What do I believe about the Holy Spirit?

I think it is important to understand a little bit about me before I started this class and where I am now.  Prior to coming to this class, I had been engaged with a local Anglican church here in my town.  We followed the three streams model.  We were the living fire of the Holy Spirit. We spoke in tongues, healed the sick, and was blessed to be given some prophecy. Our Sheppard ensured he protected us and prayed in the Spirit with us.  However about three weeks before the class started, I had to leave the church due to the calling of the Holy Spirit.

I currently attend an Episcopal church which does not understand the traditions of the Anglican church I had come from. However, they do understand the Holy Spirit and understand the most important aspect of the call to ministry, they live and perform the Great Commission.[1]  The truly love one another and those in their community. The exciting part is they are called The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit looks and waits for willing vessels. And it wasn’t until I had found my previous Anglican church had I even heard or been a willing vessel for the Holy Spirit. I did not engage with Bible fanatics prior to joining this church. In all honesty, I rarely prayed and when I did it was something for me or someone I cared about.  I never prayed to the Holy Spirit or Jesus.  I just prayed to God.

In 2013 a survey was done comparing the English against American’s and their belief in the devil.[2] They found that American’s are more likely to believe in possession of the devil and that the devil really exists than the British. This is important to recognize because while oppression can occur for Christians it does not mean we can be possessed.  We cannot be possessed after we are Baptized in the Holy Spirit because we are protected by the blood of Jesus Christ.   Prior to attending that church, I suffered from rapid cycle type two bipolar disorder.  I had spent most of my life hearing voices and being placed on and off medications. On and off medications, I heard voices. Angry vile and evil voices.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Those that believe Satan does not sit in the pews at church are wrong. Satan and his demons sit and church.  They communicate with sinners like us to distract us from our service to the Lord. Therefore, intercessory prayer is so important.  Because although we are baptized Satan is a roaring lion that wanders the earth searching for those for whom he can take.  In our discussion group, we have been discussing back and forth about the concept of Sin in relation to the Holy Spirit.  We talked about sin because of the sacrament of Baptism.  The sacrament of Baptism is when original sin is wiped away and you are received in the family of believers but the Holy Spirit enters your Holy of Holies and provides you with gifts.

I believe that the gifts are not something that is permanently provided to you but is provided as needed for the situation by the Holy Spirit.  Sin limits our capabilities with the gifts. Therefore, the repentance of sin is so important prior to assisting or receiving the gifts from the Holy Spirit.  We are all used in God’s divine plan and what we are called to do varies from situation to situation. So, while the most common experience is the receiving of tongues it is not the only gift.   The Holy Spirit provides us with gifts that let others know the presences of God is there and is involved in the activity.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit used by St. Thomas Aquinas are mentioned in Isaiah 11:2-3.  St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the gifts in his writings Prima secundae and Secunda secundae.[3] He aligns the gifts with virtues. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the gifts for believing in Jesus Christ.[4] In the Bible, the three virtues we are to live in are faith, hope, and charity.[5] As Christians, we desire the virtues to live a virtuous life. These virtues are the theological virtues are faith hope and love. These virtues separated a Christian from the pagan world. Pelser believed that these virtues stemmed from the theological understanding of “human nature, sin, and grace”.[6] There are four cardinal virtues that all individuals can desire and pray for and live in these are prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice.  These four virtues can be practiced by anyone and perfect the capacities of the soul.[7]  Therefore there is a total of seven virtues each of these relate to the seven deadly sins.

Seven Deadly Sins Cardinal & Theological Virtues Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual Sins Theological Virtues Intellectual Gifts
Pride Faith Knowledge
Envy Hope Understanding
Wrath Charity Wisdom
Corporal Sins Cardinal Virtues Ethical Gifts
Sloth Prudence Counsel
Greed Temperance Piety
Gluttony Fortitude Fortitude
Lust Justice Fear of the Lord (Wonder)

 

spiritual sins of pride, envy, and wrath.  The spiritual gifts mentioned in Isaiah 11 is a reflection on understanding and identifying the Messiah. Isaiah expresses the hope that the Messiah would be a unique bearer of the Holy Spirit and with the ratifying of the New Age and Covenant that would impart the Holy Spirit upon all of God’s people.[8]

The gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 are gifts brought to the people in the Christian community.  It is an extension of being given the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  While the Holy Spirit can reside in our Holies of Holies in our souls, we must confess our sins on a regular basis to ensure we have an untarnished communication path with the Lord. This is not to say that every day we will be able to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We must be just waiting and willing vessels although faulty be prepared to do the Lords will although we might not always be called to do great things today we have faith that when our day comes to serve the Lord and do his will, we will be ready and prepared to be the vessel that he uses to ensure his divine plan is fulfilled.

Life and Disconnect from the Holy Spirit

So, as we wait to serve the Lord, life happens. Life is not that easy.  We wander from the path and we obtain and loose gifts. How do we get ourselves back to where we are in harmony with the Holy Spirit? Being human we are prone to sin. Man’s life is full of “vanity, trouble, disappointments, vexations and endless self-dissatisfactions.”[9] We faulty beings not perfect and yet we are blessed with the gift of being able to engage the Holy Spirit. The being, the spark that generates our life, is the breath of God brought by the Holy Spirit.  Owen defends that the cure for our sinful condition is holiness.[10] It is the belief that the image of having God in our souls the Holy Spirit does provide us with an inward peace for our troubled soul. “In the holy soul – the sanctified mind alone – that it composed into an orderly tendency towards the enjoyment of God.”[11]

Life without the Trinity becomes meaningless and pointless. You can literally walk the dessert alone for 40 years.[12] Even as a Christian, with a devout faith we become adults in our Christian faith through trials of the faith. As I write this paper I am experiencing a trial. The way to ordination is a marathon and not a race. As I have suffered the loss of my family and church, I have yet to give up on the faith that the Lord is there to provide for me the tools I need to complete his divine plan. Law writes that if we live in self-denial of those things we indulge on this would bring our mind into exactness which would then lead us to follow the rules of prudence and devotion.[13]

Then the question becomes what does the Lord exactly want from us in this trial?  If we fast, worship, and pray and still feel alone what do we do? The key here is that we must experience the darkness before bringing the light of the world, the Light of the Gospel to others. The darkness is not a time of loneliness but of joy.  Like Job, we must remember that even at the worst times in our lives we must remain faithful and worship the Lord with joy and praise.[14]

The Holy Spirit will provide us with comfort during the storm.  The Holy Spirit gives us gifts that allow ourselves to see the sinful men we are.[15] It provides us with a divine light to examine ourselves. This light in the darkness that surrounds us gives us a path to return to the path of our life in fulfilling God’s divine plan. I would saw that we all follow the same path of the Israelites.  We accept the Lord and then we sin.  He saves us and we sin again. He makes us repent by spending 40 years in the dessert before returning to the Promised Land.  We doubt and have faith.  We sin and repent. However, while we are punished and are lost we are never alone.  Jesus provided his followers the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. This gift provides us with comfort in our times of distress to weather the storms of life and come about being a refined vessel for the Lord Jesus Christ.

How to Weather the Storm with the Gift of the Holy Spirit

So far, we have discussed the gifts of the spirit and our separation from the Holy Spirit in our life.  Now as for future ministers we must look at how we are to Weather the Storm of trails that await us in our ministries. As ministers during our postulant period prior to ordination, we will experience storms and trials. Unlike the first Adam, we will not have the Holy Spirit removed from us. However, if we sin and continue to sin without seeking forgiveness and have repentance we will experience the first Adam’s fall. When Adam chose to sin against God and was banished from the Garden, the Holy Spirit was removed from him and became flesh.[16] Sin then consumed the house of the Holy Spirit and we were no longer made in God’s image but the image of our corruption. It is through Baptism we are then reestablished in God’s divine graces.

As ordained ministers, we must remember that unlike the first Adam we are baptized and free from original sin.  We, therefore, have the Holy Spirit to reside in us and provide us with comfort during our trials. As ministers though we are called to stand apart and lead God’s people. This means we must protect our flock from the roaring Lion that walks about seeking souls to devour.[17]  We cannot stand up against the roaring Lion without the Holy Spirit. As ministers, it is our responsibilities to trust in the Lord and meet the roaring Lion face to face and prevent them from being consumed.

Today as the western church membership drops it is time for us to have the Wind of God blown upon us.[18] As ministers, we must remember once we are ordained we are dead to ourselves and alive in Christ. Therefore, we must walk in the way of the Church and although still sinners we must repent continuously to ensure we lead our sheep as an example of how to live a Christian life in today’s day. Failing to follow in the way of the Holy Spirit will lead to darkness in the Church.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, that have taken orders we must remember we are one body in Christ and although we are all different with different creeds and confessions, we still a living sacrifice unto the Lord.[19]

we will forget our personal family.[20] Again, the failure to engage with the Holy Spirit continually can result in the destruction of this family. Wives must find interpersonal engagement through the reading of the Bible, taking devotional time with the Holy Spirit, and having a strong self-esteem. Having these positive attributes ensures a strong relationship in the personal family as ministers and further ensures there is support from family during times in ministry.

Conclusion

A failure to accept the gifts and virtues of the Holy Spirit leads to us falling for the seven deadly sins. Staying pure and remaining faithful ministers to the Word of God is hard.  We not only are responsible for our flock but also for those we engage daily in our walk with God. If we fail to be in tune with the Holy Spirit we allow for the roaring lion to enter our flock and devour the innocent. We are warriors as ministers of God’s word and God’s church. We are the head of two families, our own and the Church we serve. Therefore, listening to the Holy Spirit and using his gifts is a must to ensure the safety of ourselves and others we are called to protect and defend.

Being the wife of a veteran, I can clearly say that although I have never worn the uniform. I respect and honor all those that have and do. As ministers, we are called to wear another uniform. The uniform of the Body of Christ. And like those service members who put on their boots and actively go into harm’s way to protect the values and traditions of our land, we must be so bold to go and protect our flocks from the roaring Lion.  We personally might sustain injuries and loss of life but we will not experience defeat. We have been told that Jesus will return and win a decisive victory in the final battle. As ministers, we must ensure that people hear that word. Our duties are to prepare our flock for the victory to come.  We do this through

“O Priest of God,

Live this Day As though it were your First Day,

Your last Day, and

Your only Day to do the will of God. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biography

Bouchard, C. E. “Recovering The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Moral Theology.” Theological Studies 63, no. 3 (2002): 539-58. doi:10.1177/004056390206300305.

Fee, Gordon D. Baptism in the Holy Spirit: the issue of separability and subsequence. Portland, OR: TREN, 1992.

Law, William. A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life; The Spirit of Love. London: SPCK, 1979.

Mcminn, Mark R., R. Allen Lish, Pamela D. Trice, Alicia M. Root, Nicole Gilbert, and Adelene Yap. “Care For Pastors: Learning From Clergy and Their Spouses.” Pastoral Psychology 53, no. 6 (2005): 563-81. doi:10.1007/s11089-005-4821-y.

Omeara, T. F. “Virtues in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas.” Theological Studies 58, no. 2 (1997): 254-285. doi:10.1177/004056399705800203.

Owen, John. John Owen on the Holy Spirit: Pneumatologia. Charleston, SC: Demand Publishing, LLC-Create Space, 2012.

Pelser, Adam. “Virtues and Their Vices.” Edited by Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd. Faith and Philosophy 33, no. 3 (2014): 382-86. doi:10.5840/faithphil201633369.

Rusu, Alexandru. “DEMONS AND EXORCISMS IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC MIND-SET: PROBING THE WESTERN DEMONOLOGICAL MENTALITY.” Revista Romana de Sociologie 27, no. 1/2 (2016): 89-109

Smeaton, George. Doctrine of the Holy spirit. Place of publication not identified: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2016.

Torrey, Reuben Archer. The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit. Place of publication not identified: Project Gutenberg, 2015.

[1] Matthew 28:16-20, KJV.

[2] Alexandru Rusu. “DEMONS AND EXORCISMS IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC MIND-SET: PROBING THE WESTERN DEMONOLOGICAL MENTALITY,”Revista Romana de Sociologie 27, no. 1/2 (2016): 106.

[3] C. E. Bouchard, “Recovering The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Moral Theology,” Theological Studies 63, no. 3 (2002):539, doi:10.1177/004056390206300305.

[4] T. F. Omeara, “Virtues in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas,” Theological Studies 58, no. 2 (1997): 275, doi:10.1177/004056399705800203

[5] 1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV

[6] Adam Pelser, Virtues and their vices, ed. Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) pg. 26.

[7] Ibid. pg. 15.

[8] Gordon D. Fee, Baptism in the Holy Spirit: The Issue of Separability and Subsequence (Portland, OR: TREN, 1992) pg. 92.

[9] John Owen. John Owen on the Holy Spirit: Pneumatologia. (Charleston, SC: Demand Publishing, LLC-Create Space, 2012) pg. 643.

[10] Ibid. pg. 644.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Numbers 32:13, KJV.

[13] William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life; The Spirit of Love (London: SPCK, 1979) pg. 142.

[14] James 1:2-5, NASB.

[15] C. E. Bouchard, “Recovering The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Moral Theology,” Theological Studies 63, no. 3 (2002): pg. 551, doi:10.1177/004056390206300305.

[16] George Smeaton, Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Place of publication not identified: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2016) pg. 15.

[17] 1 Peter 5:8, NASB.

[18] Reuben Archer Torrey, The Person, and Work of The Holy Spirit (Place of publication not identified: Project Gutenberg, 2015) pg. 33.

[19] Romans 12:1-5, NASB.

[20] Mark R. Mcminn et al., “Care For Pastors: Learning From Clergy and Their Spouses,” Pastoral Psychology 53, no. 6 (2005): 566, doi:10.1007/s11089-005-4821-y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bonhoeffer

In this blog, I am going to be focusing on Bonhoeffer’s dissertation, Sanctorum Communio. However, before that I am going to discuss Bonhoeffer because I believe in order to understand Sanctorum Communio, one must understand from which Bonhoeffer was at in his spiritual path. The spiritual development and growth in a theologian is just as important as their actual writings.  The reason this is so is that when we contribute to the theological discussion our writings as theologians will often reflect our path unto the point where we are. Sanctorum Communio was the first theological writing.  It was his dissertation he wrote when he only twenty-one when he wrote it.[1]  He wrote other pieces, which also reflect his path at various movements.  This includes Acts and Being, which was after Sanctorum Communio, but he had just begun his “vicariate”.[2]  This was his first writing that was not under the supervision of Academics.  The writing reflects a great deal, of probably what he was going through in his professional life.  He was beginning his ministry but still was working in the way of the academic life. Therefore, he quarrels with transcendental and ontological philosophic ideas.[3]

After attending seminary in New York, he went from being a nationalist to being a pacifist. Taking to heart the Sermon on the Mount.  I believe this is when you see a fire sparked in Bonhoeffer.  He begins to really look and study the bible instead of just studying and understanding what others have said theologically in the bible.  This engagement with the primary text allows him to analyze and add to the discussions of theology.  I believe this is when he starts to develop his own personal confessions in regards to how the church should be and what it is.  He worked within the Confessing Church movement in Germany trying to provide churches with the alternative to being Pro-Nazi.[4] The movement of the Nazi’s was to remove the church from its Jewish Heritage.  It essentially ignored the roots of its faith. This movement of towards being a confessing church separates themselves and the confession at the heart of the church.[5]  Bonhoeffer states in The Confessing Church that essentially the confessing church is the confession to believing in their Lord and being against their Lord’s enemies.[6]  He in this writing was going against the original teachings of his background in the Lutheran Church and was calling for the Christian Church in Germany to stand out and separate from others and remain true to the beliefs of the original church free of political and social influences.

In Sanctorum Communio, Bonhoeffer takes sociological principles and applies them to the concept of Church.  He then struggles with the concept of “the person” in his dissertation.  Bonhoeffer continues on to state that we must study the person and community in the Christian church in order to understand the concept of God.[7] This relationship of community and person is important because during this time Bonhoeffer was a Nationalist, which was preached by the Lutheran Church as being part of God.[8]  I believe he continued this in his writing of Christology in 1933 when he discusses the concept of the Church being a body and about Christ when the “Word became flesh”. [9][10] The idea of speaking about Christ means to keep silent is contrary to Christ teachings.  Christ speaks and declares that he will make the disciples fishers of men.[11] Therefore, part of this proclamation is that they are to speak about Christ and his teachings in order to teach the Gentiles how to worship him and God.  Therefore not to speak about Christ is speaking about Christ is contrary to what Jesus commanded us to do.  However, maybe it is because Mans words fail to encompass the true meaning of what Christ was teaching and therefore silence ensures that we let the Word of God speak for itself.

I believe that a theme that Bonhoeffer struggled with throughout many of his writings was the social nature of man, its identity and how it was reflected in the Church.  Essentially, we are made from God we are created in his image and likeness.  Therefore, the question I struggle with in Sanctorum Communio is the concept of the social nature of the church and God’s need for it.  Is there a social nature in God?  Would you consider the Trinity a social group?  Because we are taught that, there is only one God.  Therefore singular and one.  A group consists of two or more.  Just as Jesus sent the disciples out two by two to spread the Word of God, he sent groups of people out.  God does not have a peer and therefore is single.  Therefore, a social group cannot exist in God.  So is this why God requires and yearns for our interaction with him is because of our ability to create groups and be social?  Surely not. I also struggled with the fact that Bonhoeffer said, “it is in relation to persons and personal community that the concept of God is formed”.[12]  Therefore, what happens if there is no relations to persons or personal community of the church?  Is there no God?  This then ignores Genesis 1-3 which God on his own created the heavens and the earth. There was no one, no persons or community to think up God and create him to create us.  I find this to be a weakness in Bonhoeffer’s early work that he struggled to place the human nature of social groups in the confines of the Supreme Being and the church.  God is independent of social groups and therefore absent of human existence God is always there.

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer and De Gruchy John W., Dietrich Bonhoeffer: witness to Jesus Christ (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991). P. 7.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. p. 8.

[4] Ibid. p. 20

[5] Ibid. 136

[6] Ibid. p. 141

[7] Ibid. p. 45

[8] Ibid. p. 15

[9] Ibid. p. 17

[10] Ibid.

[11] Matt. 4:19 KJV

[12] Dietrich Bonhoeffer and De Gruchy John W., Dietrich Bonhoeffer: witness to Jesus Christ (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991). P. 45.

Authority of Our Creeds and Confessions

Authority is the right to give orders, make final decisions, and enforce individuals to obeying decisions and orders. Often authority is passed down through family lineage or given to one that is tested to meet the qualifications of leadership. As we have discussed in the past creeds and confessions are statements of faith and beliefs that unite individuals together through a proclamation of common ground. The question then becomes where the authority of the creeds and confessions come from? There can be an argument that can be made that the authority comes from the church.

The church developed the creeds and confessions we have today. The churches authority exists because, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven upon the rock that the church is built that hell should never prevail.[1] The church then ordains individuals who are faithful to leadership levels who then become shepherds of flocks. These shepherds unify to determine what the laity actually believe. In the beginning, the authority rested with the Roman Church saying that it was the teacher and mother to every church that existed.[2]  However, after the protestant reformation, The Westminster Confession of Faith states that it is man’s chief end is to glorify God through obedience to the Word of God.[3] Therefore, the protestant church proclaims that authority is the Word of God. Thus, all authority of the creeds and confessions must come from the Word of God. This means that God puts the authority into the creeds and confessionals that the church creates. Then how does the church make a decision on who has the authority on how much pay the electrical company or even what to post on social media?

The Word of God gives guidelines on how individuals should spend their money and how they should act with one another but does not get into the fine details of the everyday life decisions everyone makes. Thus, the relationship must be more direct and personal. Confessions must unit smaller groups while creeds unite many smaller groups together. The authority might be separate but equal. For example, in the Thirty-Nine articles of the Church of England, was not applicable to those Anglicans that can from Europe to the United States.[4] Thus, American revised the Thirty – Nine articles to better suit the American government and beliefs. While the Church of England and the Anglican Church both follow the authority of the creeds established in the original church the confessionals are different because they are set up to represent the individuals in their community and the life God has provided them. However, this still does not answer the question of the authority to make the day-to-day decisions in our lives that we will confess and believe.

This leaves only one place for the authority to come from in the creeds and confessions. It must reside in the hearts of sheep that sit in the pews. In the Shema, it states “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” These where the word God spoke to Moses to deliver to the people of Israel. It then continues on to instruct people through its generations the prayers and traditions that are found in the Torah.[5] This one line makes a direction connection between you and the Lord. Thus, it becomes a personal investment and understanding making it easy to teach and to understand.[6]  The decisions and actions you take in the day-to-day life must glorify and honor that God is one Lord. So the question then when faced with a decision to make comes does this honor and glorify the one Lord? Therefore, creedal and confessional authority is based on the people that implement them into the church. It is implemented through the organization of church life, regulation of their worship, administer their organization, staff their programs and pay their bills.[7]  Thus, the authority of the creeds and confessions rests on the individuals who implement the ins and outs of the church. Therefore we are each the authority of the creeds and confessions. We guide and instruct ourselves with others like ourselves to serve and honor the Lord.

 

[1] Matthew 16:17-19, KJV.

[2] Pelikan, Jaroslav. Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003. 280.

[3] Ibid. 281.

[4] Ibid. 323.

[5] Deuteronomy 6:4-9, KJV.

[6] Pelikan, 331.

[7] Ibid. 245.

Why Do We Hide Christians?

The numbers attending church are going down.  Those that go are getting older.  The fact of the matter is this. Being a Christian in the secular society is neither cool nor easy.  Those of us that are face daily prosecution for our faith.  Anywhere from the accusations of being a “Bible Thumper” or being laughed at for believing in something one has to have faith in because we cannot see it.  The news does not make it any easier to be a Christian.  It shows many intolerant aggressive Christians protesting various societal norms.  We are often defined by the actions of a few than what the majority do and see.

In many ways true embolden Christians are ostracized by the society they live in more so than any of the LGBT community or Muslims.  As Christians, our Christianity is at its brightest inside the confines of our holy sanctuaries.  Once we leave Holy Ground, we cover up our light with a basket and mask ourselves with our real world personas in order to continue on living in the crumbling society around us. Similar to the actions of the Disciples after the resurrection, we hide in fear to spread the news of salvation, freedom and everlasting life because we live in a survival like manner. Fear is not something that comes from the Lord.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV).

Therefore, a majority of today’s Christians live in two separate worlds.  The world of our Heavenly Father when we are on Holy Ground and then the world we live in Monday -Saturday.  The thing we fail to remember was individuals have died so that our beliefs may live on and continue.  Some of these individuals include St. Stephen, St. Andrew, and St. Peter. The first martyr for the faith, however, was Jesus Christ. He was killed for his message and those that followed him often died in the same manner because of the message he spread. Our fear for how we are perceived by others should not be what forces us to put on our masks to the world.  We shall not die by showing who we are and professing our beliefs on this world.  We shall find joy in allowing ourselves be the light of the world to future Christians.

In the midst of tragedies of Orlando, California, and New York.  Those that the media focuses on are seen living out their beliefs. Right, wrong or indifferent. So why as Christians do we hide ours?  If individuals are willing to die for their sins, should we not be willing to die for our salvation?  Should we not as Christians embrace the sinner, love the person and not the sin? We should look at ourselves before we begin to judge others in a condemning manner.  (Matthew 7, KJV) Jesus ate with sinners and loved them.  He often healed them of their sins for their faith in him.   Jesus did not judge man by his sins. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:17 (KJV).

It is hard being a Christian. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (KJV). However, the Lord never ask us to do something he would not do himself.  We do not have all the answers but we must be embolden enough to share our faith with others.  Share in the salvation we have received in being in the body of Christ.  Because of the actions of a few the entire Christian world is often judged.  Should it be this way NO!! However, the Lord has given us the power of the Holy Ghost to spread his word and share our faith. Failing to be the same person you are on Holy Ground as you are in your day-to-day life crucifies our Lord again. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (KJV).  It is time to embolden ourselves Christians and take up the sword of truth, which is the Word of God, and become proud to become a Christian again. Ephesians 6:17.

Theology of Holy Scripture from a Millennial Perspective

Theology of Holy Scripture is the study of Holy Scripture.  In particular, this paper is studying the Christian Holy Scripture referred to as the Bible or the Living Word of God.  Individuals and groups in various congregations have developed their own methods in providing the authenticity and proof that the Bible is the actual Word of God.  One major movement that developed was the Historical-Critical method.  This method is a scientific lineal method that requires evidence of original sources to prove the authentic nature of the gospels.  The historical part of the historical critical method is the development of proof of the historical accuracy of the Bible.  The critical part of the Historical Critical method is finding the proof, purpose, and origins of the writings.

While this method provides logical foundation for the historical accuracy of a man named Jesus it does not provide factual evidence for the validity of the Holy Trinity.  To be a Christian one must have an understanding and faith about Jesus and God.  The faith that God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus are part of the divine trinity.  Failure to have a submission or belief in the actions of the Bible leaves the Historical Critical method void of the spirit and life of the story that the Bible gives us as a way and method to our salvation and eternal life with Jesus.

Timothy Ward provides an aspect to Bible authenticity that is based on the evangelical structure of validating the authenticity of the Bible. These attributes are necessity, sufficiency, clarity and authority by which scholars can define and defend their thoughts and insights into scripture.[1] This authentication and insight brings in the faith and belief elements that the historical critical method. The method in which Ward presents the relevance of the act of God speaking provided some insight into the importance of the personal nature of God and our personal relationship we must as Christians have with him.  Personal salvation is a commitment and covenant with the Lord.  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.[2]  The aspect of the personal nature of the Word of God and its ability to be s living word that despite who reads it or when one reads it, it will always be a relevant to those who are believers.  This manner of looking at the Bible provides a human aspect and personal development which historical critical method neglects to incinerate.  This view of studying the word of God provides a custom personal aspect to the Word while the historical critical method provides generic and cold references that can be applied to the mass population.

Sola Scriptura is an important foundation stone Timothy Ward uses to summarize the attributes of scripture.  Sola Scriptura is the belief that the Bible is the supreme authority of Christian thought and living due to it being it the written word of God and the content of it message.[3]  The attributes as described by Ward are broad theological terms that are broad in nature that allows scholars to develop insights and thoughts that can be built in a standard format that allows for academic discussion and debate. [4]

In Ward’s discussion on the authority vs. the holiness of scripture, it is important to understand that authority of scripture is based on the authority of man and God’s interaction with the writing of the Bible.[5] This is leads to a greater debate over the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God.  These debates focus on whether the fallibility of man can actually write the infallible word of God.  Those that see the Word of God as infallibility see the Holy Spirit as divinely inspiring those that wrote the scriptures and while errors might exist in the Bible, they do little in taking away the divine nature of the word.[6] Inerrancy sees the Bible as the perfect divine Word of God that is historically accurate and without fallibility. To be a Christian, one has to see this as the Word of God and thus inerrant because of its divine nature. While the bible might not provide all the answers to all questions, it provides us the means by which we can be saved.  It also does not contradict its self.  Therefore showing the infallible nature of the Word of God.

The basic canon of the Bible was formed in the Council of Carthage in Synod 397.[7] The development of the cannon was not created in an overnight decision but over several decades through prayer and divine intervention.  While not all faiths follow the same cannon, a majority of the 66 book of the bible are acknowledged and seen as the Word of God. The books have stood the test of time through multiple generations and lineages of families, which provides a deeper belief in the divine inerrancy of the document as the actual word of God. Ward focuses not on the argument of whether this is the actual word of God but clarifies it instead to be a discussion on the fallibility of man being able to write the word of God as the Almighty intended.[8]

This leads us the divine nature of the Bible and the sacredness of its Word to individuals when they read, believe, and are willing to die for its teachings. The sacred realm Fr. Martin discuss in the recording is the mystery and insight into the readings of the bible to assist us in interpreting and understanding the Word of God for our personal reflection.  It is the mystical element that the Historical Critical method does not have.  It makes the Bible personal to us every time we read it.  While the stories are the same each time it is the enlightenment we experience in finding answers to our concerns and provides us guidance in how to serve the Lord better.  In this, sacred realm, the individual does not care about who wrote what nor do they care about what text was referenced to obtain the information.  The individual is concerned with how this reading applies to them. As theologians, preachers, ministers, and sharers of the Holy Word, we must seek prophetic wisdom from the Lord to share with others.  The Word is a living applicable application to everyone by dwelling in the sacred realm we can develop a closer relationship to the Lord and bring followers to Christ.

Fr. Martin’s writing in Fr. Scott Carl’s book is an opposing view to which the Catholic Church has resolved the gap that the Historical Critical method provided the Catholic Church in Verbum Domini. [9] Fr. Martin discusses in Fr. Carl’s about the Fire of Sinai being the light of knowledge that provides readers with divine knowledge and understanding to the Word of God.[10] Fr. Martin provides a biblical reference and understanding to the element that occurs when one accepts, believes, and sees truth in which God provides them while reading the word. Describing and identifying it as the Fire of Sinai allows the message to be both personal to the receiver but also enlightening to the group of individuals who hear the word.  This expands on Wards thoughts by being both individual but for multiple people as well.  Fr. Martin focuses on the divine action that occurs when reading the word but does not allow for growth and depth of seeking further knowledge that the historical critical method provides.  Ward discusses Calvin’s point of view that being made in the image and likeness of God that we have this knowledge and understanding of the Lord, but due to our fallibility, we do not see clearly, the Bible like glasses allows us to focus and see the Lord. [11]

The theology of the Holy Scripture is a cycle that continues to repeat itself depending on the nature of the individuals study and period in life.  As s child, I saw the word like Fr. Martin, a straight insight and understanding of the Lord, as I grew older and reached my twenties I found myself like most Millennials going through a spiritual crisis leaning on the historical critical method to tell me what I needed to be a good person. As I found my way back to the church, I have begun to see the word like Ward being a personal covenant with the Lord and being of the inerrant mindset of the word of God.  When our faith is tested by Satan we often will go, back to repeat the cycle to ensure we reaffirm the foundation, which we build our beliefs, and understands of the Lord.  Our soul is the Holy of Holies. It is our responsibility as Christians to repair and fix the temple of faith in which our soul resides. We do this to be ready and willing vessel when the Lord calls us for his purpose.[12]

 

 

Bibliography

[1] Ward, Timothy. Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009, pp.96.

[2] John 14:6 (KJV)

[3] Ward, Timothy. Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009, pp. 102.

[4] Ibid., pp, 96-97.

[5] Ibid., pp.128.

[6] Ibid., pp.130-140.

[7] “Third Council of Carthage (A.D. 397).” The Third Council of Carthage on the Canon of Scripture. Accessed April 08, 2016. http://www.bible-researcher.com/carthage.html.

[8] Ward, Timothy. Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009, pp. 133.

[9] Carl, Scott. Verbum Domini and the Complementarity of Exegesis and Theology. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015.

[10] Ibid., pp. 13.

[11] Ward, Timothy. Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009, pp. 98.

[12] 1 Cori 6:19-20, 2 Tim 2:21 (KJV).

Historical-Critical Method adds complexity to the Word of God

Glory to God in the Highest.  Hallelujah He has risen! Welcome to the church season of Easter.  After a difficult and trying Lent, I am excited to say Hallelujah in church again.  I realize it has been over a month since my last posting and I apologize for that.  I have been busy with starting seminary, vestry, and sharing services from my church on iTunes.  However, today, I am going to discuss what I have been studying in my Hermeneutics class about the historical-critical method of doing scholarly biblical research.  The concept of historical-critical research is to insert doubt and probability in various beliefs of the origins of the Bible and the accuracy of what is being said in the Gospel.  The primary core belief is that the Bible has been written a multitude of authors who gathered resources of the stories and miracles of Jesus Christ and copulated them into one book.  Essential in lay person terms it’s like Aesop’s fables and contain universal truths and some of the stories are more believable that others.

Academics and the scientific method has invaded our religious thought and study in the seminary.  While Christian monks founded the primary scientific method it has been diluted into a logical pattern of probability and statistics.  There is no mystery or wonder to it any longer.  The issue with religion is that it provides for the opportunity for the impossible.  It allows for a belief in something we cannot explain.  It allows for Faith.  The bible is the reason we have faith.  The truth allows us to believe.  It allows the faith to exist and thus have churches exist. Without the knowledge and acceptance that no matter what human wrote the bible, it is still the word of God.  It contains the truth about God and the path for our salvation.  It is a part of a greater understanding of truth about God. The bible is essentially like the cliff notes to the understanding and knowledge of God.  It provides us enough for us to accomplish and understand in order to reach salvation.  If we have questions then the answers are contained in the Bible we just need to look for them.  It is the truth.  You must have faith to believe that.

Failure to over analyze and bring in logic and the scientific method into faith is that basic human processes and understanding do not allow miracles to occur.  Even chaos has a mathematical anomaly, which can at times be predicted through statistics.  Faith is a belief because of what it is not because of any evidence that we can prove it.  Failure of the scholarly academics to understand this has resulted in an over analysis of the basics.  Believe because we have faith.  Understand because you believe.  Share because you understand. Sometimes we must remember individuals do not need the complexities of our faith because it justifies it through numbers but they need the simple understanding because everything else in our world is so complex.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:1-3 KJV)

Devotion Time – Mark Of A Christian

The readings being examined is chapter 45 in Genesis. As Joseph was the head of the disbursement of grain in Egypt, his brothers came to visit him.[1]  He kept the revelation of being their kin from them as a secret.[2]  Until they came to eat with him in the Pharaoh’s house.  He wept openly as he reviled the truth to them.[3]  Forgiving them for selling him to the Egyptians. [4] The revelation he gave to his brothers is prophetic and important.  God was the reason for his position and status.  All the reasons and explanation for everything was because it was part of God’s divine plan.   In Job, it says to Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. [5]

Fr. Homer Rodgers discusses in The Romance of Orthodoxy, how it is only when we have no answers to the question, we fall back on God made it that way as our response.[6]  This response is a result of the questioner finding a personal dogma of ours.  Dogma is a set of thoughts and principles presented by an authority as an incontrovertible truth.[7]  These personal dogmas can periodically change throughout our life. [8]  They change because we develop more knowledge and seek further understanding to having a deeper insight into what we accept to be undeniable.

The growth of Joseph and final acceptance that it was God’s divine plan is the reaching of his personal dogma.  He could not explain why his brothers sold him to the Egyptians other than the divine acceptance that it was God’s divine plan.  With that acceptance he found peace and comfort crying loudly reveling himself to his brothers as a member of their kin.  [9]

How do we wear the mark of a Christian today in modern times?  How to show that we accept that it is, just the way it is, because God made it that way? This revelation has forced me to force myself to look and sometimes just accept my situation because it is part of God’s divine plan.  I can also go back into my life and my experiences and understand why God had me go through those experiences.  It assists me in helping others in those same struggles and showing them that God is there no matter how bad life gets.  I want to know more and have a deeper understanding of what leads people to the situations they are in and to provide them a sense of comfort in the basic explanation through science or reasoning for their situations.  However, that is not the mark of a true Christian.  The mark of the Christian is the acceptance of life’s trials and praying with those in despair for peace and understanding.[10]

Our constant and consistent dogma should be because it is the will of God.[11] No further explanation should be needed if we accept the word of God because it is through the word of God and understanding of God we can find a true sense of peace as found in Job.[12]   Fear is not the will of God but of Satan.[13]  Fear to show your mark as a Christian is on that believes the lies of the enemy.  The Lord protects His people for His divine purpose.[14]  Therefore believing in his word is the only true facet of peace, just as Joseph found peace in speaking his revelation to his kin in Egypt.

Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth,

Thank you for your Word and for making me an instrument in your divine plan.  Please provide me with the strength, understanding and will to show my Christian mark as a symbol of honor and glory to you.  Although we might not always understand your plans or the reasons for our circumstances, may we make them a glory and honor to you in however they fit for your purpose.  Please allow me to find peace like Joseph in this great understanding of your divine nature and that nothing I do is without purpose or reason to your ultimate guide and plan.  In your name we pray, world without end.  Amen.

 

[1] Gen. 42:6 (KJV)

[2] Gen. 42:8 (KJV)

[3] Gen. 45:1 (KJV)

[4] Gen. 45:5 (KJV)

[5] Job. 22:21 (KJV)

[6] Homer F. Rogers, The Romance of Orthodoxy, ed. Mary P. Tuck (Dallas, TX: Mrs. D. Rogers/ St. Francis’ Episcopal Church], 1991), 6.

[7] Rogers, 2.

[8] Rogers, 4.

[9] Gen. 45:14 (KJV)

[10] John 17:21 (KJV).

[11] Rogers, 6.

[12] Job. 22:21 (KJV)

[13] 1 Cor. 10:13 (KJV), 1 Pet.5:8 (KJV)

[14] Ps.37:38-40 (KJV).