I have the immense honor of writing for The Ambrose Institute, a spiritual formation and congregational development program through Nashotah House Theological Seminary. This is my latest article written for Formatio, the online journal of Ambrose. Just click the links and see the amazing work they do to form and encourage the Body of Christ!
In post-modern culture we guard the written word and even the ideas behind the ideas with patents, trademarks, and copyrights. We protect and lay claim to our creation like a dog marks its territory. However, there are some scholars who find it necessary to analyze the verbiage, syntax, and style — to distinguish the “authentic” writing of Paul from those of a scribe or follower. There are scholars who say that only about seven of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul truly had his direct hand upon them. Of those are the Pastoral Epistles — 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus — are truly doubted as to have been written by Paul and significant doubt exits as to the direct authorship from Paul of Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians. The main argument for doubt is the variations in style of Greek vocabulary — as Paul mainly wrote in Koine Greek and referenced the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew canon.
For Paul and other writers of his age, Continue reading
It seems to me that we mortal men desire to see relevance and to understand meaning in every event. We need to understand the “why” and “how” of things, and by doing so we validate that thing’s presence, its breaking through into our little worlds with its disruptions or smoothing over. We need the link of “if…then…” made clear and resolute. In doing so, we feel we understand and might be justified in the conclusions we draw.
If we seek Jesus in every detail of the Old Testament, we will find Him. However, are we correct in doing so? If we look to the value of historical and cultural framework of the Old Testament as a literary text, Continue reading
Aquinas speaks to the relation between nature and grace concerning the sacraments. However, we should first understand the value of grace according to Aquinas and his predecessors.
In Question 2, Article 10, he references Augustine: “By the same grace every man is made a Christian, from the beginning of his faith, as this man from His beginning was made Christ.” Aquinas follows by underscoring the unity of nature and grace, “But this man became Christ by union with the Divine Nature. Therefore this union was by grace.” He continues in Question 7, Article 11 by stating that grace is taken in two ways: the will of God graciously given and as the free gift of God. Finally, he speaks to the unending effect of grace because of its unity with the Divine Nature.
Aquinas later addresses sacrament and grace in Question 38, Article 6. He again references Augustine in reminding us that “our sacraments are signs of present grace,” and he contrasts our present grace with the Old Law which were signs of a future grace.
Understanding the nature of grace and what a sacrament is a signifier of, Continue reading
I do not believe that, as a general rule, we live into the phrase “‘the kingdom of God, as Jesus proclaimed. I do not believe we understand the gravity and power of its implication; because of the limitations inherent in our humanity, I believe we limit God.
Let me step back and lay some groundwork for my assertion. What does it mean to say “the kingdom of God”? What is it? When is it? And where?
R.T. France in A Theology of the New Testament notes that within our definition and awareness of a “kingdom,” we perceive it as a geographical region. I would also say that our definition would encompass a sense of authority as in a ruler/servant or leader/disciple relationship. France continues by including the Jewish heritage of the idea bringing it to “an eschatalogical dimension.” France references Norman Perrin in that the kingdom of God is a symbol, and it seems that notion does have some merit in that the phrase itself represents a concept and reality so much more vast than we can fathom. (I am thinking of Julian of Norwich in that her Revelations of Divine Love speaks of the hazelnut…all that is resides within the smallness of such a thing.) France continues to state that “in the teaching of Jesus the kingdom of God is both present and future.” He ends by saying that it “is the subject of an active verb — it is in itself a dynamic agent.” Continue reading
Think back to that year before you were officially a “teenager.” What were you doing when you were 12 years old? I think to when I was 12 and remember I was completing my last year of braces, worried about pre-pubescent acne, and getting irritated on a daily basis at how nosey my parents were. I was discovering rock music on the radio and learning to play the flute in band. I was focused on my friends and the fact that I couldn’t tame my curly hair into submission. My life orbited around my needs, my plans, my desires.
We honor and celebrate Agnes, our martyr in Rome in the year 304. This lovely young woman lived in an era of great Christian persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Under this Emperor as well as others who shared his opinions, Christians were stripped of all rights as citizens, beaten, burned, tortured, and killed for their faith. Continue reading