The true miracle, the most difficult achievement, is therefore the example and the practice of love in the spiritual sense of that word…To enter into God is to let oneself be caught up in the immense movement of the love of the trinity which reveals the other person to us as ‘neighbor’ or (and this is better) which enables each one of us to become the ‘neighbor’ of others. And to become a ‘neighbor’ is to side with Christ, since he identifies himself with every human being who is suffering, or rejected, or imprisoned, or ignored. We need only call to mind the Last Judgement scene in the Gospel according to St Matthew: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’…’Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did to me.’
Olivier Clement, The Roots of Christian Mysticism
The disciples wanted a kingdom without a cross. Many would-be “orthodox” or “conservative” Christians in our world have wanted a cross without a kingdom, an abstract “atonement” that would have nothing to do with this world except to provide an escape from it.
If Christian believed in the immortality of the soul and the wretchedness of human bodies, the tomb on Easter morning would not have been empty—because Jesus’ body would have remained and only his soul ascended.
Norman Wirzba, Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation (via stephanieberbec)
[The claim] that some think theological claims must be grounded in empirical proofs is based on the assumption that there is an essential tension between faith and reason. Even Christian theologians have sometimes underwritten the assumption that the faith of Christians cannot be rationally defended. However, the very presumption that reason is one thing and faith is another betrays a distorted view of reason. What Christians believe is not a “take it or leave it” choice, but rather an ongoing claim that all that is exists by God’s good grace. The working out of that claim is never finished.
Abandoning the language of sin will not make sin go away. Human beings will continue to experience alienation, deformation, damnation and death no matter what we call them. Abandoning the language will simply leave us speechless before them, and increase our denial of their presence in our lives. Ironically, it will also weaken the language of grace, since the full impact of forgiveness cannot be felt apart from the full impact of what has been forgiven.
My concern is this: too many clergy (it’s usually the clergy who are the culprits) view themselves as qualified to rewrite, reject, or reinvent liturgy for public worship. Forms of service are devised which bear no resemblance to anything Anglican. Prayers are edited to the point where they are no longer Anglican, or in some cases, even Christian. Frankly, most of us clergy aren’t as clever as we imagine when it comes to liturgy, and we should have more respect for the lay folk we serve than to inflict our own predilections on them.
By Baptism we enter into covenant with God: Being born of Water and of the Spirit we are born into Christ’s Church, and become members of His Body. By the Holy Eucharist the new life begun in Baptism is nourished, and fed, and strengthened. This undoubtedly is the case with those happy persons who keep their Baptism undefiled. But a broken covenant is of no force: And when it is our unhappiness to break our baptismal covenant, and forfeit our right to God’s promises, by our sins and misdoings—how gracious is God, to permit us, upon our repentance, again to renew it at His Holy Table! again to repeat our vows of obedience, and regain our title to His heavenly promises! It has ever been the doctrine of the Catholic Church, that as when we worthily receive Baptism, we obtain through Christ remission of all past sins,” so when we worthily communicate at God’s Altar we obtain remission of all the sins committed since Baptism. And that it is so, fully appears from the Holy Eucharist’s being an act of communion with God. For when God’s Priest offers up the elements of bread and wine upon the Holy Altar, they are thereby made God’s property; and being blessed and sanctified by prayer and thanksgiving, they become, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, the Body and Blood of Christ in power and effect. They are then returned by the hand of God’s minister, and distributed among the Communicants as a feast upon the sacrifice: And all who partake of them with true faith and repentance are fed with God’s food, and eat at God’s Table; and are thereby assured of His favour and goodness towards them; and consequently must obtain remission of all past sin, otherwise they could not be in favour with God. Accordingly, when our Saviour gave the first intimation of this Holy institution, He expressed Himself in terms that imply not only remission of sins, but all other benefits of His passion, “Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Behold the Christian’s privilege! and consider what injury ye do to God, what injustice to yourselves, by your wilful neglect of the heavenly feast.
Samuel Seabury, “An Earnest Persuasive to Frequent Communion: Addressed to those Professors of the Church of England in Connecticut who Neglect that Holy Ordinance” (1789)
Today is the Feast of the Consecration of Samuel Seabury!
[N.T.] Wright calls the Paul he discovers a Jewish Paul. Yet at the very beginning of the 2,200 plus pages (four volumes bound in two books) he says plainly: “For Paul these markers (circumcision, the food laws, and so on) had been set aside as inappropriate for the new messianic day… . Paul actually invents something we may call ‘Christian theology.’”
These statements to the effect that Paul set aside as no longer relevant the covenant markers of Israelite identity — not merely that he felt Gentiles were not commanded to do them, but now they were even set aside for Jews — come only a few sentences after he says, “part of the overall argument of the book is that Paul remains a decidedly Jewish thinker.”
It seems that Wright’s “Jewish thinker” believed in some kind of cessationist Judaism, a kind of monotheism without the covenant. The covenant markers of circumcision and dietary law and Sabbath need no longer be practiced for some reason, and my guess is that Wright will say the particular claims of Jewish people to be the chosen people of God are now in some way null and void. The reason God has called off his previous commitment to Israel in a two-way covenant is that it “is a new messianic day.”
This is a strange view of God in relation to his promises. It makes we want to ask Wright, “Should Christians like yourself be worried about your standing with such a God? Might he revise his promises again in some new, new messianic day and leave you in the cold?” Of course not, would be the answer, since Jesus is the climax of the covenant and there is no more room for movement. My response my be something along the line of “how convenient” and “glad God is finished switching things around and abandoning covenants.” The very title of Wright’s book — Paul and the faithfulness of God — seems undermined by his overarching theory!
Even were I not a Baptist, though, I am not sure I could say ‘happy Reformation day’. Surely if Reformation day is to be marked, it should be only partly, at most, in celebration? The church was split, not reformed, by Luther’s intervention. Of course, the recovery and foregrounding of crucial gospel truths should be remembered (and yes, justification sola fide is at least a, if not the, ‘articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae’…) – but is Reformation Day not as much a time to mourn our divisions, to fast and pray that all who are baptised in the triune Name may together confess one Lord, one faith, and one gospel, and share one Eucharist around one table?
‘Happy Reformation Day’ sounds to me like saying ‘Happy Ash Wednesday’ – it is just the wrong salutation.