Saturday, April 30, 2005

Far too easily pleased!

I am not sure where this quote comes from, but I read it in an article early this morning. C.S. Lewis knows how to put his finger on reality.

C.S. Lewis wrote: "If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

In the article (you can find it here) where this above quote comes from is an article from a man who has and does struggle with same-sex attraction. (Thank you Dr. Harmon for posting it!) He now speaks for the Catholic group called Courage that promotes celibacy and obedience to God in the call for sexual purity. This article is so refreshing because it is honest with the real struggle and truthful to what scriptures says, and all at the same time! The end of the article says a lot of what ALL Christians need to hear when faced with the temptation to be unfaithful in the area of sexual purity.

He concludes the article talking about the positive side of obedience. Sadly, due to what Lewis says, we are often far too easily pleased and see obedience to God as losing something. But, that is not the case at all. The author of the article describes the reality behind the lie that sees obedience to God as a loss rather than persevering in our love for God.

I let out a sigh. "I keep struggling with how to express the positive side of obedience," I say to Mark, gesturing at my notes.

"One thing you might mention," he says.

"What's that?"

"You know how sometimes you just want to forget about God, forget about the struggle and just 'feel good'? So you tell yourself that it's normal, that everyone's doing it, that you're only human. And maybe it does feel good for a few minutes. But afterward you feel awful because you know in your heart that what you did was wrong."

I nod my head. As a teenager, I thought my straight friends could not possibly understand what I was going through. But with Mark, I have found that the differing details of our struggles and temptations are much less important than our shared desire to follow Christ. For him, discipleship demands purity in his relationship with his girlfriend; for me, it means celibacy. For both of us, it is a path that demands struggle, sacrifice and self-control.

He continues, "With following God, it's the opposite: You have to fight. And the fighting can last for hours, even -- off and on -- for a lifetime. But God's peace will last forever. And even in this life nothing compares with the joy and peace of overcoming temptation. But it's really hard to keep that perspective, because lust is right there, and we can't see eternity."

But seeing is not necessarily believing. We are half a mile above wind-swept water, without visible means of support, flying as free as birds."

The above quote by C.S. Lewis is applicable to every area of sin and temptation. We should reflect on it daily, possibly all throughout the day when faced with any temptation, no matter what it is, that is outside of the will of God. Kyrie eleison!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Chesterton: 'having your monkey up.'

THE creed of our cruel cities is not so sane and just as the creed of the old countryside; but the people are just as clever in giving names to their sins in the city as in giving names to their joys in the wilderness. One could not better sum up Christianity than by calling a small white insignificant flower 'The Star of Bethlehem.' But then again one could not better sum up the philosophy deduced from Darwinism than in the one verbal picture of 'having your monkey up.'

'Daily News.'

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Andrewes and Princes

I have recently been reading the debate with King James I and Rome concerning the place of the king in relationship to the pope and whether or not the pope has the right to depose kings. This was a very important controversy in the early 17th century and led to the discussion of kings being the only ones authorised to call Church Councils. James I was hoping for one, even where the pope would sit as "chief bishop." There was an exchange of books and papers on this between Cardinal Robert Bellarmine and Bishop Lancelot Andrewes as well as James's own work called the Premonition. James I did believe that the Pope had the right to excommunicate kings but not remove them from authority over their kingdoms. The debate became very polemical as one could imagine. All of this is to ask the question concerning James I and Andrewes's very high view of the prince.

I was looking through the Church Fathers and I found the following quote that followed the entry below on the Bishop and the Eucharist. I ask about this because Andrewes was a scholar who was steeped in the theology of the Fathers and it makes me wonder if his view of the prince comes from quotes like the following:

Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God. For “in Hades there is no one who can confess his sins.”62 For “behold the man, and his work is before him.”63 And [the Scripture saith], “My son, honour thou God and the king.”64 And say I, Honour thou God indeed, as the Author and Lord of all things, but the bishop as the high-priest, who bears the image of God—of God. inasmuch as he is a ruler, and of Christ, in his capacity of a priest. After Him, we must also honour the king. For there is no one superior to God, or even like to Him, among all the beings that exist. Nor is there any one in the Church greater than the bishop, who ministers as a priest to God for the salvation of the whole world. Nor, again, is there any one among rulers to be compared with the king, who secures peace and good order to those over whom he rules. He who honours the bishop shall be honoured by God, even as he that dishonours him shall be punished by God. For if he that rises up against kings is justly held worthy of punishment, inasmuch as he dissolves public order, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy,65 who presumes to do anything without the bishop, thus both destroying the [Church’s] unity, and throwing its order into confusion? For the priesthood is the very highest point of all good things among men, against which whosoever is mad enough to strive, dishonours not man, but God, and Christ Jesus, the First-born, and the only High Priest, by nature, of the Father. Let all things therefore be done by you with good order in Christ. Let the laity be subject to the deacons; the deacons to the presbyters; the presbyters to the bishop; the bishop to Christ, even as He is to the Father. As ye, brethren, have refreshed me, so will Jesus Christ refresh you. Ye have loved me when absent, as well as when present. God will recompense you, for whose sake ye have shown such kindness towards His prisoner. For even if I am not worthy of it, yet your zeal [to help me] is an admirable66 thing. For “he who honours a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward.”67 It is manifest also, that he who honours a prisoner of Jesus Christ shall receive the reward of the martyrs.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol.I Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans Chapter IX

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

Chapter VIII Let Nothing Be Done Without the Bishop

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles. Do ye also reverence the deacons, as those that carry out [through their office] the appointment of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as where Christ is, there does all the heavenly host stand by, waiting upon Him as the Chief Captain of the Lord’s might, and the Governor of every intelligent nature. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize, or to offer, or to present sacrifice, or to celebrate a love-feast. But that which seems good to him, is also well-pleasing to God, that everything ye do may be secure and valid.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Unpacking the suitcase

I took a brief break this morning from reading about the Oath of Allegiance under James I reign that called upon England's subjects to give full allegiance to the king while the Gun Powder Plot (RC Jesuits who were going to blow up Parliament to rid themselves of a king who was rejecting papal authority to depose him from the crown.) was continuing to be investigated. In my break, I picked up Bishop Tom Wright's new book Scripture and the Authority of God. One of the things about Bishop Tom, besides the fact that you can buy his books by the metre since there are so many, is his ability to say things so well. Looking at what he calls the 'the heart of the issue,' that is of putting scripture and its authority as a part of the larger whole and fixing it within its proper place, he writes:

"In Christian theology, such phrases regularly act as 'portable stories,' that is, ways of packing up longer narratives about God, Jesus, the church and the world, folding them away into convenient suitcases, and then carrying them about with us. (A good example is the phrse 'the antonement.' This phrase is rare in the Bible itself; instead, we find things like 'the Messiah died for our sins according to the sciptures'; 'God so loved the world that he gave his only son,' and so on. But if we are to discuss the atonement, it is easier to do so with a single phrase, assumed to 'contain' all these sentences, than by repeating one or more of them each time.) Shorthands, in other words, are useful in the same way that suitcases are. They enable us to pick up lots of complicated things and carry them around all together. But we should never forget that the point of doing so, like the point of carrying belongings in a suitcase, is that they can then be unpacked and put to use in the new location. Too much debate about scriptural authority has had the form of people hitting one another over the head with locked suitcases. It is time to unpack our shorthand doctrines, to lay them out and inspect them. Long years in a suitcase may have made some of the contents go mouldy. They will benefit from fresh air, and perhaps a hot iron." (Scripture and the Authority of God, p. 18)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sanity Maintains a Presence

Please listen to the lectures given at the STUDY CENTRE and get a better feel as to what is going on in this debate with the works of +N.T. Wright on the doctrine of Justification.

St. George's Day Patron of England

Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George!
William Shakespeare (Henry V)
This date is observed in memory of England's patron saint, St George so, in a sense, this is England's national day, although unlike many countries there is no official recognition of this in the form of a holiday (booh!). The emblem of St. George is a red cross on a white background, and in the 12th century the emblem was adopted by Richard The Lionheart whose soldiers wore it on their tunics to avoid confusion in battle.

St George has been more strongly associated with England since the reign of Edward III in the fourteenth century allegedly replacing Edward the Confessor as patron saint. Edward chose St George to be patron saint of the Order of the Garter-- the highest order of English knighthood. Historians feel his promotion as patron saint is mainly due to his popularity among English crusaders who eventually used his name as a battle cry during the Hundred Years War. Thus St George became the subject of many legends.

According to history the real St. George was a cavalryman who lived in the 4th century. Allegedly born in what is now called Turkey, he died a martyr's death in 303 A.D. for protesting against the persecution of Christians when Rome was governed by an anti-Christian emperor, Diocletian. He was buried in Lydda, Palestine (now called Lod).

The best know legend tells us that St. George killed a terrible dragon and that is how he is always depicted. Although once a very prominent holy day in the Christian calendar, St George's Day is today celebrated mainly by special parades and rallies. On this day , the flag of St George is flown from church towers and many other buildings. Also St George's symbol is the English rose and so a rose is what some English people wear in their lapels to mark their national day.

In England, there are some - notably publicans and brewers - who want to see St George's Day made into a national holiday marked with greater ceremony and, let's face it, alcohol. If Patrick is the patron saint of Guinness, why not cry St George for English bitters?
Link for the above explanation.

hear the prayers of those who praise Your mighty power.
As Saint George was ready to follow Christ in suffering and death,
so may he be ready to help us in our weakness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

Readings of the Day:
First Reading - Revelation 21:5-7
And He who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also He said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." And He said to me,"It is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."

Gospel Reading - Luke 9:23-26
And He[Jesus] said to all, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Baptism and Justification

The Rev. Dr. Peter Leithart has an excellent post on baptism and justification. Read this post and then ask yourself why in the world does most of the Church still keep its covenant children from the Sacrament of the Eucharist. If baptism does this, and I believe it does work grace by the Spirit, then we should restore God's children to the Altar. The Eastern Orthodox continue this practice and we, in the West, should return to it. If not, is there an exegetical/historical reason why not?

Below is a portion of Dr. Leithart's post. The rest of it can be found at Leithart.com.

"Thus, Paul teaches that those who have been baptized have been justified. But how are we to understand this? And how does this fit with justification by grace through faith? The answer, I believe, turns on seeing baptism, as mentioned above, as an act of God. Baptism is analogous to the Word of God; it declares the forgiveness of sins and the justification of the ungodly. And both baptism and the gospel demand a response of faith. Faith in Romans 6 involves believing what baptism says about you: Those who are baptized into Christ Jesus are dead with him; therefore, "consider [reckon] yourselves to be dead to sin" (v. 11). This, of course, does not mean that I can go and live a life of unbelief and disobedience. Such a life would belie the declaration made in my baptism (which is of course Paul's whole point in Romans 6). Yet, baptism marks me as one who has "died to sin" through Christ and therefore one who has been "justified from sin."

When Assertions Rule

When there is controversy in the Church over the finer points of doctrine and theology, all sorts of misrepresentations and assertions often find their way of becoming the issues rather than the actual substance having its due address. Sadly, men allow themselves to succumb to the temptation to discredit their opponents by silly name-calling and the likes of children on a playground. But, as a "pontificating blogging-nerd," I find Johnson resounding more truth than is often willing to be admitted.

So much of this is seen in a number of controversies in different areas of the Church's life right now and I find the quote below to be quite applicable to many of these controversies. The quote particularly is applicable to the overly zealous critic who usually will find himself in the very ditch he thought he was digging for his opponent to fall into. The beauty of irony!

I read this quote at another blog, but I do own the volume of Johnson myself and read it in its context of the Eucharistic Offering. He becomes an important figure for how the Caroline Divines used Bishop Lancelot Andrewes' Eucharistic Theology to shape the Church's teaching on the central nature of the Eucharist in worship. I thank William Tighe for bringing this quote to my attention at the Pontificator's blog.

I quote from him as he used it in another post:

The last flower of Caroline Anglican divinity, John Johnson of Cranbrooke (1662-1724), wrote in reply to one Dr. Thomas Wise, who had written a tract entitled “The Christian Eucharist Rightly Stated” in response to Johnson’s massive tome, *The Unbloody Sacrifice, and Altar, Unvailed and Supported* (1714, 1724):

“They, who indulge themselves in the most unchristian and diabolical practice of accusing their brethren of a crime so very black and flagrant, should take special care, so to contrive their calumnies, that they may be at least consistent and hang together; for those slanders, that confute themselves (which is the present case), do at once absolve the party accused, and convict the delator of forgery and nonsense both in one. We know the devil to be the common father of lies, especially such as are malicious; but, in the case now before us, I can see none of the craft and subtlety of the old serpent; the Doctor, in contriving this calumny, was left, I charitably believe, to his own natural invention; I cannot say, the Doctor has the innocence of the dove, nor yet can I allow him the cunning of the serpent; he abounds with gall,but he wants the sting …” (1847 ed., [Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology] Vol. II, p. 331).

Henry Nouwen on Poverty

"How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves: "What is my poverty?" Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That's the place where God wants to dwell! "How blessed are the poor," Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty...We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let's dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden." -Henri Nouwen

I-Monk Blog

If you visit this blog from the I-Monk, I think you will always have something interesting to read. A lot of what he says will resonate with many people. Take a look at his letter to Calvinists. I'll add him to my favourites.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI 1st Mass Homily

Here is a portion of Pope Benedict XVI homily this morning at mass. The entire homily is found here. Called to visible unity.

"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter's Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.

"Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.

"Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that 'purification of memory,' which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.

"The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

Habemus Papam! So the Roman Catholics cried out with joy today! At least 150,000 or more did in St. Peter's. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church in case you haven't heard. His first official Mass as Pope will be on Sunday morning in St. Peter's. May God bless the entire Catholic Church!

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus Diary

Click HERE to read the Diary of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus from First Things on the Papal Conclave.

Monday, April 18, 2005

+Tom Wright: Easter Vigil `05

This sermon was preached early (5:00 am) at the Durham Cathedral in Durham, England Easter morning 2005 as the Vigil sermon. This sermon is copyright material and will be published soon and may not be used in any other format or reprinting without the permission of The Rt. Rev. Dr. N.T. Wright. It is placed here by his permission.

Easter Vigil
Come and See! Go and Tell! (Matthew 28.1–10)

Dawn was breaking on the first day of the week; the Sabbath was over. Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, had come to look at the tomb, when suddenly there was a great earth-quake. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven. He came to the stone, rolled it away, and sat down on top of it. Looking at him was like looking at lightning, and his clothes were white, like snow. The guards trembled with terror at him, and became like corpses them-selves.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ said the angel to the women. ‘I know you’re looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He’s been raised, as he said he would be. Come and see the place where he was lying! Then go at once and tell his disciples that he’s been raised from the dead, and that he’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. That’s where you’ll see him. There: I’ve told you.’

The women scurried off quickly, away from the tomb, in a mixture of terror and great delight, and went to tell his disciples. Suddenly, there was Jesus himself; he met them and said ‘Greetings!’ They came up to him and took hold of his feet, prostrating themselves in front of him.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ said Jesus to them. ‘Go and tell my brothers that I’m going off to Gali-lee, and that they’ll see me there.’

If you asked people out on the street, or even perhaps here in church, which is the most frequently repeated commandment in the Bible, the answers you’d get would probably be in the range of ‘Don’t misbehave’, ‘Don’t tell lies’, ‘Always say your prayers’, and perhaps ‘Love God and your neighbour’.

But all of them would be wrong. Far and away the most frequent com-mandment in the Bible is what the angel says to the women, and what Jesus then repeats: ‘Don’t be afraid’. Yes, something new has happened. Yes, the world is never going to be the same again. Yes, your life is about to be turned upside down and inside out. Yes, God is going to be with you and demand new things of you. But don’t be afraid. It’s going to be all right. Easter proves it. That is the first great emphasis of Matthew’s account of the first Easter morning.

Of course, they had every reason to be afraid. An earthquake; an angel; the guards struck down as though they were dead. We tend to think of things like that as interventions within our natural order, but that’s not how they appear in the light of Easter. Some of us have been thinking, this past week, of the way in which Matthew’s gospel leads us from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, showing how, as Jesus goes to the cross, heaven and earth, God’s space and our space, are drawn together in a new way. The events that are unfolding carry cosmic significance. Jesus has gone to his death bearing the weight of evil, the evil that has infected and corrupted human life and the whole world, the evil which is symbolized both by what we call human evil, not least the evil of arrogant human empire, and by what we call natural evil, the waves and storms of the physical world. Now here, with the defeat of evil and death in the cross, the earthquake and the angel are, strangely, just what we ought to expect. And the guards, symbolizing here the political and military powers for whom they are working, are struck dumb. Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas and their henchmen don’t belong in this new world, the new world where heaven and earth have come rushing together in a fresh way, a fresh celebration, a world full of new possibilities, new power which leaves the powers of the world lying helpless on the ground. Don’t be afraid! God’s new world has begun, and you’re invited to be part of it. That is what Easter is all about. That is what baptism and confirmation are all about.

The invitation takes two forms, here in Matthew’s Easter gospel. First, ‘come and see’; second, ‘go and tell’. ‘Come and see.’

When the Christian gospel bursts upon your conscious-ness, all kinds of questions come up. Can it really be true? Mightn’t it all be imagination, or even wishful thinking? Well, come and see. Actually, any-thing less like wishful thinking it would be hard to imagine. When I’m half awake, what I’m wish for is that I could go back to sleep, not that someone would grab me by the shoulder and yank me out of bed, blinking into the morning light – an image that may be too close for comfort for some of you here just now. But that’s what Easter is all about. God’s new world has bro-ken in to the old one, putting the clocks forward so that the morning has come before we’re really ready for it. No, this isn’t wishful thinking. It’s re-ality.

But recognising the new reality is just the beginning of obeying the command to ‘come and see’. Come with your questions. Come and examine the evidence, the evidence about Jesus’ life and death, the evidence – which is wonderfully strong – about his bodily resurrection. The path ahead of you may look misty, but as you start to walk on it you’ll find it’s rock solid. Come and see for yourself what it means to live on the basis that two thou-sand years ago something happened by which death itself was defeated, that God’s power was unleashed in accordance with the great stories and prom-ises of scripture, that new creation began with a bang and that nothing has been the same since.

And of course the Easter invitation to come and see involves walking right past the sleeping guards. We have learned to be afraid of them: the outward forces that sneer at us, in public life, at school, in the media, maybe even at home; the inward voices that say you can’t live like that, you can’t actually live as though you were dead to sin and alive to God, as Paul says you are once you’re baptised, the secret whispers that say you know sin will trip you up again so you might as well give in at once. It is indeed possible for Christians to forget the angel’s command not to be afraid, and to allow the very sight of these guards to put us off from coming to the tomb and see-ing for ourselves, from looking long and hard at the fact that sin and death really are beaten enemies and that we can safely ignore the soldiers from now on. Don’t be afraid. Once you have come through the waters of baptism they have no rights over you; and they will only have power over you if you let them. That is why Paul insists that you must reckon, calculate, work it out, that because of your baptism you are truly dead to sin and alive to God in the Messiah, Jesus. Come and see. Work it out. Walk right past the guards and don’t be afraid.

But as soon as you come and see there is the third Easter command: don’t be afraid, come and see, and then ‘Go and tell’. At the heart of the mystery of God’s new creation is the strange truth that it happens, it spreads, when people tell others about it. From the very beginning of the coming together of heaven and earth in a new way, of the fact that knowing things in God’s new world is always an act of love – from the very beginning, God’s new creation happens when people tell others that Jesus has been raised from the dead. God wants new creation to happen through his renewed people, be-cause new creation is all about trust, all about new relationships, all about love. It isn’t as though the new creation were a great machine rumbling into action. It is precisely a new creation, and as with the first creation we hu-mans are called to play an active role within its developing life. Go and tell and watch it happen! That’s why we greet one another with the Easter greet-ing: Christ is risen; risen indeed, Alleluia! With that greeting, that telling, God’s new world happens, comes into being.

Ah, you may say, all that ‘telling’ business, that’s for the professionals. Not true. Notice who are the first, the very first, to be told to go and tell. Not the big strong leaders. Not Peter and the twelve. They are away, hiding, afraid. It is the unlikely people, the women – in that culture, the insignificant and untrustworthy ones! – who are given the ultimate trust, who are the first to see and hear and touch the risen Jesus. He repeats the angel’s command: don’t be afraid, go and tell. This is quite deliberate. Two or three frightened women won’t convince anyone by their own persuasiveness. The message will do its work through them. Go and tell! If they can, you can.

That’s why confirmation means what it means: because though all the baptised are commanded to go and tell, we can only ever obey if God’s Spirit works through us and in us. In confirmation we shall pray for that Spirit to come afresh upon you – not that the Spirit has not been at work al-ready in your lives, because otherwise you wouldn’t have come this far, but that as a church we pray together that God’s Spirit will indwell and work through you in new ways as a member of the body of Christ in this place. Confirmation is a kind of lay ordination, a commissioning in the power of the Spirit to become an agent of God’s new creation, an Easter morning per-son, someone who comes to see and goes to tell and who is learning not to be afraid.
That is why Easter is the ultimate right moment to baptise and confirm. That is why we all renew our baptismal vows this morning. That is why we are invited again to come and see, and recommissioned again to go and tell. And that is why we are commanded, gloriously, not to be afraid. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead; God’s new creation has begun; and you are sum-moned to be part of that, part of the new world in which earth and heaven have become one, and a new knowing, the knowing of love, is brought to birth to witness it. The scriptures and the power of God are now yours, your strength, your energy, your comfort, your guide; because they point to Jesus, the Jesus who died and is alive for evermore and who meets you this morn-ing with greeting and commissioning. Come and see; go and tell; and don’t be afraid.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Chesterton Again

THE modern man thought Becket's robes too rich and his meals too poor. But then the modern man was really exceptional in history; no man before ever ate such elaborate dinners in such ugly clothes. The modern man found the Church too simple exactly where life is too complex; he found the Church too gorgeous exactly where modern life is too dingy. The man who disliked the plain fasts and feasts was mad on entrees. The man who disliked vestments wore a pair of preposterous trousers. And surely if there was any insanity involved in the matter at all it was in the trousers, not in the simply falling robe. If there was any insanity at all, it was in the extravagant entrees, not in the bread and wine.


Choral Evensong

Listen to Choral Evensong while you work. If you tune in every Thursday 1700 UK time, you can listen live. Enjoy!

Lactantius: True and Heavenly Virtue

Facing hardship and evil is tough for Christians who worship a good God. Lactantius offers some words of encouragement to us all as we face trials in this world. Let us be reminded of how we need to prepare ourselves and ready ourselves for the day when trials may come upon us that we, by His grace, can stand virtuously with faith.

Since, therefore, good and evil things are set before man at the same time, it is befitting that every one should consider with himself how much better it is to compensate evils of short duration by perpetual goods, than to endure perpetual evils for short and perishable goods. For as, in this life, when a contest with an enemy is set before you, you must first labour that you may afterwards enjoy repose, you must suffer hunger and thirst, you must endure heat and cold, you must rest on the ground, must watch and undergo dangers, that your children, and house, and property being preserved, you may be able to enjoy all the blessings of peace and victory; but if you should choose present ease in preference to labour, you must do yourself the greatest injury: for the enemy will surprise you offering no resistance, your lands will be laid waste, your house plundered, your wife and children become a prey, you yourself will be slain or taken prisoner; to prevent the occurrence of these things, present advantage must be put aside, that a greater and more lasting advantage may be gained;—so in the whole of this life, because God has provided an adversary for us, that we might be able to acquire virtue, present gratification must be laid aside, lest the enemy should overpower us. We must be on the watch, must post guards, must undertake military expeditions, must shed our blood to the uttermost; in short, we must patiently submit to all things which are unpleasant and grievous, and the more readily because God our commander has appointed for us eternal rewards for our labours. And since in this earthly warfare men expend so much labour to acquire for themselves those things which may perish in the same manner as that in which they were acquired, assuredly no labour ought to be refused by us, by whom that is gained which can in no way be lost.

For God, who created men to this warfare, desired that they should stand prepared in battle array, and with minds keenly intent should watch against the stratagems or open attacks of our single enemy, who, as is the practice of skilful and experienced generals, endeavours to ensnare us by various arts, directing his rage according to the nature and disposition of each. For he infuses into some insatiable avarice, that, being chained by their riches as by fetters, he may drive them from the way of truth. He inflames others with the excitement of anger, that while they are rather intent upon inflicting injury, he may turn them aside from the contemplation of God. He plunges others into immoderate lusts, that, giving themselves to pleasure of the body, they may be unable to look towards virtue. He inspires others with envy, that, being occupied with their own torments, they may think of nothing but the happiness of those whom they hate. He causes others to swell with ambitious desires. These are they who direct the whole occupation and care of their life to the holding of magistracies, that they may set a mark upon the annals, and give a name to the years. The desire of others mounts higher, not that they may rule provinces with the temporal sword, but with boundless and perpetual power may wish to be called lords of the whole human race. Moreover, those whom he has seen to be pious he involves in various superstitions, that he may make them impious. But to those who seek for wisdom, he dashes philosophy before their eyes, that he may blind them with the appearance of light, lest any one should grasp and hold fast the truth. Thus he has blocked up all the approaches against men, and has occupied the way, rejoicing in public errors; but that we might be able to dispel these errors, and to overcome the author of evils himself, God has enlightened us, and has armed us with true and heavenly virtue, respecting which I must now speak.

Roberts, A., Donaldson, J., & Coxe, A. C. 1997. The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VII : Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily and Liturgies.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wright on Justification

Thank you Barb for pointing out these Lectures on Wright. I think there are only two up now but the other two will be up in due time. Enjoy!

After looking at Alastair's blog on the above lecture, I also think it is a good idea to include an article by Tim Gallant. Read Alastair's critique of this as it will help set things within their theological context of the ongoing saga.

Reporting from the Vatican

Here Richard John Neuhaus of First Things reports from the Vatican.

Here is a portion from the text:

I saw him again on October 22, 1978, in his first homily as pope, admonishing and encouraging the whole of humanity to be not afraid. I saw him in Central Park, with hand on cheek in a Jack Benny gesture, mischievously complimenting the crowd's appreciation of his singing a Polish Christmas song. "And you don't even know Polish," he said. I mentioned this when I ate with the pope months later and had to explain to him who Jack Benny was. In such conversations we discussed Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and the ideas that had shaped and misshaped the century, and whether the end of history was at hand. (He thought not).

Kneeling there, I smiled through my tears. Then the time came to leave. Cardinals, bishops, heads of state, and other dignitaries were waiting their turn. And all the thoughts I wanted to think and all the prayers I wanted to pray were distilled in a half-sobbed, half-whispered, "Thank you, Holy Father."

Walking out of the basilica into the sunlight, a shaken friend said, "That wasn't him, he is isn't there." No, I said, he is there. These are the remains, what is left behind of a life such as we are not likely to see again, waiting with all of us the resurrection of the dead, the final vindication of the hope he proclaimed.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Chesterton for the Day

The two quotes from Chesterton below offer much to stir the soul for today.

SUPPOSE that a great commotion arises in the street about something -- let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached on the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, 'Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good -- -- -- ' At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamppost is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmedieval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp we must now discuss in the dark.


HIS soul will never starve for exploits or excitements who is wise enough to be made a fool of. He will make himself happy in the traps that have been laid for him; he will roll in their nets and sleep. All doors will fly open to him who has a mildness more defiant than mere courage. The whole is unerringly expressed in one fortunate phrase -- he will be always 'taken in.' To be taken in everywhere is to see the inside of everything. It is the hospitality of circumstance. With torches and trumpets, like a guest, the greenhorn is taken in by Life. And the sceptic is cast out by it.

'Charles Dickens.'

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Promoting a Conference

I have just about finished watching the 2005 Pastor's Conference of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church featuring The Rt. Rev. Dr. N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, and The Rev. Dr. Richard Gaffin, Professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I cannot express what an important conference this is for many of the readers here. It will become very obvious how +Wright shines through with his grasp on the issues and the debates that surround academic studies in Pauline theology and particularly over those who are presently his overly zealous Reformed critics of which I do not see Dr. Gaffin to be one of those. I recommend that you watch this conference on DVD and then compare it to the lectures found at this particular church (Woodruff Road). This is on mp3 so you will have to be patient and wait for it to fully load. Click the lecture and the Q&A. Some of this lecture has to do with what is known as AAPC Theology that concerns the efficacy of the sacraments that most of my readers would wonder what the big deal was about that anyway. So, never mind that part though you may find it interesting.

May I humbly recommend how crucial it would be to invest in buying the conference on DVD so that you can watch it. I am most emphatic that you will want to see it as well as hearing it for yourself. Enjoy the conference.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Augustine on Baptism

This is a longer post, but it is well worth the read! Enjoy!

Letter XCVIII.
(A.D. 408.)
1. You ask me to state “whether parents do harm to their baptized infant children, when they attempt to heal them in time of sickness by sacrifices to the false gods of the heathen.” Also, “if they do thereby no harm to their children, how can any advantage come to these children at their baptism, through the faith of parents whose departure from the faith does them no harm?” To which I reply, that in the holy union of the parts of the body of Christ, so great is the virtue of that sacrament, namely, of baptism, which brings salvation, that so soon as he who owed his first birth to others, acting under the impulse of natural instincts, has been made partaker of the second birth by others, acting under the impulse of spiritual desires, he cannot be thenceforward held under the bond of that sin in another to which he does not with his own will consent. “Both the soul of the father is mine,” saith the Lord,” and the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die;”869 but he does not sin on whose behalf his parents or any other one resort, without his knowledge, to the impiety of worshipping heathen deities. That bond of guilt which was to be cancelled by the grace of this sacrament he derived from Adam, for this reason, that at the time of Adam’s sin he was not yet a soul having a separate life, i.e. another soul regarding which it! could be said, “both the soul of the father is mine, and the soul of the son is mine.” Therefore now, when the man has a personal, separate existence, being thereby made distinct from his parents, he is not held responsible for that sin in another which is performed without his consent. In the former case, he derived guilt from another, because, at the time when the guilt which he has derived was incurred, he was one with the person from whom he derived it, and was in him. But one man does not derive guilt from another, when, through the fact that each has a separate life belonging to himself, the word may apply equally to both—“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

2. But the possibility of regeneration through the office rendered by the will of another, when the child is presented to receive the sacred rite, is the work exclusively of the Spirit by whom the child thus presented is regenerated. For it is not written, “Except a man be born again by the will of his parents, or by the faith of those presenting the child, or of those administering the ordinance,” but, “Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit.”870 By the water, therefore; which holds forth the sacrament of grace in its outward form, and by the Spirit who bestows the benefit of grace in its inward power, cancelling the bond of guilt, and restoring natural goodness [reconcilians bonum naturae], the man deriving his first birth originally from Adam alone, is regenerated in Christ alone. Now the regenerating Spirit is possessed in common both by the parents who present the child, and by the infant that is presented and is born again; wherefore, in virtue of this participation in the same Spirit, the will of those who present the infant is useful to the child. But when the parents sin against the child by presenting him to the false gods of the heathen, and attempting to bring him under impious bonds unto these false gods, there is not such community of souls subsisting between the parents and the child, that the guilt of one party can be common to both alike. For we are not made partakers of guilt along with others through their will, in the same way as we are made partakers of grace along with others through the unity of the Holy Spirit; because the one Holy Spirit can be in two different persons without their knowing in respect to each other that by Him! grace is the common possession of both, but the human spirit cannot so belong to two individuals as to make the blame common to both in a case in which one of the two sins, and the other does not sin. Therefore a child, having once received natural birth through his parents, can be made partaker of the second (or spiritual) birth by the Spirit of God, so that the bond of guilt which he inherited from his parents is cancelled; but he that has once received this second birth by the Spirit of God cannot be made again partaker of natural birth through his parents, so that the bond once cancelled should again bind him. And thus, when the grace of Christ has been once received, the child does not lose it otherwise than by his own impiety, if, when he becomes older, he turn out so ill. For by that time he will begin to have sins of his own, which cannot be removed by regeneration, but must be healed by other remedial measures.

3. Nevertheless, persons of more advanced fears, whether they be parents bringing their children, or others bringing any little ones, who attempt to place those who have been baptized under obligation to profane worship of heathen gods, are guilty of spiritual homicide. True, they do not actually kill the children’s souls, but they go as far towards killing them as is in their power. The warning, “I)o not kill your little ones,” may be with all propriety addressed to them; for the apostle says, “Quench not the Spirit;”871 not that He can be quenched, but that those who so act as if they wished to have Him quenched are deservedly spoken of as quenchers of the Spirit. In this sense also may be rightly understood the words which most blessed Cyprian wrote in his letter concerning the lapsed, when, rebuking those who in the time of persecution had sacrificed to idols, he says, “And that nothing might be wanting to fill up the measure of their crime, their infant children, carried in arms, or led thither by the hands of their parents, lost, while yet in their infancy, that which they had received as soon as life began.”872 They lost it, he meant, so far at least as pertained to the guilt of the crime of those by whom they were compelled to incur the loss: they lost it, that is to say, in the purpose and wish of those who perpetrated on them such a wrong. For had they actually in their own persons lost it, they must have remained under the divine sentence of condemnation without any plea; but if holy Cyprian had been of this opinion, he would not have added in the immediate context a plea in their defence, saying, “Shall not these say, when the judgment-day has come: ‘We have done nothing; we have not of our own accord hastened to participate in profane rites, forsaking the bread and the cup of the Lord; the apostasy of others caused our destruction; we found our parents murderers, for they deprived us of our Mother the Church and of our Father the Lord, so that, through the wrong done by others, we were ensnared, because, while yet young and unable to think for ourselves, we were by the deed of others, and while wholly ignorant of such a crime, made partners in their sin‘?” This plea in their defence he would not have subjoined had he not believed it to be perfectly just, and one which would be of service to these infants at the bar of divine judgment. For if it is said by them with truth, “We have done nothing,” then “the soul that sinneth, it shall die;” and in the just dispensation of judgment by God, those shall not be doomed to perish whose souls their parents did, so far at least as concerns their own guilt in the transaction, bring to ruin.

4. As to the incident mentioned in the same letter, that a girl who was left as an infant in charge of her nurse, when her parents had escaped by sudden flight, and was made by that nurse to take part in the profane rites of idolatrous worship, had afterwards in the Church expelled from her mouth, by wonderful motions, the Eucharist when it was given to her, this seems to ate to have been caused by divine interposition, in order that persons of riper years might not imagine that in this sin they do no wrong to the children, but rather might understand, by means of a bodily action of obvious significance on the part of those who were unable to speak, that a miraculous warning was given to themselves as to the course which would have been becoming in persons who, after so great a crime, rushed heedlessly to those sacraments from which they ought by all means, in proof of penitence, to have abstained. When Divine Providence does anything of this kind by means of infant children, we must not believe that they are acting under the guidance of knowledge and reason; just as we are not called upon to admire the wisdom of asses, because once God was pleased to rebuke the madness of a prophet by the voice of an ass.873 If, therefore, a sound exactly like the human voice was uttered by an irrational animal, and this was to be ascribed to a divine miracle, not to faculties belonging to the ass, the Almighty could, in like manner, through the spirit of an infant (in which reason was not absent, but only slumbering undeveloped), make manifest by a motion of its body something to which those who had sinned against both their own souls and their children behoved to give heed. But since a child cannot return to become again a part of the author of his natural life, so as to be one with him and in him, but is a wholly distinct individual, having a body and a soul of his own, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

5. Some, indeed, bring their little ones for baptism, not in the believing expectation that they shall be regenerated unto life eternal by spiritual grace, but because they think that by this as a remedy the children may recover or retain bodily health; but let not this disquiet your mind, because their regeneration is not prevented by the fact that this blessing has no place in the intention of those by whom they are presented for baptism. For by these persons the ministerial actions which are necessary are performed, and the sacramental words are pronounced, without which the infant cannot be consecrated to God, But the Holy Spirit who dwells in the saints, in those, namely, whom the glowing flame of love has fused together into the one Dove whose wings are covered with silver,874 accomplishes His work even by the ministry of bond-servants, of persons who are sometimes not only ignorant through simplicity, but even culpably unworthy to be employed by Him. The presentation of the little ones to receive the spiritual grace is the act not so much of those by whose hands they are borne up (although it is theirs also in part, if they themselves are good believers) as of the whole society of saints and believers. For it is proper to regard the infants as presented by all who take pleasure in their baptism, and through whose holy and perfectly-united love they are assisted in receiving the communion of the Holy Spirit. Therefore this is done by the whole mother Church, which is in the saints, because the whole Church is the parent of all the saints, and the whole Church is the parent of each one of them. For if the sacrament of Christian baptism, being always Due and the same, is of value even when administered by heretics, and though not in that case sufficing to secure to the baptized person participation in eternal life, does suffice to seal his consecration to God; and if this consecration makes him who, having the mark of the Lord, remains outside of the Lord’s flock, guilty as a heretic, but reminds us at the same time that he is to be corrected by sound doctrine, but not to be a second time consecrated by repetition of the ordinance;—if this be the case even in the baptism of heretics, how much more credible is it that within the Catholic Church that which is only straw should be of service in bearing the grain to the floor in which it is to be winnowed, and by means of which it is to be prepared for being added to the heap of good grain!

6. I would, moreover, wish you not to remain under the mistake of supposing that the bond of guilt which is inherited from Adam cannot be cancelled in any other way than by the parents. themselves presenting their little ones to receive the grace of Christ; for you write: “As the parents have been the authors of the life which makes them liable to condemnation, the children should receive justification through the same channel, through the faith of the same parents;” whereas you see that many are not presented by parents, but also by any strangers whatever, as sometimes the infant are children of slaves are presented by their masters. Sometimes also, when their parents deceased, little orphans are baptized, being presented by those who had it in their power to manifest their compassion in this way. Again, sometimes foundlings which heartless parents have exposed in order to their being cared for by any passer-by, are picked tip by holy virgins, and are presented for baptism by these persons, who neither have nor desire to have children of their own: and in this you behold precisely what was done in the case mentioned in the Gospel of the man wounded by thieves, and left half dead on the way, regarding whom the Lord asked who was neighbour to him, and received for answer: “He that showed mercy on him.”875

Augustine: Could it be more clear?

9. You know that in ordinary parlance we often say, when Easter is approaching, “Tomorrow or the day after is the Lord’s Passion,” although He suffered so many years ago, and His passion was endured once for all time. In like manner, on Easter Sunday, we say, “This day the Lord rose from the dead,” although so many years have passed since His resurrection. But no one is so foolish as to accuse us of falsehood when we use these phrases, for this reason, that we give such names to these days on the ground of a likeness between them and the days on which the events referred to actually transpired, the day being called the day of that event, although it is not the very day on which! the event took place, but one corresponding to it by the revolution of the same time of the! year, and the event itself being said to take place on that day, because, although it really took place long before. it is on that day sacramentally celebrated. Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice.? and yet, is He. not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. In most cases, moreover, they do in virtue of this likeness bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As, therefore, in a certain manner the sacrament of Christ’s body is Christ’s body, and the sacrament of Christ’s blood is Christ’s blood,876 in the same manner the sacrament of faith is faith. Now believing is nothing else than having faith; and accordingly, when, on behalf of an infant as yet incapable of exercising faith, the answer is given that he believes, this answer means that he has faith because of the sacrament of faith, and in like manner the answer is made that he turns himself to God because of the sacrament of conversion, since the answer itself belongs to the celebration of the sacrament. Thus the apostle says, in regard to this sacrament of Baptism: “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death.”877 He does not say, “We have signified our being buried with Him,” but “We have been buried with Him.” He has therefore given to the sacrament pertaining to so great a transaction no other name than the word describing the transaction itself.

10. Therefore an infant, although he is not yet a believer in the sense of having that faith which includes the consenting will of those who exercise it, nevertheless becomes a believer through the sacrament of that faith. For as it is answered that he believes, so also he is called a believer, not because he assents to the truth by an act of his own judgment, but because he receives the sacrament of that truth. When, however, he begins to have the discretion of manhood, he will not repeat the sacrament, but understand its meaning, and become conformed to the truth which it contains, with his will also consenting. During the time in which he is by reason—of youth unable to do this, the sacrament will avail for his protection against adverse powers, and will avail so much on his behalf, that if before he arrives at the use of reason he depart from this life, he is delivered by Christian help, namely, by the love of the Church commending him through this sacrament unto God, from that condemnation which by one man entered into the world.878 He who does not believe this, and thinks that it is impossible, is assuredly an unbeliever, although he may have received the sacrament of faith; and far before him in merit is the infant which, though not yet possessing a faith helped by the understanding, is not obstructing faith by any antagonism of the understanding, and therefore receives with profit the sacrament of faith.

I have answered your questions, as it seems to me, in a manner which, if I were dealing with persons of weaker capacity and disposed to gainsaying, would be inadequate, but which is perhaps more than sufficient to satisfy peaceable and sensible persons. Moreover, I have not urged in my defence the mere fact that the custom is thoroughly established, but have to the best of my ability advanced reasons in support of it as fraught with very abundant blessing.
Schaff, P. 1997. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. I. The confessions and letters of St. Augustin with a sketch of his life and work.

Augustine: Martyrs and Sacrifice of the Priest

Take special note of the way Augustine speaks of the Eucharist here: Emphasis is in italics.

Chapter 10.—That the Martyrs Who Obtain Many Miracles in Order that the True God May Be Worshipped, are Worthy of Much Greater Honor Than the Demons, Who Do Some Marvels that They Themselves May Be Supposed to Be God.

Here perhaps our adversaries will say that their gods also have done some wonderful things, if now they begin to compare their gods to our dead men. Or will they also say that they have gods taken from among dead men, such as Hercules, Romulus, and many others whom they fancy to have been received into the number of the gods? But our martyrs are not our gods; for we know that the martyrs and we have both but one God, and that the same. Nor yet are the miracles which they maintain to have been done by means of their temples at all comparable to those which are done by the tombs of our martyrs. If they seem similar, their gods have been defeated by our martyrs as Pharaoh’s magi were by Moses. In reality, the demons wrought these marvels with the same impure pride with which they aspired to be the gods of the nations; but the martyrs do these wonders, or rather God does them while they pray and assist, in order that an impulse may be given to the faith by which we believe that they are not our gods, but have, together with ourselves, one God. In fine, they built temples to these gods of theirs, and set up altars, and ordained priests, and appointed sacrifices; but to our martyrs we build, not temples as if they were gods, but monuments as to dead men whose spirits live with God. Neither do we erect altars at these monuments that we may sacrifice to the martyrs, but to the one God of the martyrs and of ourselves; and in this sacrifice they are named in their own place and rank as men of God who conquered the world by confessing Him, but they are not invoked by the sacrificing priest. For it is to God, not to them, he sacrifices, though he sacrifices at their monument; for he is God’s priest, not theirs. The sacrifice itself, too, is the body of Christ, which is not offered to them, because they themselves are this body. Which then can more readily be believed to work miracles? They who wish themselves to be reckoned gods by those on whom they work miracles, or those whose sole object in working any miracle is to induce faith in God, and in Christ also as God? They who wished to turn even their crimes into sacred rites, or those who are unwilling that even their own praises be consecrated, and seek that everything for which they are justly praised be ascribed to the glory of Him in whom they are praised? For in the Lord their souls are praised. Let us therefore believe those who both speak the truth and work wonders. For by speaking the truth they suffered, and so won the power of working wonders. And the leading truth they professed is that Christ rose from the dead, and first showed in His own flesh the immortality of the resurrection which He promised should be ours, either in the beginning of the world to come, or in the end of this world.

Schaff, P. 1997. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. II. St. Augustin's City of God and Christian Doctrine.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Anglican Tributes to Pope John Paul II

Will the Church ever be healed of its schism? One can only pray that all will be willing to take up the Cross of Christ and as our baptism teaches, die with Him and be raised up to newness of life with Him in unity. The Anglican Communion and Pope John Paul II.

Cyprian on Baptism and the Cup

In the same argument for the mixture of water with wine in the Cup of the Lord, Cyprian has this to say on baptism.

8. But as often as water is named alone in the Holy Scriptures, baptism is referred to, as we see intimated in Isaiah: “Remember not,” says he, “the former things, and consider not the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, which shall now spring forth; and ye shall know it. I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry place, to give drink to my elected people, my people whom I have purchased, that they might show forth my praise.”14 There God foretold by the prophet, that among the nations, in places which previously had been dry, rivers should afterwards flow plenteously, and should provide water for the elected people of God, that is, for those who were made sons of God by the generation of baptism.15 Moreover, it is again predicted and foretold before, that the Jews, if they should thirst and seek after Christ, should drink with us, that is, should attain the grace of baptism. “If they shall thirst,” he says, “He shall lead them through the deserts, shall bring forth water for them out of the rock; the rock shall be cloven, and the water shall flow, and my people shall drink; ”16 which is fulfilled in the Gospel, when Christ, who is the Rock, is cloven by a stroke of the spear in His passion; who also, admonishing what was before announced by the prophet, cries and says, “If any man thirst, let him come and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” And that it might be more evident that the Lord is speaking there, not of the cup, but of baptism, the Scripture adds, saying, “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.”17 For by baptism the Holy Spirit is received; and thus by those who are baptized, and have attained to the Holy Spirit, is attained the drinking of the Lord’s cup. And let it disturb no one, that when the divine Scripture speaks of baptism, it says that we thirst and drink, since the Lord also in the Gospel says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; ”18 because what is received with a greedy and thirsting desire is drunk more fully and plentifully. As also, in another place, the Lord speaks to the Samaritan woman, saying, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst for ever.”19 By which is also signified the very baptism of saving water, which indeed is once received, and is not again repeated. But the cup of the Lord is always both thirsted for and drunk in the Church.

Cyprian on Eucharistic Sacrifice

Epistle LXII.1
Caecilius, on the Sacrament of the Cup of the Lord.
Argument.—Cyprian Teaches, in Opposition to Those Who Used Water in the Lord’s Supper, that Not Water Alone, But Wine Mixed with Water, Was to Be Offered; That by Water Was Designated in Scripture, Baptism, But Certainly Not the Eucharist. By Types Drawn from the Old Testament, the Use of Wine in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body is Illustrated; And It is Declared that by the Symbol of Water is Understood the Christian Congregation.

17. And because we make mention of His passion in all sacrifices (for the Lord’s passion is the sacrifice which we offer), we ought to do nothing else than what He did. For Scripture says, “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord’s death till He come.”40 As often, therefore, as we offer the cup in commemoration of the Lord and of His passion, let us do what it is known the Lord did. And let this conclusion be reached, dearest brother: if from among our predecessors any have either by ignorance or simplicity not observed and kept this which the Lord by His example and teaching has instructed us to do, he may, by the mercy of the Lord, have pardon granted to his simplicity. But we cannot be pardoned who are now admonished and instructed by the Lord to offer the cup of the Lord mingled with wine according to what the Lord offered, and to direct letters to our colleagues also about this, so that the evangelical law and the Lord’s tradition may be everywhere kept, and there be no departure from what Christ both taught and did.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Only in America

The sign in the photo was taken from Holy Island, Lindisfarne and I thought it went along nicely with this man's site. I saw Pope Michael on a fellow blogger's site today and I can hardly stop laughing but thinking about it and looking at the pictures almost brings me to tears. One of the differences of this guy with much of Protestantism is that at least he has been willing to admit his self-appointment to Pope and and wears the costumes. Many others walk around in suits and other types of regular clothing claiming the same authority though a bit more cleverly. Watch out, these anti-popes are all around! What a great laugh!

Making Progress

It has been an exciting week for me. Many good things have happened with reference to our long-term future here in England and my priesthood as well as academic progress in my research. On Monday, Dr. Marianne Dorman, a scholar of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes came up to visit me after having given a paper on Andrewes at Cambridge. We have had a wonderful time talking and it is now 1:42 am and I am just getting to bed after a long evening of discussion of Eucharistic theology in the 16th and 17th century and particularly Andrewes' Eucharistic theology. (I think Rhea could write my dissertation as much as she has had to listen to!)

Marianne has been very gracious and encouraging to me about my work and progress of study and it has been a delight to have her in our home. We have a busy day scheduled together tomorrow to do some research and planning concerning the shape of my dissertation on Andrewes and a rough outline that I am sure will go through numerous changes that I have showed her. I will post a picture of us tomorrow as we forgot to get one today. I will have more to write tomorrow or Friday.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Reflections on Pope John Paul II

Many people and theologians throughout the world reflect positively on this Pope even those who would theologically disagree. The Rev. Dr. Peter Leithart is one such theologian. At the end of his tribute he writes, "Flawed though his theology was, he remains far and away the greatest Christian leader of the past century. No Protestant comes anywhere close. Billy Graham may have preached more (maybe!), but Graham had nowhere near the political weight or the theological depth of Pope John Paul II. John Paul II's life is not only testimony to the wonders that God can perform through imperfect instruments but an inspiration for all Christians, whether or not we aspire to pope."
(April 2, 2005) As we reflect on the passing from us of Pope John Paul II, I ask that prayers of thanksgiving for his life and witness be offered at all services in the Diocese this Sunday.

Anglicans formally recognized the Bishop of Rome as the Patriarch of the Western Church in the sixth century when the already ancient British Church welcomed the Benedictine Monk, Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great to be Archbishop of Canterbury. While the Anglican Church ceased, nearly a millennium later, to be in sacramental communion with the Roman See in an unresolved dispute over the proper exercise of the authority its bishop, the Bishop of Rome has never ceased to be for bishops in the Anglican Communion the first among equals. For many years successive Archbishops of Canterbury have visited and been visited by the Pope as they have the historic Patriarchs of the East.

We offer our prayers and support for our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church who feel the loss of John Paul II particularly acutely. Since the Second Vatican Council, Anglicans and Roman Catholics have been in constant dialogue with the express goal of working towards the full restoration of sacramental communion. I have had the privilege of participating for more than a decade in dialogue with Roman Catholic bishops, both in Saskatchewan and nationally.

John Paul II will be remembered as one of the towering personalities of the twentieth century, and the foremost Christian leader of his generation. His obvious sanctity, fierce intelligence, courage and vitality; his extraordinary engagement with contemporary culture, politics and art; his brilliant grasp of symbol and gesture; his unceasing travels; his unmatched command of the media and unerring ability to speak to the issues of the moment – all these made him a constant presence and inspiration in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ the world over. Even those who opposed him respected his commitment and integrity: as well he inspired many uncommitted seekers and adherents of other religions.

He leaves us not only a spiritual example of a sanctified life; he leaves an extraordinary educational and moral legacy as well. His philosophy of personalism suffuses the cornucopia of teaching documents he has released over the years to stabilize the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the Second Vatican Council – chief among them the encyclicals Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life); Fides et ratio (Faith and Reason); and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. His leadership in the defeat of communist totalitarianism in Eastern Europe is universally recognized. Canadians will remember his three visits to our country, particularly his return visit to Northern Canada in fulfillment of a promise earlier frustrated by bad weather, and his visit to World Youth Day in 2002.

I will always think of John Paul II as an apostle of life and freedom; the life of Jesus Christ embraced in prayer, sacrament, suffering and friendship; the freedom of Jesus Christ found in self-offering, the love of life, and the determination to face down oppression, whether political or ideological, wherever it is found. John Paul’s insight into the culture of life will likely be his principal gift to the generation which follows him which will need to think about new issues of medical ethics and biotechnology. For this and for so much God has given us through him, I give thanks.

In Christ,

+Anthony Saskatchewan

Paul Bradshaw On Eucharistic Sacrifice

Here is an article that some of you may find interesting for reading. Let me know your thoughts. It's generally on sacrifice in the New Testament but Bradshaw ties it nicely to the sacrifice of the Eucharist and how the early Church saw the nature of sacrificial worship and its development as a whole united to the Eucharistic celebration.

The concept of sacrifice in the new testament and in early liturgy:
a talk for Ceiliúradh, Dublin, 16 June 2003
by Paul Bradshaw

Friday, April 01, 2005

Andrewes on Good Works

The Catholics at one time stung Bishop Andrewes with the charge that the religion of the day was filled with full minds and little works and Reidy quoting Andrewes' response writes,

Here I call for them [good works] now, I take witness, I call you to record, I call heaven to record ... I have made them a part of my charge, and the most earnest and vehement part of my charge, even the charge of doing good. To you, therefore, that be rich, I make this charge; if you do not good, talk not of faith, for you have no faith in you. On the last day you will not be asked of the highness or lowness of your minds, of your trust and confidence, or any other virtues, but of your feeding, clothing, visiting, harbouring, succouring ... of your well-doing only. This I say to you, bear witness I say it.

I guess if we have problems with these strong words and wish not to receive them from Andrewes, maybe Jesus would receive a better hearing. See Matthew 25:31-46.

Actors on a Stage

One of the things that made Lancelot Andrewes a man of such great insights and reflection into the human soul was his role as confessor and penitentiary. In a brilliant attack on hypocrisy in one of his Ash Wednesday sermons he says,

The heathen man long since observed, that Mundus scena, that in his conceit, 'the world for all the world was like a stage or theatre,' scarce a true face in it, all in a manner personate; and the actions in the world not much unlike to their acting of their parts in the acts and scenes of a stage-play; but our Saviour Christ He goes farther, He tells us here [Matthew 6:16] of a stranger matter. That there want not that make His Church a very stage, and play with religion, and play religion and every part of it, so carrying themselves in things pertaining to God as if they had some play or pageant in hand. It is but too true this. If you will set up a stage, I will find you actors for it enow.

For the hypocrite, Andrewes had nothing but scorn.

Just Playing

On Wednesday we took a trip to Holy Island Lindisfarne to see the castle and priory ruins and the place where St. Cuthbert died whose remains ended up at the Durham Cathedral. Then, on Thursday we traveled 40 miles to Alnwick Castle to see the castle and gardens and it is the place where much of Harry Potter was filmed. After leaving the castle and on our way home, we went over towards Hexham to see Hadrian's Wall that was built 1900 years ago and stretches across the length of the country. The Wall is not too far from the Scottish border in Northumbria. It was a great couple of days. I'll post a few pictures here and will hopefully get all of them (162) posted to a site for your viewing pleasure. Rhea, my wife, will post a more detailed account of the trip to our family news site within the next day or so. Enjoy.

    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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