Any good Protestant will tell you that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. That is a powerful truth that frees us from the futile cycle of spiritual perfectionism, which is a fruitless attempt to earn our way into God’s favor. We are not saved by the good things we do. We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. But here’s the question you have to ask yourself: Do I know what faith is? When the New Testament authors used the Greek word pistis to write about faith, are you thinking of faith the same way that they were thinking of pistis? Because if the only thing by which we are saved is faith, then we ought to know exactly what it is. There’s a lot riding on this.


If the only thing by which we are saved is faith, then we ought to know exactly what it is.

You might be thinking to yourself, “The Bible tells us plainly what faith is: it’s the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” Yes, that’s true. The author of Hebrews talks about faith in these terms. But this is not a definition of the word faith as much as it is a description of faith in a believer’s life. Faith is experienced as the present reality of a hoped-for future based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith is a life lived in resurrection hope, and in this way, the life of faith is its own proof for the existence – and especially the death, resurrection, and ascension – of Jesus. But you can see that this is a description of Christian faith, not a definition of the apostolic usage of the Greek word pistis.

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Men, you are kings. In Christ, you are the kings of the earth. You have been made to bear the image of the Most High God, the one who rules over all creation. His plan for you was for you to rule in his name. The reason that you exist is to bring God’s wisdom and order to the wild and waste parts of the earth. In his book The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser writes, God’s “desire was to live among them [the humans], and for them to rule and reign with him.” God has made you to exercise his authority over his creation by his side.

That’s a high calling, to say the least. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t feel like a king. Not even close. Most days I feel more like the court jester than a wise and noble sovereign. A sniveling cynic. An excuse-making coward. An ignorant buffoon. But that is not who I am. It is not who you are. In Christ, you are a man who has been called, equipped, and destined to rule the earth – and not just the earth, the entire cosmos! – with confidence, courage, and wisdom. This, THIS, is Who. You. Are.


God has made you to exercise his authority over his creation by his side.

God doesn’t want to rule you; he wants to rule with you. God doesn’t want to exercise authority over you; he wants to exercise authority through you. Now, it takes humility and submission from us in order for God to rule with and through us, but humility and submission aren’t the point. They are the means to God’s end: to selflessly share power and authority with his creatures for the good of his creation. A good creation would be filled with creatures who cannot sin, but the best possible creation would be governed by creatures who possess, by nature, the freedom and power to rule alongside the ruling Creator. Only these creatures will have learned, through their own catastrophic failure and God’s remarkable redemption, that God’s wisdom is truly wise, that God’s ways are completely good, and that the fullness of life can only be found along his path.

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For Zeke, on what would have been his ninth birthday.

I once had two sons,
but now I have one.
The other, my brother;
my wife, his mother.
I lay by his side
the night that he died,
and whispered to mother,
My son, my brother.

Augusto Del Nice How the Demonic Creeps In
Thanks to this excellent article by Michael Hanby in First Things, I’ve discovered the writings of Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce. Writing primarily in the postwar period, Del Noce had unusual and prescient insight into the political and cultural direction of the West. In his collection of essays, The Crisis of Modernity, he sounds like a contemporary cultural critic despite publishing most of these works over 50 years ago. In predicting the logical consequences of the sexual revolution, he writes,

“Total nudity must be unconditionally accepted and facilitated. Public intercourse must be allowed. Nobody can forbid his/her partner to have other lasting sexual relationships. …Nothing gives the right to criticize homosexual unions. Sexual education must be understood as the removal of all ancestral complexes that lead us to value abstinence.”

Augusto Del Noce perceived where Western culture – both European and American – was going. He understood that sexual expression would become a matter of identity, the realization of which would become a basic human right that would usurp the moral high ground from traditional religion. He also consistently provides, in his essays, a historical contextualization of the development of political and cultural ideas in the twentieth century. This history lesson helps unschooled readers like myself grasp the intellectual roots of the culture in which we now find ourselves.

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Avengers: Infinity War is the greatest Catholic film of all time. That statement is a bit cheeky, given that: a) There is no Christ-figure in the film; and b) I’m not Catholic. But the force that drives the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to resist the archvillain Thanos is the same force that animates the Catholic Church against the culture of death: the conviction that life is inherently sacred.

As an evangelical Protestant, I used to perceive Catholicism as a works-based religion that taught its unwitting adherents to try to earn their way into heaven. While I am less certain that I understand Catholic soteriology today than I did in my twenties, one thing has become clear to me about the Catholic Church: it is the last great bulwark against the culture of death in the West. One by one, the Protestant denominations have fallen, giving up the fight against the creeping malevolence of the sexual revolution and its self-interested ideology of population control. Like second-tier Marvel superheroes, many Protestants have disappeared into thin air, but Bishop Thor and Cardinal Iron Man remain in the battle.

Thanos is the classic, militant hippie who never gave up on the, now discredited, teachings of The Population Bomb. There are too many people! The universe can’t possibly support them all! Humans (and their other world counterparts) are stripping the cosmos bare, voraciously devouring the scarce resources of every planet. Thanos’ own home world, we are led to believe, suffered such a fate. But did it? The ruins of his planet resemble the ravages of war, not the desperation of famine.

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