Category : Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Ambrose on the Holy Spirit for his Feast Day

The Holy Spirit, since He sanctifies creatures, is neither a creature nor subject to change. He is always good, since He is given by the Father and the Son; neither is He to be numbered among such things as are said to fail. He must be acknowledged as the source of goodness. The Spirit of God’s mouth, the amender of evils, and Himself good. Lastly, as He is said in Scripture to be good, and is joined to the Father and the Son in baptism, He cannot possibly be denied to be good. He is not, however, said to progress, but to be made perfect in goodness, which distinguishes Him from all creatures.

The Holy Spirit is not, then, of the substance of things corporeal, for He sheds incorporeal grace on corporeal things; nor, again, is He of the substance of invisible creatures, for they receive His sanctification, and through Him are superior to the other works of the universe. Whether you speak of Angels, or Dominions, or Powers, every creature waits for the grace of the Holy Spirit. For as we are children through the Spirit, because God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba, Father; so that you are now not a servant but a son; Galatians 4:6-7 in like manner, also, every creature is waiting for the revelation of the sons of God, whom in truth the grace of the Holy Spirit made sons of God. Therefore, also, every creature itself shall be changed by the revelation of the grace of the Spirit, and shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Every creature, then, is subject to change, not only such as has been changed by some sin or condition of the outward elements, but also such as can be liable to corruption by a fault of nature, though by careful discipline it be not yet so; for, as we have shown in a former treatise, the nature of Angels evidently can be changed. It is certainly fitting to judge that such as is the nature of one, such also is that of others. The nature of the rest, then, is capable of change, but the discipline is better.

Every creature, therefore, is capable of change, but the Holy Spirit is good and not capable of change, nor can He be changed by any fault.

–Saint Ambrose On the Holy Spirit (Book I), Chapter 5

Posted in Church History, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon on Ezekiel–How do we Respond in Desperate Situations (Ezekiel 37:1-14)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. This is now the second time in a row I have been called to preach after a South Carolina Supreme Court decision, and I just happened to be preaching on Ezekiel 37 already before the news hit Saturday–there could hardly be a more applicable passage.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

“If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us!”

8.01 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church. In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our Churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed.
8.02 Therefore the Confessional Synod calls upon the congregations to range themselves behind it in prayer, and steadfastly to gather around those pastors and teachers who are loyal to the Confessions.
8.03 Be not deceived by loose talk, as if we meant to oppose the unity of the German nation! Do not listen to the seducers who pervert our intentions, as if we wanted to break up the unity of the German Evangelical Church or to forsake the Confessions of the Fathers!
8.04 Try the spirits whether they are of God! Prove also the words of the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church to see whether they agree with Holy Scripture and with the Confessions of the Fathers. If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God, in order that God’s people be of one mind upon earth and that we in faith experience what he himself has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

the Barmen Declaration, cited by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Germany, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Food for Thought from JI Packer– The Christian’s motto should not be “Let go and let God” but “Trust God and get going!”

Passivity means conscious inaction—in this case, inner inaction. A call to passivity—conscientious, consecrated passivity—has sometimes been read into certain biblical texts, but it cannot be read out of any of them. Thus, for instance, to “yield” or “present” oneself to God (Romans 6:13; 12:1), or as it is sometimes put, to “surrender” or “give ourselves up” to him, is not passivity. Paul’s meaning is not that having handed ourselves over to our Master, we should then lapse into inaction, waiting for Christ to move us instead of moving ourselves, but rather that we should report for duty, saying as Paul himself said on the Damascus road, “What shall I do, Lord? . . .” (Acts 22:10) and setting no limits to what Christ by his Spirit through his Word may direct us to do. This is activity! Again, being “led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18) is not passivity. Paul’s meaning is not that we should do nothing till celestial promptings pop into our minds, but that we should resolutely labor by prayer and effort to obey the law of Christ and mortify sin (see Galatians 5:13-6:19; and Romans 8:5-13, to which v. 14 looks back). This too is activity!

Surely we need not go further. The point is plain. Passivity, which quietists think liberates the Spirit, actually resists and quenches him. Souls that cultivate passivity do not thrive, but waste away. The Christian’s motto should not be “Let go and let God” but “Trust God and get going!” . . . [P]assivity [is] . . . unbiblical . . . and hostile to Christian maturity.

–JI Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God (Grand Rapids:Baker, 2005), p.128 (emphasis mine)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(CT) Mark Galli–Whatever Became of Repentance?

To honor the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we Christians might insist anew that the whole life of the Christian is indeed about repentance. Jesus began his ministry with such a call: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt. 4:17), and repentance is the key note in the early church’s preaching (Acts 2:38, 3:19, 5:31, 8:22, 11:18, 13:24, 17:30, 19:4, 20:21, 26:20).

And this should include not just others’ repentance but our own. Not just confessing sins against God but also sins against neighbor. We have recently learned how to prophetically speak truth to power but have lost the nerve to speak prophetically to ourselves. The problem is always out there, in an unjust institution or a careless or evil person.

We avoid repentance because we remain addicted to the drug of self-justification. “I don’t need to repent because I’m the one righteously calling out the social and personal sins of others.” Or “If I say I am complicit, it will give my political and social enemies leverage against me and my cause.” Or even more to the point, “If I were to really look at and then acknowledge how much self-centeredness and pride infects even my most righteous actions, I would have to admit I’m a hypocrite and a moral failure.”

Well, yes. Aren’t we all? That’s precisely why Jesus came, to save the world from itself and to save us from ourselves. That’s why the word repentance is usually connected to the phrase “good news,” as Mark highlights in his summary of Jesus’ early preaching: “Repent and believe the good news!” (1:15).

Repentance is the means by which we experience the forgiveness of sins, for one. This alone changes everything, of course. And thus it is also the means by which we can change the temperature of the angry debates in church, online, and in our culture.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

The new Christian movement seeking to open the Canon after 2,000 years

A body of believers representing a growing Christian “remnant” movement, the Doctrine of Christ Conference announced today that a vote to canonize new scripture will be held at its upcoming conference on September 2-3, 2017. The culmination of tens of thousands of hours of ongoing volunteer effort to assemble an “open” canon of Christian scripture, both ancient and modern, this effort represents a bold move to embrace the expansive truth-seeking roots of original Christianity.

The hosts of the conference are part of an emerging group of believers who have exited various organized Christian structures in favor of a new tide of open religious thought and worship that is highly individual, involving no paid clergy and no formal leadership. Consisting of fellowships, as taught and practiced at the time of Jesus Christ, the faithful in this new school of thought believe that God is capable of revealing His Word to anyone who earnestly seeks it, and when truth is discovered, it should be added to the canon of inspired writings.

Chris Hamill, spokesperson for the scriptures project said, “The last known major canonization was in 1672 by the Eastern Orthodox Church, so nothing like this has been seen in orthodox or Protestant Christianity in nearly 350 years. Not even the Mormon Church, or any of its offshoots, ever formally canonized (or accepted by common consent of the membership) all of their scriptures–including the Book of Mormon. This is a very important historical development.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

David Frost–The Influence of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer on the Orthodox: Opening a Can of Worms?

You will recognize it, though my quotation is in fact from an internet version of that Orthodox ‘Western Rite’, The Liturgy of Saint Tikhon. The passage appears in THE COMMUNION DEVOTIONS as a congregational response to the priest’s invitation to ‘draw near with faith, and take this Holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.’

R. Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men; we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which wefrom time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed,against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A side of me still thrills to that. Brought up in a guilt-culture, I still want to binge on selfabasement,followed by the ‘high’ of unmerited, almost magical release. But long before Ibecame Orthodox, I began to have doubts, especially in an Anglican parish thatencouraged frequent communion. How could the sacrifice of Christ be failing to createthat serving and pleasing of God in ‘newness of life’ for which I pleaded each Sunday?Why did I have to come back week after week, making the same old complaints of badmemories and intolerable burdens? When would I, ‘reflecting as in a mirror the glory ofthe Lord’, be ‘transformed’ (as St Paul said happened to all Christians) ‘into the same image from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3: 18 in the Revised Version)?

Returning to my difficulties in reciting the ‘Jesus Prayer’, I realized that phrases in it –‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ – had unconsciously triggeredthat image of the wrathful monarch and his princeling son, whose royal dignity andhonour I had offended since childhood, ‘provoking most justly’ their ‘wrath andindignation against me’. Immediately, as from behind a cloud, the Lordship of Christ revealed itself simply as leadership: of the leader I loved and whose commands I sought to obey because I loved him. Any plea for his ‘mercy’ became an asking for the immeasurable benefits of his grace and for his sympathetic understanding of my shortcomings, together with my acceptance of his generous offer of transformation and new life. And as for the last phrase about ‘me, a sinner’, that was just an obvious statement of fact. I’ve been able to use the prayer ever since.

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Orthodox Church, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

(CT) Joni Eareckson Tada–After 50 Years in a Wheelchair, I Still Walk with Jesus

You’ve vocally opposed assisted suicide laws, including in your home state of Californianoting that laws of this kind expose “a fundamental fear of pain and disability.” How do you see this fear impact the way we as a culture respond to those with debilitating illness, chronic suffering, or disability?

People have a fear of pain. People have a fear of dying. Fear is what has driven the legalization of euthanasia—but fear should never ever be the foundation for social policy. It should not be society’s role to help people end their lives.

Most people, when they are at the end stages of life, are afraid of pain, they’re afraid of abandonment, they’re afraid of isolation, they don’t want to be a burden to their families. But all these issues can be addressed. They are problems that have solutions—like better pain management, better support services, better family counseling. Let’s pour resources into making it easier for people to live and not to die.

Compassion is often a motivating factor for those who favor physician-assisted suicide—including Christians who support it. In your view, how should Christians rightly understand and express compassion toward those who are suffering?

The first thing Christians ought to do before they even work on compassion is get a biblical view on suffering. Most Christians would rather escape, avoid it, drug it, medicate it, divorce it, institutionalize it—do anything but live with it….

 

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Basil the Great on the Nature of the Holy Spirit for his Feast Day

Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture concerning It as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of the Fathers. First of all we ask, who on hearing the titles of the Spirit is not lifted up in soul, who does not raise his conception to the supreme nature? It is called “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father,” “right Spirit,” “a leading Spirit.” Its proper and peculiar title is “Holy Spirit;” which is a name specially appropriate to everything that is incorporeal, purely immaterial, and indivisible. So our Lord, when teaching the woman who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible, said “God is a spirit.” On our hearing, then, of a spirit, it is impossible to form the idea of a nature circumscribed, subject to change and variation, or at all like the creature. We are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of Its good gifts, to whom turn all things needing sanctification, after whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by Its inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but Itself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing by additions; but straightway full, self-established, omnipresent, origin of sanctification, light perceptible to the mind, supplying, as it were, through Itself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth; by nature unapproachable, apprehended by reason of goodness, filling all things with Its power, but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing Its energy according to “the proportion of faith;” in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; impassively divided, shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone, yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air. So, too, is the Spirit to every one who receives it, as though given to him alone, and yet It sends forth grace sufficient and full for all mankind, and is enjoyed by all who share It, according to the capacity, not of Its power, but of their nature.

de Spiritu Sancto, Chapter IX (my emphasis)

Posted in Church History, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Kendall Harmon’s 2017 Pentecost Sermon: The Holy Spirit Frees the Church (Acts 2:1-21)

‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor 3:17 ESV).

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, Pentecost, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

John Stott on the Spirit-Filled Christian for Pentecost

Our attitude to our fallen nature should be one of ruthless repudiation. For ”˜those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24). That is, we have taken this evil, slimy, slippery thing called ”˜the flesh’ and nailed it to the cross. This was our initial repentance. Crucifixion is dramatic imagery for our uncompromising rejection of all known evil. Crucifixion does not lead to a quick or easy death; it is an execution of lingering pain. Yet it is decisive; there is no possibility of escaping from it.

Our attitude to the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is to be one of unconditional surrender. Paul uses several expressions for this. We are to ”˜live by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16, 18. 25). That is, we are to allow him his rightful sovereignty over us, and follow his righteous promptings.

Thus both our repudiation of the flesh and our surrender to the Spirit need to be repeated daily, however decisive our original repudiation and surrender may have been. In Jesus’ words, we are to ”˜take up (our) cross daily’ and follow him (Lk 9:23). We are also to go on being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), as we open our personality to him daily. Both our repudiation and our surrender are also to be worked out in disciplined habits of life. It is those who ”˜sow to the Spirit’ (Gal. 6:8) who reap the fruit of the Spirit. And to ”˜sow to the Spirit’ means to cultivate the things of the Spirit, for example, by our wise use of the Lord’s Day, the discipline of our daily prayer and Bible reading, our regular worship and attendance at the Lord’s Supper, our Christian friendships and our involvement in Christian service. An inflexible principle of all God’s dealings, both in the material and in the moral realm, is that we reap what we sow. The rule is invariable. It cannot be changed, for ”˜God cannot be mocked’ (Gal. 6:7). We must not therefore be surprised if we do not reap the fruit of the Spirit when all the time we are sowing to the flesh. Did we think we could cheat or fool God?

Authentic Christianity (Nottingham, IVP, 1995)

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Pentecost, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Advent, Christology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Uncategorized

Kendall Harmon’s recent Sermon–How are Easter Christians Called to Live (John 20:19-23)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(GC) Ashley Null–5 Reasons Reformation Anglicanism Is Relevant

For those in the 21st century searching for meaning and purpose in life, Reformation Anglicanism’s commitment to the timeless wisdom of apostolic teaching gives them a solid rock on which to stand.

For those searching for a sense of historical continuity, Reformation Anglicanism offers a community close ties to the ancient church as expressed in its faithfulness to Scripture, the Creeds, and the first four Councils.

For those who make the needs of others a top priority, Reformation Anglicanism’s focus on mission encourages what God has already put on their hearts.

For those looking to be sustained by inspiring, systematic, Scripture-shaped worship, Reformation Anglicanism’s liturgical heritage offers perhaps the best model for proclaiming the gospel of grace and gratitude with ancient beauty and contemporary sensitivity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–How do we live into God's call to mission (Matthew 9:35-38)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

(Christ/St. Paul’s Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Globalization, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Sunday Food For Thought–““I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please…”

“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a warm cup of milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please”(Wilbur Rees)

[Chuck Swindoll comments] That’s it. Our inner ”˜self’ doesn’t want to dump God entirely, just keep Him at a comfortable distance. Three dollars of Him is sufficient. A sack full, nothing more. Just enough to keep my guilt level below the threshold of pain, just enough to guarantee escape from eternal flames. But certainly not enough to make me nervous”¦to start pushing around my prejudices or nit-picking at my lifestyle. Enough is enough!”

–Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, cited by yours truly in the sermon at the later service

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (III)-the importance of soul surgery

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.

Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (I)–a man concerned with USA's internal enemies

It was America’s enemies within that interested Shoemaker most. After the country entered World War II, the cleric addressed the nation’s cause in several sermons, eventually published in Christ and this Cause. In one of those sermons, “God and the War,” he lashed out at the nation’s immorality.

This nation has had the greatest privileges ever given to any nation in all time. America has been God’s privileged child. But America has become a spoiled child. We have been ungrateful to the God under whom our liberties were given to us. I believe it is high time for someone to say that this war today is God’s judgment upon a godless and selfish people.”

Shoemaker did support the war effort; in his sermon, “What Are We Fighting For?” he admitted that the war was a “grim necessity,” the means by which nations would once again have the opportunity to choose democracy. But he abhorred any self-righteous cause:

“No war can ever be a clear-cut way for a Christian to express his hatred of evil. For war involves a basic confusion. All the good in the world is not ranged against all the evil. In the present war, some nations that have a great deal of evil in them are yet seeking to stand for freedom ”¦ against other nations which have a great deal of good in them but yet are presently dedicated to turning the world backwards into the darkness of enslavement.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christology, Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Sam Storms–10 Things You Should Know about Revival

1) Revival cannot be scheduled. Revival cannot be predicted, but neither can it be precluded. There simply are no natural laws that guarantee revival. True revival is a sovereign work of God (Zech. 4:6). In other words, revival is always a miracle. Revival is not “in our pocket.” Once we fall into the trap of thinking that revival is at our beck-and-call, we will begin to develop earthly strategies that we are convinced will produce the desired end. We will become sinfully pragmatic in the business of religion, as we justify virtually any tactic or method just so long as it gets “results”. But this is precisely what we must avoid at all costs.

(2) Someone has defined revival as “a copious effusion of the influence of divine grace,” i.e., a bountiful outpouring of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. J. I. Packer defines revival as “a work of God by his Spirit through his word bringing the spiritually dead to living faith in Christ and renewing the inner life of Christians who have grown slack and sleepy” (Revival, 36). Or again,

“Revival is God stirring the hearts of his people, visiting them . . . coming to dwell with them . . . returning to them . . . pouring out his Spirit on them . . . to quicken their consciences, show them their sins, and exalt his mercy . . . before their eyes” (Keep in Step with the Spirit, 256).

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Archbp Michael Ramsey on the Call to Us at the beginning of a new Year

First, thank God, often and always”¦ Thank God, carefully and wonderingly, for your continuing privileges and for every experience of his goodness. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.

Secondly, take care about confession of your sins… Be sure to criticize yourself in God’s presence: That is your self-examination. And put yourself under the divine criticism: That is your confession.
Thirdly, be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly, but they help you to be humble. There can be the trivial humiliations. Accept them. There can be the bigger humiliations”¦ All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our humble and crucified Lord”¦

Fourthly, do not worry about status”¦ there is only one status that our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is the status of of proximity to himself”¦

Fifthly, use your sense of humor. Laugh about things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh about yourself, and about your own absurdity. We are all of us infinitesimally small and ludicrous creatures within God’s universe. You have to be serious, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything there is the risk of becoming solemn about yourself

–Michael Ramsey, The Christian Priest Today (London: SPCK, 1972), 79-81 (the chapter is entitled “Divine Humility”)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Kendall Harmon's Recent Sermon–We are Called to be Disciples who Make Disciples (Luke 14:25-33)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

(Christ/St. Paul’s Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Krish Kandiah–Is The Church's Mission Falling Apart?

As a cross-cultural missionary, I was often shocked by the sanctuaries we made of our own homes. While we worked with families who were crowded into small, basic apartments, we would go home to what would seem to be our relocated American or British residences with all their mod cons. Outside the home we would be missionaries, not afraid to get our hands dirty. But then we would come home to recharge and would lock the doors behind us. I was also shocked when we occasionally saw the opposite approach: a missionary who was prepared to live like and with the people they were reaching. This integrated approach inevitably reaped much more fruit.

Mission is ontology. It’s a way of being in the world ”“ not a temporary activity we engage in. It’s more than a programme, more than a hobby, more than something we do with a segment of our lives. It’s a permanent posture towards our world and our God. Jesus is the Son sent into the world to serve the Father all the time. Like a stick of rock, Christ is mission all the way through ”“ wherever you cut him he bleeds the compassion and grace of God. So must we, as living sacrifices. We need to live out our commitment to the people we are reaching out to, above our commitment to the projects themselves.

We still celebrate the instant over the long-term, the miraculous over the mundane, the crisis over the process, the body over the soul, at our peril. We need a gospel that is big enough to cope with the complexity of life in order to live lives of faithfulness to our God.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Missions, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox theologians reach further agreement on the Holy Spirit

Last year, the AOOIC communiqué recommended the omission of the Filioque clause ”“ the words “and the son” which western churches added to “”¦which proceeds from the Father” in the Nicene Creed without international consensus. The Anglican co-chair of the Commission, Bishop Gregory Cameron from St Asaph in Wales, said at the time that it had “long been a source of contention between Western and Eastern Christians.”

In their communiqué issued at the end of last week’s talks, the members of the AOOIC said that “having completed its work on the Procession of the Holy Spirit at its 2015 meeting, the Commission continued its reflection on the second part of its Agreed Statement on pneumatology, ”˜The Sending of the Holy Spirit in Time (Economia).’

“This second part considers the action of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the Church making it one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The Co-Chairs signed the second part of Agreed Statement that will be sent to our churches for reflection and comment, after which the Commission will produce the full statement, ”˜The Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit,’ in its final form.”

Read it all from ACNS.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Michael Novak For Labor Day 2016

…a calling requires certain preconditions. It requires more than desires; it requires talent. Not everyone can be, simply by desiring it, an opera singer, or professional athlete, or leader of a large enterprise. For a calling to be right, it must fit our abilities. Another precondition is love — not just love of the final product but, as the essayist Logan Pearsall Smith once put it, “The test of a vocation is love of drudgery it involves.” Long hours, frustrations, small steps forward, struggles: unless these too are welcomed with a certain joy, the claim to being called has a hollow ring.

Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits, ed. Gilbert C. Meilaender (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2000), pp.124-125, emphasis mine

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Helen Roseveare's tale of a Dying Baby, a Hot Water Bottle, A Childs Prayer, + A Childrens Doll

One night, in Central Africa, I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all that we could do, she died leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying, two-year-old daughter.

We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive. We had no incubator. We had no electricity to run an incubator, and no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.

A student-midwife went for the box we had for such babies and for the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly, in distress, to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. “”¦and it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk; so, in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over a burst water bottle. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. All right,” I said, “Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.”
The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with many of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chilled. I also told them about the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt consciousness of our African children. “Please, God,” she prayed, “send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby’ll be dead; so, please send it this afternoon.” While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, ” ”¦And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?” As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, “Amen?” I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything: The Bible says so, but there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time that I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel! I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone; so, I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then, there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children began to look a little bored. Next, came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas ”“ ”“ that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. As I put my hand in again, I felt the”¦could it really be? I grasped it, and pulled it out. Yes, “A brand-new rubber, hot water bottle!” I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!” Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone: She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, “Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?”

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday School class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. One of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child ”” five months earlier in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it “That afternoon!” “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

–From her book Living Faith and shared by yours truly in the morning sermon (Helen Roseveare is still living in her nineties in Northern Ireland–you can read more about her there).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Africa, Children, Church History, Missions, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Republic of Congo, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Remembering Bishop Maurice Arthur Ponsonby Wood (1916-2007) [II]–the Essence of Evangelicalism

The Church is an evangelistic movement. In verse 41 they gladly heard the word and in verse 46 with gladness they went about their business and in verse 47 they praised God. Here was an evangelistic movement which had about it the breath of God’s joy; Christianity in those early days was caught even more than it was taught. Already the Church of God had recognized itself as the agency through which God means to reach and challenge and capture the world for the Cross. We too have to recognize that the whole Church is a joyful army on the march, reaching out constantly to new triumphs of the Cross.

Read it all from the Churchman.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–the Magna Carta of Christian Freedom (Galatians 5:1;13-25)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Law and Gospel Thoughts from John Berridge (1716”“1793)

Run, John, and work, the law commands,
yet finds me neither feet nor hands,

But sweeter news the gospel brings,
it bids me fly and lends me wings!

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

A Helpful Corrective to the Present Political Headlines from Eugene Peterson

This world is no friend to grace”¦The world is protean: each generation has the world to deal with in a new form. World is an atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world’s temptations as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water. There is a sense, a feeling, that things aren’t right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis. We know that the spiritual atmosphere in which we live erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love, but it is hard to put our finger on what is wrong”¦.

People submerged in a culture swarming with lies and malice feel as if they were drowning in it: they can trust nothing they hear, depend on no one they meet. Such dissatisfaction with the world as it is is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship. The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God.

Read it all (with our thanks to TS).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everlasting Father, we pray that by through the ministry and might of your Holy Spirit, you may open the word to our hearts, and our hearts to your word; speak, Lord, for your servants seek to hear, in Jesus precious name. Amen.

–Used by yours truly often before sermons, I have no idea when it first came to me but I have been using it every since; KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture