Daily Archives: January 4, 2016

Hippolytus””The Manifestation of the Hidden Mystery

There is only one God, brethren, and we learn about him only from sacred Scripture. It is therefore our duty to become acquainted with what Scripture proclaims and to investigate its teachings thoroughly. We should believe them in the sense that the Father wills, thinking of the Son in the way the Father wills, and accepting the teaching he wills to give us with regard to the Holy Spirit. Sacred Scripture is God’s gift to us and it should be understood in the way that he intends: we should not do violence to it by interpreting it according to our own preconceived ideas.

God was all alone and nothing existed but himself when he determined to create the world. He thought of it, willed it, spoke the word and so made it. It came into being instantaneously, exactly as he had willed. It is enough then for us to be aware of a single fact: nothing is coeternal with God. Apart from God there was simply nothing else. Yet although he was alone, he was manifold because he lacked neither reason, wisdom, power, nor counsel. All things were in him and he himself was all. At a moment of his own choosing and in a manner determined by himself, God manifested his Word, and through him he made the whole universe.
When the Word was hidden within God himself he was invisible to the created world, but God made him visible. First God gave utterance to his voice, engendering light from light, and then he sent his own mind into the world as its Lord. Visible before to God alone and not to the world, God made him visible so that the world could be saved by seeing him. This mind that entered our world was made known as the Son of God. All things came into being through him; but he alone is begotten by the Father.

The Son gave us the law and the prophets, and he filled the prophets with the Holy Spirit to compel them to speak out. Inspired by the Father’s power, they were to proclaim the Father’s purpose and his will.

So the Word was made manifest, as Saint John declares when, summing up all the sayings of the prophets, he announces that this is the Word through whom the whole universe was made. He says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things came into being; not one thing was created without him. And further on he adds: The world was made through him, and yet the world did not know him. He entered his own creation, and his own did not receive him.

–from St. Hippolytus’ treatise against the heresy of Noetus

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

Gavin Dunbar–The Word Made Flesh

Large claims have been made for a small baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger: according to Saint John he is the “Word of God made flesh”, who “dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten [Son] of the Father, full of grace and truth”. The Jews were familiar with ”˜the Word of God’ – the Word that was spoken in the beginning, by which the world was made; the Word spoken to the fathers by the prophets, and the Word that was written in the Scriptures. But when John says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, he is not only saying that Jesus spoke the Word of God, like any prophet, but that he himself was the Word of God. Anyone can bring a message: but to be the message? That’s harder!

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Samuel Wells–Questions at the door

One Sunday, having waded through a call for volunteers, I said, “You know, I should probably say this every Sunday, but if you’ve come here this morning feeling brokenhearted or anxious about something, don’t leave without talking to one of the pastors about it. That’s why we have coffee hour””to get to know each other well enough so that when things fall apart we can share what we’re going through. Talking to you is what we’re here for.”

So I had no one to blame but myself when the first person out the door skipped the pleasantries and came straight out with it. “I get the God part,” he said; “I just can’t get the Jesus part.” That was it. No worries about a husband showing signs of dementia, a brother’s divorce, or a whistle-blowing scenario at work. He was saying that the biggest issue in his life””something he was desperate to talk to someone about””was . . . God. So I said the first thing that came into my head. “I think Jesus is God saying, ”˜I’m not far away and long ago and theoretical; I’m here and now and in your face.’ Do you want a God who’s a nice idea, or a God who’s about everything now and forever?” He said, “The everything God.” I said, “Well then I think you do get the Jesus part.” Then he left. Maybe I’ll never know if he wanted my answer or would have preferred a listening ear.

More worshipers came through the line. Then the last person out the door, who’d clearly made sure he was the last person, said (and I’m not making this up), “I get the Jesus part. I just can’t get the God part.” I was even more dumbfounded than the first time. To meet one person in the heart searchings of faith might be a wonder; to get two made me think that they had a bet and were pulling my leg. But this man was genuine. He had hung back for a real sit-down conversation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

(Vanguard) Anglican Church in Nigeria consecrates three bishops in 2016

The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, yesterday, consecrated three bishops with a call on them to be good shepherds over their flocks.

Consecrating the bishops at the Cathedral of All Saints, Ughelli, Delta State, Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, charged them not be wolves but rather good disciples of Jesus Christ and good disciplinarians.

Those consecretated bishops are Foreman Nedison (Bishop of Jalingo); Bishop Olubunmi Akinlade (Bishop of Ife) and Bishop Andrew Olu Igenoza (Rector, Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary, Abeokuta).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

Another Prayer to Begin the Day from Prayers for the Christian Year

Most merciful God, for whose chosen handmaid and her Holy Babe there was no room in the inn at Bethlehem: Help us all by thy Spirit to make room for the Christ in our common days, that his peace and joy may fill our hearts, and his love flow through our lives to the blessing of others; for his name’s sake.

–Prayers for the Christian Year (SCM, 1964)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you?

–Psalm 85:6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

PBS Religion+Ethics Newsweekly–What will be among the most important religion stories in 2016?

SOCOLOVSKY: Well, I think conservative churches want to draw lines. They want to say, “This is what we think about marriage. We are not anti-gay, we just think that marriage should be between a man and a woman,” and the challenge for them is going to be to voice that and express that in what appears to wider society to be a very humane way.

LAWTON: And without changing their positions in some cases. So, you know, there’s talk about being kinder and gentler on the issue, but the reality is many of them aren’t changing their position. I’m going to be watching especially this year the United Methodist Church, a mainline denomination, will be having its general meeting, and this is a denomination that has really struggled on this issue because it’s a very diverse denomination. There are people from Africa as well, church members in other parts of the world that are more conservative on this issue. And that church has been trying to figure out what do we do? There are ministers within the denomination that want to perform same-sex weddings, and there are many that are very opposed to it, so how does that denomination try to straddle both of those points of views?

DIONNE: They are the ultimate big church, or they are one of the ultimate big churches. When you think historically, they have gone politically from right to left. And just think in recent years, Hillary Clinton is a Methodist, and George W. Bush was a Methodist by marriage. He used to go to a Methodist church. They both speak for real traditions inside that church, and theoretically they’re all part of the same church.

DE SAM LAZARO: But the growing congregations are the most conservative, are they not, globally speaking?

JEROME SOCOLOVSKY: That’s correct. In Africa, in Latin America, in Asia. And there is also immigration to this country from those countries who are helping the ranks of, let’s say, Pentecostals or conservative evangelicals. In America we sometimes forget that we are a minority on this view worldwide, and some of these churches like the United Methodists have congregations overseas, too.

DIONNE: It’s a real challenge to be more liberal traditions, or to more liberal people inside big churches, Methodist, Catholics, and others””

LAWTON: Episcopalian, Anglican.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology

More Music for Chistmas 2015–Faith Hill – A Baby Changes Everything

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Ring out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

–Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

He is With Me, He is With Us

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God’s smile.

In one of her writings, we read: “We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him” (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks.

Pope Benedict XVI (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

The Plain Meaning of the Word Becoming Flesh

The plain meaning therefore is, that the Speech begotten by God before all ages, and who always dwelt with the Father, was made man. On this article there are two things chiefly to be observed. The first is, that two natures were so united in one Person in Christ, that one and the same Christ is true God and true man. The second is, that the unity of person does not hinder the two natures from remaining distinct, so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to itself, and his humanity holds separately whatever belongs to it. And, therefore, as Satan has made a variety of foolish attempts to overturn sound doctrine by heretics, he has always brought forward one or another of these two errors; either that he was the Son of God and the Son of man in so confused a manner, that neither his Divinity remained entire, nor did he wear the true nature of man; or that he was clothed with flesh, so as to be as it were double, and to have two separate persons.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

Faith in the eternal Word of the Father is faith in Jesus of Nazareth or it is not”¦Christian faith

But the object of divine action in the Incarnation is man. God’s free decision is and remains a gracious decision; God becomes man, the Word becomes flesh. The Incarnation means no apparent reserved, but a real and complete descent of God. God actually became what we are, in order actually to exist with us, actually to exist for us, in thus becoming and being human, not to do what we do-sin; and to do what we fail to do”“God’s, His own, will; and so actually, in our place, in our situation and position to be the new man. It is not in His eternal majesty”“in which He is and remains hidden from us”“but as this new man and therefore the Word in the flesh, that God’s Son is God’s revelation to us and our reconciliation with God. Just for that reason faith cannot look past His humanity, the cradle of Bethlelhem and the cross of Golgotha in order to see Him in His divinity, Faith in the eternal Word of the Father is faith in Jesus of Nazareth or it is not the Christian faith.

–Karl Barth (1886-1968)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology