Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Parable of the Idolatrous Church

Just about all of us in the organized church read or at least hear Old Testament passages in which the Lord makes it quite clear he does not like and will not bless and will judge idolatry.  Heck, last I heard, that was part of the Ten Commandments no less.

So why do so many churches think that now in more modern times God will somehow bless idolatry in the churches even though he judged idolatry in Israel?  Maybe they think God has loosened up or become more enlightened.  Apparently, some in the organized church think God is fine with Molech worship now as people in dog collars advocate for abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy.  And, of course, there are any number of other ways the organized church puts modern secularist political values above God’s standards as proclaimed in scripture.  The word of secularist man is put above the Word of God.

Do such libchurchers expect God to put up with that or even bless it?  Do such have no fear of God?

But it is not just libchurchers who bring idolatry into the organized church.  Sometimes well-meaning churches make idols out of good things.  Back in 2005, I noted an example - Family First Church. Its very name is idolatrous.  Yes, family is good, a vital part of God’s design.  But only God should be put first in the church.

This is Family First Church on this past New Years Eve.



 And today that remaining shell of a building is down.  The church building had such plumbing and electrical issues that the city condemned it.

Now I do not presume to know how much of this, if any, was God’s judgment and how much just a terrible mishap.  Bad things do happen to good churches. But the Lord has made it very clear that he will judge idolatry.  So why do any churches put anything first other than God?  Bigger picture, why does the church in the West persist in various idolatries even when the deadly results are already evident in declining membership and closed churches?  A higher power than the City condemns idolatry, and “judgment must begin at the house of God.” (I Peter 4:17 KJ)

Now God is merciful.  The congregation of Family First has joined another congregation, and the change seems to be blessing the blended church.  But any church is wrongly presuming on God’s mercy when it brings idolatry in.  And, yes, much of the decline of the church in the West is due to presumptuous idolatry.


Does the organized church literally have to crumble to the ground for us to get that?

Friday, January 12, 2018

DACA and Illegal Immigration – Democrats are Using Labour’s Playbook

With DACA, the so-called Dreamers, and illegal immigration again a matter of dispute between President Trump and the Democrats and Establishment Republicans in Congress, I wish to point out the big picture.

To go deeply into the history of said big picture would take a book, a big roach-killing book, not a blog.  But my humble, very condensed effort anyway….

Tony Blair’s Labour was not happy with the cultural make up of the British electorate.  So Labour imported an electorate more to their liking through massive immigration.  The U. K. is suffering the fruit of that, including frequent Islamic terror attacks.

Democrats are trying to do the same thing to America.  They’ve already done it to California and to a lesser extent Colorado among other states.  They are trying to do it to all of us.  One of them just let their intent slip out.  They want to overwhelm American voters retaining traditional American Constitutional values by importing Democrats.  To a large extent, they have already succeeded, thanks in part to establishment Republican enablers.  Massive crime from illegals is only part of the fruit of that.  The overwhelming of social services in many communities is another.  Oh yes.  I didn’t mention Democrats make a point to buy illegals’ future votes with welfare and other social services us citizens pay for.


The future of America depends on stopping the Democrats and their RINO enablers before it’s too late.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bad Art in Cathedrals

Dr. James Cameron has posted a fun yet appalling post on bad art in English cathedrals.  (The art appalls, not Dr. Cameron’s missive.)

Having visited Ely’s Lady Chapel at least twice, I agree that the shrieking Mary statue there is a bad joke.  But I disagree that it is the worst piece of cathedral art in England.

I have not visited Liverpool Cathedral, but the statue supposedly of the Risen Christ on the west front exceeds even Shrieking Mary in modern absurdity.  The thing reminds me much more of the big bad alien in Prometheus than of the risen Christ.


But see for yourself . . . if you dare.

Friday, January 05, 2018

When Did the Magi visit Jesus?

Until recent years, I took it for granted that, as we see in manger scenes, there was a traffic jam at the manger with animals, angels, shepherds, that annoying drummer boy . . . and the Magi, the “Three Kings” if you will, complete with camels, of course.

But then I noticed that Herod targeted two year olds in his slaughter of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem. And the Magi visited Jesus in a house, not at the manger.  So I joined those who deduce that Jesus was closer to two when the Magi visited him.

But, just after Christmas last week, in reading an Anglo-Saxon homily for Holy Innocents Day, I noticed an interesting alternative chronology from Aelfric.  He has the three Magi announcing Christ’s birth to Herod twelve days after his birth - how much this is history influencing the church calendar or the calendar influencing Aelfric’s history, I will let the reader decide. The three then visit Jesus no more than a few weeks after his birth.

Then Herod is called to Rome to clear himself of accusations before the Emperor, successfully it turned out.  When he returns, having found out the Magi withheld information after the birth of Christ from him, he then gives the infamous order to kill all the male babies of Bethlehem, two and younger.  Thus Aelfric attributes the two year delay in the order to commit mass infanticide to Herod’s trip to Rome, not to any lateness in the Three Kings’ visit.  Again, he has the Magi visit Jesus mere weeks after his birth.

I do not have any opinion on this question of which chronology is correct.  I think it plausible that the Magi first saw the star when Christ was born, and then discerning what it meant and then preparing and making the trip  resulted in a delay of many months.  Further, it may have been months after their visitation until Herod figured out he was tricked.  But Aelfric’s chronology sounds plausible as well.  But I confess this is not a question I have studied closely.


In any case, I present this puzzle of history to you on this Eve of the Epiphany.  If any have insight on this matter, feel free to comment.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

An Episode from the Smearing of George Bell

Others have followed the slanderous injustice done to the late Bishop George Bell by the Church of England.  So I will defer to them.  The ashes of Archbishop Cranmer is one who has done yeoman’s work on this matter.  Another I must praise is (You might want to sit down now.) the Dean of Christ Church Martyn Percy.  Some readers might remember I am not exactly a fan of him.  But I must give credit where credit is due, and his article in Christian Today is revealing and courageous.

This slice of life from the Dean is particularly revealing:

On the October 21, 2015, I had been rung by the then Secretary-General of the Archbishops' Council and of the General Synod of the Church of England, Sir William Fittall. It was Fittall who told me, over the phone, that a 'thorough investigation' had implicated Bishop George Bell in an historic sex-abuse case, and that the Church had 'paid compensation to the victim'. Fittall added that he was tipping me off, as he knew we had an altar in the Cathedral dedicated to Bell, and that Bell was a distinguished former member of Christ Church.

Fittall asked what we would do, in the light of the forthcoming media announcements. I explained that Christ Church is an academic institution, and we tend to make decisions based on evidence, having first weighed and considered its quality. Fittall replied that the evidence was 'compelling and convincing', and that the investigation into George Bell has been 'lengthy, professional and robust'. I asked for details, as I said I could not possibly make a judgement without sight of such evidence. I was told that such evidence could not be released. So, Christ Church kept faith with Bell, and the altar, named after him, remains in exactly the same spot it has occupied for over fifteen years, when it was first carved.

And good on Christ Church Oxford for that.  But shame on the Church of England.  From this episode we see the sorry smear they were engaged in: telling people they had “compelling and convincing” evidence against Bell, but without revealing it, and now we know that evidence was very far from convincing.

Yet, on the basis that flimsy, puffed-up evidence, George Bell’s good name was trashed and removed from a number of monuments and institutions.  One may suspect there were motivations behind this, such as posterior covering, that had little to do with evidence.


People are pushed to resign over truly “compelling and convincing” allegations of sexual abuse and rightly so.  People who smear good men, even good dead men, on the basis of flimsy evidence and uncorroborated allegations should resign as well. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New Bishop of London: “Safeguarding is at the heart of the Gospel.”

No, it’s not. 

In fact, the most cursory knowledge of history and of current events informs that believing and preaching the Gospel is a good way to get killed or at least blackballed.  Anyone who preaches the Gospel and insists on the orthodox preaching of the Gospel by clergy has a snowball's chance of becoming a bishop in today’s Church of England, token flying bishops excepted . . . for now.

To be fair, Sarah Mullally was referring to churches safeguarding the young and vulnerable from abuse.  Certainly, churches have important roles to play in that regard.  But is safeguarding “at the heart of the Gospel”?


No.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Rapid and Open Development of Christology – Ignatius

A myth pushed by popular and once prestigious media is that orthodox church teaching on Christ is practically an invention of Constantine and some shadowy Magisterium.  Such revision of history transforms the Council of Nicaea into an incense-filled room more intent on suppressing the truth or inventing truth than in guarding it and propagating it.

Yet the truth of the matter is that church teaching on Christology developed rapidly long before Nicaea and the rest of the ecumenical councils.  Really this development began with the risen Christ teaching the Apostles about himself from the scriptures before the Ascension.  And the Christological teaching of the Apostles and their successors wasn’t done in the shadows but in the churches and even at times in the streets.  That is clear not only from the New Testament but also from writings of the Apostolic and later Fathers.  In letters and sermons read and preached to congregations, we can see that catholic Christology developed rapidly and openly.

Thus began the Patristics paper I was working on when I was not blogging here.  (Sorry I almost disappeared for a while, but priorities….)  With Christmas nearing, we will be sure to see more rubbish that God becoming man – that baby in the manger being God Incarnate – was not a marvelous loving act of God but an invention of the later church.  So now is a good time to note that the church got it right very early: that baby was both God and man, the Christ.

Perhaps the best source on that in the generation after the apostles and the writing of what became the New Testament is St. Ignatius.  As he was being led on his long trip to the lions and martyrdom early in the 2nd Century, he wrote a number of letters to churches, of which we have six.  Impending death can aid candor, and that seemed to be the case with Ignatius.  Among the subjects about which he was very frank was the deity and manhood of Christ.  Note that the six letters addressed whole congregations, not just church leaders.

From my paper:
John’s Gospel was the most clear and developed of the four in proclaiming the deity of Christ.  His pupil Ignatius is even more straightforward.  To the Ephesians, he repeatedly calls Jesus “our God” and even writes that it is “God’s blood” that saves them and stirs them to sanctification.  He also calls Jesus “our God” when writing the church at Rome, and in begging the Romans not to intervene to prevent his martyrdom he asks, “Let me imitate the Passion of my God.”  To the Smyrnaeans, he praises “Jesus Christ, the God who has granted you such wisdom” and later calls him “the Christ God.”

         At the same time, he assertively teaches the other side of the Incarnation – the humanity of Christ.  He did not give room to those who diminish either the deity or humanity of Christ and was especially eloquent in teaching both sides of the Incarnation to the Ephesian church:

There is only one physician – of flesh yet spiritual, born yet unbegotten, God incarnate, genuine life in the midst of death, sprung from Mary as well as God, first subject to suffering then beyond it – Jesus Christ our Lord. [7]

The heresy of Docetism, that taught that Jesus only seemed to be a man, goaded Ignatius to be every bit as adamant about the manhood of Christ as he was about the deity of Christ. To the Trallians, he wrote that Jesus “was really born, ate, and drank; was really persecuted under Pontius Pilate; was really crucified and died, . . . was really raised from the dead . . . apart from whom we have no genuine life.”

Thus just a decade or two after the death of the last Apostle, St. John, Ignatius got it that Jesus Christ was completely God from eternity and completely man from his conception and birth.

And that is the theme of Christmas, is it not?  That babe in the manger was Very God of Very God and “the Word made flesh” for us and for our salvation.  If one was blessed enough to attend a Christ-mass celebrated by a church father, one likely to hear this, the Incarnation, preached.

----


It just so happens that Augustine’s preaching of the Incarnation on Christmas Day will be the subject of a talk I will give on St. John’s Day, December 27th in Texas.  Get ahold of me if you want more details.