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Here is one question that won't leave me alone: How can we relate to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and our neighbors in love, in our sharply polarized cultural moment? In terms of coming to understand polarization, I've found Charles Taylor to be helpful in A Secular Age. He unpacks many different levels of what constitutes "identity" in our cultural moment. Taylor recently joined my former professor Miroslav Volf for a podcast interview to discuss the problem of "entrenched tribal factions" within our broader political culture. But the question, as it relates to the church, is even more subtle. The church is not a democracy, but a people who find their life in the Head, Jesus Christ, and have been incorporated into God's household. This forces us to grapple with our identity differently. But often, we have been shaped by our culture to approach others in the church...

Over the last few months, I've responded to many questions in podcast and webinar interviews about The End of the Christian Life in relation to the challenges we face during the pandemic. I have many thoughts on this. But recently I published my thoughts on a particular aspect of this, Christians and the Covid-19 vaccine, in Christianity Today. First appearing on May 6, 2021, I made the case for how a classical Christian theology of creation, along with a Christ-centered path of discipleship, should lead vaccine-hesitant Christians to seriously consider receiving the Covid 19 vaccine. I seek to do this with empathy, understanding that in the pandemic all of us have experienced fear -- fear that comes with the risks of living as mortal creatures in this time. Be patient with yourself and others. It's OK to notice the fear, to recognize it, to give it some space. Yet, as ones...

Note: Today I celebrate my "second birthday." Eight years ago, after injecting my body with a lethal dose of mustard gas-derived toxins, doctors injected my body with stem cells of my own blood, frozen from a few days before. The photo on my website above shows the frozen stem cells. For cancer patients, the day of the stem cell transplant is called a “second birthday” because if the procedure works, it gives us a second chance at life. Moreover, while my white blood cell counts would hit zero in the next week, over the course of the next few months, my body would start to make “refreshed” blood with white counts. In some ways, my blood “started over,” like that of a baby, after cleared out by the toxins. Indeed, I later had to receive my childhood immunizations again. Here is an article that I wrote about this amazing process,...

Are you looking for some Lent reading? A recent review in The Christian Century called The End of the Christian Life "a rich quarry for individual reflection and group discussion" and said it "would make excellent Lenten reading, especially during a pandemic!" Life is fragile. The past year has revealed this reality to us -- on a global scale and, for many, in our own communities, our own families, our own bodies. As we reflect on the year 2020 and as we turn our attention toward the season of Lent, we remember the claim of Ash Wednesday - "You are dust, and to dust you will return." We are dust. As dust crumbles and is blown about by the wind, we, too, are momentary. Our bodies break apart; they don't last forever. And yet, we are beloved. We are small, we are on pilgrimage, and beloved. The season of Lent reminds us that, just as...

https://anchor.fm/jtodd-billings Did you see the new podcast released in conjunction with the release of The End of the Christian Life? Descriptions and episode links are below. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform, whether on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Anchor. We've received a great deal of positive feedback about the free podcast from listeners around the world. Check it out! Episode 1: KJ Ramsey, Poor Scripts and the True Story of the Triune God Sometimes pain stays with us. Some hurts aren’t healed, and we wish the suffering would simply leave and quickly. Join J. Todd Billings and therapist and author KJ Ramsey (This Too Shall Last, 2020), as they explore prosperity gospels and the misleading scripts that tend to define our lives of faith. How might our unresolved pain invite us to experience the presence of the Triune God who meets us in the midst of our suffering. Episode...

Here's an article with material adapted from The End of the Christian Life featured in the October issue of Christianity Today. Enjoy! And share with others you know who might be mortal. ;-)   I used to assume that God owed me a long life—to pursue a vocation and family with full strength, to live long enough to become a grandparent. Then, at 39, I was diagnosed with incurable cancer. The expected storyline of my life was interrupted. Now, as a cancer patient, my expectations have changed. The cancer is likely to cut decades from my life; I experience daily pain and fatigue that drain my strength. While my former expectations of God may seem reasonable, I’ve come to see how I had unwittingly embraced a form of the prosperity gospel. I believed that God owed me a long life. This assumption is widespread. Among those in the United States who believe in God, 56 percent...

“As strange as it seems, coming to terms with our limits as dying creatures is a life-giving path.” After five years of research, conversations, writing, and edit after edit, The End of the Christian Life is now out and available! I’m grateful to so many students, pastors, scholars, cancer patients and others who helped to make this book possible. The writing process was a challenging one — as I integrated my theological explorations and questions with the [nonfiction] stories of various friends and acquaintances who have died. Hopefully, the result is a book that has theological substance and existential power. It’s available now in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. The last five years have felt like a quest — often urgent, sometimes winding — and I’ve discovered many wonderful thought-companions on the journey. So, in addition to the book release, today we’re releasing the first two episodes in a six-episode podcast...

I'm thrilled to announce that my next book, The End of the Christian Life: How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live, is available for pre-order! You can check out the trailer for the book below, along with a few of the endorsements. In addition, for those subscribed to my mailing list, you are invited to apply for the Launch Team – able access to a digital copy of the book in the first week of August! Details are available through this link, and applications need to be received in the next few days. I often ask seminary graduates about their biggest challenge in ministry which involves the intersection of theology and practice. The most common response? Death and dying. Advising families on medical decisions, funerals, comforting parents who have lost a child – the examples are many. In light of this, and some of my own experience as a...

Published in Mere Orthodoxy, April 20, 2020 Our world feels contaminated with disease. And yet, precisely in light of this contagion, perhaps we can learn more about the breadth and depth of Christian resurrection hope. Indeed, our cultural imagination may be more in tune to a reality that has a great deal to do with Eastertide season: the way in which the whole world is in need of healing, in need of a Deliverer. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, a central cultural point of reference for resurrection hope was simply the hope in the afterlife of the individual. Indeed, despite the much-reported increase in Americans who have no religious affiliation, belief in an afterlife seems to be very popular. About a third of those who do not believe in God still believe in life after death. A University of Chicago study indicates that, while belief in God and affiliation with a particular religion have been...

It has been an odd winter here in “snowy west Michigan.” When I walk outside, I can expect a “crunch” when I walk in a nearby park -- but as likely as not, it will be the crunch of leaves rather than snow. For a couple of days, snow will fall and my children will rejoice. But then the sun comes out, the weather gets warm, and it acts like spring. It’s January. I know it's not spring yet. But this weather can be confusing. Is it time to burrow in, to hibernate for the winter? Is it time for the grass to start growing again? When will we start to see the animals come out for spring with their young? My kids have been debating questions like these. Both of them love winter, but the seesaw, back and forth, has left them disoriented...