Category : * Theology

Still More Food for Thought from Esau McCaulley

Posted in * Theology, Anthropology, Books, Race/Race Relations, Theology: Scripture

Andrew O’Dell–Two Ways to Plumb the Depths of the Ten Commandments

I will never forget the first time the Ten Commandments became more to me than mere “words on a stone tablet.” I was attending a church that encouraged the use of a little prayer journal produced by the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer. Within that journal was a section entitled “A Method of Self Examination Using The Ten Commandments.” Beneath each of the Ten Commandments was a list of several items designed to take the reader deeper into the heart of each commandment. Under the first commandment, “Thou shalt have none other gods but me” (a commandment that, up to that point, I felt I had “aced”) was this statement, “Hint: What do I think about when I first awaken each morning?” I read that statement and thought to myself, “Uh-oh! This isn’t going to go well…” I became keenly aware in that moment that there were (and still are) all sorts of things I’d be thinking about when I first awoke each morning, but was God at the top of the list? Ouch. And thus began the adventure of going deeper into the commandments. With this simple resource, the Holy Spirit began to take me deeper into the heart of God and into an ever-growing awareness of my desperate need for him. It’s as if the psalmist wrote Psalm 19:12 to express our need for God’s Commandments to guide us on this journey: “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”

Over the years, I have continued to use this little prayer journal and have made it my habit to meditate on one commandment a day, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal those places in my heart that need repentance, healing, and change. I have updated the journal several times, and we provide a copy to each participant of our Foundations class when I teach the session on Bible reading and prayer. If you would like a copy for your own devotions, you can pick one up in the church office. Or, if you’d simply like to print a copy of the section “A Method of Self Examination Using The Ten Commandments,” you can download a copy (at the link provided)….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Theology, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Theology: Scripture

More Dorothy Sayers on Her Feast Day–The Creed of St. Euthanasia

I believe in man,
maker of himself
and inventor of all science.
And in myself, his manifestation,
and captain of my psyche;
and that I should not suffer anything painful or unpleasant.
And in a vague, evolving deity,
the future-begotten child of man;
conceived by the spirit of progress,
born of emergent variants;
who shall kick down the ladder by which he rose
and tell history to go to hell.
Who shall some day take off from earth
and be jet-propelled into the heavens;
and sit exalted above all worlds,
man the master almighty.
And I believe in the spirit of progress,
who spake by Shaw and the Fabians;
and in a modern, administrative, ethical, and social organization;
in the isolation of saints,
the treatment of complexes,
joy through health,
and destruction of the body by cremation
(with music while it burns),
and then I’ve had it.

–Dorothy Sayers, Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World: A Selection of Essays (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, Trade Paperback edition 1969)

Posted in * Theology, Church History

Bishop Mark Lawrence: Thanksgiving—the Normal Christian Life

I believe Eugene Peterson’s translation of these verses deserve a joyous reading on Thanksgiving Day:

Oh, visit the earth, /ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers, /fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden. / Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields, / soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake/ bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor, /scatter rose petals down your path,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals. / Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep, / a drape of flax across the valleys,
Let them shout, and shout, and shout! / Oh, oh, let them sing! (Ps. 65:9-13)

Here is a man gripped by God’s goodness and trustworthiness. Like Jesus, who spoke often of his Father’s goodness, and taught us to take a good look at the birds of the air and the little flowers in the fields, God’s goodness for this psalmist spills over into a life of gratitude. Fleming Rutledge puts it well, “The giving of thanks is not just an activity to be taken up at certain times and set aside at other times. It is a whole way of life.” One might even say it is The Normal Christian Life. Nevertheless, to set aside days when a people offer their Creator thanks is formational. From early on in our nation’s history it has been so. Our ancestors knew and practiced this even in days of scarcity. They learned it from the Holy Scriptures—both Testaments.

The Creator, who has filled the world with so much wonder and mystery, beauty and truth is—as Jesus revealed—our heavenly Father. He is no gloomy tyrant from whose grimy, stingy hands we have to wrench every meager gift. Yet, make the gifts of God our highest priority and moth will eat, rust will mar, thief will steal, and worry will whittle away. “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness… and all these things…” the world’s, wonder, mystery, beauty and truth, as well as life’s gifts will be added to us in due time and right order. We don’t have to worry about missing out. There is enough—always has been enough—enough and to spare.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, * Theology

Food for Thought from P T Forsyth

–quoted in the morning sermon by yours truly

Posted in * Theology, --Scotland, Church History

(CC) Jerome Berryman–Godly Play and the language of Christian faith

If learning to be a Christian is like learning a language, then teaching children to speak Christian is more complicated than it used to be. Families don’t go to church as much as they once did, and the culture does not naturally support Christian speech or Christian ways of thinking about the world. When children seldom hear the Christian language spoken fluently, they can’t absorb its structure, function, and content. They learn only bits and pieces to carry with them into adolescence.

Teaching children how to speak Christian is something I’ve been working on since 1960, primarily through an activity called Godly Play. Godly Play is a process of leading children into a form of deep play that leads to wonder, encourages them to ponder the source of the wonder, and allows for their insights to emerge. Godly Play invites children in to a beautiful setting and uses well-trained mentors to show children how to speak Christian.

Children learn new languages easily because they uncritically absorb what’s around them. They take what they experience in church and associate it with “Christianity.” The associated feelings get buried as the years go by, but it is always deep inside them as part of what it means to be a Christian. This is why it is so important that the foundational aspects of Godly Play are laid out intentionally and also beautifully.

In that light, consider the room in which children gather to learn about God. The room communicates simply and nonverbally what your church finds most significant about Christianity. Is the room beautiful? Does it stir wonder? Is there a warmth and welcome to it? Is it well cared for? Is it safe? Does the space highlight the importance of our sacred stories, parables, and liturgy? Is there room for silence?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Theology

Historic Diocese of South Carolina Case before the US Supreme Court is featured on the Prestigious Scotus Blog

You can find it there along with important links to material you may or may not have already seen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, * Theology, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Walter Russell Mead–The Meaning of Christmas

The shocking claim of Christmas, that the baby in the manger is the God of Abraham and Isaac, the Maker of heaven and earth, the uncreated Creator of all things, is at least as hard to understand as it is to believe. But that outrageous claim is why Christians celebrate the day: They believe that this baby, born of a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea, was the only begotten son of God, the long-prophesied Messiah, and the Savior of the world. For the people who think this, it makes perfect sense that the world’s biggest annual celebration is held in His honor; nobody ever born was more important or did more good.

Forget believing or disbelieving this; if we are going to understand what Christians mean by these ideas, we have to unpack some concepts and examine some unspoken assumptions. We need to know what Christians mean by God, why they think God had a Son and what they think God’s Son was doing being born at all, much less being born in Bethlehem. These are some big questions and we won’t get them all answered in one day; those of you who stick with me through the rest of the Christmas season will, I hope, have a better idea of how this all hangs together by the time we are done.

The place to start is with the idea of God: Why do Christians and so many other people believe in an invisible Ruler and Creator of the universe—and then how does the Christian idea of God differ from the others?

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Posted in * Theology, Christmas

More from Saint Augustine–John 1: “words to drink”

Therefore, brethren, may this be the result of my admonition, that you understand that in raising your hearts to the Scriptures (when the gospel was sounding forth, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and the rest that was read), you were lifting your eyes to the mountains. For unless the mountains said these things, you would not find out how to think of them at all. Therefore from the mountains came your help, that you even heard of these things; but you cannot yet understand what you have heard. Call for help from the Lord, who made heaven and earth; for the mountains were enabled only so to speak as not of themselves to illuminate, because they themselves are also illuminated by hearing. Thence John, who said these things, received them, he who lay on the Lord’s breast, and from the Lord’s breast drank in what he might give us to drink. But he gave us words to drink.

Thou oughtest then to receive understanding from the source from which he drank who gave thee to drink; so that thou mayest lift up thine eyes to the mountains from whence shall come thine aid, so that from thence thou mayest receive, as it were, the cup, that is, the word, given thee to drink; and yet, since thy help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth, thou mayest fill thy breast from the source from which he filled his; whence thou saidst, “My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth:” let him, then, fill who can. Brethren, this is what I have said: Let each one lift up his heart in the manner that seems fitting, and receive what is spoken. But perhaps you will say that I am more present to you than God. Far be such a thought from you! He is much more present to you; for I appear to your eyes, He presides over your consciences. Give me then your ears, Him your hearts, that you may fill both. Behold, your eyes, and those your bodily senses, you lift up to us; and yet not to us, for we are not of those mountains, but to the gospel itself, to the evangelist himself: your hearts, however, to the Lord to be filled. Moreover, let each one so lift up as to see what he lifts up, and whither. What do I mean by saying, “what he lifts up, and whither?” Let him see to it what sort of a heart he lifts up, because it is to the Lord he lifts it up, lest, encumbered by a load of fleshly pleasure, it fall ere ever it is raised. But does each one see that he bears a burden of flesh? Let him strive by continence to purify that which he may lift up to God. For “Blessed are the pure in heart, because they shall see God.”

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Posted in * Theology, Church History, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Chris Sugden reviews the new book “Reformation Anglicanism – a Vision for Today’s Global Communion”

[Michael] Nazir Ali traces the development and nature of the Anglican Communion, a reprint of his Latimer Booklet of 2013 “How the Anglican Communion began and where it is going”. through ‘movements of people responding to the call of God on their lives”. Its renewal will come “ not through the reform of structures or through institutional means but through movements raised up by God” for planting churches, renewal in worship, campaigners for the poor and persecuted. ( p 43)

[Benjamin] Kwashi expounds the transforming power of the gospel as we seek the kingdom of God, rather than our own power and status, by relying not on our own natural power, but on God working through us by the Spirit.

The relation of scripture, reason and tradition is more accurately described not as a three legged stool, but to see “ Scripture as a garden bed in which reason and tradition are tools used to tend the soil, unlock its nutrients and bring forth the beauty within it.” ([Ashley] Null p. 86). The whole thrust of Anglican liturgy was to teach people the scriptures. The Church of England would only succeed, Cranmer held, if the English people regularly sat under the transforming power of Scripture and its message expressed in Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion. (198) The chief responsibility of Bishops is to “proclaim and defend the apostolic faith as taught by the Scriptures” (195) since Christian fellowship can only be based on a common understanding of saving faith (196). They show their authentic apostolic succession by what they teach and what they reject.

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Posted in * Theology, Anglican Identity, Books, Church History

Food for Thought from Saint Augustine for Ash Wednesday

Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For “pride is the beginning of sin.” And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction….The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself….By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.

—-Augustine, The City of God 14.13

Posted in * Theology, Church History, Lent