Becoming Catholic – Where it all began.

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For eight years I worked with Youth With A Mission. An international and interdenominational decentralized missions

organization. Started primarily as a way of getting young people who loved Jesus a chance to travel and get their feet wet in missions work, sharing the gospel and getting some discipleship along the way. Its a massive organization now with hundreds of secondary schools for training and development for Christian missions work of all kinds. There are as well many practical ministries associated with the movement.

All eight years I spent in the mission were with one of the secondary schools. I first took the course in 08-09 in Los Angeles. It was a bible course known as the School of Biblical Studies or SBS. Providence had it that I just so happened to sign up for the school in Los Angeles the same year that Cliff Davis had arrived in LA to start the Chronological SBS. Same school as before, but with the books arranged in the Chronological order that they were originally written to the best of their ability, (with some debate as to the exact date of a handful of the books). The one main exception was to place the book of Job in the same time period as the other primary books of the wisdom literature around the time of David and Solomon.

The Chronological version I truly believe was Gods providence for me. I had previously been exposed to the popular Reformed teachings of Calvin and Luther because I had been living near Holland Michigan were there is a large concentration of Reformed Churches and zealous proselytizers. For me it was primary the Calvinistic theology that was troubling me. Complete lack of free will, archaic predestination explanations, faith alone salvation, yet not a faith that you have any part in as God completely controls all things including the thoughts or lack of thoughts in ever human brain. Whether this was the exact belief of people pushing Calvinism on me or this was just the logical extent of the arguments that were driving me mad and further from God or any desire for God. Either way I was in desperate need of a better, more orthodox, healthy, yet still challenging theological formation.

Cliff Davis was an excellent teacher. Or at least he was exactly the kind of teacher and school leader I needed. His strengths were perfect for helping someone like me engage with scripture the way I had really needed to. I got a ton out of the school. After nine months I had an amazing overview of the redemptive work of God throughout biblical history, I understood Jesus in context of the whole biblical narrative, and I also felt like in nine short months I understood Paul in his historical and biblical context better then so many of the people who were just confusing me with theological categories and reformed dogmas detached from historical context. Most of all I was happy that when asked technical questions about doctrines on salvation I could just begin walking through stories or the redemptive work of God. I could do it in order using the language of covenants, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus. It was incredible. Without even having many verses or their locations memorized I could walk through the biblical narratives pointing out key moments of how God revealed himself.

I was also honored by Cliff to be invited to come staff with him. I committed to a year because at the time that seemed like such a long time. I ended up staying much longer, my fourth year in LA I was honored again with the opportunity to Co-Lead the school with Cliff. This was an amazing experience in leadership and by the end of the fourth year God was opening up doors for us to move to the YWAM base in Tijuana Mexico to start the first CSBS in Mexico.

This was a huge challenge. But our work in starting the school has continued to bear fruit. We worked there for four years before leaving YWAM. I miss working with the CSBS so much. But im just grateful for the opportunity we had. After transitioning back to career life working and buying a home here in Kentucky I realized last year I had made a mistake in not getting active in a church sooner. But as many of my readers know I’m on track now to do that.

I bring up my work in the CSBS because it was really one of the big stepping stones leading me to where I believe I am moving towards now. Studying the bible using the inductive method, and with a large emphasis on historical context is what opened my mind and soul to new revelations in the living word of God. I realized in the last few years in CSBS that I was moving more and more in the direction of the Catholic Theological Tradition. At first this just seemed like, well, ‘I’m just going to be an open minded protestant about doctrine and I will be a eclectic christian adopting the things I like from the various traditions. That might have worked for me in YWAM since it is an interdenominational missions organization. But now that I live and work in a more normal setting I have to have a church that I join and am able to get active with. To me the choice came down to either the Anglican, Orthodox, or the Catholic church. I’m still making the journey but I feel confident that I will soon be confirmed into the Catholic Faith. Which again, is strange and new, yet not strange or new at all. Its the direction I have been moving towards from the moment I accepted the concept of studying scripture with the inductive method. In order to do this I needed to set aside all previous notions of biblical theology or tradition, i did this to the best of my ability cause I was so deeply troubled by certain doctrines of the Reformed, as well as some of the more charismatic or even legalistic variety. This also meant setting aside previous theological prejudices I had from growing up protestant against Catholics. So not only did the inductive method assist me in this but also the pursuit of understanding each book in its biblical and historical context. So in other words not reading Genesis and Galatians as Luther or Calvin would have with 15th century Catholic European worldview. Instead the goal was to understand the book of Genesis as revelation to the people of Israel shortly after their exodus from Egypt. The God who rescued them wanted to make a new covenant with them. Or the church in Galatia as it was in first century Turkey. A church where early Gentile converts were being convinced by Jews who in following Jesus felt that in order to be good followers of the Rabbi Jesus the gentiles needed to go all in and make sure to observe kosher laws as well, to be circumcised, and observe Jewish feasts, etc. Paul of course corrected this behavior not by condemning Jews as legalistic for following the Law of Moses but for encouraging Gentiles to follow the externals of an old covenant that has been broken and rendered ineffective by the more perfect covenant being set up by Jesus the Messiah.

The next major outcome of going through the school year after year with new students was the natural progression into the early church, the writings of the early church fathers, the history of the 1500 years of church history largely ignored by protestants. A book by a very intellectual protestant Vishal Mangalwadi was instrumental in opening my mind and intellect to more of the positive effects of the church throughout history. The book is called “The Book that made your world: How the bible shaped the soul of western civilization”. That book then exposed me to the prolific work of Sociologist Rodney Stark who wrote with even more scholarly authority and less Catholic Prejudice covering even more of the positive history of the Catholic Faith and work in the development of civilization as we know it. I began to see more clearly how both modern critics of the Christianity and protestant critics of Catholics created an unholy alliance that has resulted in so much bad history and opinion about both Christianity and its specific Roman Catholicism. Even in my coming closer to the partaking in the sacraments of the Catholic Church I have set out to expose myself fully to the rot, the scandal, and the crisis that is taking place within the Catholic church. Im not coming into it with a blind fold towards the challenging issues. But this has not deterred me at all. In fact I have been even more encouraged because I believe the Catholic church alone possesses the fullness of the faith, and is the best embodiment of the oneness that Jesus prayed for his followers. I love the presence of the saints both visibly in the icons, statues, feast days, prayers, liturgy, and their invisible and spiritual presence as fellow participants in the pursuits of the churches mission.

Instrumental to me has thus far been the work of the local clergy, both Fr. Fischer and Deacon Bill Wakefield and his wife. Wonderful people who are enthusiastic about new converts. Aside from them I have tapped in to the work of Dr. Taylor Marshal (not schismatic, I am proof), Scott Hahn, Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Vigano, FSSP resources, Fathers of Mercy here in Kentucky (their homilies on their youtube channel are powerful), Church Militant news, Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Sarah, Fr. Calloway, Fr. Altman, Ralph Martin, and others. Yes I am gravitating towards the more conservative or traditional but I also appreciate some of the others who are a bit more middle of the road. I’m not incapable of appreciating the gifts of people like Bishop Barron and others like him but in my short time growing familiar with the Catholic Church I believe it would be more effective if the church rooted out modernization almost completely. Some English liturgy seems reasonable but there seems to be so many changes instituted after Vatican II that are not necessarily even indicative of what is in the documents from the council. That’s all I’m going to say about that as I am sure in the future I will have whole posts devoted to such issues. IN the mean time I am happy to be moving in this new, yet familiar direction. I guess you could see it is home.

It all started with CSBS in YWAM. Inductive, historical and biblical context lead me to covenant theology and chronological redemptive salvation culmination in the inauguration of the King of Kings the enthroned in the Kingdom of God established by Peter and Apostles through the church in Rome and the birth of Christendom and the ongoing battle with familiar beasts, harlots, demons, fallen angels, and the masses of the deceived and the damned who wage war on the saints of God until the final judgement.

For the past few weeks I have been reengaging with the book of Revelation or the book of The Apocalypse of John. I am seeing this in a fresh new way having been attending mass weekly I feel this book is only cementing me further as a Catholic. Ive been a Catholic for years without coming into full fellowship. The imagery of the great apocalyptic events of the ending of one covenant and the unveiling of the new. It is the wedding of Christ to his church. Not just something predictive for far off future events but what would soon take place. No doubt there was a future event that the book alludes to in the closing of one covenant once and for all with the destruction of the old beautiful temple in Jerusalem. There is a new covenant, with a new temple, one where Christ is the high priest and the people of God from every nation will begin entering in to the marriage covenant. The marriage super of the Lamb. The basic activity of the church in the earliest days was a reenactment of the last supper and what the last supper itself proceeded. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. The Mass then is the daily reenactment of the Apocalypse of John. It is as the book describes a great spiritual battle. It is also a vitally practical reminder of Gods affirmation of daily life of the people of God living out his perfect plan for men and women. Covenantal love giving way to life and family, the coming together of people into a covenant with God by way of the special family of God. The church, though it is suffering under persecution by the state, (Babylon & Harlot) are not calling to directly engage with the state but to do battle against the beast that is behind those temporal powers. That by the faithfulness of the church to do what is prescribed, what has in reality already been accomplished in Christ it will be victorious. Christ will reign, he will judge, and he will in the end unveil his true bride. In its proper place the church will take as its inheritance, the dominion of all things with Christ the King. The kingdom of God is not “OF” this world but it is manifesting itself “IN” this world through the visible and mystical church.

Revelation is a great reminder to the church that it also will face the wrath of God if it does not repent of sin. Just as the book warns each of the seven churches to repent otherwise God will remove their “candles” from the alter, -so Jerusalem had been warned over and over about idolatry. For the sins of the church, the turning from the gospel, the immorality, lukewarmness, and the disobedience of the church is no different from the variety of unfaithful behavior by the people of God in the old covenants. The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, or in reality the entire city. This stands as a crucial contextual compass for the resounding message of the book of Revelation. Historically speaking the seven churches of Revelation have all been destroyed through Islamic conquests. Is God done with the church? Of course not. Revelation stands as a warning. As does the actual history of the churches spoken to by their Bishop John (likely the beloved apostle). Churches come and go. We have seen this. We know how churches typically begin and in general they all end in a similar way. Either by dying, by tolerance of evil, by being influenced by the surrounding cultures, by complacency brought on by great wealth or political influence. There are more reasons but we have all seen churches begin with passion and zeal for God. We have seen them end for these variety of reasons. Sometimes they do end due to hostility and invasions of other demonic forces opposed to the things and people of God.

The message of Revelation is actually pretty easy then to grasp.

LOOK! SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE! SEE WHAT I AM DOING! I HAVE ALREADY OVERCOME THE WORLD! ABIDE IN MY LOVE! REPENT OF TRUSTING IN YOURSELF! REPENT OF FEARING POLITICAL LEADERS AND NOT FEARING ME! YOU ARE MY ROYAL BRIDE!

The prophetic nature of the book is not so much predictive of far of future events but in the more biblical version of prophecy which was intended to convey what God was doing now, and what then the people of God must also be doing now. Jesus in plane language is then perhaps saying, “Look you are my bride, we are starting a family, lets celebrate, lets consummate regularly and make life together now.” Yes, we are facing an enemy that wants to destroy this marriage, but Christ has already done most of the apocalyptic stuff. Satan’s already been defeated, his forces are no match for the Godhead, his Angeles, his Mother, her Offspring and the Saints, -those in heaven and on earth which comprise his unveiled Bride the church.

In the language of Familial Covenant God is establishing his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. By regular consummation in the daily life of the church. Primarily in the Eucharist and the Mass. Each time the people of the Covenant meat they celebrate the marriage supper of the lamb, and by way of the others sacraments of the church the covenant family grows.

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The Search for the Church (Part 2)

Altar And Stained Glass Windows Of The Unesco Saint Mary ...
St Mary’s Cathedral, Erfurt, Germany

This is part two on the subject. [part one here]

So I thought I’d throw out an update here on my search for a church. I am kind of calling a halt for the moment on the Orthodox Church. I really love it to be honest. Its really beautiful, ancient, and mysterious. There is a lot of good reasons I believe one would be drawn to the Orthodox Church.

For the time being I am pressing into the RCIA program with the Catholic Church, as well as meeting weekly with a local priest at our FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter) parish. I was lucky enough to have an FSSP parish near by so I have been attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is actually quite beautiful. It is quite different from the Novus Ordo Mass’ I have attended. Until my inquiry into the Catholic Church I was actually unaware that there are two quite different ways of observing Mass and other Sacraments.

It has been a really eye opening experience to actually take the time and give Roman Catholicism the old college try. Years ago I came to the conclusion that all denominations have their faults so I began to open myself to the possibility that the Catholic Church was not pure evil. In other words I was very much a protestant. I was raised in the Baptist church and spent years with other bible scholars who in general continued to encourage a pretty firm disdain for Catholicism. Studying the bible Chronologically, inductively, and contextually really began to cause me to appreciate a wide range of scholarly contributions to the field of biblical studies. This led me to take up opposing views many times to the reformed theological tradition. I also recently read things about Martin Luther and from Martin Luther that are really causing me to rethink any sort of theological loyalty to his positions. I have almost always been opposed to the work of Calvin. Over the years my biblical studies, and many of my own conclusions have led me to like minded theologians who affirm or stretch my own understanding of doctrines. Typically these have been Catholic theologians, doctors of the church, and even the non Catholics sound like Catholics and are often referred to as Neo-Catholic, or Neo-orthodox.

So I feel at home in the RCIA course. Much of the content is stuff I’ve already wrestled with and spent time studying. Some things are new and challenging. So I ask lots of questions. Own of my primary concerns was the Pope, his authority, and the churches actual dogma on infallibility. I was very surprised to learn that its not as black and white as it was always presented by non Catholics though I guess I should not be surprised. Infallibility does not apply to every word that comes from the mouth or is written on a piece of paper. I wont go into detail now but that was interesting to learn. I know the scripture used and the development of the role of the Pope and it is not offensive or so problematic to me as to completely write it off so it is something that again I am willing to continue taking the plunge into Catholic Tradition. Observing the lives, and the writings of the Popes is eye opening as well to see that they were almost always completely upstanding men of faith who’s teaching and lives were consistent with Catholic doctrine. Other wise there are a few “forgettable” Popes, and their are officially anti-popes. Time will tell in which of those two categories Pope Francis falls into. His statements and actions regarding moral and social issues of our time as well as his masonic attitude towards the equal footing of all world religions are so troubling to the faithful.

Yet even with Francis (the globalist chaplain), and resent scandals surrounding the Catholic Church I feel more and more drawn. There is also the matter of all of this decay and the internal and external attack on the church that is drawing me to ask God what he would have me do. I believe that the power of the Catholic church to oppose darkness in all its forms is greater then any other institutional or non institutional church. I think that the most vibrant churches having the greatest impact on the world and against the opposing forces of Satan is both Structured, and authentic. Authentic means marked by the Holy Spirit and motivated, real, humble, active, creative, honest. Really authentic is so so key but equal to that I honestly believe is the structure, the tradition, the teachings, the guidelines, the discipleship, the devotion, and all the planning that comes with structure. I believe structure is so so necessary because it shows a belief that what is being done is not a flash in the pan, its not generational, its not emotional, or purely experiential. But you build a building, a place to worship, a place to fill, a place to be reminded, a place to confess, to worship, a place to train, a place to organize, to give out roles and responsibilities, to honor and celebrate, the work God has done and will always continue to do through his eternal church. We structure and build because what we do is eternal. The catholic church embodies that. It is a truly formidable force for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The rule of God, the reign of Christ, and primacy of the family of God.

That said, its easy to be disappointed. The church needs to be reclaimed for the Glory of the One True God. For the establishment of his reign on earth. The church has been weakened by the many inward and outward attacks. I feel so inspired by the long history of the Catholic Church, its saints, its fathers, its resolute positions on moral and societal evils. It is worth saving, in fact I see in the Catholic Church the opportunity to take your place in sacred history. Without the Catholic Church I do believe we will see the end of days.

I am continuing then to join the Catholic Church God willing. All of the things I believe the church should be are already tied up in Catholic Tradition. I am eager to be used as a Catholic for the advancement of the kingdom of God.

Conversion. That is where I think the church is weak right now. Mostly the western church I should say. Because it is in many ways a very hateful way of thinking. The idea that sinful pagans need to hear the gospel, to repent, to turn to the wisdom of God and the church. To convert there minds, and hearts, to be followers of Christ and submit themselves body and soul to the will of God. There is a lot of confusion added to the issue when well meaning christian leaders speak of their hope that all people will be in heaven, and to avoid discussions about judgement and hell or even Satan and evil. They confuse further by talking about other religions as ways to heaven or ways towards enlightenment among which Christianity is only another way. At best they may say it is the preferred or special way. But nevertheless conversion is needed, repentance, confession, baptism and receiving the transformative life of Christ in you. This is the only way to be saved, the only way to be unified with the eternal God. Francis speaks a lot about how we must dialogue with people of faith, and good will. That out of these conversations will emerge something new. Something better. Some form of salvation I guess. This is actual heretical. Unless your speaking of conversations and dialogues that lead to conversion. Conversions are needed. I hope to be a part of seeing this work of conversion make a come back in the west. Because the structure is there, the beautiful buildings, and seminaries are there, We just need to fill them.

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Pope Leo XIII – On Liberty

Years ago I arranged a series of lectures on “post-modernism” and the death of language. I was only able to deliver lectures a couples times. I had really hoped to speak more on the subject because it was something so troubling to me.

In essence language is dead in post-modernism because it is seen as a form of control. It is seen as something weighty. In other words words that have defined meaning have a kind of power a kind of authority. Post-modern culture attacks all forms of authority, all power structures. Including the language and the words we use. Post-modern society is anything but tolerant of words. It must tear down words that have the power to create, build, and maintain the power structures and institutions that post-modern culture wishes to tear down. By now a lot can be meant by “postmodern”.

So much so that I think some folks have resorted to just calling present era modern. It is in many ways still just the modern era. I do think we are somewhere in the hinge of to great periods in westerns civilization and philosophy. Regardless, the topic hear really has to do with this continuing break down of words. Words that no longer mean what they used to.

Here I’m thinking specifically of the words; Liberty, Democracy, and perhaps too some of the associated words used in conjunction with those. Such as; Republic, Freedom, and independence.

As you may be guessing I will be taking advantage of another great citation of a great man of God, Pope Leo III written in 1888 in his encyclical “Libertas”. Pope Leo III was seeing the beginning of what would be a return to paganism and heathenism. The golden age of Christendom was drawing to a close with the end of monarchs and the rise of “democracy and liberty” across Europe. Already at this point France, and the United States are experiencing this great shift. Gioacchino is not only accurately describing the error of those who are already celebrating human “liberty” in the form of “democracy or republic” and the beginning of “independent” and “free” nations. He approaches these subjects, these words with great Fatherly wisdom. For that is what he is. He is the Father of the church and he is a shepherd of men. Warning and guiding them to truth. To some degree I believe nations who took to heart his message where able to to incorporate his wisdom and guidance in the foundation of new political and legal institutions. But many did not. France was already reeling in their error. Decay, and degradation already abounding. More chaos and suffering then order and happiness. America as well though strong and on the verge of a great material and financial boom has faced its own bloody civil wars. Gioacchino is seeing the stirrings of further revolutions.

What is the freedom, liberty, and independence to a wise and caring father? To a father that has been present

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in the formation of the child and the instilling of values. To a father who maintains a close and intimate relationship freedom, liberty, and independence is of only minor concern for a grateful and faithful son will not seek to be completely free from the wisdom and guidance of his father. Even after he is gone, or removed by some distance even death the son will continue to live as the father guided and instructed him. He will be truly free because he will not be a bound to the same errors of those who have no father.

I love reading the whole of this encyclical because the concern of Papa Gioacchino is evident throughout. He speaks with the concern that he has for those who have once been under his roof and for those who have not yet enjoyed the commence privileged of his divine love and care.

Gioacchino is speaking here of tolerance because he is in fact speaking to those under his roof. The letter is addressed the the hierarchy of the church. He is worried that tolerance of liberty devoid of close union to God through the his church is a disaster in the making and that ultimately it may even incur the ruin of the church itself or at least its direct persecution.

34. But, to judge aright, we must acknowledge that, the more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires. Wherefore, if such tolerance would be injurious to the public welfare, and entail greater evils on the State, it would not be lawful; for in such case the motive of good is wanting. And although in the extraordinary condition of these times the Church usually acquiesces in certain modern liberties, not because she prefers them in themselves, but because she judges it expedient to permit them, she would in happier times exercise her own liberty; and, by persuasion, exhortation, and entreaty would endeavor, as she is bound, to fulfill the duty assigned to her by God of providing for the eternal salvation of mankind. One thing, however, remains always true – that the liberty which is claimed for all to do all things is not, as We have often said, of itself desirable, inasmuch as it is contrary to reason that error and truth should have equal rights.

35. And as to tolerance, it is surprising how far removed from the equity and prudence of the Church are those who profess what is called liberalism. For, in allowing that boundless license of which We have spoken, they exceed all limits, and end at last by making no apparent distinction between truth and error, honesty and dishonesty. And because the Church, the pillar and ground of truth, and the unerring teacher of morals, is forced utterly to reprobate and condemn tolerance of such an abandoned and criminal character, they calumniate her as being wanting in patience and gentleness, and thus fail to see that, in so doing, they impute to her as a fault what is in reality a matter for commendation. But, in spite of all this show of tolerance, it very often happens that, while they profess themselves ready to lavish liberty on all in the greatest profusion, they are utterly intolerant toward the Catholic Church, by refusing to allow her the liberty of being herself free.

In conclusion it was a mistake.

Pope Leo XIII was right.

Regardless of the political or legal institutions that govern nations without the close relationship of the The Church of God The Father and of his Son Jesus Christ all will fail miserably. With violence and death and absolute moral decay as the hallmark of all of these civilizations. In conclusion, words never really had the power we thought they did. I’m not sure I would even want to teach lectures on the meaning of words and the importance of their true meaning. Because with regard to nations, there is no system made by man that can withstand the destructive nature of human autonomy from God and his Church.

We don’t need “True Democracy” or a “True Republic”. We need God, we need His Church. We need a father. We need a shepherd. We need the Redemptive work of God in Christ. If that is central then our best notions of human government have a chance at making life more bearable, even fruitful, and abundant.

In the end only the The Word of God has the power to create and sustain life. The words he gives us help us to create and nurture life. Governments derived from the wisdom of God are certainly strong. But they are not self sufficient. Without the ongoing life given by Gods word, by the Word itself, everything crumbles in time. The church is the mode through which the Word of God is delivered to men to sustain life. He is the manna that comes down from heaven the gives eternal life. Thus there is no separation of the church from any aspect of public life physical or spiritual, temporal or eternal, nothing in all of Gods creation is dedicated to a realm outside of Gods redemptive plans.

There is a designated space in Gods plan for the banishment from Gods current and new creation. Typically but not solely refereed to as Hell. The only known eternal space for Satan and all those that wish to follow him there into eternal separation from the creator and all the saints. The contrast is stark. There will be a feast, a celebration, a banquet, an eternal peace and forever the family of God will live in perfect fellowship with the family of God. Hell is empty of all that is good and full of all that is cursed and wicked. There is no sexual orgies, no drunken ecstasy, no comradery or solace of company, just pure uninterrupted loss. Like losing a child or a beloved parent before you were ready or capable of losing them. No we can not be certain it will be a literal fire, or lava. It is entirely possible these are all used as metaphors for something much worse. What is important to know is that it is final, it is unpleasant.

All that to say there is only one designated space for Gods eternal damnation.

Lets get back to work then on the project of Christendom. Lets consecrate the world to Jesus Christ the King. Nation by nation, town by town, institution by institution. Lets stop making excuses and waging war the way the world wages war. The next best thing is not a new form of government or even an old form of government but an eternal government. Hint. It has been done before. There is something in the past to learn from. Newer is not always better or improved. In the fight for and in defense of democracies and republics, marxism and liberty we have killed more people in the 20th century then all of the previous centuries combined.

Christendom Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Gregory the Great Letter to King Ethelbert (601 AD)

Continuing with the theme of my last post. Here is another contrast between those today who call themselves “Devout Catholic” or “Devout Christian” and those of days past who were just regular Christians or regular Catholics. Point being to be Catholic meant you believed in One God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and One Holy Catholic Church. Those who were advanced to great positions in the government of nations or kingdoms had a mandate from God to see to the conversion of their people and to the good care of those under their rule.

This is the letter from Pope Gregory the Great, written only a few years before his death. I’m not going to go

into any details about Gregory the Great. He was great. If your not familiar with him, go get familiar. Newly crowned King Ethelbert of Kent converted to Christianity after his marriage to Bertha daughter of Charibert I King of the Franks, and after Pope Gregory sent the Missionary Augustine of Canterbury to Kent. Enjoy.

“To the most glorious lord, and his most excellent son, Ethelbert, king of the English, Bishop Gregory. Almighty God advances good men to the government of nations, that He may by their means bestow the gifts of His loving-kindness on those over whom they are placed. This we know to have come to pass in the English nation, over whom your Highness was placed, to the end, that by means of the blessings which are granted to you, heavenly benefits might also be conferred on your subjects. Therefore, my illustrious son, do you carefully guard the grace which you have received from the Divine goodness, and be eager to spread the Christian faith among the people under your rule; in all uprightness increase your zeal for their conversion; suppress the worship of idols; overthrow the structures of the temples; establish the manners of your subjects by much cleanness of life, exhorting, terrifying, winning, correcting, and showing forth an example of good works, that you may obtain your reward in Heaven from Him, Whose Name and the knowledge of Whom you have spread abroad upon earth. For He, Whose honour you seek and maintain among the nations, will also render your Majesty’s name more glorious even to posterity.

“For even so the most pious emperor, Constantine, of old, recovering the Roman commonwealth from the false worship of idols, brought it with himself into subjection to Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and turned to Him with his whole mind, together with the nations under his rule. Whence it followed, that his praises transcended the fame of former princes; and he excelled his predecessors in renown as much as in good works. Now, therefore, let your Highness hasten to impart to the kings and peoples that are subject to you, the knowledge of one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that you may surpass the ancient kings of your nation in praise and merit, and while you cause the sins of others among your own subjects to be blotted out, become the more free from anxiety with regard to your own sins before the dread judgement of Almighty God.

“Willingly hear, devoutly perform, and studiously retain in your memory, whatsoever counsel shall be given you by our most reverend brother, Bishop Augustine, who is trained up in the monastic rule, full of the knowledge of Holy Scripture, and, by the help of God, endued with good works; for if you give ear to him when he speaks on behalf of Almighty God, the sooner will Almighty God hear his prayers for you. But if (which God forbid!) you slight his words, how shall Almighty God hear him on your behalf, when you neglect to hear him on behalf of God? Unite yourself, therefore, to him with all your mind, in the fervour of faith, and further his endeavours, by that virtue which God has given you, that He may make you partaker of His kingdom, Whose faith you cause to be received and maintained in your own.

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“Besides, we would have your Highness know that, as we find in Holy Scripture from the words of the Almighty Lord, the end of this present world, and the kingdom of the saints, which will never come to an end, is at hand. But as the end of the world draws near, many things are about to come upon us which were not before, to wit, changes in the air, and terrors from heaven, and tempests out of the order of the seasons, wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in divers places; which things will not, nevertheless, all happen in our days, but will all follow after our days. If, therefore, you perceive that any of these things come to pass in your country, let not your mind be in any way disturbed; for these signs of the end of the world are sent before, for this reason, that we may take heed to our souls, and be watchful for the hour of death, and may be found prepared with good works to meet our Judge. Thus much, my illustrious son, I have said in few words, with intent-that when the Christian faith is spread abroad in your kingdom, our discourse to you may also be more copious, and we may desire to say the more, as joy for the full conversion of your nation is increased in our mind.

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Charlemagne Speech (802 AD)

Today is January 29 2021. Joe Biden was recently elected 46th president of the United States. He is claiming to be a devout Catholic. He attended mass and for some reason was not denied the Holy Eucharist. I see no reason why he should have been allowed to do so by any God fearing Faithful Catholic Priest. The democratic platform and Joe Biden’s personal record on the issues of abortion and gay marriage chief among the many publicly known mortal sins would be enough to deny him a place at the table of the Lord. That said, this post is simply a a reminder for many that it is possible to be in politics and be an actual devout Catholic. One who sets about his role as sovereign to not only the the physical well being of those under his rule but foremost to the conversion of all his subjects to the One True God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The relationship with church and state according the the Tradition of the Catholic Church is one of strong integration. Enjoy.

The following speech of Charlemagne to his subjects, delivered in March 802 AD.

“Hear me, my beloved brothers! We were sent here for your salvation, to exhort you to faithfully follow the Law of God and to convert you, in justice and mercy, to obey the laws of this world.

“First, I exhort you to believe in the One Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the only true God, perfect Trinity, true Unity, Creator of all things visible and invisible, Who is our salvation and the Author of all good things. Believe in the Son of God made man for the salvation of the world, born of the Virgin Mary by the work of the Holy Ghost. Believe that for our salvation He suffered death; and that on the third day He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God. Believe that He will return to judge the living and dead, and that He will give to each one according to his works.

“Believe in one single Church, the society of the blessed through the entire universe, and know that only they can be saved, and that the Reign of God belongs only to those who persevere to the end in this [Catholic] Faith. Those who are excluded from the Church because of their sins and do not return to her through penance, can never make any action accepted by God. Be convinced that with Baptism you received absolution of your sins. Trust in the mercy of God, Who daily forgives our sins through confession and penance. Believe in the resurrection of the dead, in eternal life and in the never-ending torment of the impious.

“This is the Faith that will save you if you keep it faithfully, and add to it the practice of good works, because Faith without works is a dead faith; and works without Faith, even when they are good, cannot please God. Therefore, love Almighty God above all things with all your heart and strength. With the help with His grace, do everything, always and as much as possible, that you believe will please Him. But avoid everything that displeases Him, for the man who pretends to love God and does not observe His Commandments lies.

“Love your neighbor as yourself, and give as many alms to the poor as you can, according to your means. Receive travelers in your houses, visit the poor, and show charity to the prisoners as much as you can. Do evil to no one, and make no compromise with those who do bad things, because it is bad to not only harm your neighbor, but also to be familiar with those who harm him.

“Mutually forgive offenses if you want God to forgive your sins. Rescue captives, help those who are unjustly oppressed, defend widows and orphans. Make judgments fairly; never favor any injustice, do not harbor long hatreds; avoid drunkenness and taking part in frivolous feasts.

“Be humble and good to one another; be faithful to your lords. Commit no robberies or perjuries, and avoid any acquaintance with those who commit them. Hatred, jealousie and violence separate us from the Kingdom of God. Reconcile with one another as soon as possible, for while it is human for men to sin, it is angelic to repent and diabolic to persevere in sin.

“Defend the Church of God and help her so that the priests of God can pray for us. Remember your promise in Baptism to renounce the Devil and his works. Do not return to him in anything; nor should you return to the works you have renounced, but rather follow the will of God as you have promised, and love the One who created you and gave you all the gifts and goods you possess.

“Each one should serve God faithfully in the place he finds himself. Wives should submit to their husbands in all goodness and modesty. They should avoid any dishonest action, and not poison others or be jealous, because those who do such actions are in revolt against God. They should raise their children in the fear of God, and give alms with a glad and joyous heart according to their means.

“Husbands should love their wives and speak no rude word to them; they should direct their homes with goodness and frequently gather in church. They should return to others what they owe them without murmuring, and with good will return to God what belongs to Him.

“Children should love and honor their parents; obey them in everything, and remain far from stealing, murdering and debaucheries.

“Clerics and canons should diligently obey the commands of their Bishops; they should live in their residences and not wander here and there among the people. Nor should they enter into secular questions. They should preserve their chastity: the reading of Holy Scriptures should remind them of their service to God and the Church.

“Monks should be faithful to the promises they made to God. They should not do anything against the will of their Abbots or seek any shameful personal benefit. They should know their rule by heart and follow it regularly, reminding themselves that it would be better not to have made any vow than to have made them and not be faithful to them.

“Dukes, counts and judges should be just with the people and merciful to the poor. They should never sell justice for money, and never allow a personal hatred to lead them to condemn an innocent man. They should always have these words of the Apostle in their hearts: ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that which he has done, whether it be good or bad.’ (2 Cor. 5:10) The Lord expressed this by the following words: ‘For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged’ (Matt 7:2); “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hidden, that shall not be known. (Luke 12:2) ‘That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment’ (Matt 12:36).

“We must make an effort, therefore, with the help of God, to please Him in all our actions so that after this present life, we will merit eternal happiness in the company of the Saints of the Lord. This life is short, and the hour of death is uncertain. What matters except to be ready? Let us not forget how terrible it is to fall into the hands of the Lord. By means of confession, penance and alms, we make the Lord become merciful and clement. If He sees us turn to Him with a sincere heart, He will show us pity and will have mercy on us.

“May God grant us prosperity in this life and an eternity with His Saints in the future life.

“God keep you, my beloved brothers!”

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BOOK REVIEW: The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware

The Orthodox Church : Timothy Ware : 9780141980638

Disclaimer: I am bad at book reviews. In fact consider this part one for this book cause I am not finished with it yet. (I mostly talk about things I’m learning from the book while piecing that together with others things I know or have learned. This then morphs into meaningful ramblings about the mandates of God toward the faithful. That’s all). I’ve read a great many works and spent some time researching history from various perspectives on church history. I’ve actually had this book on my shelf for about six years and am only now reading it. I think around the same time I bought this book I bought a few other church history books including, The Lost History of Christianity. That’s a really great book which covers some of the same things. More specifically it covers the early spread of the church in all directions except the west. It shows how rapidly the church moved east and found its home along the Mesopotamia, and south into Egypt and then further into Africa. The church even quickly spread into the far east. In any case this book was going to be more specifically about the Orthodox church and the early church spreading into Eastern Europe. Places we know now as Turkey, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland, Russia, etc. The Balkan states, and the black sea states.

So far I am really enjoying this history. I know in the later half of the book he deals more with doctrinal and practical life of the church. There was tension but not necessarily hostility between the church of the west. The Orthodox recognized the leadership of the Pope in Rome throughout the first 10-11 centuries of the church. Though they had some disputes over doctrines primarily having to do with the the nature of of the trinity and how exactly to articulate it without becoming a heretic. Even after the schism some issues were still resolved by Orthodox missions by seeking the help or blessings of the church in Rome. It took some time for the schism to manifest throughout the whole church. Eventually it would. The relationship from East to West in complicated. Or at least it is for me. Someone who is still new to trying to understand both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy better. Most history books regarding the church and doctrine is western in its focus unless you are specifically starting with the early church, and unless you have specifically looked for books from the eastern perspectives. I mean even all the books I had previously read about the church in Eastern Europe, Eastern Asia, or Africa lead me to believe that the church only really started going there in the last 300 years or so once Protestant Christianity started its missionary movement. No doubt they are some exciting and incredible stories. But the Orthodox church, or really just the very early Universal (Catholic) church was already active in almost every major continent except the Americas by the fifth and sixth century of the church.

The Roman emperor Constantine has a fundamental place in the history of the early Church. This is even more so for the Eastern Orthodox Church. When Constantine moved the empire to modern day Turkey and established Constantinople it sort of marked the beginning of Orthodoxy’s uniqueness from the rest of the eastward moving church. Paul went west, and Pauline language is possibly more fundamental to the doctrinal attitudes and traditions in the west. Where as in the East there is a more of the language of the Apostle John in their doctrinal emphasis. These two perspectives really worked well I think in the early period before the schism. These were not points of contention, just two important perspectives that I think brought an important balance and healthy dialogue into the church.

Schisms are however important I think. If we believe it is important to have the church free of heretical ideologies then theoretically there comes a time when after great amounts of dialogue a split is necessary. The early church during the 7 ecumenical counsels had to label certain doctrines heretical and break ties with those that insisted on their views against the larger counsel of the church. This no doubt probably saved the church from many errors that could have devastated the churches effectiveness for centuries. There was a singularly strong doctrinal dispute between east and west regarding the nature of the trinity and weather or not the holy spirit also comes from Christ as well as the Father. To modern readers this might seem petty. But again probably very important as they knew first hand the many deviations from Orthodoxy that are possible with only the simplest of errors. The continued attempts from Rome of interference and control were not appreciated by the church of the east. In the the early church it was common and established practice to attribute great respect and honor to the heads of the great ecumenical centers of the church. Rome always had the highest place of honor followed by Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. However none of these Patriarchs were seen to have a kind of Kingly role over the churches within their region or beyond it. The church based in Rome increasingly began to see things in that way, this attitude of supremacy grew beyond what many believed the church to really be. To this day the Orthodox church maintains a much flatter hierarchy then is seen in the Roman Catholic church. Local leaders are given authority to be the primary decision makers in their churches. Many issues that have been taken to the ecumenical counsels concluded that it was up to the judgement of the local bishop or archbishop to decide. Many things do get decided at their counsels but that in itself is done with the guidance of archbishops, and patriarchs from various places around the Orthodox world. Its not simply top down. There is no doubt leadership, and places of honor, their is a hierarchy. Its just not like Roman Catholic. A great deal of respect is shown to any of the faith leaders within the orthodox church.

So while their are great leaders within the Orthodox church some are known as Patriarchs, some are simply Friars, but there are also laymen within the church who have earned great honor and respect as theologians and advocates of the faith. The Patriarch of Moscow for instance has great honor and respect. Some is obviously on account of having earned the title and the political and spiritual significance that comes with it. However, his authority is not absolute, or universal in regards to the churches of Orthodoxy around the world. He will be listened closely and shown the respect by many throughout the world but he does not issue decrees or orders of any kind to the Orthodox church around the world, neither in maters of worship or doctrine. He no doubt will have his say in those matters at the proper times and places when doctrinal matters are discussed and positions are clarified by the church but he is not the final say in these matters. Rather as the church insists it is the counsel itself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that guides such matters.

This is extraordinary to me. This has been the practice of the Orthodox church dating back to the first counsels of the church. Part of me understands that historically it was Constantine that was present and at times concluding the. One might question such counsels. One might consider their decisions to be guided by mere men without any divine guidance. This is true. Many do cast doubt on these counsels. This is really the challenge I guess. I’m very much inclined to believe they were guided by God. But Constantine, you say. Well yes he was a pretty bad dude if you know your history. Not the worst. But not an example of Christian temperance or kindness. Instead he was violent. He killed family members, and put to death heretics and Pagans after converting to Christianity. Does his zeal matched with his power as a Roman emperor and his tendency as a warrior towards violent solutions to problems disqualify him from the ranks of people used by God. Some essentially believe this. Is it possible that God knew exactly what kind of man he was and that his conversion was part of Gods plan to protect and enhance the early impact of the church. No doubt one can argue that the church was growing under persecution. But it also grew rapidly once it was declared the official religion of the Roman empire. I’m not saying Constantine is a figure without undue historical controversy and that controversy spills over into what we like to define Christianity as. Some would have Christians believing that following Jesus is defined one way. That the faith is only genuine if it is marked by 100% pacifism. No violence whatsoever. Or at the very least all forms of violence are evidence that the work of Christ is not complete in sinners who profess the faith. The ultimately it is to be rooted out completely. I have spent some time in my earlier days of scholarship and Christian zeal flirting with this concept. It seemed intuitive based on many passages that do encourage peace and love as great virtues and pursuits of those who profess faith in God and accept his the Kingdom of his Son in Christ. I have no problem believing that. Putting Jesus’ teachings in context however is something that I have also been conditioned to do. Even when I hear an excellent sermon or teaching unless they have done this well I sort of put it on the back-burner on low and then go do some digging or some thinking. For instance most of the time Jesus’ audience was an occupied Jewish people looking primarily for a new Warrior King like David who would lead them to victory over the Romans and take back all that their ancestors were promised. Jesus had a hell of a time trying to convince these Jews that he was their Messiah, but that the new Covenant was much broader in its scope then the borders of Israel. That the new family of God would include the Romans. So without going into to much detail, Jesus did not only talk of peace, his disciples spoke of baptisms, and spread the good news of this kingdom without borders. Churches were started and new disciples were made who continued to spread this message and share with all who believed the communion of Christ and his universal church.

Nations remained. Kingdoms remained. Borders remained. Laws of the land remained. The sword remained. War would have to be fought. The church would have to continue to share it message of hope and peace. This message would go on to save the world from paganism. In the wake of the fall of the Roman empire a new kind of civilization sprang up. Not one of utopia and lasting peace. But one unique from the lands of pagans. One filled with wonders, innovations, economic and architectural structures that lifted mans gaze towards God and towards a future were families can multiply and be nourished without end. Men continued to fight each other over their lands, over futures they believed they could have if they fought pagans and even heretics who’s Godless natures were all that threatened this future. They may have fought to much for our liking. But maybe our distaste for violence has caused us to miss something extraordinary. There was something new happening. Yes, laypeople might have missed some of the finer points of Christian doctrine and charity. But they were beginning to experience the cultural implications of world united under one King. Armageddon to the church of the middle ages was not something in the distant future. It was now, the enemy of our souls is prowling around like a lion looking for who it would devour. These enemies were real, they were to be converted or conquered. Maybe Armageddon is now, maybe by not fighting to some extent we are passively allowing the work of Satan to be done. This is not outside the realm of fundamental church doctrine. Some would disagree. However, there truly is no peace when the righteous of God do not resist the work of Satan. Our enemy is real, it manifest itself in our new institutions and inventions. Now we wonder if such innovations are merely ways that we have created in our depravity to sin more, to celebrate sin, and to indoctrinate the young into the life of sin and destruction.

Leave it to me to take a book review and go on long rabbit trail about the middle ages and the lost era of Christendom and the inevitable laments of bygone violent zeal for the One true God and King. Its silly to some I know. But I genuinely think it would be helpful for some Christians to try to grasp this historical expression of Christian zeal and at least consider finding a balance with their pacifism approach to the faith. Food for thought.

All Photos are from the church I am attending here in Lexington Kentucky. Saint Andrew Orthodox Church.

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Looking for a good Church: In search of Christian fellowship and Brotherhood.

One of the reasons I have been lax in finding a church to go to since moving to Kentucky is because I honestly have not been sure of where I should go. For years during my time with YWAM I would typically look for a non-denominational church. I wanted to hear a weighted message from the pastor. I also didn’t want to be bothered with angry sermons. For some time we went to an Assemblies of God church but got burnt out on the hype. In my time in YWAM not only was I exposed to many other friends who came from different denominational traditions but we went to just about ever main type of church out there. YWAM its self had an imbalance of folks from the charismatic churches like Assemblies of God, Pentecostal, and non-denominational. It was rare for me to meet others from the baptist church, or from episcopal backgrounds. I may have meet a few from Catholic backgrounds, one or two from Orthodox background. It was not super uncommon either to meet folks from Methodist or Wesleyan churches.

Then there was my scholarly work that i spent most of my 8 year in YWAM working on. The primary focus was scripture and interpreting scripture with illumination from historical context and guidance from the holy spirit and the counsel of other people of God who had the same pursuit of such revelations. I absolutely loved this work and believe this was the best thing about YWAM. Our team of scholars and teachers within the Chronological School of Biblical Studies. So during the course of these year I also took it upon myself to understand the various traditional denomination differences in interpretation of books and the different doctrines of the faith accordingly.

All that to say Ive not really been sure where if anywhere I would fit within the church. I have many of my own opinions. I don’t have hatred for the church. Even the ones I have the most objections to their traditions or their doctrines. In fact even though I remain opposed to the Catholic doctrines on the papacy, purgatory, indulgences, immaculate conception, and some other minor issues -I feel there is a lot that is lost with the break in unity with Roman Catholics around the world. It really is sad the disunity of the church. Though necessary, it is sad. Because when we break unity with true believers we lose the ability to counter balance each other with doctrines and traditions that are not always opposed to each other but complimentary to each other. Sometimes we reach important impasses and a correct and official doctrine is needed. But sometimes I think its really unfortunate that the church has not been able to appreciate each others unique perspectives on divine revelation. There are so many schisms in the church, throughout history, every day there are new divisions in the church over minor differences.

Thus I am not eager to embrace a place in only one tradition. Within the nest of one set of doctrines. I foresee attending two or three churches regularly and seeking fellowship with people of faith from as many denominations as I can. I hope to be used by God as a peacemaker between people of a genuine faith. Its a difficult year for this in part because people are not as eager to get out and meet with strangers. But I am beginning to scout people of faith for this kind of fellowship.

The other difficulty with finding a church to take part in has more to do with cultural issues than doctrine.

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This is actually pretty important. I like the Anglican and Episcopal church for instance for a number of reasons. However I’m not interested in just going and finding an episcopal church near me without some research as to the culture of the church itself and the degree to which the church is changing its moral and ethical positions on a few key issues. Those issues being the LGBT agenda, (gay marriage being sanctified by the church, gay clergy, etc.) The other issue being abortion. I don’t want any part of a church that condones choice. I am 100% pro-life on the issue of abortions. The other thing I’m looking for is a church with strong male leadership. This does not mean I’m completely opposed to a church with female clergy. As a male I want to join a church with a strong male presence. I recognize I may have to assist in contributing to the positive male energy in a church if it is not already present. However that is something that’s important to me. There is actually another cultural thing that I’m looking for and willing to contribute towards fostering if I am to finally find a good fit. That is a sort of deeds and not words mentality. Defending the faith is not merely a words issue. Though I do love discussion and debate and philosophizing. I believe there is a sever lack of action among the faithful. This could mean doing cleanups, and simple volunteerism. But I also wish to see the church with strongly mobilized men. Ready to take any action necessary for defending the church, and the cultural traditions valued by the people of faith. This brotherhood of Christian men who embrace tradition and faith also have a deep love and devotion to country. They are willing to act in defense of these things should opportunities arise for them to stand. I realize this is probably not actual common in many churches at all. But this is one of those things I’m considering when I look for the right church or churches to partner with. I want to see this take place. Christian Brotherhoods.

For years I have believed in the uniquely blessed character of the West and of the concept of Christendom. These concepts have not been limited to the west but are concentrated in them without interruption for the past two thousand plus years. I am looking for a brotherhood of Christian men who also understand this. Who know that this is something worth fighting for. That fighting to defend the family, faith, and tradition is a birthright for all men. It is their destiny. And no I am not speaking solely of simple physical violence. It is the mentality first and foremost that men remember the basic principles of scripture that no matter how good things have become. No matter how civilized and structured the modern world is. There is still evil in the world. Evil that wishes to claim the souls of men and of Christian society. If and when this happens -indeed it already is, then men will be required to do as they have done before. To stand their ground. NO! To do more than stand their ground. To primitively root out evil before it can do all that we know it will do if it goes unchallenged.

There is not peace when the righteous do not resist evil.

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Peace no doubt is important and Christian. We are to pray for THE PEACE OF GOD. There is such a thing as false peace. There is also mans peace, though it may be real it is not a lasting peace and must be fought for again and again in order to preserve it. There is also the devils peace. It is a false peace. It is the kind of peace that cripples great men from fighting with God to achieve his peace. It is the kind of thing that has “Christian” men and women accepting the wholesale slaughter of the unborn and the infants. Those tiny children of God violently torn from the sacred womb of their mothers by steel and metal tools of destruction. It is in Satan’s peace that “christian” men and women accept sinners into the church not with the hope of spiritual freedom from the grip of sin and its destructive ends but just as Adam and Eve sought to hide themselves with fig leaves. We desperately attempt to cover their sins with inadequate sacrifice. GOD SAID WHEN YOU EAT OF THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT YOU WILL SURELY DIE!!! Only a blood sacrifice could cover sin against God. When we bring people into the church following confession of sin and statements of Faith we do not say to them ‘now continue to be who were before you met God.’ With God we are a new Christian. We follow the mandate and design he laid out for us in the beginning. We are not perfect, we are not sinless, but we strive for Gods design. We strive for obedience. For some this is harder to do. But for those who have been raised by good parents, who love each other as Christ Loves the church, and who are examples for their children and raise them in the wisdom of God and the Love of God it is much easier. The more we as a culture push people to be who they feel like being. People who already come from broken homes. People who have no mentors who loved them and believed in them and instilled in them wisdom from God. We push them into the clutches of Satan. The further we push them to accept themselves or whatever secular aim the further we push them from the grace of God. It is difficult for people to sacrifice themselves to God when they have been convinced that who you have decided to be is all that there is, that without who you have chosen to be without God is the only real thing you have. It becomes incomprehensible to these lost people to embrace God who asks that you lay down your life so you can take it up again renewed. In other words weak cultured woke “Christians” are doing the work of Satan. Love people absolutely. Love them as Christ loves them. Just remember that Christ’s love for sinners is not what “saves” them. Love is why God in Christ was Incarnate and Crucified. Those who come into the church of God do so through the finished work of God in Christ with the hope of being made whole. Of being made new, born again to a new family who makes sure you are raised to walk in newness of life with God according to his image, his design. Being saved is not a prayer it is a life with God, with his true church. Churches who attempt to sanctify gay marriage, gay clergy, and remain silent and unopposed to abortion are heretical churches who themselves are in the clutches of Satan. True believers aught to distance themselves from these so called churches of God.

All that to say, the Anglican and Episcopalian recently had a big split in unity over the issue of same sex marriage and clergy. This is happening all over the place. So its not as simple as saying, ‘Oh, I like this churches traditions or doctrines, Ill go there.’ You have to double check to see if the church is part of the portion that affirmed same sex unions or the one that did not and split off. This is happening in Anglican, Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist, nondenominational, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc. Most if not all churches are having to make a stand on this or continue to be changed with the times and most seem to be having more schisms over this. I currently don’t know a single Catholic who believes the current pope to be a real Catholic after the recent moves he has made to make church doctrine come in line with what is culturally acceptable and right. More divisions to come on this issue and I for one am seeking union with people of faith who while willing to go to great lengths to show love for all people will not suffer the family of God to be corrupted by the work of Satan. This is the great fight of the church down through the ages. Many different battles from the same enemy who devises new schemes for infiltration the church.

That brings me to the last cultural issue that I am hesitant to make union with other churches over and that is the satanic work Marxist ideology and its many front groups. I’m going to go into this in detail for today. It is a believe worthy of a full treatment in a series of posts related to it. This is actually very serious as well and already creeping into the church for its undoing and I’m sick of it.

Ive gone into quite a lot here for today. The main point being is that I am on a journey to seek out people who are staunch and sincere in their faith. I want to be unified with people who though I may not agree with all of their doctrines are people who will not allow the church to be infiltrated by heretics and tear down the family of God. I want to be unified with people of action who also seek to protect and preserve all of the expressions of the people of God in the wider culture. The kingdom of God may not be here in fullness but it is here in and through the true church of God. Historical and presently this body is reflected in the establishment of great nations who the very much imperfect are worth defending and building up, not tearing down.

For the time being I have found strength in unity with the local Orthodox Church (Byzantine Rite) and the Anglican Church (ACNA). I also have a nearby Southern Baptist church that I am seeking fellowship with though not as often. I see no reason not to seek fellowship with any people of a sincere faith in the Trinitarian God of Scripture. I will continue to post updates here as this develops.

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I’m Back – Stop Regression – (The answers to the worst of our problems in 2020 are in the past not in the ethos. In others words Progressivism is a virus -Tradition is the cure)

2020 has been a year from Hell.

But with all this time contemplating how we got here I’m determined that its going to make me better. In many ways I’m very much not better yet. Right now I’m less healthy then i was to start the year. So much stress, so much disruption to all of my good habits and hobbies that kept me physically fit. But the year has caused me to look a little deeper and remember what is important. Its uncomfortable. Its inconvenient. Part of me want to just give up on life. Play more Xbox, watch more TV, and drink more bourbon. Certainly that is what I have done as an initial reaction to the frustration and depression this year has brought.

I’m still not physically back to where I want to be but I am working on that again. I’m also determined to return to the books and the learning that I do love. Before moving to Kentucky I spent most my hours deep in research, or at the very least always flipping through a book or two on history, philosophy, theology, culture, biblical studies, religion, worldview, and generally widening my mind to perspectives and ideas. This still is very important. Ive continued reading and done some study over the past 5 years. This year with more time on my hands Ive rediscovered some of that passion for this. I have delved ever deeper into topics such as political science and theory, the role of government, history of race in America, economics, class struggles. This was no doubt motivated by one of the most insane political years in American history with more twist and turns to come I’m quite sure. I intend to bring here a new aspect of who I have become over the past 5 year as I am not the same person i was then. Though Id say I’ve changed very little in some respects and maybe quite a lot in others.

But the main question. The question I’m sure many others have been asking and contemplating this year.

  • HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Yikes, I mean am i really going to be able to answer that? I guess for now I wont really try to give any real justice to such a question. But maybe a simple anecdote.

I was looking for a segue back into this blog. I feel its such an abrupt end to what was a really enjoyable blog to writing almost nothing for five years. Part of me really wishes i had filled the last 5 years with my standard weekly or twice a week post. Incredibly this page gets a decent amount of traffic considering Ive been completely inactive on here for five years. But here we are.

Political history may begin to fill up some of the space in this blog. But perhaps not today.

True to the real nature of this blog I believe we are here today at this moment of turmoil because of what has been lost. This as opposed to what some say many are still clinging to. For instance. In 2019 Toxic Masculinity was under fire. Negative ad campaigns discouraging “Toxic” masculinity. Without going into great detail as many have already done. This attack seems to me and many others completely out of touch with current society. If anything its apparent to me and many if not almost everyone I come into contact with that masculinity is almost completely missing. Its gone. Its not something that needs to go because its not something that seems to even be present. The finger can be pointed in so many directions. Broken homes, absent fathers, break down of traditional parental roles being chief among them. But there are other culprits contributing directly to the break down in male psychology.

This is just an example. Masculinity is lacking. Its not something we’ve had an abundance of so that now it has become toxic and dangerous because men don’t know how to be sensitive. Men are too sensitive. Men are too submissive. Masculine men lead, they act, they speak with authority. They defend their honor their property, they protect those they love, they stand up to tyrants and bullies. They are not controlled by any man but by their own sense of right and wrong. Masculinity is also humble when confronted by difficulty and wonder but resolved to overcome what must be for the sake of self preservation and care for those less capable. Masculinity is in short supply. Toxic Masculinity to is almost non existent as a result.

We are here because of the many things that we have lost or worse that have been stripped away from us. Was it out negligence, our laziness, our complacency? Was it a great enemy, someone who means us great harm by stripping us of the many things that we have lost that bring us to this point of desperation and chaos? Will we find it within ourselves to begin now to do the fighting we must do to retain all that is lost? Are we willing to change those things in our-self that must be changed?

Who now is telling us still that is those who hold on to what is old, from days past, from the wrong side of history who hold back “progress”? Who is telling us that our traditions are no longer important? That the world as it was before is backwards?

Progressive philosophy coupled with Marxist ideology and a deadly combo. This is a rough start back on the blog. But these themes are hard on my mind this year. I’m sure I will have more on male psychology and roles or men and women in society. Many things have changed. Traditionalism is not simply about returning to the old days exactly as they were. Instead its going back to specific things that worked. Recovering what was lost by recovering small pieces that are the building blocks of strong and prosperous societies.

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These are your friends

My first blog post in a long time. Just take a look at my last update.

I made a number of big transitions in my life. So my style and focus here at bibleontap will likely shift to culture.

Recently without too many boring details about my actual life. I will just say that I find myself more isolated then I have been before. I’ve attempted to stay connected with friends and family via social media. But I’ve been increasingly more frustrated and isolated because of the lack of real human connection on Facebook Etc. If everyone went back to just posting things about their life even if half of it was what they were eating for breakfast I don’t think I would mind that much. But I feel like primarily Facebook is a place for clickbait garbage. I recently set up a Snapchat. But about 20 people I know actually have Snapchat. Probably about 6 of them actually use it. Twitter is just not my thing either.

So today I will begin blogging again. Pretty stereotypical I guess. I know that so many people who blog do so rigorously for a year maybe two years 6 months only to go cold turkey for about a year or more. This is pretty much what I have done. But now I’m back because I miss actual content shared by people who take the time to respond to other people’s log posts or write one up themselves.
Anyway. I won’t spend an entire blog post just talking about how I’m back. Who cares anyway. The actual thoughts stirring in my head which compelled me to return to my blog we’re about friendship.

Currently I have no friends who actually live within 150 miles of me. This sucks. That’s my rant about social media. Over the last year or two I’ve attempted to reach out to old friends can keep in touch with current friends. Seeing how people engage via social media primarily has caused me to really feel sad about a lot of friendships. And I use the term friendship slightly here. Because what does that really mean? What is the new definition of friend? I guess this could be a mere acquaintance or someone you’ve known fairly well your entire life. But what does friendship mean to you?

I guess this is tough because some people don’t really experience good friendships anyway. Even without all the social media. Who really has such a thing as a loyal friend who’s there for you when you need them? Who supports you but does not let you get away with crap. Someone who will stand by you and stand with you yet someone who will also oppose you and challenge you. A good friend is all these things and more. You can see some of this taking place via social media. But to be honest of my 2000 plus friends on Facebook I doubt there’s 10 to 20 that I can be really honest with. There are 10 to 20 who I believe may actually really care about me.

I never really thought of my friends on Facebook as actual friends. But I think I believe that a large portion of them especially the ones who I’ve known for many years and shared experiences with we’re actually friends. Don’t think that my tone here is whining. I think it’s just so great for people to realize that you can’t actually have real friends who exists primarily through social media. These are people you can touch. People you can share an actual experience with.

Here’s another thing that I think a friend is not. A friend is not someone who thinks and feels and believes exactly as you do. Since before during and after the last presidential election in the United States our culture is more polarized than ever before. Simply put, a friend is a friend. If they are truly your friend as I said you ain’t you may oppose their views you May challenge their ideas. But friends are not people you gather around yourself because they agree with you or because you like their ideology and they validate yours. This is actually one of the wonderful things about friendships. You believe one way and they believe another. Friends don’t polarize the issues or else they cannot remain friends. And what I mean by polarized is making an extreme contrast between your way of seeing things and the other person’s and determining that there is only one way which is your way and the other side is foolish evil and twisted. I saw this take place between many individuals as well as myself and a handful of others during the political season. Countless people decided they couldn’t be friends with other people and blocked them or unfollowed them or unfriended them on Facebook. This is one of the initial things that got me thinking about friendship and what friendship actually is.

I realize that a lot of people thought that a polarization was necessary because Trump was the devil Sent From Hell. Course many people on the other side thought the exact same thing about Hillary Clinton. But seriously. Hillary was compared to Chairman Mao. And Trump was and continues to be compared to Hitler. Both evil people responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent lives.

In other words fear. Fear there’s actually a very familiar foe to friendships or deep ones at least. But fear is the reason for such strong polarization and so many lost friendships.

The problem of course is that many of the so-called friends on Facebook we’re probably never friends to begin with and therefore it was very easy to unfriend and never feel any sadness about losing a friend. But some people have lost real friends. Sometimes not only to do with a volatile political season but because of the natural drifting apart of people over time and space. Some people drift apart in terms of their beliefs and shared experiences ideals and values. Why should their friendship suffer so? It dies, and that is the truth of it. I guess this post is a vent of a lament on Lost friendship.

Is there a such thing as a lament without whining? In my mind it is a sort of classy poetic way of whining.

Unless you reconnect the bonds of friendship. Unless you possess an innate ability two remain loyal to someone you rarely see or hear from. Friendships are lost.

 As I Lament I also implore you to do one of the two. Keep close to your heart and mind the moments you shared, the hugs, the laughs, the tears. 

These are your friends.

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My Story, Gods Story, & My Theology

One of my biggest mistakes I believe that I was making as an early bible student was assuming that scripture was all about how to ‘get saved and go to heaven.’

To my pleasant surprise, (as it turned out) that was not what Featured imagescripture or God himself was concerned with trying to reveal. I’m so glad that the year I had decided to do the SBS in YWAM, a Chronological SBS was starting in Los Angeles and that happened to be the place where I was planning to go. I spent the first 6 months of the bible school trapped in the Old Testament. I was just nineteen years old when I began the CSBS and I struggled with the violence in the OT but for the first time was struck by the goodness and mercy of God. Instead of being fixated on his wrath or anger It became clear that though God interacted with violence at times mankind was constantly prone to violence, murder, lies, cheating, stealing, and many other violent and destructive behaviors. God not man is the hero of the OT.

Often people struggling with God, fixate on specif instances of his judgement. But the consistent story of the OT is about the ongoing and worsening behavior of man. Yet the primary theme emerges. Scripture when given a chance and looked at as a unified whole reveal a good God, a loving and patient God, a just and right God who does not gleefully destroy anyone or anything that he lovingly created.

The emerging theme is what we sometimes call the theme of Gods Redemptive Plan. It is evident from book one that he had a plan to turn everything around. To reverse the curse that began with mans rebellion from God. Abraham was the man God chose and his family to undo the sin of Adam and bring blessings instead of curses onto the earth and to every family in it. Just as God planned in Adam and Eve to fill the earth with Adam seed and nurture Eden until it consumed the whole earth. God wanted for Abraham to continue in that great vocation though sin and its curse had already begun to have its effect on the earth and on all the families of the earth including Abraham’s family.

The overarching story of those first 6 months of bible study told us that this chosen family was failing. Though there were many bright spots, many shining examples of faithfulness, the people of Abraham failed. They again, like Adam faced exile from their home, from the place which in Gods design they would spread out from and bless the world. When we arrive at the gospels in the New Testament Jews believed that though the had been preserved they were still in an exile of sorts. Still awaiting the day when God would act on their behalf. The day when God would restore their fortunes and make the world notice that God was for Israel.

Interesting for me that after about 5 years in the CSBS I had not developed a strong appreciating for the New Testament. I did not dislike it. But I was intrigued and drawn to the Torah and to the story of Israel and their God. But after 5 years I finally fell in Love with the gospels. In particular I fell in love with the the Gospel of Matthew. This makes a lot of sense to me since Matthew is the most Jewish Gospel. Written to Jews no doubt, Jesus engages a lot with Pharisees (with the lament of the pharisees in particular), Law (with the Sermon on the mount in particular), and Temple (with the Olivet Discourse in particular). It is a master piece seeking to convince any doubters that Jesus really is the Messiah that the Jewish people have been waiting on. But its going to be tricky cause he is a little different than expected. I found it more exciting because Jesus was not simply telling people ‘this is how you get to heaven or get saved.” It was more rich than that. He was teaching what his kingdom was like, how those who were a part of his kingdom must live, think, and feel about the world that they live in and will inherit. Only after I really grasped some of these essentials about Jesus and his kingdom, about the ongoing use of the Jewish Narrative and their Law was I able to appreciate the work of Paul the Apostle.

For many Christians, I believe, their “Christian” Theology is actually a “Pauline” Theology. Whether they worked for it or inherited it from sermons and popular teaching people understand the OT through Paul’s lens, and people understand the Gospels through Paul’s lens. Not that there is anything wrong with Paul’s lens in itself. Its just not the way Christians, I believe, should go about study and compression of the Canon of Scripture. I have heard it pointed out that our “Theology” is often based on creeds rather than on Canon. That theology is inherited from the teachings, the sermons, the songs, the liturgy, and the creeds, of the church. This is a valid point that Reformers themselves fought against. We tend to think that the reformers had a great victory in riding the church of allegiance to creeds and bring the people of God back to the whole witness of the Canon of Scriptures. But they did not once and for all rid Christianity of allegiance to creeds over Canon. They simply set an example to follow. It remains a task of Christians to follow in their footsteps and not allow Tradition to overtake fresh engagement with the Word of God. Even if that means that we challenge some of the traditions developed in our post reformation christian world. Of course I am not suggesting to throw out doctrine of John Calvin, Martin Luther, and the like. We should work with their readings and commentaries and go back to the text and have fresh insights that derive out of careful exegesis.

One of these Post-Reformation ways of engaging with the Canon is to read through the lens of Paul rather. As inductive bible students who seek to establish a context for each book, its author, its audience, and its occasion we should not approach Genesis for instance simply with what Paul said, though we do not dismiss him. It helps, I believe, to approach these text fresh, with as much knowledge of the context as possible. To work through the unfolding story, in context, to arrive at Jesus and the Gospels still engaging with their context, and then arrive at Paul and his letters to see how he engaged with the Old Testament and the Gospels and add on to what we have already learned and perhaps adapt it where it needs to be adapted. The thing I’m not suggesting is a a sort of either or, that we either go with what Paul said about the OT or we just do it on our own. Instead we do a little of both. I believe if we learn to work with the OT in context then instead of forcing Paul to say what we want him to we become familiar with how he may have actually come to think about the OT and Jesus.

In other words, what Paul says about the use of the Law is not extensive and final. Most come away from Paul with clarity that the Law brings condemnation. He says that it does, but for those who are “in Christ” the law does not bring condemnation. Therefore the Law becomes simultaneously; condemnation for those who are not “in Christ”, a tool for those who are to know God better, to look more like God, and to bear a greater witness to those who are not “In Christ.” Multiple uses for the Law abound when we look at Paul’s explanation of the Law from the angle of how Jews in the first Century struggled with the Law and how to actually go about observing it. Paul now has the key, Jesus and the Spirit. All of these uses are evident if we study the law in context. Paul becomes more clear when we see for ourselves that the Law is about humbling the people of God, revealing God to the people of God, and making the people of God a greater witness to those around them.

It is the issue of the Law that brings me back to my own story. Just as I had mistaken all scripture to be about Salvation, or how to get saved and go to heaven. Jews in Paul’s day had mistaken the Law for a formula for assurance of their own future vindication. If they were circumcised, if they ate right, observed holy days, and followed the rabbinic teachings of the day then they would have some assurance of their Salvation. In others words for many Jews in Paul’s day they have mistaken the Law for a way of salvation. Saul of Tarsus certainly must have believed in some form of this, until his conversion, and maybe some time away in Arabia to sort things out a bit. The new Paul was able to clarify that Law on its own brings condemnation, that without Christ there is no hope of future vindication of the righteous, no matter how righteous, without Christ and also the spirit there is not hope for the people of God. So for Paul, if he were asked directly, “How do I get saved?” He might respond with well really its not about how you get saved but about how you have been saved, or better, how salvation has come into the world for the world by way of those in the world. It is a story that in Romans Paul actually decided to tell from Creation, Fall, Judgement, Law, Sacrifice, Atonement, Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Pharaoh, Prophets, exile, and Messiah. This is the story not of how you can get saved and go to heaven but about how God has brought salvation into the world that he loves and to that which he loved the most, mankind.

It would be silly of me to completely leave out what Paul says about “Justification by Faith”. Some might say well actually Paul answers the quest more basically. He says, to those who ask, You get saved by faith in the Messiah. But that I believe is sometimes the answer we give a bit to soon. Paul labors heavily to tell the story of how Salvation was provided for us by God  throughout history climaxing in Jesus the Messiah. Then when it is heavily evident Faith in the messiah becomes a reaction, and a work of the spirit, through the telling of the story of Gods Faithfulness. In other words, we are saved by the faithfulness of God. By Faith for Faith as Paul says in Romans chapter one.

Some Suggested Reading on topic

Conversion of the Imagination – Richard B. Hays

Ancient Near Eastern Thought Relating to the OT – John H. Walton

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah – Alfred Edersheim

Paul and the Faithfulness of God – N.T. Wright

How God became King – N.T. Wright

Categories: Bible, CSBS, Doctrine, New Testament, paul, Romans, Theology, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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