Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Genesis 3:19

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Ash Wednesday -“Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return”.

It’s very good to be reminded that we’re moral. Everyone dies, the question then will you be raised up to new life or a much warmer spot with a front row to flames?

Luke 10:13

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

I’m not one for sackcloth, perhaps the hair shirt will come back in vogue. Get Madoma perhaps she can set the trend;~)

Ashes have since Moses time been a symbol of repentance. One should remember that both the towns mentioned in Luke’s Gospel had Jesus who lived there among them and performed miracles. So just because you have heard the mesage doesn’t mean you’ve changed your heart. The operative word for lent is reflection [primarily inward] after review it’s amazing how much more Christian your neighbors and co-workers seem.

The Europeans seem to use the top of the head for the ashes, I am guessing this is likely the older tradition following Nehemiah 9:1-

On the twenty-fourth day of this month, the Israelites gathered together fasting and in sackcloth, their heads covered with dust.

Those Europeans are so legalistic and literal;>) 

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent for Catholic the world over. This is normally a great ice-breaker for Catholics to express their faith with others and to let them know that Lent has begun. I’ve never been one to inquire from folks if they are saved. I’ve always believed in the motto attributed to St. Francis “Preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words”. However I’ve misapplied this standard as well. “If necessary” is for the individual your encountering not what time constrains I’m living under.

It was interesting this year for me, because I am currently working on the mid-shift. Normally I go to the evening service and go straight home or perhaps I might stop off at the store to pick up some milk & bread for the family for breakfast. Living in the south USA, one will get some strange looks from folks. Others will be kind enough to advise me that I have some dirt on my forehead. After the service tonight I when to work with ashes. I was wondering if this was going to be an encounter with a potentially PC management and whether I would be asked to wipe off the ashes. I prayed that this would not occur, but if it had I was prepared to make a stand on the issue. I have no idea why, but stand I would. Hopefully this would not have to blow up into a legal battle, and I thought about the lack of finances to support such a venture if it came to it and gee I should have spoken to my wife before I chose to make a stand on it. I know she’d support me, but I didn’t feel right about the choice without consulting her first.

A few of my employees pointed out to me that I had dirt on my forehead with the standard non-verbal arm to forehead an wipe back and forth routine. I really wanted to play innocent as if I had no idea what they were talking about, but I simply ignored them. Another employee simply looked at me with a puzzled look, but thought better of asking me or advsing me to wash my face. A co-worker of mine, who was born and raised in the SBC, but who that communion would call a back-slider, knew right away what the mark on my forehead was and gave me a sneer and offered to get a wet nap and wipe it off for me. Finally an employee who knew I was Catholic connected the dots and inquired “Is it Ash Wednesday?”. Why yes it is , I said it was the start of Lent and a time of personal reflection for myself and seeking a way to improve my walk with the Lord. I didn’t want to go further then that because being in a gov’t job I didn’t want my employees to think I was preaching to them or because I was their boss that they would be forced to listen.

Later that evening I had an employee who came up and admitted that they were Catholic and felt ashamed that they had wiped off their ashes prior to coming to work.  I said I didn’t know why they felt shamed, it was a personal choice and was glad they were beginning lent as well. Another was a fallen away Catholic and he felt like he had missed out on something and may give something up for lent as well (but won’t consider attending church on a regular basis).  Finally I had a boss who simply wanted to know what Lent was all about, so he could grasp a better understanding of his employees.

Finally I haven’t seen anything in bloggdom addressing where the ashes come from which my priest failed to mention either tonight. I’ve always felt this is the key link in the process. For those that don’t know the ashes are taken from the palm’s used in last years Palm Sunday service.

Matthew 21:6-11

The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The symbolism is that we proclaim Jesus is Lord, prophet & King just like the crowds did back them. They were all band-wagoners, caught up in the moment. It’s these same folks who  in 4 days shouted for His death.

The lenten ashes for me recall how I sing(ok, I can’t sing, that’s just an opportunity for others to endure penance by listening to me) Hosanna in the Highest during the Liturgy, but how I have failed Him and those I care for in so many ways, just as those people fail Christ. But unlike the people in the Gospel reading, I have the chance to walk with our Lord during the stations of the cross, to repent and even use a few words when necessary.

Read Full Post »

I think that the fragmentation of the Protestant church is excellerating-Study Reveals State of U.S. Church Planting

approximately 4,000 churches are being planted in the United States each year – an all-time high….church planting is much more varied than in the past with “missional,” “seeker-sensitive,” “purpose-driven” and ethnic church planting models being developed. And these new models were found to produce more evangelistic conversions…”There is this bulge of young adults that come up and begin to create new forms of institutional faith. There will always be a need for new churches and new church plants to serve those needs.”…”Most successful church planters today are specialists who emphasize a particular style of worship or a specific demographic,” he said. “For example, they may exclusively plant house churches or ethnic churches – or perhaps build purpose-driven, seeker or missional churches. And the trend toward specialization is likely to continue as more tools and resources that serve specific types of planting strategies are developed.

I have to conclude that the individual doesn’t desire to join an existing church they want to be part of building a “new” church. One tailored to what they perceive what a church could or should be. It’s a classical tail wagging the dog situation. It’s also totally unbibical. The individual doesn’t create the church. Christ calls the individual to be in the church – one that already exists and has existed since Penecost.

Adding to this is the “multi-site” concept where there is “one” church with multiple-locations model, there is a different band and local leader, but the pastor and sermon is hooked up via satellite to all the local locations. I can’t help but see this as assisting in the further development of the “cult of personality” problem. The pastor as the rock star and the Gospel message is overshadowed or the pastor’s interpretation takes on a greater authority then an Pope every claimed. And even if the pastor has a healthy does of humilty as soon as he steps down the church fragments or is taken over but someone with nothing but career enhancement in mind.

Another irony is that this will create more diversity (as in more options for the individual worshiper) but it will in fact create a belief so specialized that tolerance of other forms may be perceived as liberal or heretical simply because there is little held in common. The individual is never challenged to confront thier own belief system, when it comes in conflict with their perceived idea of what scripture means, becuase they can simply hook up with a different church which will offer them what conforms to their beliefs. Failing that they simply plant their own church.

In fact the idea of denomination’s in this trend seems to lose it’s means drowned in a sea on creedless Purpose Driven cultural relevance then theology.

As a Catholic I don’t see this as a positive, there simply won’t be any way to seek common ground with Protestants. Denominations and non-denominations were splintered badly enough, but these forces will destroy even that common ground. The bible will hopefully be THE common ground, but after that you’ll never know when a person says their a “Christian” they hold to Dr. Phil theology, or some local mega or Giga church and their brand of THE truth.

Atleast when someone use to say they were a Baptist, Methodist, or Anglican I had some knowledge of what they believed in and what we held in common. Now I have no idea and I frankly don’t have the time to understand all the various splinter variations of what is “essential non-essentials” of their faith.

Read Full Post »

Church history is an amazing field of endeavor. I wish I had taken that up in my college years, but I doubt you can make a living out of it or at least I doubt that I could do so. Anyway division within Christianity [by that I mean those who accept at a minimum two points: 1) God is three Persons & One God; 2) Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Human]. All Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic communions accept this as truth.

Many people will then proceed with the what happens to me issue of Sorteriology(the study of salvation). It’s a natural inclination, however the difficulty with this position is in the selection of the authority by which one determines the process of salvation. All three groups will again agree that the Bible is the word of God. The problem is first that the church existed prior to the canon of the Bible. If one wanted to claim that the Bible is only the books in the Old testament, then one could support the view that the Bible existed prior to the church; however we already have such a group- we refer to them as Jews.

The next step then is in the area of Eccelesiology. The study of church gov’t is foundational to most of the issues that divide Christianity IMO. It has the same issue of Sorteriology, but one can use church history to see how the church understood just what they received from Christ and the Apostles and those who followed behind them. Knowing when these variations in church gov’t started, by whom and on what basis provides a working basis on which to discuss this topic. It would be les difficult to simply select the canon of scripture first (as many will) and develop their Sorteriology first then their Eccelesiology.

Sadly I would venture that the overwhelming majority of Christians accept their form of church gov’t, based more on good preaching, good choir/music, how that local church’s beliefs line up with their own personal beliefs and a good support community. IOW most individuals will accept very different forms of eccelesiology based on other factors I would deemed as subjective matters.

I have taken the matter in reverse historical order of when these ideas gained acceptance by (IMO significant portions of Christians). Being Catholic I am biased in that I list the Catholic Church last, since I believe it to be the oldest and the one established by Christ to perform His mission on earth.

It is very difficult to pick a given denomination as being representative of the whole when it comes to our first gov’t system in Christianity which is called -Congregationalism. Most scholars would made a case for
John Smyth [yes I broke down and got lazy and used Wikipedia as an autoritive secondary source -God forgive me] established this style of church gov’t. Since the Baptist are the largest representative of this doctrinal position today, I select their definition of The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3. [Underlining by myself]

and a warning from a Baptist pastor in temptation by the SBC to centralize local church authority[well intentioned as I understand it-eliminate deviation in doctrinal matters- what Catholics would term heretical] which I though may be helpful as well under Congregationalism.

Note that the local church is called autonomous, guided by Christ through a democratic process and the individual is accountable to Christ (infered here is that the individual is not accountable to the local church, although one would assume that the two would be linked in theory since both are guided and accountable to Christ). It also acknowledges that all believers in every age is part of the body of Christ. The difficulty in defending this position is that it didn’t exist prior to 1600 A.D. Hence most defenders will jump back to the 40 to 60 A.D. time frame, claiming that they have restored what was lost in the past 1550 years. The only way to restrict the arguement is to limit the authority to the Bible alone, because the position does not exist in the historical record.

Next is Presbyterianism which was a bit easier to nail down simply because, they like those that follow in this discussion adhere to a more structure system of the church.

The scripture doth hold out a presbytery in a church.[44]

A presbytery consisteth of ministers of the word, and such other public officers as are agreeable to and warranted by the word of God to be church-governors, to join with the ministers in the government of the church.[45]The scripture doth hold forth, that many particular congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

This proposition is proved by instances:

I. First, Of the church of Jerusalem, which consisted of more congregations than one, and all these congregations were under one presbyterial government.

This appeareth thus:

First, The church of Jerusalem consisted of more congregations than one, as is manifest:

1st, By the multitude of believers mentioned, in divers [places], both before the dispersion of the believers there, by means of the persecution,[46] and also after the dispersion. [47]2dly, By the many apostles and other preachers in the church of Jerusalem. And if there were but one congregation there, then each apostle preached but seldom;[48] which will not consist with Acts vi. 2. 3dly, The diversity of languages among the believers, mentioned both in the second and sixth chapters of the Acts, doth argue more congregations than one in that church.

Secondly, All those congregations were under one presbyterial government; because,1st, They were one church.[49]2dly, The elders of the church are mentioned. [50] 3dly, The apostles did the ordinary acts of presbyters, as presbyters in that kirk; which proveth a presbyterial church before the dispersion, Acts vi. 4thly, The several congregations in Jerusalem being one church, the elders of that church are mentioned as meeting together for acts of government;[51] which proves that those several congregations were under one presbyterial government.And whether these congregations were fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is all one as to the truth of the proposition. Nor doth there appear any material difference betwixt the several congregations in Jerusalem, and the many congregations now in the ordinary condition of the church, as to the point of fixedness required of officers or members.Thirdly, Therefore the scripture doth hold forth, that many congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

II. Secondly, By the instance of the church of Ephesus; for,

First, That there were more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus, appears by Acts xx. 31,[52] where is mention of Paul’s continuance at Ephesus in preaching for the space of three years; and Acts xix. 18,19,20, where the special effect of the word is mentioned;[53] and ver. 10. and 17. of the same chapter, where is a distinction of Jews and Greeks;[54] and 1 Cor. xvi. 8,9, where is a reason of Paul’s stay at Ephesus until Pentecost;[55] and ver. 19, where is mention of a particular church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, then at Ephesus,[56] as appears, Acts xviii. 19,24,26.[57] All which laid together, doth prove that the multitude of believers did make more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus.Secondly, That there were many elders over these many congregations, as one flock, appeareth.[58]Thirdly, That these many congregations were one church, and that they were under one presbyterial government, appeareth.[59] The scripture doth hold out another sort of assemblies for the government of the church, beside classical and congregational, all which we call Synodical.[60]Pastors and teachers, and other church-governors, (as also other fit persons, when it shall be deemed expedient,) are members of those assemblies which we call Synodical, where they have a lawful calling thereunto.Synodical assemblies may lawfully be of several sorts, as provincial, national, and oecumenical.It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that there be a subordination of congregational, classical, provincial, and national assemblies, for the government of the church.

The difference btwn Presbyterianism and Congregationalism is that it believes that while scripture does indicate local churches, there is a structure of pastoral authority which the collective local churches and the individuals are required to submit too. It’s major jump off point btwn it and the Episcopal system is because scripture does show bishops(overseer) in functions of that of a presbyter. In fact scripture shows Apostles doing the same as well. Hermeneutics (interpretation) of scripture therefore becomes important.

The next system of government is Episcopal. Depending on whom one speaks to there are 3 versions or practioners of this system. The first Anglicanism has historically been defined by the 39 articles.

XIX. Of the Church.

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.

[The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]

The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article, omitted in the version of 1801, reads as follows:

“General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”

I think most Anglicans would agree that the first break with Rome was not valid (King Henry VIII); however most would disagree with what they would term the second with Queen Elizabeth I. Their position would be that it was a political move by the papacy, rather then a theological break with Rome as the Catholic church claims.

Next is Orthodox like Catholicism both claim to be the True Church established by Jesus Christ. Both groups believe that Christ willed One church, episcopal in nature, sacramental, perserved in apostolic succession with the Bible as God’s word with the church as it’s guardian in interpretation, which it views through the greater body of work refered to as Tradition.

The two major differences btwn the two groups are the issue of the role of the bishop of rome in the church and the filioque (procession of the Holy Spirit) as contained with the symbol of the Catholic creed, but not in the former. [A lenghty discussion in itself].

That’s it in a nut shell. I’ll make an update and refer back to this in another article. If those of you from other communions believe they have a better primary source for their communion, I’d be interested in it.

Read Full Post »

A traditional (as in the past 500 years) claim by protestants is that the Catholic church prohibited individuals to own and read bibles. There were naturally two many issues, first the printing press wasn’t invented yet and a bible was very expensive to produce. Bibles were in fact chained in the church to keep someone from removing it. It’s not like they could simply pull out another one. Second was that the most of the people couldn’t read and there wasn’t translations in the vernacular for each country.

Enter 493 years ago day theComplutesian Polyglot bible.

Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin.

Pretty pricey by anyones standards. Article here on it.

Read Full Post »