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Category : * Theology
Historic Diocese of South Carolina Case before the US Supreme Court is featured on the Prestigious Scotus Blog
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?
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.”
(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.
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