“God intends to be Lord on earth and regards all our exuberant zeal on God’s behalf as a real disservice. Herein lies our Christian secularism, that, in our very desire to see that God gets everything that is due God in the world, we actually evade God and so love the earth for its own sake, for the sake of this struggle.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Thy Kingdom Come” (via invisibleforeigner)
If Jesus is Lord of His church; if the text of Scripture is uniquely from God, such that God speaks in human language; if Christ’s Spirit can make His human words intelligible to human beings; if human beings can, under the guidance of the Spirit, speak God’s words accurately and intelligibly to the church – then sola scriptura follows. Denying sola scriptura entails denial of one or more of those conditionals: God can’t in fact speak without distortion in human language; or Scripture is not uniquely God’s Word in human words; or Jesus is a titular but not a living Lord of His church.
It works. God has in fact spoken against the tradition. It’s a contested, raucous process. It always is. But it happens. It happened in the Roman Catholic church in the past century as theologians cut through thickets of misleading quasi-Thomism to get back to Thomas, to the church fathers, to Scripture itself. Speaking as an outsider, and a Protestant to boot, ressourcesement looks a lot like God speaking against a powerful tradition to purify His church, often speaking through theologians interpreting Scripture. Can anyone doubt that the Catholic Church has gotten better at talking Bible over the last century? Which might make the Roman Catholic Church one of today’s most compelling proofs of Protestant convictions concerning sola scriptura.
“… The link between the supper of the Lord and service to others is at the heart of our Catholic identity…Every human person
deserves adequate housing and food, a just wage, and the right to life, happiness, peace, and justice. Vibrant parishes unite the
members of its community to the larger human family through works of charity …a parish must develop a sense of solidarity
with the human family…A vibrant parish is always realistic about what it can do. But it is always willing to challenge itself.”—Bishop Paul Bootkowski, Diocese of Metuchen, from his pastoral letter “On a Vibrant Parish Community.” (via getmetoanunnery)
“I am officially at a loss for words when it comes to the insistence of so many churches to try and preserve within their walls a snapshot of a certain cultural point in time…while at the same time bemoaning the fact that there aren’t any young people around, and secretly dreading whether or not their congregation will even exist 50 years from now (which I have found many mainline Protestant churches to be doing). How many meetings have I sat in on where so much energy and emotion was spent on arguing over seemingly non-essential things? For instance: whether you use a piano or organ during worship isn’t going to determine whether young people attend or not. It’s like asking a soon-to-be terminated employee what font they would prefer to have on their pink slip (and no, Comic Sans is not appropriate. Ever). Because if the entire repertoire of songs–or philosophy of worship in general–is distasteful to young people, they don’t care what instrument is being used to accompany said repertoire. And for people who are immersing themselves in genres like stomp-grass or post-rock or prog-rock or neo-rockabilly, whether or not a piano or organ accompanies a song that has no relevance in their world (musically, at least) is simply a non-issue.”—Ron in “a letter from an exhausted/exasperated young person who has a complicated love/hate relationship with the church”
I am grateful to be part of a church that recognizes God’s call to ordained ministry in the lives of people without regard to sexual orientation, and I am proud to be in a church that is on the verge of authorizing trial-use liturgies for blessing same-sex relationships. If the blessing liturgy in the “Blue” Book comes up for a vote as is, I will certainly vote for it. However, I am disappointed by much of what I will vote to support. My qualms are not with the intention of the text, but with the text itself.
Same-sex couples should not need to wait while the church gets its act together, nor should they be punished by the failure of a standing commission to do the thing it was asked to do. So for that reason, I will vote for these trial-use liturgies. But we have work to do! This work will benefit all couples, same-sex or opposite-sex and, indeed, the whole church.
“The man Jesus has risen up to a name above all names … he was crushed in the flesh of sin, bore the form of a servant, was obedient to death; he became ‘Kyrios’ (Lord), ‘pneuma’ (Spirit). He is, then, the same Lord who walked unnoticed and persecuted through the fields of Palestine and at last ended his life like a criminal on the cross; now he rules the world as king and the Church is his bride. All his life, beginning in the Virgin’s womb, is the great mystery of salvation, hidden from eternity in God and now revealed in the ‘ecclesia’ (Church). The deeds of his lowliness in that life on earth, his miserable death on Calvary appear now in a different light: God’s own light; they are his acts, revealed, streaming with his light.”—Dom Odo Casel, OSB (via monastica)
“Even if every bit of the Bible were literally true, it would still be fiction because of the reason it was compiled, the reason we insist on reading it, and its presentational nature as a world unto itself with its own unique lessons to impart. If you want to know such things as the point of existence, the meaning of life, and the ways humankind has gone right and wrong, you cannot do a whole lot better than start with fiction: the fiction that is the Bible.”—Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D. in “The Bible Is Fiction" (Read the full article.)
Paul didn’t treat the Bible the way mainstream Evangelicalism says you need to.
The way Paul handled his Bible–what we call the Old Testament – would keep him off the short list for openings to teach Bible in many Evangelical seminaries and Christian colleges. Heck, John Piper, John MacArthur, and R. C. Sproul probably wouldn’t let Paul lead a home Bible study, at least not without supervision.
Here is the main reason why:
For Evangelicals, the Old Testament leads to the Gospel story. For Paul, the Old Testament is transformed by the Gospel.
For Evangelicals, the Old Testament, read pretty much at face value, anticipates Jesus. For Paul, the Old Testament is reshaped in order to conform to Jesus.
For Evangelicals, the Bible is God’s final authority. For Paul, Jesus is the final authority to which the Bible must bend.
So ask yourself: If it turned out that Jesus is risen but Darwin was right about human origins after all, would you give up your faith? If it turned out that Jesus was risen but Protestantism was wrong and Catholicism or Orthodoxy was right (or the other way around), would you opt to become an atheist? If it turned out that Jesus is risen and that the New Perspective is more right than wrong about Paul, would that be grounds to abandon Christianity altogether? If it turned out that Jesus is risen but the doctrine of predestination is true (or false!), would you see no more point in following Christ? If it turned out that Jesus is risen but Genesis 1-11 is ancient Near Eastern mythology, would you apostasy? If it turned out that Jesus is risen but Mark and Luke made historical slips here and there and Jonah was actually a non-historical children’s story, would your faith be in vain?
Here’s the kicker: If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, not only are you needlessly worrying yourself over secondary matters, you may have adopted “another gospel.”
“Moralists (archbishops included) can thunder away as much as they like; but they’ll make no difference unless and until people see that there is something transforming and exhilarating about the prospect of a whole community rejoicing together – being glad of each other’s happiness and safety. This alone is what will save us from the traps of ludicrous financial greed, of environmental recklessness, of collective fear of strangers and collective contempt for the unsuccessful and marginal – and many more things that we see far too much of, around us and within us.”—Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon at Diamond Jubilee Service
A CONCLUSION strongly suggests itself: if we wish to evaluate “Judaism” and “Christianity” in the first centuries C.E. from a historian’s point of view, we need to stay away from the dogmatic notion of two firmly established religions, the one defined by its ultimate triumph over Judaism after it became the religion of the Christian state—with all its horrible consequences for the Jews—and the other defined by the victory of the rabbis over their enemies from within and from without. In doing so, we will discover that there is no single line or single point in the first centuries of the Christian era that distinguished Judaism and Christianity once and forever. There are several lines and several points. The binitarian idea of two divine powers does not constitute a definite line of demarcation between the faiths—but the Trinitarian idea of three divine powers does. The vicarious suffering of the Messiah, or even his death, does not constitute an impassable boundary—but the scandal of his death on the cross, so much emphasized by Paul, does. As for the dead redeemer’s resurrection: Boyarin is confident that it also belongs to the pre-Christian, Jewish storehouse of traditions, but he provides no evidence to support his view. Instead he resorts to the murky statement that “Perhaps his [Jesus’s] followers saw him arisen, but surely this must be because they had a narrative that led them to expect such appearances, and not that the appearances gave rise to the narrative.”
For modern believers of both religions, these scholarly explorations will be frustrating. Some clear-cut and neat distinctions between Judaism and Christianity are being destroyed by contemporary research into the New Testament and rabbinic Judaism. Yet we—not only scholars but also educated Jews and Christians—have much to gain from this loss of simplicity: a new understanding of the intellectual and spiritual potential inherent in Judaism and Christianity before they became well-defined and even opposing religions, a better appreciation of crucial ideas cherished by both before they used precisely these ideas to demarcate themselves from one another. And we must not forget a later complication, or irony: some of these “heretical” ideas, suppressed by Talmudic Judaism, would return to Judaism ever more vigorously in what is commonly called Kabbalah.
“Suddenly the Trinity filled my heart full of the greatest joy, and I understood that it will be so in heaven without end to all who will come there. For the Trinity is God, God is the Trinity. The Trinity is our maker, the Trinity is our protector, the Trinity is our everlasting lover, the Trinity is our endless joy and our bliss, by our Lord Jesus Christ and in our Lord Jesus Christ… for where Jesus appears the Trinity is understood”—Julian of Norwich
COD finds himself thinking that restructuring is so 2011. The past few months have convinced him that one the one hand the scope of change we are looking at in the next 50 years is so profound, and, on the other hand, how utterly incapable governing structures currently are at shaping a discussion about what is needed (a quick run-through of the Blue Book Report shows that nothing of substance will likely emerge from this General Convention this summer, brought to us by the same people who can’t use Excel properly).
Collapse, my friends. That’s what’s coming.
“Holy Trinity is not the most popular festival among preachers who, for all the other seasons and special days of the church year, normally get to dig into interesting gospel narratives. Most other festivals of the church celebrate an event. We commemorate happenings in the life of Christ: Mary’s visit from Gabriel announcing the miraculous child she was to bear into the world, God’s own word made flesh. We celebrate also the light bearing nature of the season of Epiphany, we celebrate the messy Baptism of our Lord, the confusing Transfiguration, and Jesus riding triumphant into Jerusalem amidst palms and cheers. We celebrate the empty tomb of Easter, the glorious Ascension, the chaotic coming of God’s spirit to the church at Pentecost all leading up to Holy Trinity Sunday, when we celebrate … a church doctrine. Preachers dread this day because we see it as kind of a dry dusty theological topic after such the exciting and earthy part of the liturgical year that came before it. It’s like there’s this raucous party of Easter and Pentecost that comes to a screeching halt while an old crotchety man shuffles up to the pulpit, blows the dust off an enormous leather bound book, clears his throat saying And now a celebration of church doctrine causing the music to fade, the last of the Pentecost streamers still floating to the ground. Church doctrine Sunday.”—The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber in “Some thoughts on the Holy Trinity" (Read the rest of the sermon!)
“Jesus Christ was a personality cult. Would we have a stronger, better attended church if our parish priests had strong personalities which drew like-minded people into their churches? Or should we continue with that style of priesthood common in so many of our churches, which is a “lowest common denominator” style avoiding confrontation and offence, where sermons always start with “some people think” and are always qualified with an “on the other hand.” The latter allows congregations containing a broad range of beliefs and attitudes to worship together, but does it make better Christians? Even more important, would somebody entering such a church for the first time want to stay?”—The Rev. Jonathan Hagger in “The Personality of the Priest and the Potluck Church”
“I have yet to find an argument that I’ve found compelling to convince me that process thought does not, by virtue of taking away crucial elements of the divine omnipotence, seriously vacate the notion of divine providence. If the universe is free to act either in accord with or against God’s plan then it is possible that, contrary to God’s desires or intentions, the universe could propel itself, not toward God’s salvific purposes, but into a cosmic death spiral. Only if God’s intentions for the universe are understood to be implied by divine transcendence, and unalterable in principle except by God, is the idea of soteriology in any cosmic sense possible.”—“Scott Paeth Responds to the Process Theologians”
“Christianity begins in contradictions, in the painful effort to live with the baffling plurality and diversity of God’s manifested life - law and gospel, judgement and grace; the crucified Son crying to the Father. Christian experience does not simply move from one level to the next and stay there, but is drawn again and again to the central and fruitful darkness of the cross. But in this constant movement outwards in affirmation and inwards in emptiness, there is life and growth. The end is not yet; the frustrated longing for homecoming, the journey’s end, is unavoidable. Yet we can perhaps begin to see, through all the cost and difficulty, how we are entering more deeply into a divine life which is itself diverse and moving - Father and Son eternally brought to each other in Spirit. To discover in our ‘emptying’ and crucifying the ‘emptying’ of Jesus on his cross is to find God there, and so to know that God is not destroyed or divided by the intolerable contradictions of human suffering. He is one in the Spirit, and in the same Spirit includes us and our experience, setting us within his own life in the place where Jesus his firstborn stands, as sharers by grace in that eternal loving relationship, men and women made whole in him. In the middle of the fire we are healed and restored - though never taken out of it. As Augustine wrote, it is at night that his voice is hear. To want to escape the ‘night’ and the costly struggles with doubt and vacuity i to seek another God from the one who speaks in and as Jesus crucified. Crux probate omnia. There is no other touchstone. ‘I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified … that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ (I Cor. 2:2,5).”—Rowan Williams, The Wound of Knowledge (via furnaceofdoubt)
“There are ethical corporations, yes, and ethical businesspeople, but ethics in capitalism is purely optional, purely extrinsic. To expect morality in the market is to commit a category error. Capitalist values are antithetical to Christian ones. (How the loudest Christians in our public life can also be the most bellicose proponents of an unbridled free market is a matter for their own consciences.) Capitalist values are also antithetical to democratic ones. Like Christian ethics, the principles of republican government require us to consider the interests of others. Capitalism, which entails the single-minded pursuit of profit, would have us believe that it’s every man for himself.”—William Deresiewicz in “Capitalists and Other Psychopaths”
“If one human being exists in the image of God, then all human beings exist in the image of God. None of us is more fully the image than another. In Christian teaching, Christ Himself is the definition of the image of God. To the question, “What does it mean to be human?” Christ is the answer. In Christian understanding, Christ as incarnate image of God is celebrated from conception (the feast of the Annunciation) to His ascension to the right hand of God. No quality of Christ (sentience, wisdom, volition, race, age, gender, etc.) defines or establishes His place as imago dei. He is the image of God. In the same manner, our own unqualified existence establishes us as the image of God.”—Father Stephen Freeman in “What is Man?”
“One of the startsi said to his disciple, ‘Watch, lest you harbour a traitor in yourself.’ ‘Who is the traitor?’ asked the disciple. ‘Self-gratification,’ answered the staretz. And this is indeed so. Self-gratification is the cause of all evils. If you examine all the bad things that you have done, you will see that in each case they originated from pandering yourself.”—Theophan the Recluse, The Art of Prayer, an Orthodox Anthology
“Those Christian opponents of slavery didn’t somehow “just know” that slavery was wrong — it seemed to them a gross denial of the Golden Rule. They read the Bible in a different way than the “commonsense” literalists who defended slavery, but it didn’t require some new, innovative form of liberal Protestantism. It simply required them to stop the “commonsense” practice of pretending that the book of Exodus didn’t exist or to stop relying on the “literal” reading that pretended Jesus did not announce his ministry by proclaiming Jubilee or …”—Fred Clark in “Slavery and same-sex marriage (cont’d.)” (via honor-not-honors)
No, I would describe it as (roughly) Texas High Church, but the liturgy is executed well and the music is great so I’m happy. All the truly spikey parishes in the DFW area are affiliated to the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth.
I like that it’s solidly Episcopalian and inclusive of gays and lesbians (unlike the rest of the Diocese of Dallas). I like that it’s solidly Christian and never inflicts hippie-dippie liturgies on me. I like that, while the parish may be ethnically homogeneous and located in a more affluent neighborhood, I’ve never felt out of place there. I honestly can’t think of anything I dislike. (And anyone who knows me knows that’s saying something.)