Saturday, February 29, 2020

Saturday Synaxis

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- William Reed Huntingdon

Friday, February 28, 2020

Hymn of the Week: Everlasting Peace

This week's hymn is a simple celebration of the blessings of salvation. I wrote it to the tune of the old hymn "Only Trust Him." 

Everlasting Peace

Our God, through Jesus, demonstrates a love that's without end;
That while we were his enemies, he called us as his friends!

     (Chorus):
     Praise the Savior! by his mercy he has set us free;
     All through Jesus, we inherit everlasting peace!

As sinners we were left without a hope beyond the grave,
Imprisoned, we had need of him whose grace alone can save.

     (Chorus)

Through Jesus we, who knew no peace, receive the peace of God,
Bestowed by merit of the great atonement Christ has wrought.

     (Chorus)

Now life and peace and endless joy are poured out from on high,
And we who love our Lord below will meet him in the sky!

     (Chorus)


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Heroes of the Faith: Athanasius





Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!”  - Acts 20:28-31a

“As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments, and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love.”  - 2 Corinthians 6:4-6

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  - John 1:1

Athanasius: Basic Facts

- Athanasius (296-373 AD) served as the Bishop of Alexandria for 45 years, 17 of which were spent in five separate exiles.

- He was known as “Athanasius contra mundi” (“Athanasius against the world”) for his courage in standing up against the popular heresy of Arianism. (Arianism was the name for a system of belief which held that Jesus was simply a created being, not equal in Godhood with the Father—similar to what today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses believe.)

- He was one of the leading voices at the greatest of all church councils, the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), which affirmed biblical doctrine about Jesus.

- He is regarded as one of the greatest leaders and theologians the Christian church has ever known.

- He was a key figure in popularizing monastic spirituality (as the author of The Life of Antony) and in the development of incarnation theology (the doctrine of Christ).

- Athanasian theology provides us with a full-orbed vision of what Jesus did for us—not just saving us from sin and getting us into heaven, but re-creating humanity. Because of Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection, we are now…
          - free from sin, death, and Satan
          - fully restored as human beings
          - spiritually resurrected and awaiting the resurrection of the body
          - able to share in the very life of God and be a participant in his nature

Quotes from Athanasius

“Jesus, whom I know as my Redeemer, cannot be less than God.”

“There were thus two things which the Savior did for us by becoming Man. He banished death from us and made us anew; and, invisible and imperceptible as in Himself He is, He became visible through His works.”

“The supreme object of His coming was to bring about the resurrection of the body.”

“For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word’s indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all…He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been foiled and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be….Thus by His own power He restored the whole nature of man.”

“It is He Himself who brought death to naught and daily raises monuments to His victory in His own disciples.”

“Again, who has ever so rid men of their natural passions that fornicators become chaste and murderers no longer wield the sword and those who formerly were craven cowards boldly play the man? In a word, what persuaded the barbarians and heathen folk in every place to drop their madness and give heed to peace, save the faith of Christ and the sign of the cross?....For in truth the disciples of Christ, instead of fighting each other, stand arrayed against demons by their habits and virtuous actions, and chase them away and mock at their captain the devil. Even in youth they are chaste, they endure in times of testing and persevere in toils. When they are insulted, they are patient, when robbed they make light of it, and, marvelous to relate, they make light even of death itself, and become martyrs of Christ.”

“He, indeed, assumed humanity that we might become [sharers in] God.” (see 2 Pet. 1:4—we can “participate in the divine nature”)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Evangeliad (14:9-14)


Section 14:9-14 (corresponding to Luke 7:31-35; Matt. 11:16-19)

Oh, this generation--what are they like?
Like children at market, shouting outright,
Calling their friends: 'We sang and you danced not;
Loudly we cried, but to weep you forgot.'

John, he came fasting from bread and from wine,
And you said, 'He has demons there in his mind.'
But the Son of Man comes; he eats and he drinks;
And what in your judgment do you start to think?--

'Behold this glutton, this drinker of wine,
Surrounded by sinners all of the time!'
Yet justified still wisdom will be,
Proved right by her children and by her deeds."

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Photo of the Week

Firm as the earth Thy gospel stands,
My Lord, my hope, my trust;
If I am found in Jesus' hands,
My soul can ne'er be lost.

- a hymn of Isaac Watts

Monday, February 24, 2020

Quote of the Week

(Painting: "The Landing of William Penn," by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris)

"Love is the hardest lesson in Christianity. For that reason, it should be the one we work the hardest to learn. Difficult things are beautiful."

- William Penn, Quaker and early colonial leader, from his book Some Fruits of Solitude

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Saturday Synaxis



Deliver me, O God, from a slothful mind, from all lukewarmness, and from all dejection of spirit. I know these cannot but deaden my love to Thee; mercifully free my heart from them, and give me a lively, zealous, active, and cheerful spirit; that I may vigorously perform whatever Thou commandest, thankfully suffer whatever Thou wouldst choose for me, and be ever ardent to obey, in all things, Thy holy love. 
Amen.


- John Wesley

Friday, February 21, 2020

Hymn of the Week: We All Are Dust (Ash Wednesday)

My own church's tradition doesn't usually observe the season of Lent, but I've always loved the liturgy of the church calendar nonetheless. Since the season of Lent begins next week on Ash Wednesday (on which day observant Christians receive a smudge of ashes, often in the form of a cross, on their foreheads), I wrote a hymn inspired by the Ash Wednesday liturgy in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. It's set to the tune "Martyrdom," often used as a setting for the classic hymn "Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed."

We All Are Dust

Almighty God, you made us from
The dust on which we tread;
And now in dust and ashes we
All bow both heart and head.

We all are dust, and to that dust
We all shall soon return.
Here we confess our brokenness,
And for your grace we yearn.

May these dark ashes that we bear
Be unto us a sign
Of penitence, mortality,
Of where your peace we find.

For in the cross, and only there,
Have all our hopes been placed;
And in your gracious gift of love
Eternal life awaits.

Almighty God, we ask you now:
Grant us repentance true,
That you be glorified and pleased
In everything we do.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Heroes of the Faith: Nikolaus of Myra (St Nicholas)






God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work….You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and…your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  – 2 Corinthians 9:7b-8, 11

When [the Magi] saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.  – Matthew 2:10-11


Nikolaus of Myra: Basic Facts

- Nikolaus of Myra (270-343) was a bishop of the early church in Asia Minor during one of its most pivotal eras. He led his church through the severe persecutions under Emperor Diocletian, and he was also active in combating the Arian heresy. He is most well-known, however, for his radical generosity and his work of protecting and providing for children.

- Nikolaus, like many of the heroes of the early church, is surrounded by almost-mythical stories of miracles and wonders. (This sort of tradition is known as “hagiography”). We do know a few of the historical truths behind the stories, but it is the stories themselves that have secured his place in history. Though he was not as prominent as the most notable figures of his own day (like Antony or Athanasius), he is perhaps the most well-known of them all today, through his modern incarnation as “Santa Claus.” He is also remembered as a treasured saint in most of the liturgical Christian denominations.


The Life of Nikolaus

- Nikolaus was born into a faithful Christian family, but his parents died when he was still young. He grew up under the protection of an uncle, and early on he showed signs of extreme devotion—fasting twice a week, spending long hours in prayer, and practicing radical generosity. 

- One of the most famous stories comes from when Nikolaus was a teenager. A poor man living in Myra could not afford to support his three daughters nor provide them with dowries, though they were now of marriageable age. His last resort would have been to put one of them at work in prostitution in order to provide for the other two. Nikolaus heard about this and anonymously tossed a bag of gold into the man’s window. He did this three times, one for each daughter, so that all three were provided for. (Like most ancient anecdotes, there are a few variants to the story, depending on who’s telling it. One variant has Nikolaus depositing the money in a stocking left hanging in the window; another has him dropping the final bag of gold down the house’s chimney.)

- As a young man, he decided to give up his family’s inheritance and live in a nearby monastery. But it wasn’t long before God made it clear that his calling was to be a priest, not a monk. A few years later, when he was around 30, the bishop of Myra passed away, and the other bishops in the area were trying to decide who to put into the vacant position. The Lord spoke and told them to consecrate as bishop the first priest who walked through the cathedral doors the next morning; it happened to be Nikolaus.

- Soon after he became bishop, the church was plunged into the greatest persecution it had yet faced—the Great Persecution under Emperor Diocletian. Nikolaus was thrown in prison and tortured, like many other clergy. In fact, there were so many monks and priests in jail that there was no room for the criminals to be put there.

- After Emperor Constantine (a Christian) gained the throne, he called the Council of Nicea in 325 to help the church settle the question of Arian theology (which was proposing that God the Son was not equal with God the Father, but was a created being). Nikolaus attended the Council, but he lost his temper when Arius himself got up to speak, and Nikolaus punched him in the face. (Though most of the other bishops probably approved of this, Nikolaus was nonetheless given a reprimand.)

- A number of other miracle-stories are attributed to Nikolaus (saving sailors by calming a storm at sea, raising three murdered boys from the dead, multiplying a shipment of grain to feed his famine-starved city, etc.), but it’s hard to judge how historical they might be. All we know for sure is that he was highly-regarded by his fellow clergy and his own parishioners for his kindness, generosity, and care for the poor. During an age when the Roman imperial court was starting to provide massive benefices to churches, Nikolaus, instead of building a bishop’s palace for himself, gave most of it away through anonymous gifts to the poor and needy.



The Celebration of Christmas throughout Church History:

- The first written evidence we have of Christmas being celebrated comes from the 4th century, but it’s clear that the event itself had been in practice for quite some time by then. As far as we know, it was always celebrated on Dec. 25 or Jan. 6. John Chrysostom, the famous church father, addressed concerns that the date had simply been borrowed from a pagan festival (honoring either Saturn or Sol Invictus), by showing that the biblical chronology of Elizabeth’s and Mary’s pregnancies actually do leave us with a date for Jesus’ birth around the end of December. Although some of the trappings of the holiday (like evergreen trimming and Yule logs) have pre-Christian origins, the celebration itself was always clearly a Christian holiday: “Christ’s Mass.” 

- During the Middle Ages, more attention was often given to Epiphany (Jan. 6) than to Christmas itself. But some of our traditions do go back to this period—caroling and gift-giving in particular. In the 13th century, the great saint Francis of Assisi brought some prominence back to Christmas itself by popularizing the “nativity scene” as a Christmas custom. 

- From the late Middle Ages to the 18th century, Christmas in western Europe became a bit of a rowdy carnival, full of drinking, carousing, and lewd behavior. For this reason, many of our Protestant forebears did not celebrate the Christmas holiday.

- In the 1800s a “Christmas Reformation” occurred, driven largely by Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol, which actually turned it from a public festival to a family holiday. It was also in this period that Christmas trees were popularized by Queen Victoria and her family.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Evangeliad (14:2-8)


Section 14:2-8 (corresponding to Luke 7:29-30; 16:16; Matt. 11:12-15)

Many who heard this praised God and rejoiced,
For they had been baptized at hearing John's voice.
But Pharisees, and all who grumbled at John,
Also stood there, and so Jesus went on:

"From the days of John's baptizing till now,
As the kingdom of God is preached in these towns,
That kingdom suffers a violent course,
And violent ones will take it by force.

The Law and Prophets held sway until John,
Right up to the kingdom's proclamation;
Now many press hard to enter on in,
Hearing this call and repenting of sin.

If you can receive this, believe what I say:
John is Elijah, preparing the way,
As it was foretold in the bygone years;
So he who ears to hear, let him hear.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Photo of the Week

The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

- Romans 8:19, 21

Monday, February 17, 2020

Quote of the Week

(On pastoral ministry):

"What is the distinct service of the pastor-theologian? We reply: for confessing, comprehending, celebrating, communicating, commending and conforming themselves and others to what is in Christ.... In sum: the real work of theology is the work of getting real--conforming people's speech, thoughts, and actions to the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, the source and standard of all truth, goodness, and beauty."

- Kevin Van Hoozer, from The Pastor as Public Theologian

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday Synaxis

(Frescoes, Vank Cathedral, Armenian church in Isfahan, Iran; photo by Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA)

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, that we may with one mind and one mouth glorify Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Accession Prayer for the reign of King George I

Friday, February 14, 2020

Hymn of the Week: I Lift My Heart to God Alone

One of the major sub-genres of Protestant hymnography is the hymn of conversion or repentance. I didn't really have one in my corpus that fit that category, so I wrote one this week. It's to the tune of the old English song "O Waly Waly," often used as an alternate tune for "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."

I Lift My Heart to God Alone

I lift my heart to God alone:
No idol shall receive my praise.
To the true faith I'm coming home,
There to abide all of my days.

Long have I wandered in the night,
Pursuing sin to ease my pain;
But now I'm turning to the light,
And finding peace in Jesus' name.

Lord, I repent! I bow my heart
In sorrow deep for all I've done;
And you your grace to me impart,
All through the merit of your Son.

His righteousness has clothed my soul
In beauty of his holy love;
By Jesus' blood I am made whole,
All praises be to God above!

Now let the voice of his redeemed
Rise up before him evermore;
May every word and every deed
Proclaim the glory of the Lord!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Heroes of the Faith: Antony and the Desert Fathers






Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.  - 1 Cor. 9:24-27

Antony and the Desert Fathers and Mothers

- Antony lived from 251 to 356 AD in Egypt 

- Born into a wealthy family, he renounced his wealth and went alone into the desert to pursue a life of prayer and virtue.

- The verse that changed Antony’s life was Matthew 19:21--"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

- His biography, The Life of Antony, written in the 4th century by Athanasius, became one of the most influential books of all time and helped launch the Christian monastic movement worldwide.

- He is known as "The Father of All Monks," and was described as "a man of joy and of a settled state of soul."

- The Desert Fathers and Mothers include many men and women from the 3rd through the 5th centuries who renounced their former lives, fled into the wilderness, and lived lives of fasting, prayer, spiritual warfare, and the pursuit of holiness.

Quotes and Sayings

Abba Antony: "Let us not think, as we look at the world, that we have renounced anything of much consequence, for the whole earth is very small compared with the kingdom of heaven….Therefore let the desire for possessions take hold of no one, for what gain is it to acquire these things which we cannot take with us? Why not rather get those things which we can take away with us—things like prudence, justice, temperance, courage, understanding, love, kindness to the poor, faith in Christ, freedom from anger, and hospitality? If we possess these virtues, we shall find them preparing a welcome for us there in the land of the meek-hearted." (Life of Antony 1.17)

Abba Poemen: "A man will be always tripped up by that thing which he will not cut off from himself."

When Abba Macarius returned to his cell one day, he found a man stealing his belongings. He reacted calmly and helped the thief load his donkey with the objects from his cell. As the thief departed, Macarius recited the words of Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Abba Agatho: "If an angry man raises the dead, God is still displeased with his anger."

A young man came to Abba Macarius and said, "I want to become a holy man by tomorrow’s end." Macarius smiled and said, "To be a holy man, what you must do is this: Spend the day at the cemetery, cursing the dead. Throw sticks and stones at them, call them names—whatever you can think of. Spend the whole day doing nothing but that." So the young man went and did as Abba Macarius had said. When he returned at the end of the day, Macarius asked him what the dead had said in response to his abuses. "Nothing," the young man replied. "They’re dead." So Macarius sent him back the next day and told him to spend the entire day doing nothing but praising the dead. "Call them righteous men and women, compliment them, say everything wonderful you can imagine." So the young man went out and spent the next day complimenting the dead. When he returned, Macarius asked him again how the dead had responded. "They didn’t say a word," said the young man. "Ah," Macarius replied. "They must be holy indeed. You insulted them, and they did not answer. You praised them, and they thought it of no account. Go and do likewise, my friend, taking no account either of the scorn of men or of their praises. And you too will be a holy man."

Abba Antony: "Don’t be afraid to hear about virtue….The Greeks travel all over the earth and cross the seas in their quest for knowledge. But we have no need to depart from home for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, nor to cross the sea for the sake of virtue….For it is not far from us, nor is it outside of ourselves, but the quest for virtue is within us, and is easy if only we are willing." (Life of Antony 1.20)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Evangeliad (13:44-14:1)


Section 13:44-14:1 (corresponding to Luke 7:24-28; Matt. 11:7-11)

After John's followers turned and were gone,
Christ spoke to the gathered crowds about John:
"What did you go to the desert to see?
A wind-shaken reed? No? What did you see?

A man arrayed in the softest of clothes?
I'll tell you where you would find some of those--
The king's palaces hold such finery,
Herodian courts stuffed with luxury.

You went not to see such things. What then?
A prophet, the lowest and highest of men?
Indeed, and more than a prophet, I say,
For John is the one the Scriptures proclaimed:

'I'm sending my messenger before you appear,
To prepare the way for you to draw near.'
Believe what I say, for truly I speak:
None born of women is greater than he.

Yet now God does something new in my name,
Something of which John could only proclaim;
So the least of all in the kingdom of God
Shall be greater than all the greatness of John."

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Photo of the Week

Do not be in a greater hurry than the Most High.

- 2 Esdras 4:34 (Old Testament Apocrypha)

Monday, February 10, 2020

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Saturday Synaxis

Write upon our hearts, O Lord God, 
The lessons of your holy word, 
And grant that we may all be doers of the same, 
And not forgetful hearers only; 
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

- Alexander Campbell Fraser

Friday, February 07, 2020

Hymn of the Week: Strong and Courageous

This week's composition is based on the biblical scene of Joshua and the children of Israel making ready to enter the Promised Land after forty years of rebellions and wanderings in the desert. In that context, God tells Joshua over and over again to "be strong and courageous" (Josh. 1:6-9). The refrain for this hymn takes that line and combines it with Paul's sentiment in Romans 8:31: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" The verses then apply the sentiment of that scene to the challenge laid down before the individual Christian: assisted by God's grace, to press on into the Promised Land of abundant life by working to conquer sin and by accepting the victory of the holiness God has granted us as our birthright in Christ. I've set it to the tune of the well-known hymn "Showers of Blessing."

Strong and Courageous

I stand on the banks of the Jordan,
Facing the challenge ahead,
All my rebellions behind me,
Ready to press on instead.

     (Refrain):
     Strong and courageous,
     Strong and courageous I'll be;
     For if my God will be with me,
     Who then can stand against me?

God in his grace and his power
Bids me to enter the land,
Trusting that there in my battles
Strength I'll receive from his hand.

     (Refrain)

With my God's help I march onward,
Practicing all he imparts,
Planting the flag of his kingdom
Deep in the fields of my heart.

     (Refrain)

Sin's fortresses will all crumble;
I will be holy indeed;
For God has already conquered
And claimed the vict'ry for me!

     (Refrain)


Thursday, February 06, 2020

Heroes of the Faith: Justin Martyr





In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  - 1 Peter 3:15-16

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  - Jeremiah 29:13

Justin Martyr

- Justin Martyr (c.100-165 AD) was one of the most prominent theologians and defenders of the faith in the early church.

- Justin was born to a Greek family living in Palestine, but did not encounter Christianity while he was growing up. Instead, he became a student of philosophy and followed a personal search for truth by exploring the dominant Greek philosophies of his day: Stoicism, Aristotelianism, Pythagoreanism, and Platonism. Still finding himself unsatisfied, he was converted to Christianity through the personal witness of a random stranger who convinced him that Christianity was the only true philosophy.

- Justin became a wandering philosophy teacher, setting up schools in Ephesus and in Rome. His teaching influenced several major Christian figures, including Tatian and Irenaeus. He wrote a number of books, including two “Apologies” addressed to the Roman Emperor and the Senate, as well as a philosophical dialogue with an Ephesian Jew.

The Problem with Christianity (from the Roman Perspective)

1.) Christians refused to sacrifice to the gods, and they would even deny their existence. Thus they were known as “atheists” and were seen as a public danger, because the gods’ wrath might fall on their cities because of their impiety. Christians also refused to sacrifice to the cult of the Emperor, which made them seem like traitors and a danger to the very structure of Roman society.

2.) Christians celebrated a secret rite with one another in which they claimed to eat the flesh and drink the blood of their founder. Rumors abounded about what was really going on in Communion, and many people suspected the Christians to be cannibals or morally depraved in other ways.

3.) Christianity was a new religion and a new philosophy, only 100 years old in Justin’s day. By contrast, the religions of Greece and Rome had been in place for a millennium at least, and all the major philosophies had been around for four centuries or more. For a culture that venerated antiquity as a mark of truth, Christianity’s newness made it seem suspicious.

Justin Martyr addressed these and other concerns in his two “Apologies” (a Latin word for a “defense” of the faith). He argued (1) that Christians are not atheists, because they honor the one true God; and instead of sacrificing to the Emperor, they offered prayers on his behalf to God Almighty. (2) Justin gives a lengthy explanation of Communion, in which he shows us that 2nd-century Christians did believe that the elements were indeed “transmuted” into the flesh and blood of Christ. But far from being cannibals or morally depraved, Christians are marked by the pursuit of virtue and the common good, going so far as to even pray for their enemies. He also noted that Christian ethics tended to teach the same things, or even better things, than the most revered Greek philosophies did. (3) And he made a case for Christianity’s antiquity, rooting it in the fulfilled promises made to Abraham, Moses, and all the prophets of the Old Testament.

The Theory of the Logos

Justin takes the way that Jesus is described in John 1 as “the Word” (“logos” in Greek) and uses the idea to make a case for the goodness of philosophy. Logos was understood in Greek philosophy to mean the wisdom, the order, the logic of God—the principle of divine Reason that lay behind all things, held all things together, and revealed truth to all people, to whatever extent they were open to it. By making this case, Justin was able to claim for Christianity all the treasured wisdom of the Greek tradition:

“Whatever all men have uttered aright, then, belongs to us Christians.”

“He is the Word of whom every race of men partakes; and those who lived by their reason were Christians, even though they did not know it—such men among the Greeks were Socrates and Heraclitus.”

More Quotes from Justin:

[Relating the story of his conversion:] “Straightaway a flame was kindled in my soul, and a desire came over me to know the prophets, and the men who were friends of Christ. And as I revolved [the old man’s] words in my mind, I decided that this was the only philosophy safe and serviceable. Thus, and for these reasons, I am a philosopher….If then you have any care for yourself and are seriously searching for salvation and believe in God, you may…learn to know the Christ of God and live a life of happiness.”

“We who once enjoyed the pleasures of lust now embrace chastity. We who once resorted to magical arts, now dedicate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God. We who prized above all else the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into the common stock, and share with everyone in need. We who hated and destroyed one another, and, because their manners were strange, would not live with men of a different race, now since Christ has come, live familiarly with them and pray for our enemies. And our endeavor is to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live themselves by the good precepts of Christ, that they too may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of reward from God, the ruler of us all.”

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

The Evangeliad (13:36-43)


Section 13:36-43 (Mark 6:12-13Matt. 11:2-6Luke 7:18-23)

The disciples went out, preaching good news
Among the cities and towns of the Jews;
They cast demons out, anointed to heal,
And then for repentance made their appeal.

Word of these things reached the ears of John's friends,
Those who had watched him go baptizing when
He had been free; but as he sat now in jail,
They came and of Jesus' work told the tale.

Then hearing these things, John sent them back out,
Out to find Jesus and ask him about
The things Messiah would do and would be,
And then to confirm it truly was he.

The disciples of John asked this of Christ
After beholding him heal and work signs:
"Are you the one who is coming, asks John,
Or should we expect still another one?"

So Christ answered them, "Go back and tell John
Of what you have heard, what you've seen been done:
The blind are receiving their sight, the lame walk,
The deaf, they can hear, the mute, they can talk--

The lepers are cleansed, the dead live again,
And the poor have good news preached unto them.
The kingdom the prophets foretold, it is come:
Blessed are those who don't turn from the Son!"

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Photo of the Week

How rich the depths of love divine,
Of bliss a boundless store!
Blest Savior, let me call Thee mine,
I cannot wish for more.

- Verse 4 of the hymn "Come, Holy Spirit, Guide My Song"