Category : Church History

Athanasius on the Incarnation for his Feast Day

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us Acts 17:27 before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery””lest the creature should perish, and His Father’s handiwork in men be spent for nought””He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling. And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father””doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord’s body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.

–Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

Posted in Christology, Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Athanasius

Uphold thy Church, O God of truth, as thou didst uphold thy servant Athanasius, to maintain and proclaim boldly the catholic faith against all opposition, trusting solely in the grace of thine eternal Word, who took upon himself our humanity that we might share his divinity; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

For those of You closely Following the Diocese of SC Supreme Court Case–TEC and the new TEC Diocese have requested another extension until May 7th

From there:

Apr 26, 2018: Motion to extend the time to file a response is granted and the time is further extended to and including May 7, 2018, for all respondents.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Supreme Court

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Philip and Saint James

Almighty God, who didst give to thine apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(CC) Black liberation theologian James Cone dies at 79

James Cone, 79, one of the most powerful voices shaping black liberation theology, died Saturday (April 28). According to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in which Cone was ordained, he had cancer.

The author of such books as Black Theology and Black Power (1969), A Black Theology of Liber­ation (1970), and God of the Oppressed (1975), Cone joined the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in 1969.

“In so many ways, James Cone has been Union Theological Seminary for the past 50 years,” said Union president Serene Jones. “To say his death leaves a void is a staggering understatement. His prophetic voice, deep kindness, and fierce commitment to black liberation embodied not just the very best of our seminary, but of the theological field as a whole and of American prophetic thought and action.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Sarah Hale

Gracious God, we bless thy Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for thy many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Helena Bonham Carter reads Christina Rossetti’s Song poem for the poet’s Feast Day

Listen to it all there.

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

Christina Rossetti (1830–1894)

Posted in Church History, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Christina Rossetti

O God, whom heaven cannot hold, who didst inspire Christina Rossetti to express the mystery of the Incarnation through her poems: Help us to follow her example in giving our hearts to Christ, who is love; and who is alive and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(1st Things) Abigail Rine Favale–Evangelical Gnosticism

I teach in a great books program at an Evangelical university. Almost all students in the program are born-and-bred Christians of the nondenominational variety. A number of them have been both thoroughly churched and educated through Christian schools or homeschooling curricula. Yet an overwhelming majority of these students do not believe in a bodily resurrection. While they trust in an afterlife of eternal bliss with God, most of them assume this will be disembodied bliss, in which the soul is finally free of its “meat suit” (a term they fondly use).

I first caught wind of this striking divergence from Christian orthodoxy in class last year, when we encountered Stoic visions of the afterlife. Cicero, for one, describes the body as a prison from which the immortal soul is mercifully freed upon death, whereas Seneca views the body as “nothing more or less than a fetter on my freedom,” one eventually “dissolved” when the soul is set loose. These conceptions were quite attractive to the students.

Resistance to the idea of a physical resurrection struck them as perfectly logical. “It doesn’t feel right to say there’s a human body in heaven, when the body is tied so closely to sin,” said one student. In all, fewer than ten of my forty students affirmed the orthodox teaching that we will ultimately have a body in our glorified, heavenly form. None of them realizes that these beliefs are unorthodox; this is not willful doctrinal error. This is an absence of knowledge about the foundational tenets of historical, creedal Christianity.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Theology

Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mark Labberton’s recent Address at the Wheaton Gathering–The Crisis of Evangelicalism

Only the Spirit “who is in the world to convict us of sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) can bring us to clarity about the crisis we face.  As I have sought that conviction, here is what I have come to believe: The central crisis facing us is that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been betrayed and shamed by an evangelicalism that has violated its own moral and spiritual integrity.

This is not a crisis imposed from outside the household of faith, but from within.  The core of the crisis is not specifically about Trump, or Hillary, or Obama, or the electoral college, or Comey, or Mueller, or abortion, or LGBTQIA+ debates, or Supreme Court appointees. Instead the crisis is caused by the way a toxic evangelicalism has engaged with these issues in such a way as to turn the gospel into Good News that is fake. Now on public display is an indisputable collusion between prominent evangelicalism and many forms of insidious racist, misogynistic, materialistic, and political power. The wind and the rain and the floods have come, and, as Jesus said, they will reveal our foundation.  In this moment for evangelicalism, what the storms have exposed is a foundation not of solid rock but of sand.

This is not a crisis taking place at the level of language. This is not about who owns or defines the term “evangelical,” and whether one does—or does not—choose to identify as such.  It is legitimate and important to debate if and how the term “evangelical” can currently be used in the United States to mean anything more than white, theologically and politically conservative. But that is not itself the crisis. The crisis is not at the level of our lexicon, but of our lives and a failure to embody the gospel we preach.  We may debate whether the word “evangelical” can or should be redeemed. But what we must deal with is the current bankruptcy many associate with evangelical life.

This is not a crisis unfolding at the level of group allegiance, denomination, or affiliation.  The varied reality that is American evangelicalism is evidenced in this room.  We have no formal hierarchy, leadership, or structure and form no single organization, but are sorted and divided today as we have been—for better and worse—for much of our history.  Some might wish for a clearer distinction between those who call themselves fundamentalist and those who call themselves evangelical. We might look to varying traditions or geographies to explain our division. These distinctions matter but can easily devolve into scapegoating or blaming, diverting us from our vocation as witness to God’s love for a multifaceted world.

This is not a recent crisis but a historic one.  We face a haunting specter with a shadow that reaches back further than the 2016 election—a history that helps define the depth of the sorrow, fear, anger, anxiety, and injustice around us. Today’s egregious collusion between evangelicals and worldly power is problematic enough: more painful and revealing is that such collusion has been our historic habit. Today’s collusion bears astonishing—and tragic—continuity with the past.

Right alongside the rich history of gospel faithfulness that evangelicalism has affirmed, there lies a destructive complicity with dominant cultural and racial power. Despite deep gospel confidence and rhetoric, evangelicalism has been long-wedded to a devastating social self-interest that defends the dominant culture over and against that of the gospel’s command to love the “other” as ourselves.  We are not naïve in our doctrine of sin that prefers self over all, but we have failed to recognize our own guilt in it.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Robert Hunt

Almighty God, we bless thy Name for the life and witness of Robert Hunt, first chaplain to the Jamestown colony, who sought to unite thy people in thy love amid great hardship: Help us, like him, to work for reconciliation wherever we may be placed; through Jesus Christ thy Son, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Mark

Almighty God, who by the hand of Mark the evangelist hast given to thy Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank thee for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Eleanor Parker–The Story of Saint Mellitus

24 April is the anniversary of the death in 624 of Mellitus, first Bishop of London in the Anglo-Saxon period and third Archbishop of Canterbury. Mellitus arrived in England in 601, as part of the second wave of missionaries sent by Pope Gregory to support Augustine in his attempt to convert the Anglo-Saxons. With him came Justus (about whom I wrote here) and Paulinus (whose adventures in Northumbria you can read about here). Mellitus seems to have been the most senior of the party, since he is the addressee of the famous papal letter in which Gregory told the missionaries not to destroy the Anglo-Saxons’ pagan temples, customs and sacrifices, but to replace them.

Thanks to Bede, we have a detailed account of Mellitus’ activities once he arrived in Kent, and of the many trials and tribulations of the new church. We begin in Book II of the Historia Ecclesiastica (quotations are taken from A History of the English Church and People, trans. Leo Sherley-Price (Penguin, 1974), ch.3-7):

In the year of our Lord 604, Augustine, Archbishop of Britain, consecrated two bishops, Mellitus and Justus. Mellitus was appointed to preach in the province of the East Saxons, which is separated from Kent by the river Thames, and bounded on the east by the sea. Its capital is the city of London, which stands on the banks of the Thames, and is a trading centre for many nations who visit it by land and sea. At this time Sabert, Ethelbert’s nephew through his sister Ricula, ruled the province under the suzerainty of Ethelbert, who, as already stated, governed all the English peoples as far north as the Humber. When this province too had received the faith through the preaching of Mellitus, King Ethelbert built a church dedicated to the holy Apostle Paul in the city of London, which he appointed as the episcopal see of Mellitus and his successors.

Augustine also consecrated Justus as bishop of a Kentish city which the English call Hrofescaestir after an early chieftain named Hrof. This lies nearly twenty-four miles west of Canterbury, and a church in honour of St. Andrew the Apostle was built here by King Ethelbert, who made many gifts to the bishops of both these churches as well as to Canterbury; he later added lands and property for the maintenance of the bishop’s household.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, England / UK

A Prayer for Saint Mellitus Day from a College that bears His Name

From there:

God of grace and wisdom,
who called your servant Mellitus
to leave his home and proclaim your Word:
grant to all who belong to the college that bears his name
diligence for study, fervour for mission,
and perseverance for ministry,
that they might shine with your love and truth
in these dioceses and beyond,
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint George

Almighty God, who didst commission thy holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer