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Benedict XVI on Justification by Faith

Protestant friends, there's much about the Roman church I still cannot go along with, but this is HUGE! Read these two "Audiences" by Benedict XVI and tell me how you can disagree with them. From my reading, his teaching is right in line with what Protestants typically say when trying to understand Paul's issue in Romans, how grace and law relate in Galatians, and how Paul and James are talking about the same saving faith, only in different ways. 19 November, 2008 26 November, 2008 Well, yes, I'm a year behind on this!

The Feast of All Saints

The Epistle Revelation vii. 2f. This day is the feast of All Saints. Be sure to emphasize the word “all”. It as a time to remember a particular aspect of the identity that all Christians share. All believers are saints and we are part of the body of the saints of all time. We are one “communion of saints”. Through our union with Christ by God’s grace, we all share the same divine life, be we saints who have already gone before, those alive today, or those who have yet to be born. And this is the rationale for the Book of Common Prayer setting before us on this day Chapter 7 of the Revelation to St. John. In this chapter, we find insight into what a saint is and what a saint does. After all friends, it does us no good to know that Christians are saints if we don’t know the point of it all. We need to be always growing in our understanding of all the great blessings that are ours in Christ and being a saint is one of those blessings. So, what is a saint The words for saint i

The Feast of St. Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Amen, Bishop Lawrence

From his address yesterday: I fear our leaders have succumbed to emotion not reason. I’ve heard clergy in this Church, after casting votes that would alter our Church’s teaching on human sexuality, say “I am humble enough to acknowledge I may be wrong.” Let’s not cloak such actions with the garment of humility. Such action may be misguided compassion, but it is hardly humble. If one recognizes one may be wrong, would not humility suggest that one give the balance of weight to the plain reading of Holy Scripture? To two thousand years of the Church’s reflection upon those Scriptures? To the expressed mind of the Anglican Communion—and to the four Instruments of Unity? To the counsel of Christians around the world—Roman Catholic, Orthodox and the vast majority of Protestants? To what even the Natural Order reveals? Would not humility suggest one should…well, why bother to say it? This is not about, nor ever has been about, excluding some from the grace and forgiveness of God. It is abou

Reform UK on Apostolic Constitution

MEDIA STATEMENT 20th October 2009 REFORM INITIAL RESPONSE TO ' APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION ' ANNOUNCEMENT Revd Rod Thomas , chairman of Reform, makes four points as an initial response to today's announcement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster : “ Anglicans concerned about protecting the basic Christian faith need not go to Rome, because we now have the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA (UK)) which holds together those who want to stop the orthodox faith being eroded. We can remain Anglican . Furthermore, the FCA Primates have recognised that problems with episcopal oversight are arising here in the UK. They have expressed the hope that these will be solved locally, but if not, they are willing to step in.” “This development highlights the need for robust legislative provision to cater for those who cannot agree to women bishops, such as that recently suggested by the Revision Committee.” “If priests really are out of sympathy with the C of E's do

Thoughts on Union With Christ - H. C. G. Moule

Ridley Hall Chapel Chapter I. In Christ. In the Christian's view and hold of the Truth of Christ, it is his duty and his strength to see and grasp central truths as such. There are suns, planets, and satellites in the system of the blessed Gospel. And as in the ancient astronomy the great error about the soul's relation to our system occasioned manifold other confusion, so it may be in the astronomy of the upper skies. To put a planetary truth into a solar place must be a mistake fruitful of mistakes. To put a solar truth in the centre, and its planetary truths around it, and in connexion with it, will surely be good both for mind and soul; that is to say, if the adjustment is made "in spirit and in truth," not as a matter of mere theory of discussion, but for translation, by the grace of God, into the life of faith. Assuredly the planets will not lose in lustre, nor their movements in majesty, for such a recognition of the place and function of their sun.

A Little Further on Plano

I've been ill and have not been able to deal with the Plano statement as I originally desired. I can say that all the space they take about the mission of the church may tug on peoples' sympathies but it does not add to their argument. Their argument is the "same ol' same ol": appeal to a cultural interpretation of the New Testament instead of using the analogy of Scripture. The cultural interpretation allows the eisegesis of sentiment and turns the Scripture into a wax nose. It's a Pandora's box which is filled with anything that chronological snobbery can come up with. Of course we are for the mission of the Church, but there will always be some aspect of our message which is offensive to the world. We cannot help that and must live with it - not try to change it. The plain teaching of Scripture on the offices of the Church is not a cultural matter that can be changed willy-nilly because someone is afraid someone else outside the Church may not lik

The Biblical Concept of Private Property

Text: St. Matthew 20:1-16 It is common in churches to use a prayer during the offering which includes the words, “All things come from thee, and of thine own we have given thee.” We Christians readily recognise that everything in this world, everything we own, everything everybody else owns, the whole universe, ultimately belongs to God. If we have it in our hands for our use, it is because of His providence. He is the Creator. Everything comes from Him. And when He made man, he made him to have dominion over his creation – this small part of this creation, the earth. In this way, we reflect God’s image of sovereignty. God rules over all, he delegates the rule, the dominion, the management of this earth to us, as his representative. To the end that we may exercise this dominon, in his name, he has also granted us to mirror his ownership of the world. He who owns everything has delegated ownership – trusteeship might be a better word – of those things in this world he has pla

Ad Orientem

We in the EMC face the Lord at the table, not the people. I really think this is more theologically proper than the '60's ideal of everyone facing each other around the table. Here are some links on the issue I picked up at Stand Firm: People, Look East , by Tobias Haller, BSG RC: Bishop of Tulsa Abandons “Mass Facing the People” Anyone have any more articles on the subject they would like to recommend via comments?

Plano Statement on Women's Ordination

I'm still reading this thing, and want to understand it thoroughly. I have read enough, at this point, to note that they disdain biblical exegesis of implied meaning as "weak" and therefore insufficient to counter their arguments for women's ordination. At one point, they quote the esteemed Jefferson Davis on slavery as a way of arguing their point. It is evident that their thinking is clouded. First of all, it is the Reformed position that Biblical truth is equally authoritative be it expressly stated or derived by "good and necessary consequence."* Now, the reformers knew the laws of Logic; they were classically educated. They knew that there was such a thing as a bad use of Logic. They believed that if something in Scripture could be proven by " good and necessary consequence", not just any consequence, then it was to be held. In this, they follow the example of the Lord Jesus Himself in Matthew 22 when he confronted the Saducees for not kn

A Moule Treasury

Ten years ago, AMG Publishers, here in Chattanooga, compiled three books by Bishop H. C. G. Moule into one, and titled it Thoughts for Sundays . Each of the three books contains a short devotional meditation for every Sunday of the year. The first two, originally entitled Thoughts for the Sundays of the Year and From Sunday to Sunday follow the calendar year. The meditations, in a general way, follow the seasons of the Christian calendar. The third book, which was entitled The Sacred Seasons , follows the Christian calendar. I've spent some time comparing the passages Moule uses for this third book and it is plain that he is following the Prayer Book. I suspect he was using these chapters for sermon material that year. He either uses the propers for Holy Communion (usually on high feast days) or the propers for Matins and Evensong. There are a few places where he seems to deviate, particularly during the Trinity Season. If one wanted to do it for the discipline, one could us

God's Story

This was for my ethics students today. It's a way of understanding the Gospel that helps young people to understand the narrative in which they live and to help them turn from their self-centeredness. You can let me know what you think about it. *** The Christian life is a part of the story of Jesus. God has a plan to glorify His Son. He is to be His King - the Redeemer-Saviour King, who has a kingdom by rescuing it and cleansing it for himself. He did the work 2000 years ago on a cross, rising to victory and his throne. We come in later. We are conceived with a nature that could care less; our puny minds can only think of our selves; we are out of touch with what's really going on; in the Matrix. God steps into our lives and begins to make what Jesus has done for us to start to work - to do things to us. First, subconsciously, he changes our hearts. Then, he calls us, normally through his Church in some way, to follow Jesus (with the change in our heart, we are awake, we

Why Remember the Transfiguration?

Tomorrow, in the Anglican calendar, is the celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration. As we have read, this is the occasion in which Jesus appears before the apostles in the glory He would have after his work on earth was done. God the Father also speaks to the apostles directly, identifying Jesus as His Son – which was synonymous with his being the King of God’s kingdom – and commanding them to “hear him;” to take heed to all that Jesus would say to them. One of the main purposes for the Church calendar is to help us to remember the basics of the Christian story; the Christian faith. Remembering is a very key ingredient to saving faith throughout the Bible. If we forget what we believe, we certainly cannot live by it, can we. In the Old Testament, the LORD had to frequently reprimand Israel for failing to remember things they had once known. Their failure to remember would lead them to unfaithfulness and idolatry and thus to the loss of their covenant blessings. The apostle

Eschatalogical Cross-Bearing

We all know that we cannot follow Jesus unless we follow him along the path of the cross. We have to die to ourselves, which dying includes denying ourselves those things which hinder us from joyful obedience and faith. When facing something that must be shed away from my life, it helps me to consider the fact that there is coming a day when I will be living without this thing anyway. This world, this age, is passing away. It will someday be gone. I, however, will be raised to live a new life in the world to come. Now, faith realizes the future (Heb. 11:1). By faith I can imagine being utterly happy in another time (very weakly, of course, since, as Lewis reminds us, our desires are too weak). Why not go ahead and start celebrating? You will leave that sin behind someday anyway; go ahead and do it now. You will leave that pleasure behind someday anyway; go ahead and leave it now. You get the idea. This is not contrary to the intent of our Creator for us to enjoy and be thankful for

ABC Williams responds to TEC GC09

http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/ Even though The Episcopal Church has officially denied the faith and the Anglican tradition, the Archbishop of Canterbury still wants to keep them in the Communion in some fashion. The only way I can understand this is that AB Rowan simply agrees too much with TEC on their positions. Very sad. Dear Queen Elizabeth, please give us an ABC who holds to the Faith once received.

Christian Feelings - 2

John R. W. Stott preached a sermon on Christian emotion in 2005. It is a good basic statement on how our feelings are to be a part of our discipleship. He quotes Bishop Moule, too! Good for him! Download the sermon from All Souls by clicking here.

Christian Feelings

I'm reading R. L. Dabney's The Practical Philosophy , which is a book on Christian ethics. The beginning chapters are very important and I cannot help but relate them to "youth ministry". His thesis is that a person's feelings play an absolutely critical role in how he lives. The feelings are the motivating part of our hearts. Unless feeling is involved in an intellectual decision, there will be no action following the decision. Indeed, without the feeling, there would be no motivation to do the thinking in the first place. Without feeling, writes Dabney, "man would be reduced to both apathy and idiocy." Here is an excellent passage: "The feelings practically make the man. Intellect is the cold, feeble magnetism which gives the ship its compass to steer by. Feeling is the motive power, throbbing within the vessel and propelling it; without which the ship, in spite of the needle pointing with its subtle intelligence to the pole, rots in the harbor

Excerpt from Sermon today on Psalm 19

May I take this image of the sun lighting up the world and relate it to our duty to be spiritual examples? The image reminds us that, as the sun is the light of the earth, you and I are to be the light of the world – the light of the people who are around us. According to David, the sun moves through the sky and shines upon us all because God wants to make Himself known. He has also made us the light of the world so that He might make Himself known. Are you as zealous for God to be made known to the people around you as God shows himself to be by giving us the sun? We all should be. The creation not only declares the glory of God but it reveals the zeal of God that all the world should know that glory. It is a reminder for us to carry the light of the knowledge of God to all the world, as the sun carries its light of the glory of God to all the world. Wherever we may be, with whomever we may be, especially when we are with our families, we should be like the sun to them. We s

Evangelical/Reformed Anglican Yahoo Group

Reader: A couple of years ago, a few friends of mine initiated a Yahoo Group with the stated purpose: This group is dedicated to compiling literary resources after the Evangelical tradition in the Anglican Church. Both printed and on-line entries are desired. All those interested in the nourishing of this tradition in the Anglican Communion are welcome to join. The group has been inactive for sometime, but there's no reason that it cannot be revived. If you are interested in being a part of this group and part of its rejuvenation, then feel free to join. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evang_ang_lit/ Image: Bishop J. C. Ryle

Socialism Fills a Vacuum

Socialism, of any kind in any country, has proven to not alleviate any of socialism’s ideals. Nevertheless, socialism in this country has taken the moral high-ground in many minds because capitalism became secularized and the servant of greed. For many reasons, the Church – in both conservative and liberal forms - has failed to foster the biblical assumptions behind the ideal of private property, leaving the public square open to the ravages of sentimentalism and misinformation. Americans have turned away from biblical truth in preference to their idol of Mammon. They have thus sewn the seeds of the destruction of the foundation upon which their idol has stood. Hopefully, the pain of their loss will lead them to repentance and a return to a biblical world-view. I recommend that everyone hear Greg Bahnsen's series on Economic Ethics, available here . It's going to take generations for us to correct our ignorance, so we better get started now.

Steve Wilkins on the Christian Calendar

Rev. Steve Wilkin's, Pastor of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Monroe, LA, gave a great lecture on the nature and importance of the Christian calendar this past April. He spoke at St. Mark Reformed Church in the Nashville area. You can hear the lecture, entitled "I've Got Rhythm: Getting in Sinc with Time" by going here .

Monday in Whitsun Week

SEND, we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that he may direct and rule us according to thy will, comfort us in all our afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

Christ's Wisdom Displayed at Pentecost

Descent of the Holy Ghost (Pentecost), Durer, c. 1510 Woodcut, 12.7 x 9.6 An excerpt from my sermon yesterday: Now Jesus established His kingdom in the hearts of those thousands gathered in Jerusalem on that Pentecost with the purpose that that kingdom should be spread throughout the world in the hearts of men everywhere. And as Jesus displayed His reign in the Pentecost event, He also displayed his wisdom in the circumstances of it – which He had engineered. In that this was to be the beginning of a world-wide spread of His kingdom, we see the practical wisdom of Jesus in setting things up so that this Pentecost would have its desired world-wide effect. First, note the timing of the event. There was a distinct, symbolic timing to Pentecost. Pentecost was essentially a harvest celebration. The word pentecost is Greek for the number 50. The day was the fiftieth day after from the first Sunday after Passover and the first day of the wheat h

Memorial Day

Memorial Days. A LMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen .

Thou Art the King of Glory!

Hear the Ascension-tide Evensong Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from Lincoln Cathedral this past Sunday. Lovely! You can hear it by going here . Image: http://www.stmatthewsnj.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/05/Ascension.jpg

Liturgical Chit-Chat

I appreciate the idea of leading a congregation through the liturgy of one's church in an explanatory way so as to make them feel more welcome and to simply assist them. If I had a congregation that was full of unchurched people, I would do at least a little of it for a while, especially being sure people knew where we were to be in the Prayer Book. But otherwise it is not a good idea. To begin with, plenty of neighbourliness can be expressed as people help newcomers follow along. The priest need not do it. Secondly, people should expect to have to "come up to speed" with a cultural phenomenon with which they are not familiar. They do in everything else. But especially I do not think it should be done because of the destraction. A sanguine, talkative priest can wind up spending more time explaining what is being done than actually doing it. I find a lot of this kind of problem in some presbyterian churches, by the way (to address my presbyterian friends). The differe

Advice on the Eucharist

In the four Books of De Imitatio Christi by Thomas a'Kempis, one is dedicated to Holy Communion. It should be read by all. Here is an interesting excerpt: Any devout person may at any hour on any day receive Christ in spiritual communion profitably and without hindrance. Yet on certain days and times appointed he ought to receive with affectionate reverence the Body of his Redeemer in this Sacrament, seeking the praise and honor of God rather than his own consolation. For as often as he devoutly calls to mind the mystery and passion of the Incarnate Christ, and is inflamed with love for Him, he communicates mystically and is invisibly refreshed. Be neither too slow nor too fast in celebrating but follow the good custom common to those among whom you are. You ought not to cause others inconvenience or trouble, but observe the accepted rule as laid down by superiors, and look to the benefit of others rather than to your own devotion or inclination. What I like about this is the f

Dr. Peter Toon

I just found out that Dr. Peter Toon passed away on Saturday. The Anglican Church has lost a fine teacher, apologist and supporter of the Anglican Tradition. But he is not lost to the Body of Christ, for he will ever be our brother in Christ and we will see him again. Thank God for the resurrection of Jesus! The Prayer Book Society of USA

Why the Traditional Liturgy

Join in and list the reasons why you believe - or one of your favourite authors believes - the traditional liturgy is appropriate for what the Church and the world need today. If the comments feature doesn't work for you, send me an e-mail and I'll list it for you. [26 April: Yes, I'm keeping this one up for a while] Here's why: 1) Its reverent form confronts us with the holiness of God. 2) The implicit hierarchy represents a biblical world view. 3) Its classic formality and beauty beats the weekly attempts at trying to come up with an order of service hands down. 4) It connects us with the universal church across time. 5) The presence of variety in certain elements engages one's interest. 6) The presence of sameness frees one from distractions so that one may focus on the devotional spirit. See the first chapter in Letters to Malcolm by C. S. Lewis. Lots of good comments there. For example: [...the traditional liturgy] "works" best - wh

Neuhaus quote on "Public Ethic"

"Further, I believe ... that the God in whom we trust for the fulfillment of the promise is also the Creator of the universe and Lord of history in a manner that assures a certain correspondence, albeit disordered by sin, between His will and human reason and the laws of nature. As a result, ethics grounded in and thoroughly compatible with Christian faith is “accessible” also to non-Christians. It is, in other words, a public ethic. The Christian tradition provides various ways of describing such an ethic—e.g., natural law, common grace, orders of preservation, the twofold kingdom. This is the ethic that is pertinent to the right ordering of the earthly polis, and Christians are not “compromised” when they employ it. Indeed they have a Christian duty to do so. Why there should be such a public ethic is itself part of the Christian story about the nature of God’s world." Source: http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5704

Household baptism

Peter addresses Cornelius I had another conversation recently with some folks regarding "infant baptism." Those of us who belong to churches that baptize infants need to quit using that term. It gives the "Baptists" - to use a generic term - a foot in the door. To begin with, arguments for baptizing infants are usually pitiful: "Jesus said to not forbid the children and surely there were infants in the household baptisms in Acts." Such arguments do not prove the position. The Baptists are correct that the Bible does not anywhere state expressly that infants of believing parents are to be baptized. What they cannot deny is that it does speak of Christian households that are baptized. When we point that out to them, then they are on the defensive and argue from silence ("they must have all professed the faith"), not us. One cannot understand the doctrine of baptism without understanding accompanying doctrines, such as the doctrine of the Chur

Temptation

On the night of His betrayal, our Lord gave the apostles very important instruction regarding temptation. He told them, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." We need to take time to meditate on these words. Let us ask ourselves, "Am I concerned about temptation?" We are concerned about mistakes. We are concerned about those things that we might do that may be embarrassing. We are concerned about habits that may not be socially acceptable. We are concerned about doing something that may get us in trouble with our employers, the leaders of the church, or the law of the land. But is this concern rooted in our faith or in our fear of people's opinions or our own discomfort? We should have a healthy fear of temptation because we should be afraid to sin. Are you afraid to sin? Do you fear sin? Or are there perhaps some sins you fear, while there are others you sort of live with? How often do you reflec

Samuel Johnson on the Fear of Death

We spoke of death. Mr. Johnson gave us a short discourse worth any sermon, saying that the reflections of some men as to dying easily were idle talk, were partial views. I mentioned Hawthornden's Cypress Grove , where it is said that the world is just a show; and how unreasonable is it for a man to wish to continue in the show-room after he has seen it. Let him go cheerfully out and give place to other spectators. "Yes," said Mr. Johnson. "If he's sure he's to be well after he goes out of it. But if he is to grow blind after he goes out of the show-room and never to see anything again; or if he does not know whither he is to go next, a man will not go cheerfully out of a showroom. No wise man will be contented to die if he thinks he is to go into a state of punishment. Nay, no wise man will be contented to die if he thinks he is to fall into annihilation. For however bad any man's existence may be, every man would rather have it than not exist at all. No

Embracing the Cross

Thomas a'Kempis This morning I shared some passages from The Imitation of Christ with the CCS faculty. They were from the last chapter in Book II, "The Royal Way of the Cross." The first paragraph hits you like a brick! That seemeth a hard saying to many, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me. But it will be much harder to hear that last sentence, Depart from me, ye wicked, into eternal fire. Immediately we are straightened out and ready to take up the cross! There are three points I especially emphasized. 1) No matter how we may try to plan difficulty and challenge out of our schedules, the Lord will not let us escape them. A'Kempis: Dispose and order all things according to thine own will and judgment, and thou shalt ever find something to suffer either willingly or unwillingly, and thus thou shalt ever find thy cross. For thou shalt either feel pain of body, or tribulation of spirit within thy soul. Th