Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Photo of the Week

Hail to the brightness of Zion's glad morning! Joy to the lands that in darkness have lain!
Hushed be the accents of sorrow and mourning; Zion in triumph commences her reign.
Lo, in the desert rich flowers are springing, streams ever copious are gliding along;
Loud from the mountain tops echoes are ringing, wastes rise in verdure, and mingle in song.

- from a hymn by Thomas Hastings

Monday, January 30, 2023

Quote of the Week

"The gospel is the proclamation of free love; the revelation of the boundless charity of God. Nothing less than this will suit our world; nothing else is so likely to touch the heart, to go down to the lowest depths of depraved humanity, as the assurance that the sinner has been loved -- loved by God, loved with a righteous love, loved with a free love that makes no bargain as to merit, or fitness, or goodness."

- Horatius Bonar

Friday, January 27, 2023

A Prayer from Mechthild of Magdeburg

O Thou unattainable Height,
O Clearness beyond measure,
O Wisdom without end,
O Mercy without limit,
O Strength beyond resistance,
O Crown beyond all majesty:
The humblest thing you created sings your praise.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Apologetics: Can We Trust the Gospels?

- Why four Gospels instead of just one? With four gospels, you get the awkwardness of parallel passages that don't agree in all of their minute details. For instance, consider the different placements in time of the episode of Jesus' clearing of the temple--at the beginning of Jesus' ministry (as in John), or at the end (as in the others). Contrary to our assumptions, however, this does not reflect an error so much as it reflects the accepted historiographical practices of the time in which the Gospels were written. 

- The Gospels have proven their historical value over and over again, with many cultural and archaeological details verified by studies. This includes John, which previously had been considered the least "historical" of the four, but whose portrayal shows clear historical markers of an eyewitness account, with detailed and accurate depictions of life in first-century Palestine around 30 AD.

- Jesus as a miracle-worker? Skeptics allege that maybe he was just a magician, trickster, or illusionist who befuddled the superstitious masses. This skeptical position reflects both a deep prejudice against previous generations (writing them off as less intelligent), which does not hold up to historical scrutiny, and it misses the fact that the accounts of Jesus' miracles and healings are actually startlingly unique in the history of the ancient world. A better historical argument would acknowledge that ancient people knew a miracle when they saw it, and they saw such things happening in the ministry of Jesus.

- The Gospels claim (and give internal evidence for the claim) that they are based on eyewitness accounts. As records of historical events, they are far, far earlier relative to the events they describe than almost any other historical document from the same period. They were produced in a period in which living eyewitness testimonies were still present, and those perspectives could presumably have offered contrary accounts if the Gospels were wrong (yet no such contrary accounts from the earliest period exist). This is a strong testament to the overall reliability of the Gospels' picture of Jesus.

- If there were only one Gospel instead of four, skeptics could easily make an argument that it was a fabricated account, with no external support. With four Gospels, that kind of argument has no ground to stand on. Furthermore, having four Gospels gives us a portrait of Jesus from multiple angles, one that increases our understanding and adds theological depth to the story.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Evangeliad (27:1-3)

Section 27:1-3 (corresponding to Matthew 18:23-25)

The kingdom of heaven is like a king
Who would settle accounts in everything
With all of his servants, and so he called
Each of them into his audience hall.

One such servant was brought to appear,
With ten thousand talents still in arrears:
A vast sum amounting to much of the wealth
Produced each year by the kingdom itself.

But he could not pay, so the word came down
That he should be sold to profit the crown--
He and his family as slaves in the square,
And all his possessions auctioned off there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Photo of the Week

"Come unto me, ye weary, and I will give you rest."
O blessed voice of Jesus, which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction, of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that hath no ending, of love which cannot cease.

- from a hymn by W. Chatterton Dix

Monday, January 23, 2023

Quote of the Week

"Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it."

- William Law