Should I Hide When Mormons Come Knocking?

One of the great privileges of serving in the local church is the opportunity to hear intriguing questions from congregants. A couple of weeks ago, I had such an experience after talking about evangelism. The topic of door-to-door Mormon missionaries  came up, and eventually our conversation turned to how to interact with non-Christian missionaries—and if they should be shown any sort of hospitality at all. One participant in the conversation mentioned that they do not allow non-Christian missionaries into their home on the basis on 2 John 10-11, which says:

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” 2 John 10-11 (ESV)

I’ve always made it a point to be frank with door-to-door people of any sort. If I have time or you sound interesting, I’ll listen; if I’m busy or unlikely to be interested, I’ll quickly let you know. When it comes to non-Christian missionaries (people such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses), I’ve been known to chat for a moment or two, even occasionally inviting them to step onto my porch for a few minutes. In light of this information from 2 John, I wondered if I had been unknowingly violating a scriptural teaching. Continue reading

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A Prayer

Papa, you reign above all creation, you are beyond my capacity to approach.

Let your power and reign come into our world, into our lives; let your plan and desires become our plans and desires; let our world become as good, true, and beautiful as your paradise.

Bless us beyond our wildest imaginations, Papa; give us and others all that we need and more.

Hold not our wrongs against us; don’t punish us where we go astray—but empower us to live our your mercy, love, compassion, and forgiveness in every aspect of our lives.

Papa, protect and preserve us—save us from sin, death, and the power of the devil; let evil and wickedness have no place or power in our lives.

For yours, Papa, are all good things—all power, all goodness, all majesty, all glory, and all beauty—yours truly are all these things, now and forevermore.

Let all these things be so.


Based on the Lord’s Prayer.

A Brief History of Communion: Origins

Christians of all sorts partake of some form of communion. Known by different names—the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion, Breaking of Bread, Mass—and taken at different frequencies—daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly—this practice involving bread and wine stands as a testament to both Christian unity as well as divisions. What do contemporary Christians believe about the Lord’s Supper? To begin answering this question, we must first look at the history of communion, beginning today with what the early Church said about the practice and meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Continue reading

What Happened to the Apostles?

Apostolic Fathers IconWhile Christians often think about the death (and resurrection!) of Jesus, many Christians (especially Protestants) rarely consider how the earliest followers of Jesus lived out their last moments on earth. In part, this is because–unlike with Jesus–we have relatively few historically credible accounts of the death of the earliest leaders of the Jesus Movement. What we do have are various church traditions and accounts of the martyrdoms and deaths of the Apostles and Evangelists. Below are short renditions of some of the more widely attested accounts of the testimonies of the deaths of the apostles.

Perhaps the most widely known tradition concerning apostolic martyrdom is that of Peter who is said to have been crucified in Rome upside down during the reign of the Emperor Nero (typically dated around 64 CE). According to tradition, Peter felt unworthy to die in the same manner as the Lord Jesus, and thus was apparently crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. Continue reading

The Trinity in the Early Church (Part II)

Holy SpiritHistorian J.W.C. Wand argues that the orthodox belief of the early church included the deity of the Holy Spirit, as it was essentially argued along with the deity of Christ in the Christological debates and was held as popular belief among Christians.[8] Yet as Rebecca Lyman argues that one cannot merely accept popular opinion as orthodoxy, for while popular belief in the church did play an important role in the defeat of Arianism, popular piety was a more divisive factor in later historical Christological debates, such as that between Cyril and Nestorius.[9] While one certainly cannot unwittingly conflate popular opinion as orthodoxy, the uniformity that existed between the orthodox Church Fathers and the general Christian population seems to indicate that worship and theology were intricately related in early Christianity, that belief and formalized doctrine were the same confession.[10] Often times the “differences” in doctrinal belief were simply a matter of use of “mutually confusing theological terms.”[11] Early Christians then used worship as the locus of their theological beliefs – how they worshiped is what they confessed. Continue reading

The Trinity in the Early Church (Part I)

Icon of the Holy Trinity (Rubilev)

Icon of the Holy Trinity (Rubilev)

The doctrine of the Trinity–espoused by the Cappadocian Fathers as “God is one object in Himself and three objects to Himself”–is commonly understood to be one of the more difficult concepts to grasp in Christian theology. Much of Early Church history revolved around debates concerning the Person of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Father, and doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit was often not explicitly discussed. However by the time of the Cappadocian Fathers and Augustine, an explicit doctrine of the Trinity was emerging in Christendom (Kelly, 252). In her essay entitled “Why Three?” Sarah Coakley engages the Maurice Wiles’ perspective on the Trinity as espoused in his The Making of Christian Doctrine. Continue reading

Scripture in 1 Clement: Conclusions

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the function and use of scripture in the early Christian writing known as 1 Clement.

Sacred ScriptureBefore concluding this examination, I offer two final key findings and a note on the ramifications of these conclusions. First, the relationship between 1 Clement and the Gospel of Matthew remains—at the very least—an ongoing topic of conversation. Scholarship which claims insignificant connections between these two early Christian writings cannot stand in the face of the literary connections outlined here. The author of 1 Clement had access to a version of Matthew’s gospel prior to the writing of his epistle. Second, those evaluating early Christian reception history and literary allusion should not neglect the possibility of composite citations by their authors, especially in writings where clear examples of this practice exist. In contrast to the assumption of the need for formal markers to signal literary connections, consideration of composite citations may require an extensive text- and linguistic-centered comparative process, such as the above side-by-side reading of 1 Clement 46:8 alongside potential gospel parallels. Continue reading

Scripture in 1 Clement: Composite Citation of the Gospels (Part III)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the function and use of scripture in the early Christian writing known as 1 Clement.

jesus_catacombWhat does account for 1 Clement 46:8 is Clement’s tendency to cite written passages compositely, as was noted in his use of the Jewish scriptures.[1] According to this explanation, Clement combined the words of Jesus found in two different locations of the synoptic tradition, thereby—with a single “word of the Lord”—arguing against the perils of leading the Church into schism and error. Of course, it is not enough to suggest that Clement may have compositely cited the synoptic tradition—one must also explain why he would have done so. Continue reading