Battle of the Idea of Faith

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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.

Trinity, Divinity, Death, and Faith

 

The four chapters I will be discussing from The Spirit of Early Christian Thought by Robert Luis Wilken are chapters 4-7.[1]  The primacy of the scripture in the early church was rudimentary at best. The beliefs of individual churches varied in doctrine due to the lack of an organized structure of texts and beliefs that was universal to the entire Christian body. The Roman Church accepted their Canon of Bible Scripture in Damasine Council of Rome in 332 A.D. and the rest of the western church in the third Council of Carthrage in 397 A.D.[2].

As society grew more advanced in their interpretation and application of Christian theology, the growth and development of concepts of the Holy Trinity began to emerge in the Church.  The discussion and debate over the belief in the Trinity occurred in 325 at the Council of Nicaea.[3] Before the Council of Nicaea theologians had been debating over the validity and description of the Trinity. Theologians would try justifying their position based on scripture readings and adding philosophical logic to gain acceptance.  At the end of the second general council in Constantinople in 381, the church’s acceptance of the Trinity is documented in the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed.[4]

Terrullian contributes to the debate of our likeness to the Lord as like having a fully developed conversation with one’s self.[5] While this debate is adequate to discuss the psychology of one’s self.  It does not adequately discuss the relationship of the separate and unique features of the God and human beings made in his likeness. Terrullian purpose was to discuss how we are like God because we are made in his image and likeness.[6] The failure to establish a secondary object to which we can relate makes Terrullian’s argument weak in selecting conversations with one’s self because there is no unique distinct voice that is completely separate from the other person in the conversation.

Augustine argues in his writings that the Holy Spirit is what can only be described as connecting agent to the Father and Son.  That it is the unifying peace that makes the Holy Trinity possible.[7]  I would argue to say that the Trinity in its unique and separate forms in shown throughout the New Testament. That they work together to create the events we use to define us as Christians.   From the virgin birth the Holy Ghost is said to have been to doer of the conception[8], God presents himself to the wise men in a dream and warns them not to go back to Herod[9], and Jesus is the primary focus of the virgin birth.  This occurs again during Jesus’s baptism when God speaks This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.[10] The Holy Spirit descends upon the Lord during his baptism by John the Baptist like a dove[11]. Jesus is the receiver of the action. This continues during Jesus’s ministry, healing, and death.  The final time we see the trinity working together is in his ascension into heaven, which occurs 40 days after Easter.

Wilken continues to discuss the divine nature of Christ. At the Council of Chalcedon the acknowledgement by most Christian churches was that Jesus was the perfect man and Godhead in one person.  Being perfect man was separate and unique to the Godhead, which was also separate and unique; however, both existed in Christ and thus belonged to the Trinity.[12]  In Lateran 649 the reason for this acceptance of the dual nature of Jesus was so important was that it was able to finally define specific times in Jesus’s life that the various natures where shown.[13] The dual nature is important for understanding who the Christian is and strives to be.  In the Bible we are told that we are made in the image and likeness of God, therefore, we are like Jesus and must strive for his ultimate perfection.  This is an advanced development of thought for the Christian Church.  The concept of the spiritual nature and human nature of Jesus provides us with a model that we can try to obtain. This goal is what we aim for as Christians to set ourselves towards in regards to morality and character.

Chapter 6 focuses on the concept of the physical body. That Christians set goals and live our way towards those goals.[14]  For example, as Christians we affirm that Jesus will come back to defeat our advisory the devil, we prepare ourselves that our souls will be ready for this when it occurs. Therefore, Wilkins discusses how as humans how we take care of our dead because they are the part of the nature of man according to Augustine.[15]  In Matthew 25:31-46 it discusses that when Jesus comes back his followers known as lambs will be placed in his right hand while the goats, or non-followers, will be in his left.  Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, to take care of the dead is to take care of the body of God, for some believe that we will be risen up and reunited with our bodies to share in the Glory of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. [16]

The final chapter discusses the concept of the importance of faith and its importance to the Christian belief.  Faith is a unique perspective in Christian thought because it is contrary to modern thinking and understanding of the world in which we live.  Faith requires an obedience and understanding that the Bible contains the truth and is our only way to salvation and eternal life.[17]  Fr. Rogers discusses that everyone has two forms of belief.  They are referred to doctrine and dogma.  Doctrine he defines as those things that have evidence and reasoning.  That when presented the information there is evidence providing its concept. [18] Dogma on the other hand is the fundamental assumptions that we make because of the reality in which we exist. [19] Faith, like dogma, exists based on trust and fundamental assumptions that it is all part of God’s purpose.

The primacy of scripture in the early church is important to recognize.  Like the growth and development of individuals and Jesus, the church grows and develops in its understanding of our Lord and Savior. In the beginning, it was rudimentary as the church has matured so has the primacy of scripture.   Every individual and generation has to build upon and rediscover the knowledge provided by the scriptures.  The scripture is still as it was in the beginning.  It contains the truth and knowledge of God.  Therefore, while the book remains static and constant in its content, the interpretation it provides us individually makes it a living and breathing document.  The bible provides guidance and wisdom just as it did in the beginnings of the Church, and we must remember that while one might read and see a passage differently, we must understand for us, it will contain a different message, made purposely for us in the proper time.

Psalm 23 a Hermeneutic Study

  1. Starting To Interpret a Text

“Hermeneutics must start from the position that a person seeking to understand something has a bond to the subject matter that comes into language through the traditionary text and has, or acquires, a connection with the tradition from which it speaks.”[20] The text in which I will be discussing is Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. [21]

The passage is important to me because I have made it part of my daily beginning of my devotional prayer time.  After I put on the full armor of God, I lead into praying this in chant. I use the St. Dunstan’s Psalter to provide me with the cords. This psalm is also chanted in evening prayer on the fourth day in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) 1928 edition.  The passage reminds me that while I pray for others and intercede for them that He will provide and protect me from the attacks from the evil one.  That as long as I stand for the rightness of the Lord and serve those as if I am serving Jesus I will always live in the house of the Lord forever.

In my spiritual path like most in my teens and twenties I walked away from the church and doing so lead me to dark places and loneliness.  It was not until I returned to the Church did I find a purpose for my life again.  After going through deliverance ministry I know assist in spiritual healing and prayer for those being attacked spiritually by demons.  This Psalm reminds me that while turmoil might surround us in the world that there is hope and salvation through Jesus Christ.

While studying this text I realize that I have prejudices that due to life circumstances and belief cause me to fail in being able to separate my belief in Jesus as our savior and the Bible being the book of ultimate truth and it is the only way to truth and salvation. These prejudices prevent me from viewing the passage in a historical-critical method because it removes God and replaces him with doubt. I am, however, able to view the text in a more academic and historical manner that will allow me to see the passage from a different perspective due to life experiences of individuals who also interpret this scripture. I am able to take and view the piece in a manner that can allow me to share with others and connect with others by understanding their beliefs and experiences. Gadamer reflects upon this and discusses it as the historical horizon and the superseded understanding horizon merge for a real connection to occur.[22]  This connection allows me to view the text in a different manner and provides me with an opportunity to connect with another individual through a biblical message and spread the word of God.

II In the Process of Interpretation

In Murphy’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Psalms, the psalm is described in its poetic form by describing the psalm in two lines phrasing that is calm and rhythmic.  They discuss the importance of David when he was writing this Psalm as he had just completed his pastoral life. [23] The book describes each of the psalms in the exact same manner.  The focus on Psalm 23 in this book was the literal translation of the text and its importance on being taken care of and sheltered by the Lord.  It also focused on the food and drink aspects of the passage, which for the time when this article was written anti-slavery was beginning to take effect.  This was an important time in history because farmers in the south used slaves to gather food to support their ways of life.  With anti-slavery taking off the emphasis on food and drink becomes more relevant in the passage.

I was unable to find a commentary that showed it through the centuries however I was able to find a commentary on all the Psalms through the entire centuries, however, the library only had a physical book and nothing online available for this. This is not to say that the psalms and their uses have not been changed over the course of the various centuries.  Currently Psalms are rarely used any more except when teaching children or in high orthodox masses as in the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions.  The psalms where used to instruct the Jews and Christians about history and the Lord and the trials and tribulations of the Jews.  Today in the Anglican tradition, we still chant our Psalms in morning and evening prayer.

Psalm 23 provides us with an affirmation that the Lord protects us and as long as we follow him, he will provide us with what we need.  He is always with us as we lie down and as we drink from the river of life.  He cares for us and leads us to good things that honor and glorify him.  However, we will have tribulation and trials in our life, but not to fear these issues because like in the pasture the Lord remains with us in all that we do.  The Lord will come and collect us if we stray from him and we are comforted in his leadership because he is Lord. He will prepare a feel for us and bless us in the presence of our enemies before their judgement and my love for him will endure forever. As the Lord as my leader and protector I shall be shown goodness and mercy forever as long as I remain a faithful servant to the Lord. [24]

III Concluding the Interpretation

The sacred real of this text has provided me with the understanding that I have to hand off my control and power need to the Lord.  In the world of today, with logic, science, and methods I often will focus on those instead of allowing the Lord to accept and deal with the issues that I try to resolve.  The Lord is our Sheppard we are not.  We are his sheep.  Sheep do not sit on the thrown but instead bow lowly to our Lord and rejoice in his praise. While the Lord will test us and give us tribulations, it is our responsibility to bring it to the Lord in prayer because only when we ask for it shall we receive it. [25]

Agreement with this text that if I wish to endure in happiness I must be allowed to give the Lord the throne and keys to heart and soul.  Failing to do so prevents me from dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.  I agree that tribulations occur and that I must remember that the Lord is there with us by our side.  When he comes for us, we shall be given a feast and blessed by him before our enemies.  The difficult part with the agreement is the fulfillment of the action.  As a problem solver we often will spend, our times take charge and resolve issues for people.  However, when we do that we rob people of the opportunity to serve God and steal from God the opportunity to show is power to others.

While historically, the psalm has been used to provide comfort for the afflictions that individuals experience including those in the past who feared for their ways of living.  Today we are a culture of fear. Fear is the work of the devil.[26]  We are quick to fear something and rush to solve problems instead of lifting our afflictions to Jesus Christ.  The Lord protects those who surrender themselves to him, therefore we must remember that when we are caught in the valley of the shadow of death, that we are not alone and we shall not fear for the Lord is bless us and keep us so we can dwell with him in glory.

As a classical text, I see myself in Psalm 23 as a map to understanding and peace.  That while we experience tribulation and tragedy it is not for nothing but serves a purpose for the Glory of God.  Not allowing the Lord to be our savior we fail to bring him alongside us as we go out into the world. In 1 Peter, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.[27] To ensure we do not fall prey to the devil we must surrender ourselves to the Lord and ensure he is in our thoughts, our lips and hearts.

The text address me personally because while I read and use this text every day in my daily routines.  This is probably the first time in a long time that I have actually read the text, which draws me in a relationship with the Holy Ghost and the Lord.  I have failed to give up my seat on the thrown in various areas and he can only be Lord if I surrender it all to him.  It is important that I acknowledge that now before I am set aside as a deaconess because if I cannot model how a Christian woman is to give herself to the Lord, I have no business expecting woman of the church to do it when I cannot do it myself.

Those that go into ministry we are both shepherds and sheep. We lead others to Christ or assist in their trials and tribulations reminding them of the great shepherd, Jesus Christ. It is important as those who lead others to protect and guide them into communion with the church and with God. Failing to do so weakens the Church and fails in our obligations to become more Christ like in our human nature.

 

[1] Wilken, Robert Louis. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.

[2] Towns, Elmer L. What the Faith Is All About: A Study of the Basic Doctrines of Christianity. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983.

[3] Wilken, Robert Louis. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003, pp. 83.

[4] Ibid., pp. 84.

[5] Ibid., pp. 99.

[6] Ibid., pp. 99.

[7] Ibid., pp. 102-103.

[8] Matt 1:18 (KJV)

[9] Matt 2:12 (KJV)

[10] Matt 3:17 (KJV)

[11] Matt 3:16 (KJV)

[12] Wilken, Robert Louis. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003, pp. 133.

[13] Ibid., pp. 133.

[14] Ibid., pp. 158-159

[15] Ibid., pp. 160

[16] 1 Cor 15:52 (KJV)

[17] Wilken, Robert Louis. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003, pp. 133.

[18] Rogers, Homer F., and Mary Patricia. Tuck. The Romance of Orthodoxy. Dallas, TX: Publisher Not Identified, 1991, pp. 2.

[19] Ibid., pp. 2.

[20] Truth and Method. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013, pp.306.

[21] Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)

[22] Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Truth and Method. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013, pp. 317.

[23] MURPHY, JAMES G., and James G. Murphy. 1875. “A CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF PSALMS.” In Critical & Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 1-712. n.p.: 1875. American Theological Library Association (ATLA) Historical Monographs Collection: Series 1, EBSCOhost (accessed April 30, 2016).

[24] Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)

[25] Matt 7:7 (KJV)

[26] 2 Tim 1:7 (KJV)

[27] 1 Pete 5:8 (KJV)

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).

Religious Understanding and Growth Over The Season

It is my prayer that the Lord has blessed you with a beautiful enlightenment and peace this Christmas season. I found a deeper enlightenment period during the Advent and Christmas season than ever before. The week of Christmas was extremely hard.  I found that the only thing that got me through it was the Lord.  I was limited to my chaotic bedroom with no engagement from another human being except the occasional two-minute visit from my husband.  On Christmas, I received no text messages, no visitors, and no presents.  I stayed in bed and stared at the bedroom ceiling wondering how the dust collects and maintains itself with the force of the air moving from the fan.  I finally was able to leave my room on Christmas evening once my husband’s children went to bed.  I was able to make our traditional chip beef on biscuits.

I made homemade biscuits, which was a joy.  It was a joy to be able to talk to my husband.  What allowed me to make it through that time was the midnight Christmas Eve mass at church.  It was an honor to be part of the changing of the Alter during the mass to signify the change of the season from Advent to Christmas.  A reverence and peace comes when you enter into the chancel.  As I entered in to change the alter linens it became very quiet.  A peaceful silence.  It seemed while changing the linens there was a peaceful rhythmic movement as we changed the linens from purple to white.  I felt as if I had been in the silence for almost 20 minutes when we were finally completed.  In actuality, though we had only been in the chancel about five minutes and the organ was going at full volume.  It was a blessing to be able to have participated in that activity.

I have made the leap on prayer and faith to go and obtain my third master’s degree. Like all positives and blessings roadblocks remain.  I found out today at I owe 1874 dollars to my old university for leaving the class.  Normally I would be ok with this but right now with little money coming in this is one bill that I cannot afford.  I admit choosing which bills I am going to pay each month is difficult.  Because inevitably I end of being late on some and not on others that leads to late charges and never-ending phone calls for payments.  I continue to pray that the Lord will provide me with the means to get a job that will help me pay my bills better than what my current situation is or provide me with a viable solution.  I am trying to see this as a way of me developing a relevant relationship of understanding between others and myself as I work towards sharing the Word of God. I pray for the Lord to provide me with a means to repay my debtors for when I have more I shall give more unto the Lord.  Luke 7:40-43 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

As the year ends, I have been blessed to find the Lord again and hear Him.  Like most millennials I was for a good part of my teenage and twenties stuck in a religious strife being headstrong in my desires of wanting to understand and know more but wanting to fit in with modern society so I could become my own.  The love I found for ritual and fellowship I thought I had found in the masonic orders.  However, after returning to the Church I found a true happiness and peace that can only be found in Church.  I have discovered on my own the demonic nature of the masonic orders.  The oaths on holy books, the proselytizing that they are not a religion but not holding up the men and women in their organization to attend religious services.  Men and women whether knowing or not give up their religious fellowship with one another in Christ when they meet and perform their rituals.  While the members donate millions to non-profits and help their community the underpinning of the organization lacks Christ.

Organizations like Hamas do charitable work to their brothers and sisters but the underlining of them is a terrorist organization.  Masonry is no different.  Many individuals I meet in these organizations I had known over 13 years of my life and once I broke away from them I was, informed vial rumors were spread about me to defame my name and character.  Grown adults older than me by a generation or two were spreading gossip, rumors, and lies about someone half their age. Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.  I fail to see how this is Christian or on their terms of good moral character.  I believe that the masonic lodges are the playground for Satan’s demons.  That once you turn away and go into the Light of Christ that they become angry and hostile.  I realize that when I speak of this many of my masonic acquaintances will be upset and tell me how I am misinformed.  However, after 13 years in multiple organizations and spending almost 6 days a week in various meetings performing various rituals and spreading the word of how masonry was not evil. I can tell you from my own personal experience the truth about how Satan resides in the lodge room. If you have doubts about your masonic activities and question if its morals are what the Supreme architect really intended I encourage you to email me.  I can share with you my experiences, pray with you, and assist you in seeing the God’s true path.

To provide you one insight I had as I was leaving the lodge I found this.

1 Kings 7:14 He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. – Also known in the masonic world as Hiram Abif. Masonic religious context is wrong.  He was not an architect but a brass worker.  He sent his architects to work on King Solomon’s temple.  He was not killed for not releasing a great secret but instead buried in a sarcophagus in Qabr Hiram.

Joshua 24:14 – Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.

May the Lord bless you today and for the year ahead, I pray you find peace and happiness in the Lord’s path for you today.