Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cutting Down Arguments

How do you deal with people that disagree with you theologically?

There seem to be several avenues people take in trying to find a basis of authority on which they stake their beliefs.

1) Me & the Spirit: Basically, I'm so illumined by the Spirit (of what?) that I can sense the great truths of the faith. We should notice that there are at least two varieties of this epistemological stance: a) the gnosticizing liberal thinks that they've got an inside track to what God has to say, normally in such a way as to overthrow what the Bible plainly says or what the Church has confessed for nearly 2000 years; b) the charismatic literalist thinks that they don't need to hear what other people have said about the Scriptures (whether that be Christian scholars or - dare I say it - the Church catholic in her creeds and confessions)...think the Oneness Pentecostal movement. The tie that binds is that this person believes that they can pierce the darkness that has kept the Church of Jesus Christ from seeing the truth (for as much as 2000 years); all they need is to meditate and read their Bible and God will reveal to them everything that's needed. They'll get a new revelation, or having felt a sense of connectedness to all world religions.

This isn't a new phenomenon. Martin Luther said that there were a certain group of preachers of his day who confuse their own spirit with the Holy Spirit: “they think they have swallowed the Holy Ghost feathers and all.” John Calvin warned “the fanaticism which discards the scripture, under the pretense of resorting to immediate revelations is subversive of every principle in Christianity. For when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit the tendency is always to bury the word of God so they can make room for their own falsehood.” Archetypes: John Spong, Joseph Smith and just about any neo-montanist on TBN.

2) Me & the Pro: I've been taught by this pastor, or read these books, or gone to this seminary, or earned this degree so I really know what it's all about. I'm not denigrating sitting under good preaching (I've benefited from it, and I hope others will benefit from my preaching). Anyone that's been to my home knows I have a library numbering in the low thousands. I did go to cemetery seminary and earned a degree there. But to think that the insights of the latest generation trump the illumination that the Spirit has given in the Church for thousands of years is a denial of Jesus' promises regarding the Church. The Reformers consistently pointed back to the Scriptures, the early Church Fathers, the ecumenical councils, and more recent scholastic thought to prove their continuity with the Apostolic deposit of the faith.

These approaches can be combined, and I would dare say that all of us do that very thing - inconsistently shuffling the bases of our belief.

I think the right track is to take a Me and the Church approach. When Jesus called his apostles to himself, he didn't just bring one - he brought twelve. He established a community in which his power, his authority, his doctrine would continue. We do well to read our Bibles with the whole Church catholic. The Word gives life to the Community, and the Community reiterates the Word in the World.

Without this necessary balance, we fall to the idols of self or society, and are not conformed to the Saviour.

Image h/t Naked Pastor

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For the FiFNA Meeting

A Prayer to be used at the Meetings of Convention.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst preside in the Council of the blessed Apostles, and hast promised, through thy Son Jesus Christ, to be with thy Church to the end of the world; We beseech thee to be with the Council of thy Church here assembled in thy Name and Presence. Save us from all error, ignorance, pride, and prejudice; and of thy great mercy vouchsafe, we beseech thee, so to direct, sanctify, and govern us in our work, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, that the comfortable Gospel of Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed, in all places, to the breaking down the kingdom of sin, Satan, and death; till at length the whole of thy dispersed sheep, being gathered into one fold, shall become partakers of everlasting life; through the merits and death of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

(BCP, 1928)

More great stop motion

And I even like the song...

Bach to our regularly scheduled programming

I've been grossly negligent with the Worship Wednesday segment of this blog. Mea culpa. I hope this can begin to make up for it.

J.S. Bach - CD1 - Mass in B Minor by American Bach Soloists

By the way, today I meet with many of my brother-priests at the Forward in Faith North America Annual Assembly. We anticipate being received in orders, then proceeding to join the rest of the laity and clergy in the Anglican Church in North America!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Clever Stop motion

How gallant.

h/t SacredSandwhich

Felix III on Error and Truth

“Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and, indeed, to neglect to confound evil men - when we can do it - is no less a sin than to encourage them”
St. Felix III
Bishop of Rome, 483-492

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15th and Tyrants

On this day, in 1215, King John of England agreed to pave the path to constitutional monarchy. The Magna Carta ensured that the king (and his descendents, in perpetuity) would be bound by laws, and that it would his job to uphold the rights of the nobles and freemen who forced him into the pact.

This is significant because in our country, there is a challenge to individual freedoms in the name of communal values. The King was seen as the embodiment of his community - soil and blood. When he spoke, England spoke. In our country, the elected government is seen as the voice of the people. If the government is not doing it's job (i.e., limiting its power to the constitutionally prescribed work and defending the individual liberties of the people), we dissolve into power-hungry focus groups - all trying to out-vote our out-appoint one another.

Similarly today, a tyrant named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is being challenged to hear the voice of his people. It's clear that some sort of election rigging occurred in order for him to declare a landslide victory.

Christians, I urge you to pray for a peaceful resolution to this crisis. We in America have been lulled into thinking that a vote makes democracy. It doesn' is able to make ochlocracy, but a democracy can only be realized when there is a true concern for individual liberties on the part of both the powers and the people. Liberty means freedom to succeed and freedom to fail.

May the people of Iran receive justice and liberty, which is their birthright as bearers of the imago dei.

May Americans revitalize their liberties, for which our forefathers bled and died (and sweated and toiled).

It's Not Rocket Science

From the DUH department....

Scientists at NASA have found a correlation between solar activity cycles and the recent warming trends that the global-warbling greenieweenie alarmists have been telling us about - when they aren't talking about shutting down the skeptics by murder or enacting taxes of dubious repute. (Story from Science Daily here.)

Over the past century, Earth's average temperature has increased by approximately 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit). Solar heating accounts for about 0.15 C, or 25 percent, of this change, according to computer modeling results published by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies researcher David Rind in 2004.

The sun is relatively calm compared to other stars. "We don't know what the sun is going to do a hundred years from now," said Doug Rabin, a solar physicist at Goddard. "It could be considerably more active and therefore have more influence on Earth's climate."

Or, it could be calmer, creating a cooler climate on Earth similar to what happened in the late 17th century. Almost no sunspots were observed on the sun's surface during the period from 1650 to 1715. This extended absence of solar activity may have been partly responsible for the Little Ice Age in Europe and may reflect cyclic or irregular changes in the sun's output over hundreds of years. During this period, winters in Europe were longer and colder by about 1 C than they are today.

I know that the man-as-the-measure-of-all-things ideology is comfortingly arrogant, but there are forces of nature that are beyond our control. And they have a much bigger impact on our planetary climate systems than does your choice between a Prius and an Land Rover. Heck...plankton probably have a bigger impact.
Since then, there seems to have been on average a slow increase in solar activity. Unless we find a way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning, the solar influence is not expected to dominate climate change. But the solar variations are expected to continue to modulate both warming and cooling trends at the level of 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.18 to 0.26 Fahrenheit) over many years.
Like many studies, this conclusion was based less on hard data and more on questionable correlations and inaccurate modeling techniques. (Not to mention that the political machine - both in national policy and academic policy - is shamelessly in the greenieweenie court.)

The inconvertible fact, here is that even NASA's own study acknowledges that solar variation has caused climate change in the past and is likely the main culprit for current trends. And even the study's members, mostly ardent supports of AGW theory, acknowledge that the sun may play a significant role in future climate changes.

More hard data at SORCE.

All I have to say is this: As Al Gore and other people who stand to make a lot of money from global warming scare tactics will tell you, “the science is settled.” Unless you drive a hybrid, stumble around in the dark at night, and only eat things you find in your yard, you’re killing the planet.

So I don’t see what a big fat ball of hot gas way up in the sky has to do with anything.

But enough about Al Gore in his private jet.