October 31, 2010
A somewhat interesting discussion has started related to my last post “A conversation with some Catholic brothers.” I encourage you to read the comments, in spite of the fact that they are quite long, and to then join in the dialogue. Would you agree with the comment where I am rebuked and warned to return to the narrow path from which I have wandered?
October 29, 2010
Recently some Catholics that I know have been interested in having a discussion. So far the conversation is just beginning. Their biggest reasons for converting from Protestantism to Catholicism:
1. The Bible was never intended to be the church’s authority. Rather, they argue, from the beginning the church and its leaders were intended to be the final court of appeal. The reformation wrongly placed too much emphasis on God’s word.
2. Salvation was never intended to be thought of as some kind of legal transaction. To argue that one can separate works from the process is absurd.
3. The Catholic church is unified as opposed to the plethora of schisms and factions amongst Protestantism
4. Protestantism subverted the message of early Christianity. The men of old did not hold to many of the tenets about God’s word, salvation, justification, etc.
After much consideration, I decided to take a very specific approach. Since they are placing more emphasis on tradition (which includes the teachings of past Saints), I will go to those Saints and divines and see what they have to say, great Catholic men of old such as Augustine, Tertullian, Athanasius, Aquinas, Anselm, etc. This, I think, will provide some enriching study into the teaching of some great church fathers, as well as provide a possible common ground to the discussion.
I’m curious to know if any of you readers have had any interaction with Catholics and can share any further advice or lessons you may have learned. Where did you begin the conversation?
October 29, 2010
So today was employee review. One by one each of us had our turn being called into the “office,” asked how we felt things were going, and then told whether or not we were getting a raise based on our work over the past year. I’ll be honest with you, this is a very humbling process. For one thing, the person who conducts this process is from the central office. The only time we see them is on this occasion. Furthermore, when you sit down face to face with the person who hands you your paycheck, and they are about to be brutally honest with you about your work habits, your manners, your attitude, your general demeanor, your quirks, your weaknesses, your strengths, your future, etc., you feel a little bit nervous. If you don’t you’re abnormal.
I could not help but see a spiritual allusion. The day is coming when I will stand before God. I want so badly to hear the words, “Well done, friend.” To be honest with you, thoughts about that day often fill my mind and motivate me to live in a way that pleases him now. After all, he knows everything about me, my thoughts and motivations, my likes and dislikes, my sins and successes.
As I reflected on these things, I John came to mind–one of my all time favorite passages:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
-1 Jn 4:18
October 29, 2010
If you haven’t checked out Becky Black’s essay “I’m Healed!” you’re missing out. Becky says:
I am healed…in every way! Sickness of mind, of soul, of body is a direct result of Sin in the world. And one day the Holy One will complete the work of eradicating Sin. That Work began in Eternity Past, when the Father made the plan and the Son submitted Himself to that plan. It continued through the generations of Man as the Son’s human line was determined…son of Abraham, son of David, son of Bethlehem. It culminated in that great Battle between the Son and the Wicked One. This watershed event on the Cross set the future, so much so that Jesus could say “It is finished” as He took his last breath.
Becky explains how God dealt with sin on the cross. The results of that work are finished, but still being implemented, as Becky says, since God is healing not only our bodies but our minds, our relationships, and all the other broken aspects of our lives.
Let’s join with Becky today in celebrating what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and remember that everything promised to us as a result is absolutely assured!
October 27, 2010
It looks like Screwtape is still up to his wily ways:
At this point, it would behoove you to borrow an old tactic that I have used many times with your boy’s parents. Fill their schedule with other things. I don’t care what you use, just fill it to the brim and then stuff in some more. If you want to be especially crafty, use good and wholesome things so long as they are not related to the church: piano lessons, travel soccer team, birthday parties, A.P. Chemistry class. Let them think that this is making them “well-rounded.”
Read the full post HERE
October 27, 2010
I went on a run last night with Sophie. HJ and I go walking together almost every day, but sometimes it is nice to push yourself a little bit and to just plain sweat. I find running is a good way to clear the mind and pray. Now, there were a few things about last nights run that caused me to pray a little extra harder: (1) It is hunting season and I was running in the woods. Sure it was dark and hunters weren’t supposed to be out, but you never want to assume; (2) It had rained yesterday and there were many puddles; (3) It was very mild, making the possibility that snakes were out and about very real (I was sure hoping that Mark 16:18 is original because I was sure claiming it). But, alas, I got home safe and sound without a single out of the ordinary happening other than some wet running shoes.
October 27, 2010
13 For when God mad the promise to Abraham, he swore by himself since there was no one greater to swear by, 14 and said,
I myself will heap my blessings upon you
and will multiply your descendants beyond number.
15 And so Abraham was patient and finally received the promise. 16 Now, when making promises men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath resolves whatever dispute may arise. 17 So God, wanting to show the heirs of salvation that his promise to them was irrevocably guaranteed, 18 demonstrated this through two irrevocable aspects of the his pledge, both of which were absolutely assured since it is impossible for God to lie. He did this so that we who have fled to hope as our only refuge might be greatly comforted. 19 This hope is continually steadying our souls like a strong, weighty anchor and entering into the true heavenly temple, even behind the curtain of the holy of holies, 20 where Jesus has already entered and stands on our behalf as high priest with out end according to Melchizedek’s class.
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
13-18 When God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. He said, “I promise that I’ll bless you with everything I have—bless and bless and bless!” Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they’ll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.
18-20 We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.
October 25, 2010
October 24, 2010
“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:28 NIV).
These words have been on my mind all day. There is no doubt, Paul was intensely interested in others. Those he ministered to meant everything to him, they were his life. Do I show such undying passionate love for those God has placed in my life?
October 22, 2010
“I was a young Benedictine monk in southern Louisiana in 1964 when I had my first conscious encounters with the Letter of James. The first came at the evening office of Compline. In those days, the entire Divine Office was in Latin. The only English Bible read was at this evening service from Ronald Knox’s translation of the Vulgate. The reader was Father Charles Villere, a grizzled monk and missionary. His passionately harsh reading of James 2:1-8 … left an indelible impression that James’s voice was not unlike the Paul that I knew in 1 Corinthians and that this prophetic voice had immediate pertinence to the social crises of our day.”
“The second encounter came through the reading of Bo Reicke’s commentary on James in this Anchor Bible series. In Reicke’s discussion of James 2:1-8, I saw for the first time how the knowledge of the social realities of the Greco-Roman world could deepen an understanding of the text.”
“These encounters affected my own approach to James when I began my formal work on the letter in a course at Yale Divinity School in 1981.”
-L. T. Johnson, Preface to The Letter of James, xi.
James is a book that I personally have been spending a lot of time in lately. My own “journey” in discovering James began when I was around 14 or 15 when I began memorizing the book (NIV translation).
A next major milestone in my encounter with James was in college. I was taking a course in sermon delivery and of all the passages in the Bible, I chose to deliver my first sermon on James ch. 3. In preparing that sermon, I noticed for the first time that all of chapter 3 seemed to be connected. My sermon (delivered to a class full of students preparing for the ministry), was that becoming a teacher is not what God expects from us. This is because teachers must use the tongue, but the tongue is uncontrollable. So instead, if we are wise, we should not speak but should show it by the way we live (3:13). Our lives should be marked by the wisdom from above. When I finished that sermon, I got pretty negative remarks from the prof, who told me that one should never cover so many verses in one sermon.
My most recent encounter with James began this summer when I read through James in the original Greek. I was struck at the connection of the whole letter, at the continual word plays, at the poetry, parallelism, rhymes, and the overall style of the langauge. Since this summer, I have been reading through James about once a week. I’m still struck every single time I read it and challenged by the message.