppressed and Subjugated

“And the nose of Yahweh burned against Israel and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Sons of Amon. They subjugated and oppressed the Sons of Israel in that year — even for eighteen years all of the Sons of Israel who are beyond the Jordan in… Read More

A Faithful Father

Repeatedly, the Bible speaks of God as “Father,” and while we sometimes think of this as a New Testament distinction, we find this language in the Old Testament as well — God is the Father of Israel (Hosea 11:1), the father of the Messiah (Psalm 89:26), and the father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). Nevertheless,… Read More

When Civil Servants Aren’t 

In the western world, Wikipedia suggest that the term “Civil Service” goes back to 1829 and the expansion of the British Empire — namely that the British government needed people with administrative and managerial skills to manage the resources, the production, and the commerce that took place in their various colonies. The basic principle behind… Read More

Spiritual Discernment

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ Turning, she said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).” (John 20:16) One of the very curious things about the resurrected Christ is that people don’t always recognize him when they first encounter him. Certainly one could suggest that this may be attached to the terrible grief that those… Read More

Ability and Will

One of the most basic principles of logic is that “Ought does not yield Is.” In other words, just because things “ought” to be a certain way does not mean that they will be that way. To assume this to be the case is what is called the “moralistic fallacy” and it would be the… Read More

For My Body and My Soul

“Throw down your burden on Yahweh; he will provide for you and he will never permit that righteousness be swayed.” (Psalm 55:23 {verse 22 in English Bibles}) Not only does the catechism promise that God governs all things and that he even uses evil events for the good of our salvation and sanctification as believers,… Read More

Turned Toward My Good

One of the great contributions that the Heidelberg Catechism brings to the table of Reformed confessions is that it is so very much first-person and pastoral in nature. As I have noted before, instead of speaking in the abstract, it uses words like “I” and “me” and “my” to convey spiritual truth. And the language… Read More

Eternal Government

For most of us, the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word “government” is the government of elected officials that oversee our federal, state, and local communities. These governments seem to be ever-changing between republicans, democrats, and the occasional independent candidate. Despite the varying opinions that people have regarding the laws… Read More

Ex Nihilo: Everything from Nothing

One element of the Christian faith that makes it differ from religious and non-religious beliefs around the world is the idea that all of creation was created out of nothing by an eternal and changeless God. Pantheistic religions like Buddhism argues for a pre-existent natural realm that is an expression of the divine, Greek religions… Read More

True and Eternal

“Yahweh is the true God; he is the God of the living and the eternal King. The earth shakes from his wrath and the nations cannot bear his curse.” (Jeremiah 10:10) There are many adjectives that are applied to God: mighty, glorious, faithful, etc… but perhaps two of the most common and most important are… Read More

God Said It and Yes, That Settles It

God Said it and Yes, that Settles It: An open letter in response to Adam Hamilton, on the United Methodist decision on the question of homosexuality in the church. (Dr. Hamilton’s Original Post can be found here) One of the benefits of the internet age is that it has allowed communication and ideas to be… Read More

The Art of Dissection and High School Biology

If I ever had any aspirations of going into the field of medicine, High School Biology class dashed them to the wind. Now, mind you, I attended a little Public High School in rural Harford County, Maryland and so “state-of-the-art” was little more than a series of spelling words for us. Nevertheless, we had biology… Read More

God Revealed

You will notice that in question 25 of the Catechism, when asked about the Trinity, the answer begins with the language of “because God revealed…” At first, that might seem like a simple enough phrase and one that is not that important, yet, from the perspective of the Christian faith, it is of significant value.… Read More