Recent Magazine Articles

1 Feb 2016

A Tale of Two Brothers

by Richard P. Heitzenrater | Issue 69

IN 1785, at age 82, John Wesley wrote a wrenching letter to his 77-year-old brother Charles, who had for several years been openly critical of John’s leadership in the Methodist movement.


“Do not hinder me if you will not help,” the older brother scolded. “Perhaps, if you had kept close to me, I might have done better. However, with or without help, I creep on.”

The story of early Methodism is, of course, more than the tale of these two brothers. But the...

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21 Nov 2015

Not concerning the heart but the life

by William Kostlevy | Issue 116

THEY WERE THE TWO GIANTS  of the eighteenth-century evangelical revival. Fitting for men from a century known as the “Age of Reason,” both were university-trained, articulate defenders of faith they believed reasonable. But reason was not all. They saw love as the fountain and heart-warmed affections—we might use the word “emotions” today—as a stream (to use Edwards’s words) that waters an interior life that flowers into holy actions.  

opposites attack 

Ironically, Calvinist Edwards (1703–1758) and Arminian Wesley (1703-1791) each...

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19 Nov 2015

“Take and read”

by Alex Huggard | Issue 116

IN 430 the Germanic tribe known as the Vandals fled the grip of another tribe, the marauding Huns. Their flight took them to the doorstep of Hippo in modern-day Algeria. There the Vandals laid siege to one of the weakening Roman Empire’s outlying
cities. The Christian bishop of that city, dismayed by the conflict, looked back over his 75 years and pondered
God’s sovereignty.

That bishop, the greatest theologian in the Latin West, did not survive to see Hippo fall to the invaders from the north. But Augustine (354–430) had already...

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19 Nov 2015

Fully man and fully God

by Jennifer Freeman | Issue 116

It’s a statement that many know by heart, reciting it regularly, in some cases weekly, in church services. The Nicene Creed maintains a pervasive presence in contemporary Christian teaching and has shaped Christian theology for almost 1,700 years. And we owe the survival of its orthodox views, at least in part, to a controversial Egyptian deacon-turned-bishop.  

constantine claims the cross

Many aspects of Christian life in the late third and early fourth centuries are unrecognizable to us today. Paganism and the cult of the emperor...

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18 Aug 2015

Momentous vows

by Beth Kreitzer | Issue 115

On June 13, 1525, 41-year-old Martin Luther and Katharine von Bora, 15 years his junior, married in Wittenberg after a brief engagement of less than a day. It was a union that shocked a nation—not because of their age difference, but because the couple was, in the eyes of the medieval church, committing incest.

As a former monk and a former nun, the two had been “brother” and “sister,” even if only in a spiritual sense. Popular opinion held that such a union could only result in a “monstrous birth,” most likely of the Antichrist—a sure sign...

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18 Aug 2015

Christ present everywhere

by David C. Steinmetz | Issue 115

Who was Jesus, and what could he have meant to imply about himself when, as the Gospel of Matthew reports, he broke bread and told his disciples to “take, eat, this is my body”? Early Protestants were fairly certain they knew what Jesus did not mean: to suggest that bread and wine had been miraculously “transubstantiated” into his physical body and blood. The word “transubstantiation,” the medieval Catholic understanding of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, rests on a distinction between the substance of a thing (what it really is) and...

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