Thursday, December 31, 2009

St Basil on indifference to doctrine

The following words of Saint Basil the Great apply to all of us, but especially to clergywho are indifferent to matters of Faith, to the struggle for the Faith “once delivered.” One of the reasons I left the Presbyterian Church USA was that it had slid into functional congregationalism, such that I could no longer uphold my ordination vows. National standards for ordination were ignored in many churches so that they could "ordain" non-celibate LGBT folks as deacons & elders. And the conservatives (notice I didn't say evangelicals) were often so afraid of being pegged as mean or meddling that they would ignore problems of lapsed discipline & doctrine unless it showed up vociferously in their own presbytery or congregation. I opted for revived Anglicanism because there is still a healthy sense that the bishop is the defender of the faith and a sure link to the historic faith - and thus has to meddle when people tamper with catholic doctrine or practice. Similarly, all ordained persons are seen as clergy and held accountable to the bishop - so there's no hiding behind "he's just a deacon / elder" (in the mainline "reformed" churches, deacons & elders are often seen as little more than congregational officers). And because our sacramental unity is at stake, there's no problem with an Anglican - laic or cleric - raising concerns to their bishop / archbishop concerning the teaching of a particular individual.

Saint Basil was writing to men who were far less blinded by the god of this world, but who nonetheless exhibited indifference to the fate of churches outside their diocese. May we all take the Saint’s words to heart and lend a helping hand to all of our brethren who are outside of our diocese or local church but in urgent need of our support and encouragement.

“We stand in the arena to fight for our common heritage, for the treasure of the sound faith, derived from our Fathers. Grieve with us, all you who love the brethren, at the shutting of the mouths of our men of true faith, and at the opening of the bold and blasphemous lips of all who utter unrighteousness against God. The pillars and foundation of the truth are scattered abroad. We, whose insignificance has allowed of our being overlooked, are deprived of our right and free speech. Enter into the struggle for the people’s sake. Do not think only of your being yourselves moored in a safe haven, where the grace of God gives you shelter from the tempest of the winds of wickedness. Reach out a helping hand to the churches that are being buffeted by the storm, lest if they are abandoned, they suffer complete shipwreck of the faith. Lament for us, in that the Only-Begotten is being blasphemed, and there is none to offer contradiction.

--- Letter CCXLIII to the Bishops of Italy and Gaul

Today, there is hardly a church which is not being buffeted by the spirit of secularization. The faithful of the churches everywhere are being abandoned by thieves (John 10:1) to the wolves of this world and are in need of a helping hand, lest they suffer “complete shipwreck.” The Son of God and His Body are being blasphemed, so let us all “offer contradiction.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Santa's got a knife!

From the BBC News.

A Turkish archaeologist has called on his government to demand that Italy return the bones of St Nicholas to their original resting place.

The 3rd Century saint - on whom Santa Claus was modelled - was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey.

But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari.

The Turkish government said it was considering making a request to Rome for the return of the saint's remains.

While Christmas is by and large not celebrated in Muslim Turkey, the Christmas figure of Santa Claus certainly is, in the Mediterranean town of his birth.

He was born in what was then the Greek city of Myra in the third century, and went on to become the local bishop, with a reputation for performing miracles and secretly giving gold to the needy - on one occasion being forced to climb down a chimney to leave his donation.

After his death he was canonised as Saint Nicholas, and venerated in much of the Christian world. But when Myra was occupied by Arab forces in the 11th Century, Italian sailors came and took the saint's bones to the port of Bari, where they remain interred to this day.

Prof Nevzat Cevik, head of archaeological research in Demre, says Saint Nicholas had made it clear during his life that he wanted to be buried in his home town.

Even without the bones, the town of Demre has not been shy about cashing in on its most famous native son - today visitors to the Byzantine church there are greeted by a large, plastic Santa statue, complete with beard and red snow-suit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Byzantine Hymn for Christmas

From the Holy Land, sung in Arabic. Merry Christmas to all!

St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 4:4-7

Brethren, when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir of God through Christ.

By Cassia the nun, from the Great Vespers for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ

When Augustus reigned alone upon earth, the many kingdoms of men came to end: and when Thou wast made man of the pure Virgin, the many gods of idolatry were destroyed. The cities of the world passed under one single rule; and the nations came to believe in one sovereign Godhead. The peoples were enrolled by the decree of Caesar; and we, the faithful, were enrolled in the Name of the Godhead, when Thou, our God, wast made man. Great is Thy mercy: glory to Thee.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Emmanuel - God is With Us!!!

Remember this, O Church, and we shall glorify that name throughout all the earth. And the question is settled for all time in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ: God is with us. The only thing which remains to be seen is if we will be with Him?

Join us tonight (Christmas Eve) at 5:30PM for Evensong & Holy Communion at St. Stephen Anglican Church as we lift high the name of Him who brought Himself so low as to become one of us, and adore Him as He draws near once again in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In Dulci Jubilo

This has to be one of my favorites - the intermingling of the Latin and vernacular texts is so perfectly Anglo Saxon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


"We've got the Anglicans in our sights as well!"

Okay...not really. But that was too good to pass up!

Veni Veni Emmanuel

A beautifully transcendent piece by Enya.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Missed opportunity

Apparently it was more important to seem like you're addressing the problem by getting something (anything) done by Christmas recess than it was to actually put the country on the road to healthcare reform.

Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Senate floor speech, given about 1a EST this morning right before the vote is a sobering must read....

mcconnell logo, healthcare, abortion.png

Tonight marks the culmination of a long national debate. Passions have run high. And, that's appropriate because the bill we are voting on tonight will impact the life of every American. It will shape the future of our country. It will determine whether our children can afford the nation they inherit. It is one of the most consequential votes any of us will ever take. And none of us take it lightly....

But make no mistake: if the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn't be forcing this vote in the dead of night.

Here are just some of the deals we've noticed:

$100 million for an unnamed health care facility at an unnamed university somewhere in the United States - the bill doesn't say where - and no one will even step forward to claim it.

One state out of 50 gets to expand Medicaid at no cost to itself - while taxpayers in the other 49 states pick up the tab.

The same Senator who cut that deal secured another one that benefits a single insurance company - just one insurance company - based in his state.

Do the supporters of this bill know all this? Do they think it's a fair deal for their states, for the rest of the country?

The fact is, a year after this debate started few people could have imagined that this is how it would end - with a couple of cheap deals and a rushed vote at one o'clock in the morning. But that's where we are.

And Americans are wondering tonight: How did this happen?

So I'd like to take a moment to explain to the American people how we got here, to explain what happened - and what's happening now.

Everyone in this chamber agrees we need health care reform. The question is how?

Some of us have taken the view that the American people want us to tackle the cost issue, and we've proposed targeted steps to do it. Our friends on the other side have taken the opposite approach.

And the result has been just what you'd expect.

The final product is a mess - and so is the process that's brought us here to vote on a bill that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.

Any challenge of this size and scope has always been dealt with on a bipartisan basis. The senior Senator from Maine made that point at the outset of the debate, and reminded us all how these things have been handled throughout history.

The Social Security Act of 1935 was approved by all but 6 members of the Senate. The Medicare and Medicaid Acts of 1965 were approved by all but 21. All but 8 senators voted for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Americans believe that on issues of this importance, one party should never be allowed to force its will on the other half of the nation. The proponents of this bill felt differently.

In a departure from history, Democrat leaders put together a bill so heavy with tax hikes, Medicare cuts and government intrusion, that, in the end their biggest problem wasn't convincing Republicans to support it, it was convincing the Democrats.

In the end, the price of passing this bill wasn't achieving the reforms Americans were promised.

It was a blind call to make history, even if it was a historical mistake - which is exactly what this bill will be if it's passed. Because, in the end, this debate isn't about differences between two parties, it's about a $2.3 trillion dollar, 2,733-page health care reform bill that does not reform health care and, in fact, makes its price go up.

"The plan I'm announcing tonight," the President said on September 9th, "will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."

"My plan," the President said, "would bring down premiums by $2500 for the typical family..."

"I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit," the President said, "either now or in the future."

And, on taxes? "No family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase," he said.

He said he wouldn't cut Medicare.

People who like the plans they have wouldn't lose their coverage.

And, Americans were promised an open, honest debate. "That's what I will do in bringing all parties together," then-Senator Obama said on the campaign trail, "not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN."

That was then, and this is now.

But here's the reality: the Democrat bill we're voting on tonight raises health care costs. That's not me talking -- that's the administration's own budget scorekeeper.

It raises premiums -- that's the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office talking. It raises taxes on tens of millions of middle class Americans.

And, it plunders Medicare by half a trillion dollars It forces people off the plans they have -- including millions of seniors.

It allows the federal government for the first time in our history to use taxpayer dollars for abortions.

So a President who was voted into office on the promise of change said he wanted lower premiums. That changed. He said he wouldn't raise taxes. That changed. He said he wanted lower costs. That changed. He said he wouldn't cut Medicare. And, that changed too.

And, twelve months and $2.3 trillion later, lawmakers who made these same promises to their constituents are poised to vote for a bill that won't bend the cost curve, that won't make health care more affordable and that will make real reform even harder to achieve down the road.

Now, I understand the pressure our friends on the other side are feeling, and, I don't doubt for a moment their sincerity.

But, my message tonight is this: the impact of this vote will long outlive this one frantic, snowy weekend in Washington. Mark my words: this legislation will reshape our nation.

And, Americans have already issued their verdict: they don't want it. They don't like this bill -- and they don't like lawmakers playing games with their health care to secure the votes they need to pass it.

Let's think about that for a moment. We know the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill.

And yet, the people who wrote it won't give the 300 million Americans whose lives will be profoundly affected by it so much as 72 hours to study the details.

Imagine that: when we all woke up yesterday morning, we still hadn't seen the details of the bill we're being asked to vote on before we go to sleep tonight.

How can anyone justify this approach? Particularly in the face of such widespread and intense public opposition.

Can all of these Americans be wrong? Don't their concerns count? Party loyalty can be a powerful force. We all know that.

But Americans are asking Democrats to put party loyalty aside tonight -- to put the interests of small business owners, taxpayers, and seniors first.

And there's good news -- it's not too late.

All it takes is one. Just one. One can stop it -- or every one will own it.

My colleagues: it is not too late.

Public Option for kids

This is a youtube video - you'll have to come to the blog or go to the host.
Because some people still don't understand basic economics.

If your healthcare reform doesn't deal with the rising cost of healthcare by opening the path to private competition, then you're just shuffling money around.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Climategate

It looks like the only thing man-made (anthropogenic) about climate change is the hysteria.

Via James Delingpole at the Telegraph:

Climategate just got much, much bigger. And all thanks to the Russians who, with perfect timing, dropped this bombshell just as the world’s leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to discuss ways of carbon-taxing us all back to the dark ages.

Feast your eyes on this news release from Rionovosta, via the Ria Novosti agency, posted on Icecap. (Hat Tip: Richard North)

A discussion of the November 2009 Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident, referred to by some sources as “Climategate,” continues against the backdrop of the abortive UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) discussing alternative agreements to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that aimed to combat global warming.

The incident involved an e-mail server used by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, East England. Unknown persons stole and anonymously disseminated thousands of e-mails and other documents dealing with the global-warming issue made over the course of 13 years.

Controversy arose after various allegations were made including that climate scientists colluded to withhold scientific evidence and manipulated data to make the case for global warming appear stronger than it is.

Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations.

On the whole, climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations.

IEA analysts say climatologists use the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.

The scale of global warming was exaggerated due to temperature distortions for Russia accounting for 12.5% of the world’s land mass. The IEA said it was necessary to recalculate all global-temperature data in order to assess the scale of such exaggeration.

Global-temperature data will have to be modified if similar climate-date procedures have been used from other national data because the calculations used by COP15 analysts, including financial calculations, are based on HadCRUT research.

What the Russians are suggesting here, in other words, is that the entire global temperature record used by the IPCC to inform world government policy is a crock.

As Richard North says: This is serial.

UPDATE: As Steve McIntyre reports at ClimateAudit, it has long been suspected that the CRU had been playing especially fast and loose with Russian – more particularly Siberian – temperature records. Here from March 2004, is an email from Phil Jones to Michael Mann.

Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it
wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either
I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.

And here at Watts Up With That is a guest post by Jeff Id of the Air Vent

And here is what one of the commenters has to say about the way the data has been cherry-picked and skewed for political ends:

The crux of the argument is that the CRU cherry picked data following the same methods that have been done everywhere else. They ignored data covering 40% of Russia and chose data that showed a warming trend over statistically preferable alternatives when available. They ignored completeness of data, preferred urban data, strongly preferred data from stations that relocated, ignored length of data set.

One the final page, there is a chart that shows that CRU’s selective use of 25% of the data created 0.64C more warming than simply using all of the raw data would have done. The complete set of data show 1.4C rise since 1860, the CRU set shows 2.06C rise over the same period.

Not, of course, dear readers that I’m in any way tempted to crow about these latest revelations. After all, so many of my colleagues, junior and senior, have been backing me on this one to the hilt….

Oh, if anyone speaks Russian, here’s the full report.

Anybody remember this oldie but goodie:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Evangelical or evanjellyfish?

“One plague of our age is the widespread dislike to what men are pleased to call dogmatic theology. In the place of it, the idol of the day is a kind of jellyfish Christianity – a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or sinew, – without any distinct teaching about the atonement or the work of the Spirit, or justification, or the way of peace with God – a vague, foggy, misty Christianity, of which the only watchwords seem to be, ‘You must be..liberal and kind. You must condemn no man’s doctrinal views. You must consider everybody is right and nobody is wrong’.”

~ J.C. Ryle

The Upper Room, “One Blood”, 99.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reflections from the Gospel Lections

...and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. (Acts 16:33)

Over the years, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with calling the forerunner of Jesus “John the Baptist.” Sometimes I’ll call him John the Baptizer; other times, John the Forerunner. The reason, of course, is that calling him “John the Baptist” sounds to some ears like “John the Lutheran” or “John the Presbyterian” or “John the Methodist.” That is, they hear a denominational distinctive rather than the man who paved the way for the coming of the Lord who is over the whole church.

This is especially dangerous for those of us who are liturgical, as we will always encounter John in the wilderness of Advent. On more than one occasion I’ve heard ordained clergymen from Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches saying that believers baptism is “more biblical” than infant baptism, and I’ve even seen some Anglican churches “dedicating” rather than baptizing infants.

Plenty of ink has already been spilled over the exegetical arguments for (and against) household baptisms, so I don’t plan to revisit those (brief review here). Instead, I want to draw your attention to a couple of the theological implications of infant baptism (a.k.a. paedobaptism or covenant baptism), implications which are very practical.

First, infant baptism says that salvation is about what God has done, rather than what we have done. For those who insist on adult baptism, the key element seems to be the free will “decision” one has made to follow God. By contrast, infant baptism testifies clearly to God’s sovereign work in salvation and regeneration, and His faithfulness to His promises. It underscores the reality of original sin, and puts on display the fact that God alone is able to bring us into His family. Like an infant being brought forth for the sacrament, we’ve done nothing to merit God’s favor. I can't underscore this enough: infant baptism teaches that salvation is not the result of our works. Grace alone (sola gratia) is truly catholic doctrine!

Second, infant baptism testifies that our children are real, genuine members of God’s kingdom. They are not little pagans that need converting - rather, we can bring them up as Christians, and safely presume that they are saved until (God forbid) they give clear evidence otherwise. Such a doctrine is enormously practical, and can give a great deal of comfort to anxious parents. It’s part of our Communion’s recovery of the historic practice of paedocommunion - and a salutary correlate to our pro-life stance.

I really don’t believe that Anglican leaders have any liberty in this area, as infant baptism is plainly taught in Article 27. Beyond that, I’m convinced that the practice is perfectly scriptural. Read the venerable Browne if you don't believe me.

So baptize those babies!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Playmobil Egyptian Pyramid

My kids are completely enamored of Playmobil (from the youngest to the oldest). Ever since a visit to the traveling Tutankhamen show, Calix (the middle) has been fascinated with Egyptology. Can anybody guess what he's getting for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Have you ever noticed that the Book of Common Prayer provides texts for a number of poems that don't look like hymns, and yet they also aren't psalms? These are called canticles. A canticle is a biblical song other than the psalms. The term also sometimes refers to a well known hymns of the early church. Here are the biblical references for the BCP canticles:
Canticles mandated for Daily Prayer
Canticle of Zechariah or Benedictus (Luke 1.68-79): Morning Prayer
Canticle of Mary or Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55): Evening Prayer
Canticle of Simeon or Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2.29-32): Close of Day

Other Canticles / Biblical Songs
Glory to God or Gloria in Excelsis (Luke 2.14, with additional material)
Canticle of Miriam and Moses (Exod. 15.1-2, 11, 13, 17-18)
God’s Chosen One (Isa. 1.1-4, 6, 9)
The Desert Shall Blossom (Isa. 35.1-2, 5-6, 10)
Canticle of Thanksgiving or First Song of Isaiah (Isa. 12.2-6)
Seek the Lord or Second Song of Isaiah (Isa. 55.6-11)
The New Jerusalem or Third Song of Isaiah (Isa. 60.1-3, 18-19)
The Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 61.1-3, 10-11)
Canticle of Hannah (1 Sam. 2.1-4, 7-8; cf. Magnificat)
Canticle of David (1 Chr. 29.10-13)
The Steadfast Love of the Lord (Lam. 3.22-26)
A Canticle to the Lamb (Rev. 4.11, 5.9-10, 12-13)
Canticle of the Redeemed (Rev. 15.3-4)
A Canticle for Pentecost (John 14.16, 16.13a, 14.26; Acts 2.2, 4a; Rom. 8.26; Joel 2.28)
A Canticle of Love (1 John 4.7, 8; 1 Cor. 13.4-10, 12-13)
Christ, the Head of Creation (Col. 1.15-20)
Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2.5c-11)

Deuterocanonical Songs from Scripture
Canticle of Judith (Judith 16.13-15)
A Canticle of Creation (Song of Three Young Men 35-65, 34)
A Canticle of Penitence (Manasseh 1-2, 4, 6-7a, 11, 13c-15)

Other Ancient Hymns, Not From Scripture
Hymn to Christ the Light or Phos Hilaron: Evening Prayer
We Praise You, O God or Te Deum Laudamus

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Church Unity and the Future of Anglicanism

One of the reasons I was eager to join the Anglican Communion was because I became convinced that it was the way forward - for realizing the unity among catholic and reformed impulses in the church. Dr. Peter Kreeft - a Dutchman who made the journey all the way to Rome from the Reformed camp - lays out the issues beautifully. I wanted to give you the opportunity to read for yourself. (Source: the Layman.)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Boston College’s Dr. Peter Kreeft, a professor of philosophy, kicked off Southern Evangelical Seminary’s 16th annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics with a call and challenge.

Openly acknowledging his perspective from “one side of the confessional,” Kreeft set out an argument for visible Christian unity that would strengthen the witness of the Christian Church in the world.

Kreeft was speaking at the 2009 National Conference on Christian Apologetics at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. Approximately 2,500 attended the two-day conference, “Apologetics and the Local Church,” held Nov. 13-14 and sponsored by Southern Evangelical Seminary.

“The devil is very clever. He attacks the Church from within and from without,” Kreeft reminded the audience of pastors, seminary students and committed Christians. “His tactic is to divide and conquer. If you can get your enemies to fight with each other then you win without much effort.”

To answer that attack, Kreeft proposed an “apologetic for Church reunification” based on Jesus’ appeal for unity in John 17 and the theology of the body of Christ.

“For 1,000 years,” he said, “the Church was one. So, it is possible …. Once upon a time Humpty Dumpty was sitting on the wall, in one piece. So, just because we cannot see how to get him back into one piece does not mean that it is impossible.”

Kreeft then asked the question that was reasonably on the minds of everyone in the room, “How?” “Well,” he answered, “first we have to want to do it.”

“Sometimes you only see the roadmap after you’ve traveled it. Love is like that and faith … the mind sees God only after believing, not before. The motor that drives the mind is always the heart, the will. When the Pharisees asked ‘how can we understand your teachings?,’ Jesus replied that one must do the will of the Father – it’s a matter of the will, then the mind,” Kreeft opined.

Kreeft argued that the original “split” in the Church of Jesus Christ, that between the Eastern and Western varieties of Christianity, was more about politics than theology. “But the 1517 division,” Kreeft acknowledged, “that split was theological. And theology is a non-negotiable thing. Are we saved by faith alone or by faith plus good works? Luther argued the former; the Council of Trent settled on the later.” What resulted was the reality of the Protestant and Catholic division of the body of Christ.

Why? What was so important that the visible unity of the Church would suffer such fracture? Kreeft’s answer was simple, “theology.”

“Theology is about absolutes. Politics is about relativities. So, you can never solve theological problems with politics. It will not work. You cannot compromise on theology. Ever,” Kreeft affirmed.

Then he declared, “You may not have heard this, but the Reformation is over.” Kreeft then presented “The Decree on Justification” approved by the Vatican, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, the Methodists and others as evidence. The decree declares that Christians, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, “really do agree in essence on the issue of justification, without compromise.”

Kreeft continued, “No one 50 years ago thought that was possible. Except one guy, who in the 1950’s wrote Luther and Aquinas on Justification, arguing that they were both arguing from the same source, namely, the Bible. So they are both right without contradiction and without compromise.”

Luther, argued that those who are saved are saved by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone, made his arguments from Romans and Galatians. “So,” Kreeft affirms, “he’s right.”

“The Council of Trent, arguing that those who are saved are saved by faith and good works, made their argument from James and I Corinthians 13. So, they too, are right.”

The real conversation, Kreeft contended, is in the definition of faith. “By faith,” he asks, “do you mean ‘justified’ or do you mean ‘perfected?’”

“Justification is achieved by grace alone, yes; sanctification by grace plus works, yes. We’re saved but we’re not fully sanctified. His work in us and our work in response. The roots are not yet fruits,” he said.

Kreeft then led the audience through a philosophical exploration of the question, “What is faith?” He acknowledged that faith is both essentially an intellectual apprehension (one must believe) and essentially an act by which you accept Jesus Christ into your soul … which inevitably produces good works. This combination, Kreeft contends, “is saving faith.”

Challenging his audience to consider an ecclesiastical apologetic for reunification, Kreeft pleaded, “We need each other. The body needs all its organs. The Church is not an organization. It is an organism. … to tear apart the body of Christ is a blasphemy, an obscenity against the body of Christ.”

Kreeft’s theology of the body seeks to teach Protestants and Catholics alike. “Christ does not have more than one body, one house. The house may have been divided by sin, but the integrity of the unity of the house still stands. And “everyone in the whole house needs the precious things that now exist in different parts of the house.”

Kreeft then outlines the things that Catholics need to learn from Protestants – things they have forgotten, including:
  • Primacy of Jesus: Christ is not one element among many. He is everything. He is the center. He is the foundation.
  • Primacy of faith: You cannot have fruits without roots.
  • Primacy of Scripture: All other authority is based on the authority of Scripture.
  • Importance of evangelism and the diversity of gifts.

He then enumerated things that Protestants need to learn from Catholics:

  • The body of Christ is physical, literal and concrete. It’s not an ideal – that’s Gnosticism and it’s a heresy. God has a physical life, forever. Christ did not get out of His body when He rose again – He rose physically. The second person of the Trinity has a human body, forever.
  • What is saved is the Church, not just individuals. Salvation is simultaneously individual and collective.
  • Absolute importance of works of love. It is part of the Gospel, part of the main course, not dessert.
  • The Scripture is always taught by a teacher – the teacher and the book go together. We do not worship the book, we worship God. The Word comes alive in the hands of a living teacher.
  • Christ is present in the Eucharist. You can debate “how” but you cannot debate “whether.”

In conclusion, Kreeft asserted that “we have to be open to the mysterious and unknown and something we cannot see, yet. Stop being a control freak and let God be God. Who knows what will happen?”

The philosopher showed through arguing, “now, it has to be a ‘more’ not a ‘less.’ Catholics will become more Catholic by greater exposure to and cooperation with Evangelicals. Evangelicals will become more Evangelical by greater exposure to and cooperation with Catholics.”

Kreeft acknowledged that very idea of Church reunification is too big and too much for many people to even consider. “Our problem should always be that which we consider ‘too big,’ lest we settle for things that are ‘too small.’”

Kreeft challenged his listeners, “You have to be a fanatic. Good fanaticism – you cannot love God too much. You cannot love love too much. You cannot love unity too much. You cannot love the lost too much. It cannot be overdone – it is your fidelity to God, alone.”

How, you ask? Kreeft answers, “One foot up and one foot down. Make a step in the direction of God’s desire: unity.”

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of more than 55 books including: Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Christianity for Modern Pagans and Fundamentals of the Faith. For more information about him or his books, visit his Web site.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Global Warming farfromproven

fahrfromprovin fahrfromproven farfromprovin climategate

Anybody remember those old Fahrvergn├╝gen commercials?

They spawned a whole industry of cheap t-shirts of German-sounding neologisms:

Fahrfrompoopin - constipated

Fahrfromthinkin - an idiot

Fahrfrompukin - partying

Fahrfromnewgen - old/used

You get the picture. Anyway, I've been thinking of a new word to describe the fiasco over the fake science & data manipulation that has been at the heart of the global warming scam. Here's what I've come up with: FARFROMPROVEN

It's time to face the facts. Anthropogenic global warming isn't's a religion for people with a deficient apocalyptic.

Advent gives us a chance to look at the coming King who will truly baptize the world with Fire, and find Him while he still presents himself in the vulnerability of the incarnation.

John Stuart Mill on war & cowardice

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
The Contest in America.” Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 24, Issue 143, page 683-684. Harper & Bros., New York, April 1862.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

C. S. Lewis on Progress

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

— C. S. Lewis

Monday, November 30, 2009

Feast of St. Andrew


Psalm 19 or 19:1-6
Deuteronomy 30:11-14
Romans 10:8b-18
Matthew 4:18-22

Preface of Apostles

Collect: Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by your Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Icon of St. AndrewMost references to Andrew in the New Testament simply include him on a list of the Twelve Apostles, or group him with his brother, Simon Peter. But he appears acting as an individual three times in the Gospel of John. When a number of Greeks (perhaps simply Greek-speaking Jews) wish to speak with Jesus, they approach Philip, who tells Andrew, and the two of them tell Jesus (Jn 12:20-22). (It may be relevant here that both "Philip" and "Andrew" are Greek names.) Before Jesus feeds the Five Thousand, it is Andrew who says, "Here is a lad with five barley loaves and two fish." (Jn 6:8f) And the first two disciples whom John reports as attaching themselves to Jesus (Jn 1:35-42) are Andrew and another disciple (whom John does not name, but who is commonly supposed to be John himself -- John never mentions himself by name, a widespread literary convention). Having met Jesus, Andrew then finds his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus. Thus, on each occasion when he is mentioned as an individual, it is because he is instrumental in bringing others to meet the Saviour. In the Episcopal Church, the Fellowship of Saint Andrew is devoted to encouraging personal evangelism, and the bringing of one's friends and colleagues to a knowledge of the Gospel of Christ.

Just as Andrew was the first of the Apostles, so his feast is taken in the West to be the beginning of the Church Year. (Eastern Christians begin their Church Year on 1 September.) The First Sunday of Advent is defined to be the Sunday on or nearest his feast (although it could equivalently be defined as the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day).

Several centuries after the death of Andrew, some of his relics were brought by a missionary named Rule to Scotland, to a place then known as Fife, but now known as St. Andrew's, and best known as the site of a world-famous golf course and club. For this reason, Andrew is the patron of Scotland.

When the Emperor Constantine established the city of Byzantium, or Constantinople, as the new capital of the Roman Empire, replacing Rome, the bishop of Byzantium became very prominent. Five sees (bishoprics) came to be known as patriarchates: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Byzantium. Now, the congregation at Rome claimed the two most famous apostles, Peter and Paul, as founders. Antioch could also claim both Peter and Paul, on the explicit testimony of Scripture, and of course Jerusalem had all the apostles. Alexandria claimed that Mark, who had been Peter's "interpreter" and assistant, and had written down the Gospel of Mark on the basis of what he had heard from Peter, had after Peter's death gone to Alexandria and founded the church there. Byzantium was scorned by the other patriarchates as a new-comer, a church with the political prestige of being located at the capital of the Empire, but with no apostles in its history. Byzantium responded with the claim that its founder and first bishop had been Andrew the brother of Peter. They pointed out that Andrew had been the first of all the apostles to follow Jesus (John 1:40-41), and that he had brought his brother to Jesus. Andrew was thus, in the words of John Chrysostom, "the Peter before Peter." As Russia was Christianized by missionaries from Byzantium, Andrew became the patron not only of Byzantium but also of Russia.

Andrew is the national saint of Scotland (thus appreciated, even by Presbyterians! - Ed.). George (23 Apr) is the national saint of England, Patrick (17 Mar) of Ireland, and Dewi = David (1 Mar) of Wales. George, who was a soldier, is customarily pictured as a knight with a shield that bears a red cross on a white background. This design is therefore the national flag of England. It is said that Andrew was crucified on a Cross Saltire -- an 'X' -shaped cross. His symbol is a Cross Saltire, white on a blue background. This is accordingly the national flag of Scotland. A symbol of Patrick is a red cross saltire on a white background. The crosses of George and Andrew were combined to form the Union Jack, or flag of Great Britain, and later the cross of Patrick was added to form the present Union Jack. Wales does not appear as such (sorry!). Whether there is a design known as the cross of David, I have no idea.

by James Kiefer

Competitive Vulnerability

Novelist Sara Maitland coined the term “competitive vulnerability” to describe those who believe their pain must be bigger than that of others so that they achieve a moral high-ground or greater voice or more grievances to be redressed.

There's a problem here - especially for people that are working to be pastors: If all I'm looking for in your hurt is to see your bet and raise it, I'm looking at it the wrong way. Sadly, this is all too often the tactic taken in church disagreements.

Abraham Maslow once said, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. " Mainline seminaries have sold out to the "oppression / patriarchy / issues" ticket, and are creating ordinands that are incapable of reflecting on ethical, theological, biblical, or political issues outside of that framework. And the people (parishioners & clergy) are poorer for it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

*@&%# Yeah!

Cursing Relieves Pain, Research Shows

Richard Stephens, PhD
Keele University

Special from Bottom Line's Daily Health News
November 19, 2009

"S - - T!!!" Admit it, letting loose with an expletive somehow makes you feel better after you accidentally slice your finger or stub your toe. Now that research has confirmed that cursing does indeed reduce the sensation of pain, perhaps we can sometimes give ourselves permission to yell bad words even louder, without worrying about what anyone will think.

Swear When It Hurts

Richard Stephens, PhD, a lecturer in psychology and the director of the master’s degree program in psychological research methods at Keele University in Staffordshire, England, conducted a study exploring how cursing provides pain relief. It was published in the journal NeuroReport. His study involved a mixed-gender group of university students who were asked to repeat either a curse word or a neutral control word while their hands were submerged in icy water. Researchers found that swearing enabled participants to withstand the uncomfortably icy water for significantly longer. It brought about a measurable reduction in the perception of pain (calibrated with a pain perception questionnaire) and significantly increased heart rate (measured with an electronic heart-rate monitor).

Dr. Stephens told me that participants were asked to repeat their assigned word over and over again at a consistent pace. "By using the same word over and over, we were attempting to keep conditions consistent," he said. "We looked specifically at pain tolerance and perception. When the study participants swore while experiencing the pain stimulus, they found the cold water less painful."

Ladies First...

Women, in particular, experienced a greater drop in pain perception when they were swearing. "We know that swearing evokes certain emotional responses, and that, in general, men tend to swear more than women," Dr. Stephens explained. "We speculated that in people who swear frequently, the emotional response erodes, making it a less effective mechanism in reducing the perception of pain or the ability to tolerate it."

Dr. Stephens also found that swearing was less effective in male participants who had been identified as being predisposed toward catastrophizing pain. For example, he said that if a person is prone to thinking that a small cut on his hand is likely to result in a nasty infection or some other catastrophic outcome, swearing will be less effective as a coping mechanism.

I may not feel particularly proud of myself the next time I bump my head and blurt out a naughty word -- but at least I know there’s science to justify my reaction.

Richard Stephens, PhD, is a lecturer in psychology and the director of the master’s degree program in psychological research methods at Keele University in Staffordshire, England.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Even Atheists Understand

A lot of people are talking trash about the New Atheism (and in some cases, rightly so). But I want to address the oldest atheism. The oldest atheism is the atheism that God's chosen people (under the old covenant, mostly national Israel; under the new covenant, the baptized) exercise when they disbelieve the gospel.

“The world does not consist of 100 per cent Christians and 100 per cent non-Christians. There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name; some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it...”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Ch. 10, “Nice People or New Men.”
How do you know if your a Christian Atheist or if you're a Christian? Let me pose some questions that can guide us on the path:
Is the law written in my heart?
Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
Do I love my neighbor as myself?
Do I live by the Spirit?
Do I love the brothers?
Do I kill sin?
Do I repent?
Do I believe?
Do I die to self?
Do I follow Jesus?
Do I love Jesus more than the world?
  • More than family and loved ones?
  • More than life itself?
Is Jesus my treasure?
Do I delight in him above all else?
Do I obey his commandments?
Do I treat suffering people as if they were Christ himself?
Is my faith working through love?
Do I forgive others as God forgives me?
  • Am I aware enough of God's forgiveness that I can forgive myself & others?
Am I increasing in holiness?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Climategate: Exposing the Lie That Needs to Die

James Delingpole has been doing yeoman's work exposing the disgusting underbelly of the anthropogenic global warming sham. He recently exposed a massive conspiracy among climate 'scientists' to cover up data that undermined their hypothesis.

Sorry, Goracle, you're just going to have to find another way to make a living than jetting around the world telling people that they have to...stop jetting around the world.

Read it and keep an eye out. There are people who love to concoct a crisis so they can use it to take away your freedom. (Yes, GWB did this. Yes, BHO is doing it now. Yes, the one-worlders are still trying to use the dead horse of "climate change" to undermine the economies of the West.)

Here's my point. People are falling for the apocalypse now garbage coming from these groups because they've stopped listening to the one person who actually knows how the world is going to end. (Hint: it's the same person who actually knows how the world began.)

What is the Core?

"You may take away from us, if you will, every external ceremony; you may take away altars, and super-altars, and lights, and incense, and vestments; you may take away, if you will, the eastward position; you may take away every possible ceremony; and you may command us to celebrate at the altar of God without any external symbolism whatsoever; you may give us the most barren of all observances, and we will submit to you. If this Church commands us to have no ceremonies, we will obey. But, gentlemen, the very moment any one says we shall not adore our Lord present in the Eucharist, then from a thousand hearts will come the answer, as of those bidden to go into exile, "Let me die in my own country and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother!" to adore Christ's person in His Sacrament, is the inalienable privilege of every Christian and Catholic heart. How we do it, the way we do it, the ceremonies which we do it, are utterly, utterly indifferent; the thing itself is what we plead for..."

James DeKoven, DD in a speech before General Convention, 1874

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Standing on the Promise in Advent

Scripsit +Doc Loomis:
Advent 1: A description of ugly things to come is followed by this...."when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" I'm standing...anyone else? I have to do a hymn parody.
Clyde McLennan - Standing on the promises .mp3

Found at bee mp3 search engine

Standing on the promise
after Christ the King!
Advent is upon us,
Carols we shall sing!
Gloria in excelsis
and the bells that ring
Go away until it's Christmas Day!
Waiting! Waiting!
Waiting for the Promised One who's Israel's Savior!
Waiting! Waiting!
I'm waiting for the coming Son of God!

It is very meat and very right and our bounden duty

The CHOW Bacon-Wrapped Turkey with Pear Cider Gravy recipe produces a fine, fine Thanksgiving dish. In this video, watch it evolve from bagged bird to bacon-striped, pear-sweet, glistening roast.

You'd better call a priest or a cardiologist to absolve you after this meat monster.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Hate to Say I Told You So

But I told you so. Now the AU (arrogant Unitarians?) has its collective panties in a wad over the signing of the Manhattan Declaration.
At a press conference today, Religious Right leaders and Roman Catholic bishops unveiled a joint statement criticizing laws that allow reproductive choice and same-sex marriage.
Hmm...Roman Catholics acting catholic? That is news! I really wish AU could get their story straight.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “This declaration is certain to be deeply divisive. These religious leaders want to see their doctrines imposed by force of law, and that goes against everything America stands for.

“I am optimistic that the people in the pews will not heed their leaders’ misguided call to action,” Lynn said. “Polls show that most church-goers do not want to see their faith politicized. But I am also well aware that religious leaders have vast lobbying power that cannot be ignored.”

Aww...I preferred it when they were saying that the Roman Catholics only wanted to stop helping people at all!
Lynn noted the House version of health-care reform was revised at the behest of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to curtail women’s access to abortion.
So which is it, AU? Should they have stayed out of politics altogether (when they energized their base to lobby for universal health-care)? Or is it only when they bring to their political activism who they are as people of faith?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday Sesame Street!

Anglican Hillbilly

Presbyman called me an Anglican Hillbilly. Well...I had to make a song about it!

Come and listen to a story about a man named Chris

A poor mountaineer, full of vinegar and ****,

Then one day he was shootin off his mouth,

And trouble stirred up about him being from the South.

Dixie that is, where they drink pre-sweetened tea.

Well the next thing you know ol' Chris is Anglican,
Wearin' frilly dresses though he's still a manly-man.
Said "In the AC-NA" is the place you ought to be
So he joined a diocese that was missionary.

All Saints, that is.
Thuribles, Holy Roods...

The Anglican Hillbillies!

Sung at the end of the show (not as a recessional):

Well now its time to say good-bye to all these Angli-kin.
Coffee, biscuits in the back say "Thanks fer droppin in."
You're all invited back next week to this locality
For a taste of Cath'lic worship (sans infalibility)

Papal that is. Kneel a spell. Take your shoes off. (On Maundy Thursd'y at least)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Living Ecclesiology

“When the Church takes account of only the present, she does nothing but change; if she looks only to the future, she does nothing but dream; only when she is conscious of being the living tradition of Christ is she truly renewed.”

Anthony Burton, former bishop of Saskatchewan

Lord, give us eyes to see
both what we have been,
and what we shall be.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For this coming Sunday

Help me out, folks. Which version would you rather sing this Sunday? The traditional?
O Worship the King - Lyons

Found at bee mp3 search engine

Or the Chris Tomlin style?

O Worship the King
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chinese Healthcare in America

As the New York Times reported Sunday, Chinese officials are questioning American officials about health care reform in the U.S. As the Times wrote, “The Chinese were not particularly interested in the public option or universal health care....They wanted to know, in painstaking detail, how the health care plan would affect the [U.S.] deficit.”

Why would the Chinese be so interested in our deficit? Well, for all intents and purposes, China is the official banker of the United States government. China is the number one foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities. This has MAJOR implications on our independence and security, as well as our stance on issues of human rights.

The hard questions they are asking right now are about how much the health care bill will raise the deficit. And make no mistake, if the Chinese decide not to continue financing our debt, the dollar could drop through the floor. America could have a huge financial crisis.

Before asking your government whether or not we can afford this new interventionist policy, perhaps it would be wise to ask the Chinese.

We cannot spend our way out of debt. We must conserve resources and invest wisely in the surest turn-around.

The Wisdom of a Constitutionally Limited Government

I can't for the life of me see any justification for the massive private-sector take over that is happening at the hands of President Obama. Maybe right now you think that only a firm and wise government (such as is reigning under The One) is the only way to fix our multiple conundra. (Which means you've lost faith in people to be solid individuals, but are curiously trusting an individual to fix our mess.)

If you still have warm feelings toward Obama and his good intentions, ask yourself this: Will you feel comfortable one day when the appointees of President Romney or President Palin are exercising unconstitutional, unauthorized, unreviewable authority to restructure the economy the way they see fit?

Because I can tell you that I'm pretty upset that when the Republicans were in power, they brushed aside reminders that some day a Democratic president would be exercising the vast unconstitutional powers that Bush was accumulating in the White House.

Democrat friends, please don't ignore the risks of giving more power to a federal government that will one day be run by conservatives. Because eventually both sides will be appalled by the uses that are made of those powers when that day comes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama's Hypocrisy on Censorship

President Obama began his visit to China with an exhortation to free up censorship and allow the citizenry to question and criticize their government without fear of reprisal.
President Barack Obama pointedly nudged China on Monday to stop censoring Internet access, offering an animated defense of the tool that helped him win the White House and suggesting Beijing need not fear a little criticism.
Yeah. Ask Fox News how well Obama takes a little criticism. Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, was interviewed last month and said: “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.” (Source: NYT)
It was a delicately balanced message and Obama couched his admonitions with words calling for cooperation, heavy with praise and American humility.
Our country needs to apologize to China? When did that happen? We've stood up for their freedom for 70 years! And our economies energize each other, raising the standard of living for both countries.
"I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable," Obama told students during his first-ever trip to China. "They can begin to think for themselves."

I'm in a conundrum. I have no idea which government snitch line I should report this to. - should I report this quote to or I just can't decide which one best holds the populace accountable to the government. OOOPS! I meant that the government is accountable to the people.

Tim Keller in Louisville

Tonight, November 16th at 7:00 PM at Calvin Presbyterian Church. Calvin is where I did my student internship during seminary. And Dr. Keller is very friendly to us Anglicans, having been instrumental in planting Christ Church in NYC.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters

A talk and book signing by the author, Dr. Timothy Keller (Excellent book review here.)

Free and open to the public - No reservation needed

As pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, Dr. Timothy J. Keller makes a point of reaching out to immigrants, urban professionals and artists, offering an intellectually compelling case for belief in God. Newsweek magazine called Keller “a C.S. Lewis for the 21st century, a defender of orthodox Christianity.” He is the author of the best sellers, “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” and, “The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith.” He will be at Calvin for a talk about his just released book, “Counterfeit Gods.” Books will also be available for purchase and signing by Dr. Keller.

This presentation is the final event of the annual Festival of Faiths, and is sponsored by Carmichael’s Bookstore.