Category : Christology

Amy Carmichael–No Scar?

From here:

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

(also used by yours truly in the morning sermon)

Posted in Christology, Poetry & Literature, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(EC) George Clifford–The 1979 Book of Common Prayer needs revision–is it time for an electronic prayer book?

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer badly needs revision:

It is sexist, e.g., in its presumption that clergy and God are male;
It is exclusionary, e.g., the marriage rite is only for heterosexual couples;
It is limited, as evidenced by the proliferation and popularity of authorized alternative liturgies.
Others may add additional theological and liturgical reasons to that list.

[Also] printing a revised Book of Common Prayer is inadvisable [for the following reasons]….

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Cremation (3)-Kendall Harmon: Cremation: Have we Thought it Through?

I have to confess surprise and disappointment over most of the discussion about cremation in today’s church. As someone who speaks in churches on the whole topic of God’s final and complete arrangements with us (eschatology), it is a subject which I raise with some regularity, and it often produces some of the largest response. At a MINIMUM my plea, to follow Paul in Romans, is for each person to make up his or her own mind. In other words, think it through. What I regularly find with contemporary Christians is that they have no problem with cremation, but when I raise objections they cannot answer them. So please understand that I am writing this to encourage you think against me in the body of Christ. Cremation is a matter on which Christians differ with one another, but that difference is to be an encouragement to us to think more deeply about the subject. (I just wrote “we will gladly do the burial either way” and then I looked at it a long time and realized that “gladly” might be misconstrued! We will surely do your burial no matter what you decide).

Often the cremation question is formulated backwards. The question should be why should Christians do anything other than bodily burial? I wish to press this question by noting that it can be shown that as secularization increases, cremation increases. This ought at least to give us pause.

Bodily Burial should be preferred for at least three reasons. (1) Bodily burial best allows for honest grief. This is the least important reason, but it matters a lot in our culture which for the most part STILL lives into Ernest Becker’s book title THE DENIAL OF DEATH. In such a culture, it is all the more important to enable people honestly to face up to the reality of death. The whole practice of the “death industry” is in the other direction.

Think about it. A coffin looks like a person–the same size, etc. When it is lifted it FEELS like a person, and the weightiness suggests the weight of the gift of life God gave. When it is lowered into the ground it feels like we are burying a person-same weight, height, etc. Cremation takes us away from these things–an urn is not the same size or weight as a person, etc. Also, the whole symbolism of the pall (the white linen cloth placed over the coffin) as the resurrection body is altogether lost without a coffin.

(2) The whole symbolism of cremation is exactly backwards. Christians believe in bodily resurrection. They should therefore respect the body in every possible way–how does cremation achieve this? The images for hell are: destruction, punishment, and exclusion. Fire is a key element of the scriptural teaching (there is no evidence, by the way, for Gehenna as a garbage dump, as is continually alleged in the literature). If you say a prayer over a body in an English Crematorium as my doctoral supervisor Geoffrey Rowell did, you actually look into the fire as the body is disposed of. LOOKING INTO THE FIRE? What kind of symbol for resurrection is that?
In contrast, in bodily burial, we look to the Lord, we look to the future, and we confess our faith in God who will make a new heaven and a new earth.

(3) The whole structure of Christian theology ought to challenge us here as well. Creation-fall-redemption-glorification is a profoundly earth-affirming and bodily faith structure. We were made of the earth and given bodies in creation, Christ took on full-bodiedness in the incarnation and was fully bodily resurrected, and we await one day our new and glorified bodies. Certainly our belief in the resurrection of the body is a factor here, but there is more: the whole sacramental approach to life and faith is in view. Bodily Burial is an affirmation of our bodily creation, an affirmation of our bodily redemption, and a proper anticipation of our bodily glorification.

By the way, does anyone have a guess as to why most americans choose cremation? I find it often comes down to money. Cremation is usually less expensive. This speaks volumes about our culture.

We are not to be conformed to the spirit of this world. Apart from compelling reasons to the contrary, why should we depart from the norm of Christian practice through the centuries? The ball is in the court of those who wish to defend cremation, not the other way around.

–Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and convenor of this blog

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

N.T. Wright on the Ascension and Second Coming of Jesus

Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.

[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.

So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, 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

(JE) Joseph Russell–10 Profound Quotes from ‘The Cross of Christ’ by John Stott

1.) “From Jesus’ youth, indeed even from his birth, the cross cast its shadow ahead of him. His death was central to his mission. Moreover, the church has always recognized this.” (pg. 23)

2.) “The fact that a cross became the Christian symbol, and that Christians stubbornly refused, in spite of the ridicule, to discard it in favor of something less offensive, can have only on explanation. It means that the centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself. It was out of loyalty to him that his followers clung so doggedly to this sign.” (pg. 31)

3.) “God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sins, guilt, judgement and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that.” (pg. 85)

4.) “The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.” (pg. 111)

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

Jeffrey Miller’s 2017 Easter Sermon: A Matter of First Importance (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

You can listen directly here or download it there. Listen carefully for a very important quote from Saint Augustine.

Posted in * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

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

ACNA Bishop John Guernsey–a response to Truro Church on the Institute Announcement

Truro leaders have made clear to me that the heart of this initiative is evangelistic. They desire to build loving relationships and, through them, to win back to the truth of Scriptures those who have departed from the historic Christian faith. And they desire to lead to Christ those who do not know Jesus as the Crucified and Risen Lord, the only Savior of the world. I certainly support such goals and pray for even more fruit from Truro’s dynamic evangelism ministries.

At the same time, as I have been made aware of the vision of the Institute, I have repeatedly expressed to the Truro leadership my deep concerns over the possibility of their conducting this ministry in partnership with the Diocese of Virginia. Because of the false teaching of the Episcopal Church, I asked them not to enter into a joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese. The issues that divide us are of first importance and to partner with the Episcopal Church is to give he mistaken impression that these concerns are merely secondary. If I thought that the issues that divide us were secondary, I would never have left the Episcopal Church.

The Truro leadership has chosen to proceed in joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese in spite of my opposition. I am deeply grieved by this, and I hope Truro will reconsider.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Christology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Truro Church in Virginia Announces “A School of Peace and Reconciliation”

In this Easter season of rebirth and renewal, Truro Anglican Church is pleased to announce a new ministry of peace making and reconciliation called the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute represents the continued fulfillment of God’s work at Truro over many decades and is consistent with our congregational history and DNA. It is also the culmination of our outreach to and discussions with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with whom we are joining in this exciting initiative. Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV, we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.

This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:

“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”
The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry

(CT) Sunday Bobai Agang–The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us

I appreciate our Christian patriotic interest in guarding the Christian faith from being supplanted by Islam. However, the church should not allow that concern to distract it from keeping its house in order. God does not call us to compete with Islam. Rather, he calls us to holy living. “It is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:16). As it is, the Christian faith in Nigeria is suffering public disgrace and disrepute because of our lack of self-control, ungodly living, and compromised integrity.

Jesus declared that he is the truth, the way to eternal life (John 14:6). Christians can be confident in our salvation by faith in our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ; we have nothing to fear. Our source of power and authority is God, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:18–20). We are given power and authority to combat satanic and demonic oppression, to destroy the works of the flesh, to heal obsession with material things, and to create just structures and systems that guarantee human flourishing. By the power and authority God has vested in us, we have nothing to fear and no excuse for failure. We have in us what we need to create fertile environments for social and spiritual transformation, in Nigeria and around the world.

The fear of an Islamization agenda is very real, but it must not be allowed to distract us from our primary concern: Christlikeness, holy living, hard work, and moral integrity. If we are concerned about the spread of Islam, let us be equally concerned about the lack of Christian public integrity and witness in our society. We must not allow fearmongering or conspiracy theories to prevent us from recognizing the true threat.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(ABC Aus.) Richard Hays–The Day the Lord Has Made: Living the Resurrection in a Time of Despair

If the resurrection has broken into the world, however, why do we still live a world entangled in violence, injustice and death? Why do innocent people die in bombings in Syria? Why is there senseless structural violence against black people? Why does cancer continue to eat away at our lives? Paul knows as well as we do about what he calls “the sufferings of the present time” (Romans 8:18). And that’s why he writes the third and last paragraph of our passage.

Has Jesus’s resurrection power already beamed us up into heavenly existence? No. Paul carefully explains that we are not at the end; rather, we are in the middle of an unfolding story. “In Christ all will be made alive … But each in order.” There is a careful sequencing here of three acts of the unfolding drama: “Christ the first-fruits; then at his kingly coming those who belong to Christ.” (That’s us – we who will be raised from the dead at Christ’s triumphant return.) And only then do we reach the end, the final act: when Christ hands over the kingdom to the Father who will at last destroy all the evil and pain in the world and wipe away every tear from our eyes.

So we find ourselves in the middle of the story. But notice how Paul describes the political reality of this middle time we inhabit: “It is necessary for Christ to rule until God places all his enemies under his feet.” In the present time, the Risen Christ is in fact ruling now, even though his enemies continue to carry out their ultimately futile attacks on his kingdom. Paul is painting a picture of prolonged military struggle, in which our captain, the Lord Jesus, is reclaiming territory previously occupied by enemy forces.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology

Charles Simeon on Easter–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life -The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”

–Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable

Twelve seconds of silence is an awkward eternity on television. Amr Adeeb, perhaps the most prominent talk show host in Egypt, leaned forward as he searched for a response.

“The Copts of Egypt … are made of … steel!” he finally uttered.

Moments earlier, Adeeb was watching a colleague in a simple home in Alexandria speak with the widow of Naseem Faheem, the guard at St. Mark’s Cathedral in the seaside Mediterranean city.

On Palm Sunday, the guard had redirected a suicide bomber through the perimeter metal detector, where the terrorist detonated. Likely the first to die in the blast, Faheem saved the lives of dozens inside the church.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Terrorism, Theology: Scripture