Saturday, February 28, 2009
where two or three are gathered-
the Three in One is in the midst.
I saw a cluster of violets today.
Against the outside wall,
they flowered in abundance in cold February.
Their roots grow deep
beneath the wall warmed soil.
Together, I am in the midst of them.
When I first began to blog, it was accidental, really. I simply wanted to comment on several people’s blogs. So I created my identity to make it easy. Then I looked and saw how empty the page was; if people clicked on my name they would not find anything to read. So I thought I would post a couple of my poems. And wonder of wonders a friend commented suggesting two books on the Lord’s Supper.
But my reading of blogs before this gave me certain ideals I hoped for when blogging. In particular, I often read Ben Witherington’s blog. He is a professor and I am amazed at how much he interacts with those who comment on his blog postings. I saw Christian conversation about a common Lord as one of the most attractive parts of blogging.
Another side is the chance to speak of Jesus Christ to an audience that does not know him. Also writing about issues of the day from a Christian perspective is very important. But still the attraction for me is godly conversation with sisters and brothers.
How much this ideal fails can quickly be seen by reading the heavier visited postings I have written. The solution eludes me. But nonetheless having conversations with those who love Jesus Christ and desire to be under his Lordship is, for me, the pleasure of blogging.
I was thinking about this as I went to bed last night and woke up, much too early, with some favorite verses from Malachi running through my head.
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem his name. ‘They will be Mine,’ says the Lord of Hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession [special treasure], and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’”
And undoubtedly that is, in the end, the only solution to all problems. The context of this verse is that in the midst of trying times it seems that those who, as the text puts it, are “arrogant against” God are having the better time of it. They are also suggesting that it is futile to serve God and so, “call the arrogant blessed…” But God notes those who fear him as they affirm to each other, with words, the goodness and holiness of the Lord.
In God’s remembrance he promises, ‘but for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”
Calvin explaining this verse, among other thoughts, writes:
“The sum of the whole is briefly this — ‘Hearken ye,’ he says, ‘who fear God; for I have a different word for you, and that is, that the Sun of righteousness shall arise, which will bring healing in its wings. Let those despisers of God then perish, who, though they carry on war with him, yet seek to have him as it were bound to them; but raise ye up your heads, and patiently look for that day, and with the hope of it calmly bear your troubles.’ "
Calvin goes on to enlarge on the subject of the Sun of Righteousness pointing out that this is truly Christ.
So my thoughts are that in conversation with one another the Lord is the listener, and of course, the angels who, as Peter states, “long to look” into the redemptive acts of Christ. (1 Peter 1:10-12) And that is pleasure enough.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Very good news! The United States will not attend the second Durban Conference due to its attitude toward Israel. The small article is titled "U.S. will not attend U.N. conference on racism." This is the Conference I wrote about in my posting A debate about the Holocaust by a UN sponsored Conference . One of the reporters who wrote about the early planning for the conference suggested that American representatives were allowing the planners to include anti-Semitic material in the document. Apparently the American Representatives were trying to change the document and failed so they have withdrawn from the conference.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) "- The United States will not attend a United Nations conference on racism that critics say will be a forum to criticize Israel and will no longer attend planning sessions for it, a U.S. official said on Friday.
"We will not attend," the official said."
Some times the news is good. Well partially good. If the conference would fold that would be the best news.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Harassment over the passage of proposition 8 is still going on in Sacramento. Leatherby's Ice Cream was in the news again on the sixteenth and I missed reading the article. The Sacramento Bee published an article by Jennifer Garza, "Prop. 8 fallout doesn't daunt Ice cream shop's owner."
From the article:
"Sunday morning after church, Alan Leatherby thinks about ice cream.
He looks around the Arden Way restaurant as employees gear up for another day at Leatherby's Family Creamery, a Sacramento institution known for its half-gallon banana splits. Leatherby hopes it is a good day.
It has been three months since the November election and Leatherby family members still are dealing with the aftermath. They gave $20,000 to Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage, and their business has suffered.
They've been picketed, employees wearing company sweat shirts have been harassed, angry callers have phoned their creamery at all hours of the day. Hundreds of angry e-mails have come in. Bloggers have targeted their business.
Last week, Alan Leatherby received obscene Valentine's Day cards in the mail."
I think perhaps its time for a huge family outing for ice cream!!!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
In April of 2008, before the 218 General Assembly, I wrote on a paper that had connections to the study of the Belhar Confession by members of the Presbyterian Church (USA). In a A Badly Flawed Document For Study I pointed out that a paper recommended for study by the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns, “Report of the Task Force on Reparations (216th General Assembly (2004), made extensive reference to the United Nations Conference on racism in Durban South Africa. As an aside they mention that the United States had walked out on the conference.
As I pointed out in my posting the truth was that both Israel and the United States walked out because of the horrid Anti-Semitism promoted by the leaders of the conference. The then U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the United State’s representatives at the Conference to go home. Among his reasons was this:
“I know that you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of "Zionism equals racism;" or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world--Israel--for censure and abuse.”
Another Conference is planned for this coming April and committees have already drawn up a document for debate. President Obama has allowed American representatives to be a part of the planning as a supposed means of guiding the process so that it would not itself include racism. And yet its anti-Semitism and prejudicial outlook is greater so far than the first conference. And this is not surprising since “The preparatory committee is chaired by Libya. Vice chairs include Iran and Cuba, which does double duty as the committee "rapporteur."
As The Wall Street Journal article, Obama's Durban Dalliance Does an anti-Semitic conference deserve U.S. participation of any kind?”, points out it will be debated “whether to include a line that the Holocaust "resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people." Presumably Iran objects.”
And Anne Bayefsky, of Forbes, points out in her article, The Obama Administration Sacrifices Israel: The cover-up on Durban II's anti-Semitic agenda:
“Negotiators from the European Union suggested on Wednesday a new provision to "condemn without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urges all states to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full, or in part, or any activities to this end." Iran--whose president is a Holocaust-denier--immediately objected and insisted that the proposal be "bracketed" or put in dispute. The move blocked the adoption of the proposal and ensured another battle over the reality of the Holocaust in April--at these supposedly "anti-racism" meetings. After Iran objected, the chair looked around the room, expecting a response. He said: "Is there any delegation wishing to comment on this new proposal by the European Union? It doesn't seem the case. We move on." U.S. delegates said nothing, even after the prompt.”
What Bayefsky is pointing out is that without the Americans objecting to Iran’s objections the provision can be debated during the Durban conference. That means a conference backed and paid for by the United Nations will be debating whether or not the Holocaust actually happened.
“U.N. Watch noted in its statement: "Discussing proposed Paragraph 29 which provides that the Holocaust must never be forgotten and mentions that it resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, South Africa for the African Group asked that the paragraph be minimised, conforming to the Durban I declaration, to simply say, 'Recalls that the Holocaust never be forgotten,' without mentioning that it resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people.
"South Africa's proposal was supported by Jamaica and Iran. Syria also supported the proposal, saying, 'I don't think we should get into a kind of statistical debate. As far as I [the Syrian representative] know that there is no agreement on the consensus on the percentage of those who perished in the Holocaust".
Hopefully the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns will not make use of this second Durban Conference in any paper.
Monday, February 23, 2009
We drove toward Chico on a sunny afternoon.
My husband and I on our way to Presbytery in Orland.
He for an outing which turned into a tuning, I preparing to help with devotions and my two minute speech and voting to do.
Spring was peeking out of the gloominess of a California February.
The grass was green from late rains and the beginning of swelling in tree buds cast all their empty branches in a faint hazy pink.
Returning birds flew in formations landing in the wetlands and rice fields. A white egret was almost on the road eating among the new greens.
In an extremely tall tree leaning by the highway at the very tip sat an eagle.
“You yourselves have seen … how I bore you on eagles wings, and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4b)
“High above him some winged thing went through the air; he could not tell what it was but he felt comforted to see it. He was not entirely alone, it seemed; the pure balance of that distant flight entered into him as if it had been salvation.” The place of the Lion, by Charles Williams
“The fields are all yellow with flowers” I say.
He calls them rape seed plants.
I argue they are wild mustard. We do this every spring.
It is unimportant, the kind of argument older married couples enjoy renewing with the seasons.
“’Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one’? (Matthew 19:4-5)
In a small Italian restaurant, a place, my husband has been wanting to take me, we sat eating.
The veal was very good, the wine marvelous.
A very old piano sat in a corner and some one began to play
Baroque and Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze.”
“We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3b)
“None but the Virtue understood, in its soaring comprehension, the safety in which the sheep still lived, or from what yet deeper distance of spirit was to arise the Innocence which everlastingly formed and maintained them.” The Place of the Lion
In the morning we met.
Prayed, read Scripture, each text twice.
The moderator had read my blog;
He called and asked me to read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
Please listen to the word of God.
“Love … does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Many spoke for, many against.
The Moderator asked us to face those in the pew as we spoke and speak to brothers and sisters.
I spoke of communion, the Lord’s Supper.
How the word rightly preached must be with the sacraments.
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female.”
How shall we take the Lord’s Supper in a strange land;
A land where the word is not rightly proclaimed?
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads my bond servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality …” Rev. 3:20)
There didn’t seem to be many there; one or two figures were moving at the upper end; a few more were scattered about the small building. They were seated as if waiting--perhaps for the Breaking of Bread. …he saw it. It was standing at the other end of Zion; it was something like a horse in shape and size, but of dazzling whiteness, and from the middle of its forehead there grew a single horn. … He saw the Divine Unicorn gently sustaining itself in that obscure and remote settlement of the faithful. … it lowered and tossed its head, and again that gleaming horn caught all the light in Zion, and gathered it, and flashed it back in a dazzling curve of purity.” The Place of the Lion
The vote came: pro 65, con 75.
A lady asked me afterwards, “Do you really believe the Bible could change a homosexual person?”
I said “no, but Jesus could.”
On the way home we drove by orchards, and here and there a lonely almond tree in bloom.
Red wings gathered on a fence and one field was filled with sheep, heavy with wool, waiting for a spring shearing.
Christian bikers with crosses and crowns of thorns roared past.
"By the side of the road, … there appeared the creature they had set out to seek. It was larger and mightier than when they had seen it before--and, comparatively close as they now were, they fell back appalled by the mere effluence of strength that issued from it. It was moving like a walled city, like the siege-towers raised against Nineveh or Jerusalem; each terrible paw, as it set it down, sank into the firm ground as if into mud, but was plucked forth without effort; the movements of its mane, whenever it mightily turned its head, sent reverberations of energy through the air, which was shaken into the wind by that tossed hair.” The Place of the Lion
“Stop weeping; behold the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome.” Rev. 5:5
Thursday, February 19, 2009
"The iron hand it ain't no match for the iron rod,
The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty
For all those who have eyes and all those who have
It is only He who can reduce me to tears.
Don't you cry and don't you die and don't you burn
For like a thief in the night, He'll replace wrong with right
When He returns.
Truth is an arrow and the gate is narrow that it
He unleashed His power at an unknown hour
that no one knew.
How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the
Can I cast it aside, all this loyalty and this pride?
Will I ever learn that there'll be no peace, that the war
Until He returns?
Surrender your crown on this blood-stained ground,
take off your mask,
He sees your deeds, He knows your needs even
before you ask.
How long can you falsify and deny what is real?
How long can you hate yourself for the weakness
Of every earthly plan that be known to man,
He is unconcerned,
He's got plans of His own to set up His throne
When He returns"
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
In a letter placed on Sacramento’s Presbytery web site, Moderator David Rue, gives his introduction concerning dialogue to commissioners. He is thinking of Saturday’s debate on 08- B and is hopeful that the Presbytery will find healing while in discussion.
This is part of the push toward Dialogue vs. debate that I wrote about yesterday. In the letter, Rue points to the President of Fuller Theological Seminary, Dr. Richard Mouw, an Evangelical, as a model of one who wishes to dialogue with those who disagree with his position.
Turning to an article found in Newsweek (Feb. 9, 2009) Rue writes:
“This month another Angeleno [resident of Los Angeles] pleads with the nation in his essay, ‘Less Shouting, More Talking,’ in Newsweek (February 9, 2009.) His name is Richard Mouw, a self-acclaimed evangelical, a proponent of Prop 8, and a virtual unknown. Reminding us that through talking, we have worked our way out of hopelessly deadlock [ed] impasses at other times, he suggests we again talk. He says, ‘I support the democratic process and believe that civil society is at its best when people with different perspectives engage in a mutually respectful dialogue.’"
I believe this quote, taken out of context, is meant to back up the kind of false dichotomies that can be seen in the paper "Dialogue vs. debate.”
But the content of Mouw’s article is not concerned with the difference between debate and dialogue nor do I believe that the author of the Newsweek piece would define debate in the same manner as the Dialogue paper does.
Mouw, as his article’s title implies, is concerned with the kind of argumentation that reaches an unhealthy level of insult and even violence. He writes about the insults he received because he is pro proposition 8. “I've been on talk shows where people phone in to call me a fascist or equate me with those who burned accused witches at the stake.”
Mouw also writes of those who are willing to shout insults at each other from both sides. He writes of seeing, “angry confrontation between two groups at an intersection in” his home town. “Both sides were carrying signs: one set supporting proposition 8—the ban on same sex marriage—and the other opposing it. The two groups were angrily shouting and gesturing at each other as I passed by.” He writes of his tears.
Mouw also uses his article to explain his reasons for being pro proposition 8. He writes:
While my views about sexuality are shaped by my religious convictions, I know that I cannot simply quote the Bible in arguing for public policy. Not every sin ought to be made illegal. But in this case, the issues go deep. For many of us, "normalizing" same-sex marriage comes down to deep concerns about the raising of our children and grandchildren. What will they be taught about sexual and family values in our schools? How will they be affected by the ways the entertainment media portray people with our kinds of views? And will we even be allowed to counter these influences in our homes and churches without being accused of ‘hate speech‘?”
Mouw is certainly calling for respectful dialogue. He wants everyone to hear what the other person is saying. That is also a part of debate. And debate does not mean that we need to raise our voices, our fist, or use insult. Importantly, using either debate or dialogue should not mean that we need to temporarily suspend our beliefs as the dialogue paper insists.
I am almost certain that Mouw would not temporarily suspend his beliefs; an impossible action for a Christian since it is the Holy Spirit which gives faith. And I am almost certain that it is Mouw’s faith that allowed his tears at the sight of shouting people on both sides of the Proposition 8 divide.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sacramento Presbytery's moderator, David Rue, has placed a document on our Presbytery site meant to be a guide for our meeting on Saturday. The document is entitled "Dialogue vs. debate." It is a document adapted from, “a paper prepared by Shelley Berman, which was based on discussions of the Dialogue Group of the Boston Chapter of Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR)."
Rue is suggesting that this should be how we address the issues before us in particular 08-B, the removal of the fidelity and chastity clause from our Book of Order.
There are several problems with this paper particularly when a group of Christians are addressing biblical issues.
The first problem with this paper is that it at times redefines debate. For instance while I agree with the idea that “one should submit ones best-thinking, knowing that other people’s reflections will help improve it rather than destroy it” I would not put that under dialogue but under debate with this qualification that “will” be changed to “might.”
The same is true with the idea that “Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not alienate or offend.” While both dialogue and debate might be the cause of alienating or offending that should never be the goal of either.
But some of the statements in this paper are themselves offensive to Christians. For instance, “Dialogue reveals assumptions for re-evaluation. Debate defends assumptions as truth.” Debate or even dialogue from a Christian point of view may be about biblical truths. Therefore a person may rightly understand their assumptions to be truth.
When I look at John 3:16 and state that “God gave his only begotten Son” I am quoting and insisting on biblical truth. To be a believer in Jesus Christ means to believe that some things are true, period. This does not mean that the other person will not be allowed to re-evaluate what I say, it simply means I hold my position as true because I believe it is based on God’s Word.
Another problem is this thought. “Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one’s beliefs. Debate calls for investing wholeheartedly in one’s beliefs.” But, we are talking about one of the greatest issues in the Church in contemporary times.
When early Christians were called upon to simply suspend their belief’s and say Caesar is Lord they instead invested wholeheartedly in their beliefs to the point of death. This is no mere game we are playing; this has to do with redemption, transformation and the life of the Church. This has to do with the Lordship of Christ. We must not suspend our beliefs.
I will go to Presbytery with the intent of not hurting anyone, of not offending anyone. But the one I am most intent on not offending or alienating is my Lord Jesus Christ.
May God have mercy on His Church.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Ace Books 2008
The Knights Templar can hold a tale together in myriad ways. Not only is their history fascinating, but it lends itself so well to both mysteries and fantasy. The legends that surround them can feed tales that consist of an evil compromise with materialistic supernaturalism. Or they beautifully fill with metaphors the tales of those whose worldview weds the transcendent to a good creation.
The first, an evil compromise, is seen in Dan Brown's “The Da Vinci Code.” The second, the transcendent wed to a good creation, is seen in the book I am reviewing, The Knights of the Cornerstone” by James P. Blaylock.
Blaylock is a fabulist. He writes using fantasy, but in a real contemporary world. One sees two of his favorite writers, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, peeking through the cracks in his stories.
His recent book, written in 2008, is full of humor, mystery, unabated adventure and descriptive writing that place the reader into the core of the character's experiences. The reader is at once confronted with scenes that pull together, for instance, a quiet river scene, an aunt dying with cancer and dementia, a tasty casserole of rice, shrimp, peas and crumpled potato chips and a box with mysterious contents that cause objects to levitate!
After several serious ghost stories, Blaylock, with this book, returns to the biblical images he uses so well. Looking back to a much older interview, 1988, focusing on his book The Last Coin, Blaylock speaks about his use of biblical material:
“I grew up going down the street to the Presbyterian church. I've been steeped in biblical stories my entire life, as many of us have. Given what Christianity has evolved into throughout Europe and the world, why, man, there's this giant, almost untapped quantity of stuff.”
In this particular story Blaylock connects the ancient Knights Templar to a small hidden town, New Cyprus, beside the Colorado River. The veil of Veronica, the veil that Veronica supposedly used to wipe the face of Jesus as he stumbled toward Calvary is a part of the story. The face of Jesus appears on the veil. The face of Jesus enters the story. And of course there is the Cornerstone.
In Blaylock’s stories there is always a hero, weak though he might be. In this story, Calvin Bryson is, unwittingly, called to be a knight so the story circles around his calling. But this is a different kind of a knight story and the heroine, Donna, who is already a knight, unlike the lady in the usual medieval tale, will fight beside him.
This is also a story about community, a community that indulges in piles of pancakes, bacon and chili fries yet is hidden around a communion of bread, wine and a decanter constantly broken and mysteriously repaired. They are unable to resort, during a time of attack, to official police protection, and instead resort to secret plans, brave deeds and unseen powers.
Probably without intending to, Blaylock has redeemed the story of the Knights. Brown raised the ancestors of the Knights Templar to a supposed holy position and attempted to align them with vile deeds, sexual rites, which he wished his readers to see as good. Blaylock gives the one real ancestor a part in an unholy group of thugs who wish to glorify magic as a means of gaining wealth and power. The non-ancestoral knights of New Cyprus are in a sense spiritual ancestors of the ancient Knights Templar. They understand that the miraculous is not meant for worldly use and the holy relic, as Blaylock has his characters say, “it is what it is.”
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Reformed Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, of Pure Church , has posted on how the African Americans, with their past full of horrific experiences, can be an example of those who hold to Christian faith when "life is harder than steel." It is a good article to read during Black History Month, but it is also a good article to read anytime. The Posting is:
The Legacy of the African-American Church: Faith
"How would you define "faith"? How would you know faith when you see it?Though I think many people could give some general definition of faith, I think it remains a misty concept for many others. It's an intangible. Most folks think you either have it or you don't. Even though we may talk of little faith or great faith, do you feel that sometimes "little faith" is simply a nice pseudonym for "no faith in reality"?
Sometimes life is harder than steel. Sometimes life mangles and twists us like so many guard rails smashed by speeding, out-of-control vehicles. And in those times of hardship, we discover what faith is and whether we have it.
I'm convinced that perhaps the greatest example of genuine faith in American Christian history is the example left by African Americans who love the Lord. The situation most African-Americans live in now was the stuff of dreams just 50 years ago. Recede further into the history, past Jim Crow, past Reconstruction, past the abolitionist movement, on back to Jamestown and you find a people dragged into "history as terror" or "daemonic dread" as one author put it. He asked, "Who do you pray to in the bowels of a slave ship?"
It's a good question.In time, many Africans sold as chattel in the New World prayed to the One True God through Jesus Christ His Son and entered into eternal life. Howard Thurman, a famed theologically liberal African-American pastor and educator, had it right when he pointed out that the greatest irony of American history was that the slaves should pray to the master's God."
To read the whole posting go here or above.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Picture by Ron Andersen
I thought of this as I was looking up some verses in Luke in John Calvin’s commentary. I was reading the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Calvin writes about how it was God who kept them from recognizing that it was the resurrected Jesus that was walking beside them. Calvin goes on to write about the control God has over us particularly over our understanding of spiritual things. He writes:
“Now if the bodily eyes, to which peculiarly belongs the power of seeing, are held, whenever it pleases the Lord, so as not to perceive the objects presented to them, our understandings would possess no greater acuteness, even though their original condition remained unimpaired; but no in this wretched corruption, after having been deprived of their light, they are liable to innumerable deceptions, and are sunk into such gross stupidity, that they can do nothing but commit mistakes, as happens to us incessantly. The proper discrimination between truth and falsehood, therefore, does not arise from the sagacity of our own mind, but comes to us from the Spirit of wisdom. But it is chiefly in the contemplation of heavenly things that our stupidity is discovered; for not only do we imagine false appearances to be true, but we turn the clear light into darkness.”
If the unconverted could only understand this is it possible they would tremble and in that trembling would they repent of their awful rejection of the Savior? Would they understand that the words they so carelessly use about Jesus Christ are themselves a sign of their loss-ness?
Jesus in the book of Luke is careful to have the disciples see him in the Hebrew writings. Twice in this chapter, chapter 24, Jesus refers to Moses (the Torah) and the prophets as that place where he can be found. In verse 44 the Psalms is included. And Jesus chides the disciples because they do not understand, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (25a) And yet Christ opens their hearts and minds to understand, so that after they realize it is Jesus they say to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was explaining the Scripture to us?”
But there is another incident, a parable, Jesus uses, earlier in Luke, to show how unbelief is unyielding with out the work of the Holy Spirit. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man, who has died, pleads for Lazarus, who has also died, to go to his brothers and tell them to repent. But Abraham who is speaking with the rich man says “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” (16:31)
So if one is caught in such a web of unbelief that the Scriptures mean nothing …. What is left but for us but to love and care and pray and do some trembling ourselves for those who are so arrogant against the Lord.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Lawson points out that Athanasius from the age of five to his fourteenth year had lived through the last great Roman persecution against the Church. And he lived where the onslaught was the greatest, in Egypt. The persecution began in 303 A.D. after forty years of peace for the Churches. As Lawson puts it, “The Church of Alexandria, already so rich in martyrs, became richer yet …”
Athanasius’ experience is described: “among them [the martyrs] were many whom Athanasius knew, men and women from whom he had learned the Catholic faith and a loving intimacy with Holy Scriptures, children with whom, probably, he had worked and played.”
Lawson goes on to state, “All through the most impressionable years of his childhood he not only learnt the Christian faith, he had seen it in action. He had faced the possibility of martyrdom for himself; and he had made his own the faith for and by which the martyrs died—the faith of the Creator-Word Incarnate, the crucified and risen, the living and triumphant Christ.”
I could add the historical information that the early Church historian Eusebius gives of the Christian suffering in Alexandria since he was a contemporary of Athanasius. But his account is so detailed and awful I will refrain from quoting. But I am attempting to make a point. When Athanasius writes about the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ he is standing not only on the layers of witness from the Bible and the extremely early church years, he is referring to his own time and seeing evidence with his own eyes. And this is what he writes:
“If, then, it is by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ that death is trampled underfoot, it is clear that it is Christ Himself and none other Who is the Archvictor over death and has robbed it of its power. Death used to be strong and terrible, but now, since the sojourn of the Saviour and the death and resurrection of His body, it is despised; and obviously it is by the very Christ Who mounted on the cross that it has been destroyed and vanquished finally.The words ‘silly’ and ‘incredulous’ are great descriptors of those in this post-modern age who want to hold on to the name Christian and yet reject a resurrection history that just keeps traveling back carried by the faith of all the martyrs and forward towards the promise of his glorious coming.
If you see with your own eyes men and women and children, even thus welcoming death for the sake of Christ’s religion, how can you be so utterly silly and incredulous and maimed in your mind as not to realize that Christ, to Whom these all bear witness, Himself gives the victory to each, making death completely powerless for those who hold His faith and bear the sign of the cross?”