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Showing posts from 2015

FAQ for All Saints - 6, How Do I Know I am a Saint?

A very important question.  Only those who are God’s people, united with Christ, will live with him in the new world to come.  I answer the simple question with another simple question:  What did Jesus say?  "All who come unto me, I will in no wise cast out.  Whoever believes in me has everlasting life and I will raise him up at the last day."  If we have put all our trust for all we need to be a saint in Jesus Christ and all He has done for us and all he does for us and all he will do for us - if we have put all our trust in Him as the trustworthy God who cannot lie - then we have all the assurance we need.  If we have not so believed in Him, then we are in grave danger.  We are not saints.  God has done everything that needs to be done to make us saints through His Son.  The ball is now in our court.  Will we have Him as our King and Saviour?  If so, we have but to receive Him.  If we do, we may rejoice in our union with the blessed company of all faithful people, and w

FAQ for All Saints - 5, What about praying for the departed saints?

But what about praying to God for the saints departed, as we do in the communion service? This is different.  We certainly do not believe we should pray for those saints who have gone before us so that they will be delivered out of Purgatory, which is a lot of the kind of praying that has been done for the saints in the past.  But there is no reason why we cannot pray for God’s blessing on those for whom we have prayed all their lives beforehand.  They are still finite creatures, dependent on the mercy and grace of God, and we can pray for their enjoyment of the blessings of God as a way of identifying with them and continuing to express our love and care for them to God. We pray for all the saints and, in a way that is real, we all meet together before the same throne in prayer.  It’s a way of experiencing what the creed calls the Communion of the Saints.  Even though we are in two different places, we are still all one in Christ, sharing His life, and concerned for His glory in a

FAQ for All Saints - 4, What about prayer to the saints?

What about prayer to the saints, asking them to pray for us to God? Bishop Wright gives us part of the answer in his book For All the Saints.  He explains that the idea of praying to the saints as if they are representatives for us before the throne of God came out of the medieval idea of the royal court.  Someone living in a rural area, miles away from where the royal court may be held, could not petition the king for his needs.  However, if he had a friend at the court, he could ask that friend to plead his cause for him.  You can see how this could lead people to think about the divine court; a friend or a relative has now died and gone to the court of heaven and, perhaps if we ask them to, they will pray for us there. The problem is that this idea of needing others to address God for us in his court is wholly unnecessary.  The biblical doctrine is plain that all the saints, either those militant or triumphant, have the same access to God the Father, through the Lord Jesus Chris

FAQ for All Saints - 3, Where are the saints now?

Spiritually speaking, all the saints are in Christ , thus they are called the Body of Christ. Geographically , in God’s universe, the saints are on earth, and called "the Church Militant."  You find them in "the local church."  Paul’s epistles recognise this.  And they are there with all their imperfections and sins and all that is so prosaic about our lives.  We don’t seem very glorious! C. S. Lewis does a great job describing the blandness, if you will, of the saints we meet in the local church in The Screwtape Letters , Letter 2. You may remember the part, speaking of the man the demons are trying to turn from Christ, Screwtape writes to Wormwood: When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided....  Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like "the body of Christ" and the actual faces in the next pew....  Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have

Debriefing Session 4: Discussing Mere Christianity

Brown's summary of this session in the accompanying book is well done.  I did not find the discussion questions helpful.  What I did this time was to give everyone a printed handout that both summarized where we have been and the two chapters for this session: Book II, 3 & 4.  We spent the first bit of time going over this, up through ch. 3, and then watched the video. Yancey's strength was his illustrations.  Everyone thought them helpful.  It seemed a lot of people could identify with the illustration of his aquarium.  Though he had nothing but good planned for the fish, when he approached the tank, they always hid from him.  If he was going to help them to understand him better and not hide, he'd have to become a fish in the tank with them.  It's a good illustration for the Incarnation, but I think people were especially touched by the recognition that often we are like the fish, hiding from God because we are afraid of him - when we shouldn't be. Yancey

FAQ for All Saints - 2, Aren't "the saints" a special category of Christians?

Are The Saints a special category of believers? We do not find a category of especially su ccessful saints in the New Te st ament , having some peculiar place and privile ge.  All the saints are the sanctified in Christ, righteous by the mercy of God, and all the recipients of the same mercy.  The whole church is called “the saints”; all who are saved are set apart as holy unto God by virtue of faith in Christ. Indeed, we may be mistaken in our own estimate as to who has been a better Christian than another.  Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  Some worked all day, some only worked the last hour or so.  The farmer gave them all a penny. 10: But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11: And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12: Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, wh

FAQ's for All Saints - 1, Who are the saints?

All this week, I'll be answering frequently asked questions about "the saints" - hopefully an interesting and edifying exercise. Who are the saints? The people of God; the Church of all the ages.  In the Old Testament, two words are used for the word saint.  They are found most frequently in the Psalms, but elsewhere also, including verses that the New Testament likes to quote or refer to.   In the Old Testament, we have: a.    hasid ; meaning righteous , referring to their character.  It is related to the word hesed for mercy , and well should it be so.  The saints are the objects of God’s mercy toward sinners.  No one is righteous but that God has made him so in a wonderful act of mercy. b.    kadosh ; refers to their being separated unto God: sanctified , which is related to the word saint itself.  This emphasises how the saints belong to God.  They are His people.  In the New Testament, the word used is hagios , which is the word used for translating the OT w

Following Job's Example - Job 42

My sermon from this past Sunday at Hamilton Anglican Fellowship:     Among people who are familiar with the stories of the Bible, the expression "the patience of Job" will occasionally pop up.  Job is one of the most famous of all people for the trouble they had - not, I'm sure, something that anyone would like to be famous for!  Our Old Testament lesson today is about the end of Job's troubles.  Thankfully Job's life had a happy ending!  It's a part of the Bible we like to read!  We all like happy endings.  I would not be surprised if there are not some here who are waiting to see if the Downton Abbey series is going to have a happy ending or not.     Part of Job's happy ending was to finally hear from God, after all that time when God seemed to be ignoring him while he suffered.  It was, of course, a mixed blessing.  To hear from God meant coming face to face with that awesome Being, which is an experience indeed desirable, but at the same time, shal

Debriefing Session 3: Discussing Mere Christianity

This session is on the first two chapters of Book II.  I decided on a different tack this time, and it seemed to have worked well.  The video is only about 19 minutes long.  I spent about half an hour walking us through the two chapters, being sure we understood the flow of Lewis' arguments.  We then watched the video and ended with a discussion of what the "take aways" were for the evening.  Once people had a few minutes to think about that, the "take away" comments were interesting and helpful. The McGrath discussion was quite good.  True to the objective of the course, he did not simply cover the material in the two chapters.  Picking up on how Lewis introduces the problem of good and evil, he refers to Lewis' experience of suffering during WWI and later with the death of Joy.  Lewis' complaint about atheism being too simple an answer for the difficulties we face in life was emphasised, and we learned again of how Lewis was attracted to Christianity

Debriefing Session 2: Discussing Mere Christianity

In this session, we finished up Book I.  I did a quick overview of chapters 1-3 and then we watched the video.  Eric's parts were just fine (hate it that I never got to get into Univ), and Jerry Root's session is very good - one of the best I think.  He was to cover ch. 4 (ch. 5 is to be done as a personal study) and hit the main points well.  His stories were great examples of using Lewis' apologetic. For discussion afterwards, I used Brown's questions from the companion book.  I didn't use all of them; just the ones that seemed to fit the way our discussion was going.  There were many comments about our attitude and approach in dealing with the world.  We talked about the prevelance of materialism in our culture, one person advocating that most people here are unaware of their syncretism of shallow materialism and sentimentality. We had Kohlberg's stages of moral development brought up, which I thought was a very interesting reference.  It got me thinking

Bp. Moule: All Things are Yours

The Dent du Midi area; photo source: I've seen some comments of late ( e.g., from my friend Sheridan Voysey - item no. 6 ) about the need to be able to enjoy things without feeling you have to own them.  The concept is increasingly important to me.  Here is Bishop Moule writing a poem about it: "All Things are Yours." Written near Les Avants, Switzerland. 'All things are yours.' 'Ye are not your own.' 'All things are yours!' Then here I own The glories of this Alpine hour; Mine is the Lake, the gleaming Rhone, And sombre Chillon's famous tower; And mine yon vast aerial hill,* Yon white Sierra, Leman's queen, Height above height, and loftier still O'er woods and clouds transcendant seen; And mine these pastoral wilds around, Their chalet-roofs and tufts of fir; And mine the life-wind's tide profound, To which the inmost pulses stir. Yes, all i

Debriefing Session One: Discussing Mere Christianity

All of the response from our attendees about the first session of Discussing Mere Christianity has been positive.  There is no question that the video quality is excellent and the content is very good.  Eric's survey of Lewis' life is interesting.  McGrath's review of Lewis' approach to the common man to explain the Christian faith was - as expected - brilliant.   He does get Lewis farther along than Lewis actually wanted to go in those chapters.  Lewis' goal in the Broadcast Talks is to help people to recognize the bad news of the gospel so they will appreciate the good news it contains.  There's no use telling people they need to repent when they have no sense of guilt.  Thus Lewis argues for the existence of a "Law of Human Nature" that we have broken.  He does not want to bring in the Christian God or the gospel at all at this point.  McGrath does, however.  He wants to go beyond the material immediately in the first two chapters and help peop

Debriefing "Discussing Mere Christianity" DVD

Tomorrow night, I am going to start leading a discussion group using the new Zondervan DVD series entitled "Discussing Mere Christianity ."  I plan to post here a weekly debriefing of each of the eight sessions as we go through them.  We'll see how it goes. I will say initially that the production is top notch.  It's so much fun seeing all the scenes - mostly from Oxford.  Eric does a great job, as usual, going through the life of C. S. Lewis.  The lectures themselves, by the various scholars, are generally good and helpful.  The result is that the series is a study both of Lewis' book and also his life.  It seems the main motivation behind this is to help people realize something of how the book fits into Lewis' life story.  The series is a study of major themes in the book.  Obviously, they are not going to be able to cover the whole book in eight sessions. Tally hoe, what, and all that!

Poem by Bp. H.C.G. Moule: On the Picture of St. Augustine and his Mother

St. Monica and St. Augustine by Ary Scheffer (d. 1858) - I assume this is the painting to which the Bishop refers, because it is 19th century and it is similar to his depiction. Together, 'neath the Italian heaven, They rest, the Mother and the Son; He once from her by errors riven, Now both in Jesus one: The dear consenting hands are knit; And either face as there they sit Is lifted as to something seen Beyond the blue serene. Bright as a noon without one cloud The Mother's countenance smiles and shines; The life-long knowledge of her God In all its happier lines; The untroubled gladness of a soul Where He has long possessed the whole, Only now stirred to livelier bliss Because her child is His. Dark is the younger brow, and worn With inward strife beyond its years; There looks a soul that late was torn With torturing pride and fears; A mind that spent its weary strength To span the doleful depth and length - The Bythos-fount and Aeon-stream - Tha

C. S. Lewis on gender neutral language

C. S. Lewis wrote the preface of the book How Heathen is Britain ? by B. G. Sandhurst, London: Collins, 1946.  In a note to his comments, he said, "... Throughout this preface boys means boys and girls , and schoolmasters includes schoolmistresses . There is lot to be said for political or economic equality of the sexes: but the claim for grammatical equality of genders is an unmitigated nuisance which should be resisted wherever it is met." Lewis was not a mysogynist.  He loved the English language and the logical flow of discourse.  And I  agree with him: interruptions in language for the sake of political statement is both distracting and linguistically ugly.

Debriefing Letters to Malcolm

Below is my address to the Oxford C. S. Lewis Society,  28 April, 2015. I want to thank the officers of our Society for allowing me to speak tonight on the last book that Lewis wrote: Letters to Malcolm , first published in 1964. Let us remind ourselves that Lewis had originally started a book on prayer in 1952.  There is a 45 page manuscript of this early attempt preserved, which I, sadly, have not yet had the time to peruse.  Walter Hooper thinks that Lewis dropped this early attempt because he believed it was coming across in too doctrinaire a fashion, and he thought it poor form to be addressing the public as if he somehow believed himself an expert on the subject.  Lewis writes in Letter XII, parag. 4: "But however badly needed a good book on prayer is, I shall never try to write it.  Two people on the foothills comparing notes in private are all very well.  But in a book one would inevitably seem to be attempting, not discussion, but instruction.  And for me to offer th

Joining the ACNA

This is a picture of me, with Archbishop Foley Beach and Rev. Brice Ullman at Anglican Church of the Redeemer, Chattanooga, in September, 2014, when I officially became a priest in ACNA. Yes, I'm wearing a tippit instead of a white stole. I didn't know we were having Holy Communion during the service. Should have known.