Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Orthamerica: Energy & God

Orthamerica: Energy & God: "In the ancient theology of the undivided church, we find a concept of God that has been lost in the contemporary west. I refer to the concep..."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Farewell Blog

Greetings dear bloggers; I started this blog in April of 2009, & since then I have written 155 posts, and the site has seen over 8500 visits. My goal for this blog was to integrate patristic Christian teaching into our contemporary Christian thinking. I hope that the blog has accomplished that goal in some small way.


The time has come for me to shift gears. I am going to move my blogging to a new blog site called “Orthamerica”. In this blog I will focus on describing the orthodox faith of the undivided church, without the additions or subtractions that are common in America’s Christianity. Then, in this blog I will try to imagine what this orthodox faith of undivided church could look like in modern day America, hence the name “Orthamerica”.



Go to the new blog here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ruling the Passions



Since the reformation, and Luther’s rejection of monastic life, western Christianity has considered monasticism to be an expression of Christian living that is to be rejected. As a consequence of this rejection, we in the post-protestant west have lost our understanding of asceticism in general. Below is a short excerpt from an article that explains the central role of asceticism in the life of the Christian.


ASCETICISM

Asceticism is practiced through the will in prayer to God and for life. On account of the centrality of the will if anything is going to change for the better in our lives it is the sin of pride that must be dealt with first if further progress is to be made. Pride places ourselves where God should be. It replaces His rule for ours. It subverts our relationships with Him and others through all manners of self pre-occupation. In short, pride has to be killed. In abject poverty of spirit we need to come to God and "throw in the towel" as it were and surrender ourselves to Him. Then, and only then can we hope to make progress with the other sins.

Sin

Sin's Target

Ascetic Task

Fruit

Pride

Will

Surrender to God

Communion with God

Anger

Control

Humility

Reconciliation, Forgiveness

Envy

Relationships

Thanksgiving

Contentment with God's Gifts

Greed

Possessions

Offering

Attachment to God alone

Gluttony

Food

Fasting

Strengthened body and will to serve God

Lust

Sex

Chastity

Depth in relationships

Sloth

Energy

Work discipline

Human development

From: Antiochian Orthodox UK


Friday, November 5, 2010

How are we to read the bible?

How are we to read the bible?


“We know, receive, and interpret Scripture through the Church and in the Church.” Our approach to the Bible is not only obedient but ecclesial. The words of Scripture, while addressed to us personally, are at the same time addressed to us as members of a community. Book and Church are not to be separated.

The interdependence of Church and Bible is evident in at least two ways. First, we receive Scripture through and in the Church. The Church tells us what is Scripture. In the first three centuries of Christian history, a lengthy process of sifting and testing was needed in order to distinguish between that which is authentically “canonical” Scripture, bearing authoritative witness to Christ’s person and message, and that which is “apocryphal,” useful perhaps for teaching, but not a normative source of doctrine. Thus, the Church has decided which books form the Canon of the New Testament. A book is not part of Holy Scripture because of any particular theory about its date and authorship, but because the Church treats it as canonical. Suppose, for example, that it could be proved that the Fourth Gospel was not actually written by Saint John the beloved disciple of Christ – in my view, there are in fact strong reasons for continuing to accept John’s authorship – yet, even so, this would not alter the fact that we regard the Fourth Gospel as Scripture. Why? Because the Fourth Gospel, whoever the author may be, is accepted by the Church and in the Church.

Secondly, we interpret Scripture through and in the Church. If it is the Church that tells us what is Scripture, equally it is the Church that tells us how Scripture is to be understood. Coming upon the Ethiopian as he read the Old Testament in his chariot, Philip the Deacon asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

“How can I,” answered the Ethiopian, “unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30, 31).

His difficulty is also ours. The words of Scripture are not always self-explanatory. The Bible has a marvelous underlying simplicity, but when studied in detail it can prove a difficult book. God does indeed speak directly to the heart of each one of us during our Scripture reading – as Saint Tikhon says, our reading is a personal dialogue between each one and Christ Himself – but we also need guidance. And our guide is the Church. We make full use of our private understanding; illuminated by the Spirit. We make full use of biblical commentaries and of the findings of modern research. But we submit individual opinions, whether our own or those of the scholars, to the judgment of the Church.

We read the Bible personally, but not as isolated individuals. We say not “I” but “we.” We read as the members of a family. … The decisive criterion of our understanding of what Scripture means is the mind of the Church.

To discover this “mind of the Church,” where do we begin? A first step is to see how Scripture is used in worship. How in particular are biblical lessons chosen for reading at the different feasts? A second step is to consult the writings of the Church Fathers, especially St. John Chrysostom. How do they analyze and apply the text of Scripture? An ecclesial manner of reading the Bible is in this Way both liturgical and patristic. (
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Post Communion Prayer of St. Symeon


O Thou Who givest me willingly Thy Flesh for food,
Thou Who art fire, and burnest the unworthy,
Scorch me not, O my Maker,
But rather pass through me for the integration of my members,
Into all my joints, my affections, and my heart.
Burn up the thorns of all my sins.
Purify my soul, sanctify my mind;
Strengthen my knees and bones;
Enlighten the simplicity of my five senses.
Nail down the whole of me with Thy fear.
Ever protect, guard, and keep me
From every soul-destroying word and act.
Sanctify, purify, attune, and rule me.
Adorn me, give me understanding, and enlighten me.
Make me the habitation of Thy Spirit alone,
And no longer a habitation of sin,
That as Thy house from the entry of communion
Every evil spirit and passion may flee from me like fire.
I offer Thee as intercessors all the sanctified,
The Commanders of the Bodiless Hosts,
Thy Forerunner, the wise Apostles,
And Thy pure and immaculate Mother.
Receive their prayers, my compassionate Christ.
And make Thy slave a child of light.
For Thou alone art our sanctification, O Good One,
And the radiance of our souls,
And to Thee as our Lord and God as is right
We all give glory day and night.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Throw out the guitars and bring back sacred silence – a liturgical wish-list from a young Catholic

It is always wise to listen. In our day, it may be especially wise to listen to some of the younger voices in our parishes.

One such voice said: "Guitars (electric or acoustic), keyboards, recorder and tambourines are, I’m afraid, throwbacks to the 1960s and ‘70s and are simply embarrassing today."

A great article is found at this link:


Throw out the guitars and bring back sacred silence – a liturgical wish-list from a young Catholic

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Litany for "All Saints Day"

The Litany of Intercession


In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father saying,


O Lord, hear our prayer.



O Lord, govern and direct your holy Church; fill it with love and truth;


and grant it that unity which is your will.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Give us boldness to preach the gospel in all the world,


and to make disciples of all the nations.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Enlighten [N.], our bishop(s), and all your ministers with knowledge and understanding, that by their teaching and their lives they may proclaim your word.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Give your people grace to hear and receive your word,


and to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Strengthen those who stand, comfort and help the faint-hearted;


raise up the fallen; and finally beat down Satan under our feet.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Guide the leaders of the nations into the ways of peace and justice.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Guard and strengthen your servant [N.] our President,


that he may put his trust in you, and seek your honor and glory.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Endue the Congress and the High Court with wisdom and understanding.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Bless all those who administer the law, that they may uphold justice,


honesty and truth.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Give us the will to use the fruits of the earth to your glory,


and for the good of all creation.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Bless and keep all your people.


O Lord, hear our prayer.


Help and comfort the lonely, the bereaved [N.], and the oppressed.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Keep in safety those who travel [N.], and all who are in danger.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Heal the sick in body and mind [N.],


and provide for the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Show your pity on prisoners and refugees, and all who are in trouble.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Forgive our enemies, persecutors and slanderers, and turn their hearts.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ [N.];


and according to your promises, grant us a place in your eternal kingdom with them.


O Lord, hear our prayer.



Rejoicing in the fellowship of the holy Patriarchs, Prophets,


Apostles, Martyrs, The Blessed Virgin Mary, [N.] and all the saints,


we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.


Amen.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Line or Circle?

The more I expose myself to the writings of the eastern fathers, the more I notice an irreconcilable difference between us and them. While it is certainly true that there is no single perspective that divides us, there nevertheless exists a basic set of viewpoints that are at the core of our differences. In this post I would like to address three points of distinction between us and them for our consideration.


First, contemporary western Christianity is 1] linear, 2] logical & 3] legal in its approach to reality, life, God, & c… In our western minds all things move in a straight line from A to Z, all things are subject to a logic that creates a cohesive and orderly account of God and His kingdom. Moreover, mankind's goal is rooted in getting right, and staying right with others and with God. This threefold perspective is easily seen in the western church’s liturgies, which take us form the entrance sin stained parishioners into God's courts and end in the being sent out as Christ’s emissaries. Our western architecture also illustrates this linear perspective, it is full of angles that point us straight up, out, and away from this world, it tells a story of an outward trajectory. In addition, western doctrine shows itself to be obsessive compulsive about our juridical standing before God, we begin soiled and we end cleansed. Every doctrine hinges on justification.


The eastern fathers on the other hand, come from a diametrically opposite set of views. They are 1] round, 2] relational, & 3] restorative in their approach to reality, life, God, & c… This too can be seen in the eastern liturgies, architecture, and doctrines. In the early liturgies we see nothing linear about them, prayers and litanies occur throughout, several entrances, the priest praying one set of words, the choir singing one song and people running around lighting candles and prostrating. Their buildings are circular in shape, they turn in on the earth, and heaven and earth become one. Their doctrine centers on God becoming man to raise man up to God, the goal is healing the broken sinner. This opposite approach can leave westerners feeling like they entered a three ring circus. However, the point of distinction that should not be missed is that the early east was Kairos focused rather than Chronos focused. Consequentially, the east was larger, fuller, and better able to take in the whole of the faith.


Can these two perspectives ever be reconciled? Perhaps not! However, it is possible to drop a bridge that enables the linear, logical, and legal to cross over into the round, relational, & restorative. The challenge for our failed western experiment will be to learn to fit chronos into kairos.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shrinking God’s Kingdom

Last Sunday, one our parish families’ asked me to bless an icon of “The Good Shepherd” for their home. I was pleased to see that the establishment of icon corners is taking place within our homes. The concept of icon corners or icons in general does not sit well with those who have grown up in Protestantism. It can be seen by many as a form of idolatry. But why is this the case? It is because of an ignorance of the whole faith of the undivided church. Those who struggle with iconography do not know about the 7th ecumenical council, its conclusions, its laws, or the connection of iconography to Christ’s incarnation. In short, they misunderstand iconography due to their ignorance of the implications of God becoming man in Christ. How can this be, how can it be that an Anglican, one steeped in liturgy, can be find themselves in this position?


The answer, as I see it, is found in the primary effect of the protestant reformation, and its truncation or shrinking of the faith. While Anglicanism did not buy into the wholesale burning of patristic thought as did many Protestant groups, it did get caught up in the spirit of the age. In one sense it was very profitable to do so while in others not. The profit came in the formation of the “Book of Common Prayer.” In it, the primary daily offices, weekly, yearly, and lifelong liturgies were contained, summaries of the faith and even the liturgies of ordinations. This was ingenious; it presented the people with a summary of the faith, and made it possible for all to pray and study the whole faith.



There was however a downside to the BCP. The downside is that the only practices that were allowed were those in the prayer book. This meant that blessing material things was no longer to be practiced. It meant that much of the seventh ecumenical council and its canons went out the window. There were no provisions for clergy to conduct any service outside the BCP, thus the people forgot the holy tradition left to them by the church. One may say that this problem has been remedied by the newer prayer books and their new rubrics, which permit almost anything, however, that really does not resolve the issue, but merely opens the door to innovations!



Looking back, what should have happened was that the BCP should have served as “the people’s prayer book”, but the church should have retained its English liturgical books revised to match the contents of the seven ecumenical councils. This would have left the populous with a summary of the faith, but not permitted the smaller book to be the sum & substance of the faith. This would have kept Anglicanism from the truncations of Protestantism. History cannot be changed; nevertheless, we must still face the future with eyes wide open. In order to recover the whole faith for Anglicans we need not only an orthodox BCP that is inline with the seven councils, but also orthodox liturgical books inline with the seven councils that contain the whole faith as it was passed on to us.



We could learn something here from the Eastern churches, which have retained that undivided faith. Below is a list of liturgical books used in the Eastern churches, In the East:


Five books contain the ordinary parts of the service:


· The Liturgikon contains the priest's and deacon's parts for the daily liturgical cycle.



  • The Horologion contains the people's parts for the daily liturgical cycle.

  • The Euchologion contains the occasional services conducted by a priest, such as the baptism, wedding and funeral services, as well as assorted priestly blessings.

  • The Archieratikon contains those services conducted by a bishop: ordination, consecration of a church, and so on.

Three books contain the Scriptural readings used in the services:



  • The Psalter contains the 150 psalms, divided into twenty kathismata, as well as the nine Scriptural canticles.

  • The Gospel Book contains the specified readings (called pericopes) from the Holy Gospel.

  • The Apostol contains the non-Gospel readings from the New Testament (the "apostolic writings"), and the readings from the Old Testament.

A single book contains all the hymns which recur in an eight-week cycle throughout the year:



  • The Octoechos contains the Sunday and weekday hymns in each of the Eight Tones.

Three books contain the parts of the services for the liturgical year:



  • The Triodion contains the proper hymns and prayers used during the Great Fast.


  • The Pentecostarion contains the proper hymns and prayers used during the Paschal season, from Pascha to the Sunday of All Saints.

  • The Menaion contains the proper hymns and prayers for feasts and commemorations on the fixed calendar - that is, those which fall on the same date each year.

  • Finally, the Typikon provides rules for the celebration of each service, what to do when several feasts fall on the same day, and so on.

These liturgical books used in the worship of the church are the means by which the whole faith is kept intact, and is passed on!


However, in the east, the individual person only needs one book containing only the most important services and the principal feasts is necessary. Such a book is called an Anthologion. This is the Eastern Book of Common Prayer. In the Eastern liturgical set up the benefit of both liturgical books and a BCP co-exist.


Monday, October 4, 2010

The Feast of St Francis




Blessed Francis (1182 – 1226) was an ordained deacon and preacher. He also was the founder of the Order of Friars Minor, more commonly known as the Franciscans. He is known as the patron saint of animals, and of the environment. It is customary for Anglican-Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Day of Angels

The collect (gathering prayer) for the feast day of Saint Michael and All the Angels:

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


September 29th is the day wherein the Anglican Communion of churches remembers & celebrates the ministry of the angels and their chief, the archangel Michael. On this day we pray according to the ancient tradition of the undivided church saying the collect above. The earliest version of this prayer comes to us from the Gregorian Sacramentary, and dates back to the 5-6th century. Our present version is however from the 1549 BCP, revised by Archbishop Cranmer. The essence of the prayer remains unchanged; however, in true English poetic fashion the prayer elaborates a few points.


Like most collects, this one opens with a piece of great theological truth (dogma) which is to be handed down to the church year by year as we pray it. Hence, in this collect, like all others, we have a catechizing of sorts taking place. The dogma within this collect reminds us that it is God who ordains & constitutes the wonderful ministries of both angels and men. The dogmatic point is that both angles and men are extensions of God’s work, or energies, in the creation.


Like most collects, the prayer moves on to its petition. The prayer pleads with the Lord to allow the angelic ministry of heavenly service and worship, to be used as a help to us here and now in this temporal part of creation. The prayer pleads for the angels to connect us to their eternal service here and now.


In short, today we remember and celebrate that God has indeed appointed spiritual beings he calls “fiery servants” not only to serve Him and worship Him, but to help and defend us to do the same.


Of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire." Heb 1: 7


Monday, September 27, 2010

Catholics, Orthodox, & Anglicans

QUOTE

Archbishop Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said in a news conference last week the two churches “will be able to enrich each other,” adding that the “basic principle of ecumenism is the exchange of gifts.”


“The first step is to tell each other individually how we imagine unity would look like. For the Catholic Church, of course, unity without the Bishop of Rome is unimaginable,” he underscored. “That’s because the issue of the Bishop of Rome is not just an organizational question, but also a theological one. The dialogue about just how this unity should be shaped must be continued intensively. Unity means that we see each other fully as sister churches.”


Archbishop Koch added that he thinks Pope Benedict is “thinking in this direction.”


“He’s said to the Anglicans who want to come back that they would be able to keep their tradition and celebrate their liturgy. So he’s said himself that there should be diversity. That will be the second step. It’s far too early ask each other how we can do this together.”


“There are no clouds of mistrust between our two churches,” Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon stressed. “If we continue like that, God will find a way to overcome all the difficulties that remain.”


See the whole article here.



COMMENTARY



Talk of reunification between the three great Christian bodies, catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican, has been moving forward in recent days. A meeting to further this possibility took place on September 27, 2010, and real progress is being made. However, the fact is that the deep differences between the three bodies are much more significant than just our views on the position of the Pope.



Even if all could arrive at an acceptable view of the Papal office, there are still very distinct paradigms in the three groups that if pressed to limit actually present a different God. Overcoming these distinctions will require a great deal of humility by all. At the same time, each group must be ready to rethink their theology. My hope is that each group is willing to return to our common faith, to that which was believed by the whole church, everywhere, & at all times. I t is undeniable that the faith of each group has evolved since the great schism, it will be imperative that each be willing to hold their faith up to the light of the undivided church. Only then can we ever hope to arrive at true unity.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Anglican Communion: Is it over?

This is an excerpt from an excellent article found "here":

It is now abundantly clear that the balance of power has moved decisively to the Global South (from whence Christianity came). Egyptian Archbishop Mouneer Anis reminded conferees to Entebbe of that fact.

It was made clear to me that many of the Global South leaders see Western Anglican leaders as the "Pharisees and Sadducees" of biblical times - Jewish leaders that Jesus overtly condemned for leading people astray. They believe that archbishops like Jefferts Schori and Rowan Williams have done precisely that.

There is the belief by many African bishops that Jefferts Schori is quite simply not a Christian with any beliefs that are discernibly biblical, while it is thought that Dr. Williams' understanding of the faith and convoluted syntax saves no one and nothing. As one archbishop commented to VOL, "If you cannot explain the gospel to a five year old, what sort of gospel is it that you believe?"

The Anglican Communion will never formally split. There will not be two communions and there will not be a see in Alexandria. What will and is happening is a slow disintegration of the communion, with orthodox Anglican leaders going their own way, refusing to sit down with their liberal Western counterparts, collaborating only with their orthodox counterparts in the West. It is death by a thousand cuts.

To all intents and purposes, a paperless divorce now exists in the Anglican Communion.

(From Virtue Online)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Burning Ceremonies

As much as I despise being dragged into the media malaise of the day, I sense a responsibility to address the promised book burning ceremonies in Gainesville.


It seemed wise to go Holy Scripture first, and to search them for any words of wisdom that might be directed at this event. Look up the word “books” in a concordance and you will find that it appears eight times in the Old and New Testaments. Most of the passages refer to books of scripture; a few address the books used by God in the final judgment; and one addresses a “book burning”. It is found in Acts 19:



Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Acts 19: 18-20



There was indeed a book burning recorded in the New Testament, however, it was not carried out by Jesus, an Apostle, or any churchmen, but rather, by converts who after their conversion saw the great deceit and danger contained in the books they previously believed to be holy.



Unlike this event in the book of Acts, Pastor Jones’ book burning ceremony has all the makings of a 21st century marketing scheme. This individualistic, and politically motivated “self-appointed protector of the faith,” may have gotten more than he bargained for. The media has not even had to present him as the typical moronic fundamentalist, because he has done a very good job all by himself. His actions present our faith to the watching world as backwater religion for the undereducated that thrive on hate. Sadly, he claims that his reason for the book burning is to demonstrate the hateful nature of Islam, yet, his actions demonstrate the same seed of hatred.



Would Pastor Jones have searched for wisdom outside of himself, and consulted the bible he is supposed to believe in and teach, he might have noticed that “Koran burning,” or any book burning, only has serious meaning when be done by those who have converted to Christianity, and now despise the falsities contained in a book they previously deemed holy. Until the day Muslims burn the Koran due to their conversion, then any Koran burning done by the likes of Pastor Jones has no real meaning, and could even lead to disastrous consequences.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Authentic Christinaity Summed Up


Apostolic Tradition & Spirituality


The preceding year we dedicated our studies to the patristics and compared their teaching to that which is most common in today’s western church. Below are key quotes that shaped our study.



The Fathers


Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches? To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendor, shall come in glory, the Savior of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent. St Iranaeus of Lyons ca 180 AD







The Vincentian Canon


Some one perhaps will ask, since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation? For this reason,—because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters.


For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation. Moreover, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense “Catholic,” which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. (A Commonitory (A Reminder), Vincent of Lerins, 434 AD)






The Seven Ecumenical Councils


The doctrinal decisions and formulations of the seven ecumenical councils between 325 and 787 stand as the formal deposit of normative dogma. One reason for this is that no later actions of any church lay claim to the title “ecumenical.” (Credo, Jaroslav Pelikan, 2003)






The Spiritual Disciplines


My critique then of the three prominent forms of evangelical spirituality, is simply this: they all situate spirituality the self. “I keep the rules”; “I know God in a system of thought”; “I had a born again experience”. In contrast, historic Spirituality situates spirituality in the story of the Triune God, who creates, became incarnate, took my humanity up into his, entered suffering by the cross, and rose from the grave. God drew me up into himself, and did for me what I could not do. He Himself restored my union with Himself. Now having been baptized into that great mystery, I contemplate God’s work for me and the whole world, and I participate in God’s purposes for the world revealed in Jesus Christ. Spirituality is a gift, and the spiritual life is a surrendered life. (The Divine Embrace, Robert Webber)






The Gospel


According to the apostles and the early church fathers the gospel is comprised of the three following parts:


Trinity: The one true God exist in three persons: Father & creator, Son & victor, Spirit & giver of life. There exists within the triune God, a life that is primarily characterized by a communion of love. Hence, God is love.


Incarnation: God the Son took on flesh, and became one of us. So that even after the human race had turned way from God under the enticement of evil (sin & death), the Son might still bring the love of God to us, destroy evil by dying to destroy sin and death (sacrifice), He rose from the grave the victor (Savior), and He gave life eternal to all mankind (the final resurrection).


Restoration: The Son now has the authority to draw all mankind back into God’s Trinitarian family by pouring out upon mankind His life giving Spirit (baptism), which places the presence of God’s power within humans, making those persons incarnations of God (Christians- little Christs), here and now, healing & restoring (saving) them to dwell within the Trinity.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rex Gloriae


It is a very difficult thing to promote a parish in a way that is genuinely Chirstian. I have tried to do this in various ways that do not insult the faith, the link below will take you to web page desinged to inform anyone who might be interested about our parish.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rebuilding The Ruins

This summer’s treatment of the historic spiritual disciplines has brought one point of commonality to light, and that point is the shock to westerners that historic Christianity is a mystical religion. Most western Christians know about having a daily bible study and prayer time, which usually consists of reading though a book or books of the bible, followed by some extemporaneous prayers, and this usually leads to general feeling of well-being after wards, but anything beyond that enters into the realm of suspicion. Insert fasting, liturgical prayers, times of silence, kneeling, genufleting, lectio divina, and prayers of the heart into the disciplines the faith, and what we have is another religion. But, why and how did something so common to Christianity for so long become so foreign? There is a trajectory within western Christianity that has made this loss of these ancient Christian disciplines possible.


It began with the victory of Augustinian Neo-Platonism, in the 5th century. The consequence of this has left today’s Christianity thinking that the goal of a person life is to make it into heaven, rather than to become united to God in body & soul now and after this life. The long term consequence of this is a two story universe, God up stairs, & us downstairs, and our task should we choose to accept it, is to make it upstairs.



This distortion continued in the 10th & 11th century by the additions of St Anselm. By way of his orientation towards legal satisfaction, what we now have is a Christianity that is most of all concerned with how man gets off the hook for sin on light of its insult of God’s honor. Christianity lost its focus on why and how God restores humanity to our original design as Christ’s icon on earth.



Move forward to the 12th & 13th century and we find the influences of St Aquinas. His influence made Christianity something that must be explainable and definable at every point, in other words, scholastic. For many Christians today, there is no higher form of Christianity than intellectual Christianity. This is a faith that lives in the mind.



Move forward again to the protestant reformation of the 16th century, and there the west received the same authority that prior to it belonged to bishops and popes. Every individual became the protector of the faith, with the authority to keep, shed, or redesign the articles of faith as each saw fit according to their understanding of the bible.



Go forward again to the 18th century and find the great awakening; this movement in the Americas and England made Christianity something that must be the result of a personal crisis and catharsis. As a result, one must have had a moment that one can point to when they had their God experience, once having that experience of God no more was needed.



Couple this with the need to feel moral and aligned to God, the social Victorian moralism made its way into Christianity. This moralism shaped the faith into more than just something in the mind and a one time experience. However, the problem here is that there was a focus on a few select sins such as sexual concupiscence, drunkenness, and participation in the things enjoyed by the general culture.



To sum this all up; what we have in the west today is a faith that is dualistic, legal, intellectual, individualistic, based on a one time experience, and sustained by a biased moralism that focuses on avoiding a few specific sins. In short, the trajectory of the western faith has left us with a faith that has almost no relationship to the faith of the early church, and especially its mystical practices of transformation into Christlikeness.


Having exposed these foreign viruses that have attached themselves to the faith, we can see their emptiness, and our need to return to a faith that actually creates real union with God here and now. It is this need that gives the mystical historic spiritual disciplines their place of priority in the Christian’s life. My hope is that the exposure of the above along with the recovery of this ancient practice can help to rebuild authentic Christianity.