An eclectic group of individuals who have two things in common: faith in Jesus and a connection to St. John's College. Here we gather, across time and space, to carry on a dialogue.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Leading an enlightened life...
Posted by Kristi at 12:50 PM
Incase anyone still stops in here...

I had a friend from home who interviewed for a position at SJC... he had lots of interesting observations... enjoyed his time there immensely. He should find out in Feb/Mar if he will get offerred a position to be a tutor... (prayers appreciated for him!)

He asked me a question I thought I'd pose to the Johnnie community out there...

Would you feel that you would be wasting your education if you do not go to grad school, or strive to be a leader in politics, business, education, etc.? How content do you think the ordinary Johnnie is with simply being an enlightened individual, and hopefully living as a light in the darkness of the world? It seems pretty clear to me that institutionally, SJC does not promote *at all* a "success" ethic (in the American sense). But I do wonder whether the students will carry that burden anyway (b/c after all we and SJC are enculturated in America) without some intentional effort on the part of the institution to speak to this ethos. What do you think?
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 10:12 PM, February 12, 2008
I keep meaning to actually respond to this one of these days. It's a good question.
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 5:25 PM, February 20, 2008
I, uh... tried grad school.

I might have a different thought on this if my parent's weren't graciously picking up the tab for SJC...
(if they weren't, I probably would have just tried to get a job (like LT did) at SJC and skipped the whole classes thing after freshman year.)
... but I don't think my education was wasted just because I'm a self-employed bum who only has a few pennies to rub together...
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 8:17 PM, May 25, 2009
The things I considered at St. John's are the source of my work ethic. The sophomore examination of the Bible led me to faith in Jesus, the first good reason I've ever had to prolongedly work hard.
American capitalism provides the competitive vocational drive; SJC provides the cultivation of habits like self-examination and discernment.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The Problem Attic - Ephesians 4:8
Posted by Jackson at 1:00 PM
Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Problem Attic. I'm your host, Jackson Ferrell. Let's see what we've got in the attic today! I'll just open up this box here, and see what's inside...

Ephesians 4:8 - 'Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN."'

Here, Paul is quoting Psalm 68:18, which reads, "You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men, Even among the rebellious also, that the LORD God may dwell there." Now what sticks out to me is that the original psalm states that Christ has received gifts, while Paul's quotation of the passage says that he gave gifts. I checked the original language, and Psalm 68:18's Hebrew is "laqach mattanah" (two different words from different roots, "to take gifts," the Septuagint uses a form of "lambano" for the verb), while Paul's Greek is "edoken domata," with both words coming from the same root as "doron" ("give gifts" is a good translation of the phrase).

Now, normally I have no problem if a writer (New Testament or other) fails to quote his source with word-for-word accuracy, especially in a literary form like a letter; we can't always be troubled to slavishly look up the precise verbatim wording of the text. But here, Paul is apparently turning around the meaning of the verb entirely--and more importantly, the whole "gave gifts" thing is central to his point in the passage! In that section of Ephesians 4, he's tying Christ's gift of the Spirit to the gift of grace that He conferred to us by dying, descending, and rising again, and he (Paul) is using this passage from the Psalms as a proof text. But if Paul had bothered to quote the passage as it appears in the original, instead of changing this verb, it would suggest that we are the ones who should be paying homage to Christ! As an OT support of spiritual gifts, it seems to me to be kind of spurious. And that is problematic.

If anyone can help me take this verse down out of the Problem Attic and into the...I don't know, the Okay-This-Makes-Sense-Now Front Room or something, that would be much appreciated. Let me know if you've got any answers to the dilemma.
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 10:42 AM, November 27, 2007
You know, I'm not sure that anyone even reads this anymore.
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Monday, May 21, 2007
faith
Posted by Kristi at 2:23 PM
what wisdom would you share with someone who says they "want" faith but "can't" have faith...?
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 3:33 PM, May 31, 2007
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 12:43 PM, June 18, 2007
Share with them that guy who said to Jesus "Lord I believe, help my unbelief..."
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Saturday, May 05, 2007
John the Baptist
Posted by Kristi at 5:50 AM
Was John the Baptist considered a prophet? He only identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness…”
If he was a prophet, why did he deny being “the Prophet” in John 1:21? My Bible has a cross reference for Deut. 18:15,18 for “the Prophet.” Who is “the Prophet” referring to? (In Deut. and in John?) Jesus?
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 9:07 AM, May 05, 2007
if you look in-between 15 and 18, this prophet was instituted by God when the people said that they could not hear or see God or they would die.

I think in Deut. God is talking about how he will speak to Israel, i.e. through prophets. They get their authority from God.

Jesus was "the prophet" along with being a priest (according the the order of Melchizedek) and a King.
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Confession
Posted by Kristi at 5:50 AM
What sort of practices in regards to confession are helpful for you? How do you understand confession? Some people have told me they view confession more of a spoken, forthright honesty with God about everything you think and feel and do, and not just a spoken litany of your wrongs, known and unknown, in seeking forgiveness. What is your perspective?
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 8:59 AM, May 05, 2007
can it be both?
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 11:31 AM, May 08, 2007
that's what I was going to say. I remember in Switchfoot's song "Living is Simple" where the line goes "I'm down on my knees, confessing my needs again." it seems to me that confession is just getting together with God and being open with Him. you can confess sins, and it's very important to confess sins, but sins are just one of the many things that one can confess. it seems to me that the book of Job is highly confessional.
does anyone know of any scripture that directly addresses confession? how does confession go down in the Torah? in the Psalms? what does Paul have to say about it? if anyone's got anything there, that'd be great.
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Friday, March 02, 2007
joy
Posted by Kristi at 4:22 PM
The fruit of the Spirit includes joy. Joy, more than any other quality listed in Galatians 5:22-23, I associate with a feeling. Most of the others in the list - love, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, etc. - I tend to view as being linked more to action. John 15 speaks of abiding in Christ so that our joy may be full. Jesus spoke of "your joy" which sounds like something possessed rather than acted. (So is it indeed more of a sense of being, a feeling, or can it be an action? If an action, how can we understand it as thus?)

Yet, why is it that so often, we're not feeling or possessing that joy? (am I right to assume I'm not alone on this??) It's not as though we can always identify a concrete reason - like some sin or an actual medical reason - to explain away our too-often lack of joy... but how can we think about joy? How as a believer do you experience joy or what do you do when you are for so long not experiencing it?
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 2:01 AM, March 05, 2007
Sweet! I’ve been wondering about joy, too: this is also my question.
I think joy shows up in action just like the other fruits. It can overflow into action, and we call that rejoicing—an action solely for expressing joy, like shouting, singing, dancing, or sacrificing an animal. More often it (like the other fruits—see Matt. 10:13 or 1 Thess. 3:12) is a manner one has. Joy’s linked to action by being the ease of action: joy turns work into play. And of all the listed fruits to be most associated with emotion (gladness). But here I get confused—I don’t think that joy is itself an emotion, but maybe that gladness is the physical analogy of the spiritual thing. I want to look at joy apart from gladness, but I don’t see anything left when I take gladness away.
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 9:53 AM, March 05, 2007
I dunno, I'm kind of inclined to think that since it's included in a major list of things primarily associated with action (though not divorced from feeling), maybe we are supposed to think of joy as something we do, or perhaps more accurately as something the Holy Spirit does in us. Hmm, it seems I agree with Jared regarding this! I also think it's important to look to Christ for our example in this--who went to parties and created wine for parties and even talked about how the Kindgom of Heaven was like a party, and yet was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."

There's my thoughts, but I can point you to someone else who has a bit more to say on the subject.
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 2:16 PM, March 05, 2007
was also studying how similar the words for joy - chara - and grace - charis - are. interesting, eh?

i know joy is more than a feeling, perhaps also coming from a state of being. I mean, it's not one of the fruits, but part of the whole package deal of THE fruit, right??

so if you don't have the subjective feeling of joy, what then? choose to rejoice nonetheless? ask God for that joy?.... ??
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 1:40 PM, March 09, 2007
asking God for it sounds like the best call to me. in fact, asking God for joy when you don't have it might well be the only way possible of choosing to rejoice regardless.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Blood of Jesus
Posted by Dwight at 11:40 AM
From my blog::

I read a really good little talk by Watchman Nee which resonated with the sermon in church today (on Ephesians 5). Or at least what I was thinking about during the sermon.

There is a split in the first 8 chapters of Romans between the use of the word “sins” and “sin” which pretty closely corresponds to the use of “the blood of Jesus” and “the cross”.

The Blood of Jesus takes care of our sins, the cross deals with the power of Sin.

Another good point he made was about Satan (the accuser) who’s favorite tactic is to tell us that we are not good enough to approach God. He points out our sins and says “see, you aren’t in His kingdom.” That only works when we approach God by any other means than the blood of Jesus. When we think that there is something good in us that allows us to approach God and talk to Him.

But there isn’t… We are only able to approach God because of the Blood of Jesus.

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Friday, February 02, 2007
Perplexity and a Prepositional Phrase
Posted by Jackson at 10:16 AM
Okay, so in the comments about the whole "eternity" thing, Nick brought up a verse with a phrase that puzzles me. Galatians 2:20 - "Christ lives in me." There are a whole lot of ways in which we speak about things being "in" other things, both literally and figuratively, both in terms of spatial orientation to each other and in senses that are more metaphysical or by analogy. The Greek here is "en emoi." I have a vague idea of what it might mean that Christ lives in me, but I want to try and clarify my concept. What do you all think that Paul means by this? In what sense does Christ live in us now?
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 5:15 PM, February 11, 2007
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 5:17 PM, February 11, 2007
Paul wrote to the Romans (8:9): "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

I have an idea, Jackson.
Saying "Christ lives in me" seems a more specific way of saying "I have the Holy Spirit."
When you say, "I have the Holy Spirit," you're saying that God is in you.
When you say, "Christ lives in me," you're saying that God lives in you and has you functioning as a christ to the world--pouring yourself out so others can live.

It's a start at least; I'm not conclusively satisfied with this.
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 1:46 PM, February 22, 2007
Hey, Jared. just wanted to say thanks for sharing your thoughts. they're helpful, and I think they're getting me thinking in the right direction about this.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Comment Moderation
Posted by Jackson at 6:09 PM
Heya...it seems that comments aren't showing up, due to comment moderation being on. would one of the blog moderators please turn off comment moderation so that all the comments show up? it would be much appreciated; I'd like to see what people are saying in response to recent posts.
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 10:12 AM, January 25, 2007
should be fixed... if not, bug dwight :)
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 1:00 PM, January 25, 2007
Thanks, Kristi!
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Sunday, January 21, 2007
God and time
Posted by Kristi at 3:11 PM
hey...

so i was wondering what everyone thought about the concept of God in time or out of time and what is the nature of His relationship to time, etc... partly because of a conversation I stumbled upon over here: http://a-train-415.livejournal.com/183740.html

Which leads me to a question that has been on my mind for many years: how do you understand/relate to/approach/feel about "eternity"? What is your conception of it? Do you have a conception of it, and does it excite you? Scare you? Confuse you? Or are you pretty ambivalent? Content with not knowing what it will be like? Why or why not?

Also, do you think eternity will resemble anything like our earthly lives? Or lives pre-fall?
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  Comment by Anonymous Anonymous at 2:47 AM, January 22, 2007
In the beginning,
God made everything.
Later,
he regretted making everything,
and was gonna flood it all
but saw Noah.
Later still,
God heard Joshua tell him,
“Sun stand still!”
and thought, "hey, good idea."

God can be in time; it seems he likes to follow the story as it unfolds. God’s not stuck in time. He’s in contact with any time he wants: he knows certain things will happen. What’s the difference between minutes and millennia for him?

I don’t think about the time unit “eternity” much. Time will keep happening and won’t stop happening.
Life will be glorious when Jesus returns—we’ll then invent the next word in the sequence “good, better, best.” Fresh new heavens, earth, and body.
This future is the most worthy object of hope—a life of unhindered unity with the Father (and his kids).
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  Comment by Anonymous Anonymous at 11:38 AM, January 22, 2007
Good questions. The whole question of God's relationship to time is something I keep coming back to and changing my mind on. I never can seem to settle on an answer, but I'm not sure whether that's because I'm actually learning, or just 'cause my opinions are fickle and I don't know when to hold onto a good answer when I see it.
It seems to me that it's important to look to the Bible for answers on this question, rather than make speculations based on philosophy or physics or anything like that. Not that there's anything wrong with extrabiblical knowledge, but it needs to be anchored in what God has actually said about Himself. Numbers 23:19 seems to be a good starting point- "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?"
It seems to me that this passage basically says that God is consistent. He sticks by His guns; He doesn't flip-flop on His decisions; He's not fickle. May we then say that God is unchanging? It seems likely! But, that said, I don't think it necessarily follows that God is outside of time. I can't think of any apt explanations or analogies; it's hard to explain exactly why it seems that way to me, but it does.
Eternity...eternity really used to scare the snot out of me, back when I was five or so. I think I was deathly afraid that I would get bored. Sometimes I still feel afraid of that...but then I remember what Jesus is consistently comparing the kingdom of Heaven to in His parables. A party! A marriage feast, a celebration of love! I cannot imagine that God, in all His goodness, would throw a party that would be boring. To a certain extent, my fears that it would be boring are probably a function of my present fallenness, and a perfected man will probably enjoy the party a whole lot more than a dude who came unprepared (see Matt. 22:11), but it's not like God is just going to eliminate our desire for excitement.
Anyway, I do think eternity will have a measure of similarity to our earthly lives. I dare say it will be as similar to our earthly lives as it can be without possessing flaws.
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  Comment by Blogger Nicholas at 1:38 PM, January 29, 2007
"I don’t think about the time unit 'eternity' much. Time will keep happening and won’t stop happening."

This way of thinking, which the first Anonymous writer proposes, seems utterly flawed to me. While I do not discount the possibility of comparing earthly life to heavenly life, I will affirm that eternity, i.e. God's relation our Temporal" is NOT a "Time -unit." Such implies (at least to me) that Eternity is a "a neverending period of temporal reality as we know it." How do we, Mr/Ms/Mrs Anonymous, know that Time will keep happening?
Do we even know what Time is in reference to Paul's comment in Galatians that "Christ lives in me." If Christ is someone who died 2000 years ago, how can he live in a the body of a Christian, or the body of a Christian congregation, NOW? The only simple answer that can be given is that the Resurrected life of Christ, which all Christians participate in on a daily basis, does not take place within the constraints of Time. For if it did, then Christ, a man crucified in the past, could not be living in the present. Rather, Time must be seen in the Light of the Resurrected One who was Crucified for us. The Eternal Kingdom of Heaven is a reality which is enacted every moment in which this Past becomes the living Present that will pave the way for the Future. Christ IS yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Even while living this earthly life, if we allow the Bridegroom to enter our heart, Time will matter no longer; Only his presence will.
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 5:03 PM, February 11, 2007
Hey Nicholas-- it's Jared. I'm Mr. Anonymous; I don't know why it didn't catch my name.

You asked how I know time will keep happening; I just trust it will.
The scriptures tell nothing about before the beginning, and they tell about a future with a new heaven&earth where God will dwell with us (Revelation 21). The scriptures are mostly chronological histories--telling the story that we're in & how it will unfold.
I don't see any scriptures directing me to think about a place outside the context of time.
Do you?

You asked,"If Christ is someone who died 2000 years ago, how can he live in a the body of a Christian, or the body of a Christian congregation, NOW?"
Christ can live in us now because God raised him to life three days after he died. He's not dead anymore.
What conflict do you see between time and the resurrection?
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Friday, January 05, 2007
Newsweek Article by a Friend
Posted by Jackson at 9:59 AM
Hey, guys. Some of you know her, and some of you don't, but my friend Tania--who is actually a graduated Johnny--wrote this article for Newsweek's "My Turn" column. It's about her experiences as a liberal Christian who subscribes to evolution and who married a creationist. If you think you'd be interested in reading it, go ahead and check it out. I can tell you right off, in my opinion it's well worth the time to read, and I think it's great that she got stuff published in Newsweek.
The whole creationism-evolution thing hasn't seen much discussion on this blog, so let's just throw that out there. What are your thoughts on it? Why do you think it's such a big deal in the public sphere, and how important do you think it is? What do you think about "theistic evolution?" Let's hear some thoughts, yo.
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Sunday, December 10, 2006
advent blog
Posted by Kristi at 5:31 PM
I like checking this out:
http://advent.wordpress.com
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Friday, November 24, 2006
Movie Trailer
Posted by Jared at 1:17 PM
http://nativitymovie.blogspot.com/2006/09/theatrical-trailer-is-up.html
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Helping Africans
Posted by Jared at 12:48 AM
I found a charity program I dig.

World Vision is doing this program called "Seeds to Feed"

to buy seeds, farm tools & agricultural training for poor Africans
so they can make their own food.


The Government has agreed to triple every donation

(for every $1 you give, they give $2).

World Vision gives 87% of donations to the actual program
(they keep 13% for admin & fundraising).

I especially like how the government is donating to a Christian ministry,
i.e. helping out Africans in the name of Christ.

check it out at www.seedstofeed.com
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Christmas?
Posted by Lisa at 11:23 AM
Hi guys!
Hey, has there been any discussion on here about the celebration of Christmas? Just point me to it if there has been. I came across some literature about the paganism of the Christmas holiday. This material pointed out roots of the holiday and said that it is basically worldly and evil. I am wondering, has anyone thought/researched/prayed lots about this? What do you think?
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 2:49 PM, October 10, 2006
Lisa
can you say what you heard was evil and worldly about it? was it referring to traditions - the Xmas tree and Santa and the like - or what??

Here's something else i'd love to see delved into, especially as the season approaches: what is the meaning of Christmas anyway? If you were to write a paragraph or two and tell someone who doesn't celebrate it what the meaning is to you - in general but also to you personally for this year and this time - what would you, today in this time, write?

I think I'll work on my own but I'd love to see other reflections in the comments or on the main page in the coming weeks/months.

But if you could also say Lis what you read/thought was wordly in particular, that would help. :)
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 2:51 PM, October 10, 2006
oooohh... and I'd love to hear more about how anyone plans to celebrate
1. Thanksgiving
and
2. Advent

to make it Christ centered.
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  Comment by Blogger David at 7:32 PM, October 10, 2006
I've heard similar stories about the origins of Christmas, and in my understanding I don't think Christmas as Christmas, the holiday itself, ("Christ's mass") directly derived from any of the pagan holidays (Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule) that happened during that time. Part of it I think came from theologians trying to calculate the day of Christ's birth; December 25th is simply what they came up with (though most scholars nowadays say the actual day is unknown). I've also heard accounts that when persecution of Christians ended under Constantine, the dates for Christmas were chosen specifically because they were trying to replace the celebration of the pagan holidays with a Christian celebration.
Part of the concern may be some of the pagan traditions adopted in the celebration of Christmas. It happened a lot during the middle ages as Christianity became more prominent, but with the Reformation, I think efforts were made to more firmly entrench the manner of Christmas celebrations in Christian symbolism.
As a general principle regarding the celebration of Christmas itself, to the man who says "Today I wish to hold a feast to celebrate and give thanks and glory to Jesus Christ, who he his and what he did when he came to earth, and I will give gifts to others as symbols and reminders of the gift of salvation that Christ gave to us" I would find it hard to deny him that practice on the basis that he (or someone else) might at one time have held feasts dedicated to idols on that same day. The man has clearly defined what his actions are and what their significance is. The discrete actions one performs during a celebration such as Christmas are largely symbolic, and as symbols we have the freedom to determine their meanings. This, however, is not a license to do whatever we please, to which I think what Paul says (I Cor 6:12, 8, 10:23) applies.
So again, the celebration of Christmas as a celebration of Christ I find difficult to condemn, and personally I would be skeptical of one who did condemn it (I would want an explanation). Much of possible error I think would come in the practice of specific traditions, particularly in the manner (or one might say Spirit) in which they are done. Generally, one ought not act thoughtlessly; this goes back to Paul. Even if the practice is not harmful to the individual himself, I beleive one would be in error if one did something without reason, when it could be reasonably understood to have negative connotations for some. An example of this might be the Yule log. In and of itself, it seems pretty harmless to burn a log in the fire. Traditionally, however, the Yule log was burned to the god Thor, to fertility godesses, and in similar pagan rituals which involved witchcraft and superstition. Thus, unless those connotations were explicitly subsumed by things that were clearly edifying and glorifying to God and these new connotations were clearly understood by all who witnessed it, I probably wouldn't want to burn a Yule log.
As an evangelical protestant, I've been raised with Christmas practices that are pretty straightforward, so I can't speak to many particular traditions. What I find much more concerning than the pagan associations is the modern and secular subsumption of the holiday. When I say this, I do not judge those who are unbelievers, but much of Christmas practice in our culture has been degraded by our materialist consumer culture and secular, politically correct pressures towards relativism. Through this the celebration of Christmas becomes driven by a selfish desire for the accumulation of loot, and a general 'holiday spirit' and 'good cheer' which amount to little more than vapid warm fuzzies that have really lost any substance beyond a catalyzed emotional reaction. I think as Christians, if we allow ourselves to get sucked into that spirit in which Christmas is celebrated, and let it replace the Christ-centered spirit which belongs there, that is worldly and evil. I think then it becomes very important that when we celebrate Christmas, we be very purposeful in the way we do it, and make very clear to ourselves, to each other, and to the world precisely what we are doing and why we are doing it. And this is something we should always be doing, not just a thing once a year on December 25th. The Spirit which brings about a proper celebration of Christmas, ought consume the way we live every day.
Here's an article from wikipedia about Christmas. There's a bunch of links in it to other various Christmas related stuff. You might find it useful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 12:30 PM, October 11, 2006
A rather long while ago I came across this essay, which questions particularly the value of telling a child lies about Santa Claus and passing them off as truth. I think the author has some excellent points there.
This is only somewhat related, but but the other day I was walking down the side of the road and thinking about this point of associating the true story of the birth of Jesus Christ with a mythologized lie about Santa Claus. I was thinking about how cool it would be not to give gifts at Christmas, but to create one's own cultural myth and celebrate that as a time of gift-giving instead. At Thanksgiving, I would encourage my family and my friends' families to tell the legendary story of the King of Thanksgiving, who comes on the night of the fourth Wednesday in November and flies through the sky on a magic robot, delivering toys to all the children who will be properly thankful for them. The King of Thanksgiving would have psychic powers, so he could tell in advance who would be grateful for his gifts. We would start a cultural revolution by imaginatively deconstructing holiday traditions and supplanting them with our own mythology.
The whole "King of Thanksgiving" idea is probably not really a good or practical idea, but it was pretty hilarious to think about. It certainly does nothing to address the issue Kristi has raised regarding how to celebrate Thanksgiving in a Christ-centered way.
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 12:32 PM, October 11, 2006
also, my brother has good thoughts.
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 12:58 PM, October 14, 2006
I haven't read any of this guy, so I don't vouch for him, but I've seen some of his books and I might read one sometime to see if he is more a C.S. Lewis or a J.S. Spong:

Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola

It seems like it is going to be couched in anti-churchianity terms, which sometimes rub me the wrong way, but I'm not sure that is a bad thing.
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  Comment by Blogger Matt Talamini at 3:56 PM, November 14, 2006
Dave's totally right.

When Christianity swept through Europe, oftentimes for the people involved it was a mere political change. They had a kind of fill-in-the-name worship: When a new king takes over your country, everybody take out your hymnals, cross out 'Thor' and write in 'Athena'. Next century, cross out 'Athena', write in 'Christ'.

I think that all throughout history, holidays have been celebrated mostly by people who don't care what they mean. Most of the pagans didn't care about Sol Invictus or Thor - They were in it for crass materialism, the same way most people are nowadays. People are people.

I think the main danger, and the main reason that we shouldn't have incorporated the pagan symbols into the holiday, is that it makes it look like Christianity is the same sort of thing as those pagan religions. And it's not. Using those symbols makes it look like worshipping Jesus is just another way of worshipping the sun - Which it's not. Most ancient religions are nothing more than fancy ways of worshipping the sun. But we have no need to worship the sun. We worship the One who made the sun.

So what should we do? We can't cut out every custom that the pagans once used to celebrate nature - We couldn't have a fire in the fireplace, or eat ham on Christmas, or sing 'The Holly and the Ivy', or give gifts.

I don't know what to do, I admit. Throw 'em out and have a dumb holiday? Keep 'em and ignore the pagan meanings? Keep 'em and try to redefine what they mean? Make up new ones? I don't know.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
John 6
Posted by Dwight at 7:24 PM
In John chapter 6 there is an odd little interaction that I'm interested in.

Jesus is talking with the Jews and says that he is the bread that comes from heaven, their forefathers ate the mana and were still hungry, but He is the true bread... Then he says that HIS FLESH is the bread. The Jews say the sane thing and ask "wha? Huh?"

Then there is some stuff... and later some of the followers of Jesus say "Hey... this is kinda crazy" and they leave... Jesus doesn't say "Hey, wait guys... I was just speaking metaphorically..." he just lets them go...

Maybe the interstitial stuff I left out explains it... Anyone know what is going on here?
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  Comment by Blogger Nicholas at 12:02 AM, October 04, 2006
Can't say anything more than this: Such a passage is meant to be stumbling block for unbelievers. For Christ later "contradicts" himself by saying "the spirit gives life, the flesh is of no avail." He is not really contradicting himself but rather explaining that he gave a "hard saying to the Jews and his disciples to see if anyone is able to see the "spiritual" reality behind the words ("metaphorical", if you'd like but metaphorical is such a wussy word for us moderns and does not convey the importance that symbolism and metaphor had for ancient world).
The Spirit of the Resurrection gives life to even to this difficult, seemingly "fleshly," even cannibalistic passage. (Christians in the early Church were actually accused of cannibalism)
Why doesn't Christ tell them "I was being metaphorical." For the same reason that he only speaks to the people in parables in Mark's Gospel, to paraphrase: "If I spoke to them clearly, then they would turn from their wicked ways and live."
Christ's hard sayings, (i.e. parables, allegories, metaphors) simply reinforce the fact that hard hearts produces hard minds.
Frank Kermode's book, "The Genesis of Secrecy" discusses Christ's parables from the point of view of an unbeliever. He comes to the conclusion that they are impenetrable. Yet so is the cross for those searching for signs or wisdom.



P.S. I forgot to let everyone know that I was ordained to the diaconate. Sorry. Please pray for me in my new ministry.
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 9:10 PM, October 06, 2006
Jesus didn't go out & gather a crowd to proclaim this hard teaching--it was a response to a crowd (the one he miraculously fed) coming to him.
So going into the conversation, the crowd already saw him do a miracle and called him The Prophet promised by Moses.
They searched all over Galilee for him (he lost them by walking across the lake), and when they found him, he responded to their arrival by saying, "You guys didn't looking for me because of the miraculous sign--I just fed you well."
So first off, he points out that they aren't looking for him because he's The Prophet, but because he did something for them.
The ensuing conversation about them needing to eat Jesus' flesh is a confronataion to them, showing them they aren't really pursuing The Prophet himself, but the relief he brings to their current situation.
(I imagine they expected The Prophet "with further instructions" to be another Moses to free them from slavery again...and maybe get them a little further along the path to being the nation that blesses all nations)
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 12:03 AM, November 02, 2006
I don't get it that this is a parable... If it is it sure is different from any I recall... There is no story or explanation time afterwards for the disciples, Peter does his statement of faith right after... With parables the disciples are always like "WHHHHAAAT???"
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Friday, September 22, 2006
going deeper
Posted by Kristi at 12:21 PM
What do you tell someone who says they want to “go deeper” in their walk with God?

I think most believers would say that they want to know God more as they continue through life. Growing in Christ is a necessity, because if you’re not growing, you’re stagnant and that means you’re dying and not living. I also see that a lot of growing can be the result of practice and yes, even method. (Harkening back to the convo on prayer as something that is taught and learned…) But if we substitute method and “activity” for the person of Christ then something has gone sour. So what would you say…. How does one go deeper in their walk? What do you think is meant by that? Surely a person saying this isn’t… dissatisfied with God… but maybe dissatisfied with themselves?? Just throwing that out there.

Also, what methods or practical advice could be given to someone who wants to, first, go deeper in their prayer life, and second, go deeper in their time in the written word?

Another prayer tangent: how does one plan prayer activities for a group? Uhhhhhhh…. Is this an oxymoron? Planned prayer? Maybe not but…. thoughts??
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 6:21 PM, September 23, 2006
I invented these three strange little things for you, Kristi. They're like haikus or maxims.

I
When I was younger and lusted for growth, I complained to a brother that I wasn’t growing much. He said, “Maybe it’s not time to grow right now. Maybe Dad has you here to bless some people.”

II
Growth is such a tricky thing to measure. I pruned this bush; some of the branches were way too long,
and the whole thing was lopsided.
I cut off growth that seemed great until I stepped back to look at the bush as a whole.
It was better off after the pruning.

III
Methods to cultivate depth in prayer and reading:
devotion.
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 7:24 PM, September 27, 2006
I think it really depends on the person. Some people will do great with a study bible, you know, looking at the notes.

It may be good to get a commentary and go through that. I tried some, and one must be careful here, because a few of them are put out by people who are a little too smart for their own good... (Statements like: "The Israelites probably never celebrated the year of Jubilee because that would have required them to live off the land two years in a row (the 7th Sabbath year being the 49th year and the Jubilee year being the 50th year.)" Making that statement presupposes that God is not able to make the land sustain them for two years in a row.)

Something that has helped me is to read some and then respond in writing. I kinda write stream of consciousness, so there is exegesis mixed with prayer and just flat out questions all roled up in one...

I really liked doing a prayer liturgy. There is one book I used for about 2 years on and off called "Celtic Daily Prayer" It is kind of neat because it has some stuff you say every day, some that cycles through each week, month and each day of the year... it also had some special liturgies for days like easter and christmas etc. The daily stuff mostly concentrated on little meditations on the lives of Celtic saints, which was neat to learn about: Patrick, Columba, and all those guys. Most of the daily stuff is right out of the psalms. While I was in MN, my bro and I did it together some, which is cool because it is kinda designed that way.

Looking at both prayer and bible study more "holisticly," I found that lots of the stuff I read that isn't necessarily theological in nature matches up with where I was at the time. I was reading Mere Christianity at the same time we were reading Aristotle whatever year that was (I think Sophomore?) and their styles really matched up. It was cool to read some of the bible, some C.S. Lewis, some Aristotle, and then pray, the whole time making connections between them all...

The big lesson I have learned is that there isn't a (specifically) right way to do it... try different stuff, keep what works, toss what doesn't. That works individually and in groups...
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 3:17 PM, October 03, 2006
wow jared. super awesome. i appreciate your thoughts, and it sort of sent a bunch of clicks going through my head... what you conclude about devotion really strikes a cord with me. i'll continue to think and write more if i can.... other thoughts and practical suggestions still welcome.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I have a quick question
Posted by Matt Talamini at 11:05 AM
Do you think demons can read?

I'm serious. Normally an exorcist speaks to the demon - What if they posted a sign with the exact same words? Would a demon reading it have to obey it, or would they only be affected by the spoken word?
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 11:50 AM, September 20, 2006
I don't have an answer, but I can't think of a Biblical instance of exorcism where the demon was expelled in a means other than through spoken verbal command.
I have wondered about demons too, in a quasi-related way. I have wondered if they can read me. Can they tell my thoughts? As spiritual beings, to what extent (if any) do they have access to information about the state of my soul? Can they extrapolate data about me based on my brain's immediate neurochemical conditions? Actually, it's been awhile since I wondered things like this, probably not since early high school. I have since accepted that if it's not in the Bible, I am not likely to find answers to my wonderings anywhere else.
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Sunday, September 17, 2006
MA essay?
Posted by Dwight at 4:36 PM
Hey... I'm writing like 8 of these in the next couple of days (I guess: 5 more)...

I have an illness that keeps me from being able to write the last page of an assignment. These are 3-4 pages, and I'm usually just able to wring out 2 pages. This is the first one I did, and it is probably the best, so tell me what you think.

(The topic is Outreach Methods that struck my fancy from 0-500 AD)



In the available texts, the early years of Christianity are covered briefly, so Paul and his methods are the most robustly covered from the beginning to 500AD.

Paul's practice of basing his ministry out of the major cities was suited to his ministry context. In the Roman empire, cities were the hub of activity within a region. Paul was able to set up shop in a city and his message would diffuse to the smaller towns in the surrounding area. This allowed Paul to be much more effective than if he stopped in each town along his way and tried to spread the message from there.

Paul was not, however, a slave to "efficiency". He remained open to the Spirit and moved accordingly, such as in the case of the vision of the Macedonian man calling him to cross the Aegean. This ballance between moving as the Spirit wills and using efficient strategy is a very tough one to strike and Paul did it masterfully.

Often, it seems, outreach can be too structured, which leads to people staying with the structure when the Spirit is saying to do something crazy, or not structured enough, which leads to malaise when the Spirit does not guide you step by step through the process.

Moving forward with a strategy that is sound but flexible enough to accomodate the guidance of the Spirit seems to be the way Paul operated. The strategy of moving from large city to large city was even abandoned towards the end of Paul's ministry, for it seems he was unable to continue beyond Rome into Gaul. Sometimes "flexiblity" extends beyond elasticity and into the realm of holding together even after breaking.

At the same time, the Spirit isn't always sending visions of where to go and what to do (I think) and at these times, it is good to have a plan of action for day-to-day operation. In this case, examples escape me because I don't know what was going on between Paul and the Holy Spirit from moment to moment.

Taloring the outreach strategy to the ministry context is the key to success. Had the Roman Empire been of a different nature, say, the flow of ideas and commerce was generally from the towns to the cities, a different strategy would have been better suited to that context. Paul's strategy worked to greater and lesser extent; He didn't seem to make much of an impression on the Athenians, but the Bereans were extremely receptive to his message.

Here, I think I have fallen into the trap of thinking that results are the measure of success. Each place Paul was responded differently because of the stage they were at. Some plant, some water, but it is God that makes it grow. It seems that Paul was able to see his path. He didn't stay in a place that needed planting and try to bring the crop in. He stuck with his plan and fulfilled different tasks in different areas. This must be done with an ear open to the Spirit. Sometimes methods need changing; Sometimes it is simply time to move on.

Itenerant preaching seems to be the outreach mode of this time period. Christianity was radiating from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The preachers carried the gospel to the lost. Conversely, it seems that local outreach occasionally takes the form of "here it is, come get it." The drawing in method does not seem to be as effective as the going out method. Often complacency arises when the mind is set on drawing people to the gospel instead of taking the gospel to the lost.

Paul remained open to the Spirit, carried the gospel to the lost, and did so with a method which suited his ministry context. His method worked well and spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire.
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  Comment by Blogger David at 5:56 PM, September 17, 2006
looks pretty good. one sentence I would change. You say you've fallen into the trap of measuring success by results. Change that sentence to something like "Paul, however, also recognized that the measure of success was not simply based on immediate quantified results."
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 8:32 PM, September 18, 2006
Yeah... that's probably better, but I've turned it in... didn't get a great grade either... but my prof said to do more talking about current application
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Thursday, September 14, 2006
Prayer Request
Posted by David at 10:10 PM
Hey everybody. If y'all could be praying for Jackson, that would be good. My dad's working in Alabama right now, and mom moved down with him this summer. And now, since I've gone back to school, he's living at home by himself. It's a big house for one person, so yeah, just pray he'd be able to find good company and that God would fill the house up so that it's not so empty anymore.
thanks a lot.
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Thursday, September 07, 2006
Here's an amazing puzzle
Posted by Sir Robert at 10:07 AM

Ok, everyone. Here's an amazing puzzle for everyone. I came across this website: http://www.tsubi.com/ while I was working on something. This is a real site for a real business. Here's the challenge:

WITHOUT LOOKING ELSEWHERE -- FROM THIS SITE ONLY: Try to figure out what this site is for.

Hint 1: It is a real business that sells real stuff, and the site is not a joke.

Hint 2: You can click on the balloons to "pop" them. It's a "game!" See if you can "win!"

Hint 3: Try using [tab] and [enter] to "pop" the balloons! You may make faster progress! (contributed by Dwight)


This is easily the worst website I have ever seen (except for a mexican buffet some of us went to once... that was some terrible food). I have seen some bad websites, but this one is ... well, let's just say it stirs up some heretofore unknown colors of bile.

Break a leg!

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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 5:53 PM, September 07, 2006
I actually hate that site... physically
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 6:51 PM, September 07, 2006
What distinguishes physical hatred from other, non-physical forms such as spiritual, emotional, or psychological?
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 4:14 PM, September 08, 2006
the way in which it makes itself known
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  Comment by Blogger Matt Talamini at 4:13 PM, September 09, 2006
I give up. What's it for?
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 12:59 AM, September 16, 2006
Is it a balloon company you are competing against?
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Thursday, August 31, 2006
What is 'Goodness'?
Posted by Josh Suich at 3:39 PM
Greetings. I recently tried to define the list of 'virtues', if you will, which Peter encourages believers to posess in order to be fruitful in their knowledge of Christ.

Goodness was VERY hard for me, and that disturbed me. How is this virtue, which is arguably one of the earliest known by even children, so hard to set to words. I recognize it, but have a hard time articulating it. If anyone could help me by giving their insight about the nature of this problem, or preferrably DEFINING it themselves, I would be very appreciative.

In Christ,
Josh <{><
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  Comment by Blogger David at 9:53 PM, August 31, 2006
This might only produce a new question, but 'Godliness' perhaps?
Jesus says "There is only One who is good". (Matt. 19:17). I haven't checked the greek to see if it's the same word.
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 10:18 AM, September 07, 2006
Goodness is:

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 12:44 AM, September 16, 2006
It may help to note that Knowledge is the supplement to Goodness (Arete).
Maybe it has to do with motivation/desire, and so is supplied direction by Knowledge.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006
overseas
Posted by Kristi at 1:28 AM
hey family in Christ!

just a quick hello ("privet!") from the russian speaking land of Belarus! I arrived last night in Minsk and things are good. Will be putting updates on my own blog as well.

look forward to staying in touch with the ongoing convos over here.
bye! ("paka!)
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 8:24 AM, August 23, 2006
So, we have all wanted to know...(and for some reason this had to wait until you were there) Does the "rus" in Belarus have anything to do with the "Rus" in Russia?
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 11:00 PM, August 23, 2006
Kristi--
I'm 10% geek, but I couldn't figure out how to put comments on your blog (maybe because I went to it through the link on this page?) How can I comment on your blogs?
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 11:05 AM, August 26, 2006
to comment:
click on link below the post you want to comment on that says "# comments"

then click on the link below the post and below the header "# commentts" that is in russian - 2 words, first begins with Ot.. and second begins with kommehtapa..

make sense?

hope it helps
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  Comment by Blogger Johanna at 1:38 PM, August 26, 2006
So glad you made it!!! Can't wait to hear how it's going!
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
tithing
Posted by Jared at 12:08 PM
I'm not sure why the gentile church has the practice of tithing.
God commanded the Jews to tithe, but it doesn't look like the Torah (including tithing laws) got passed on to the gentile churches (Acts 15). The gentile churches did much more than tithe--they were filled with the Spirit ofgenerosity, so they gave as there was need.
But now the churches I've been to tell me to tithe.
Did this Mosaic law return as a church custom at some point (to meet church needs when the church wasn't being generous)?
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 8:23 AM, August 23, 2006
Tithing is just a good "rule of thumb" and as with any rule/law, it works some of the time, and other times it causes problems.

I'm not sure why there is a rule beyond "Give as the spirit moves you."

The cynical side of me says that Churches that have to pay the rent and pastor's salary found that the Spirit didn't seem to move according to the monthly payments, but who knows?

•10% is good if you aren't receiving any other guidance... it can be tempting to not give if you don't hear anything.

•The Israelites also did the "give as the Spirit moves you" thing when they were offering the materials for the Tabernacle, so this isn't a New Thang. Every law is a minimum; although that kind of language is what got the Pharasees in trouble with Jesus, so forget I said that ;-)
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Thursday, August 17, 2006
Wineskins
Posted by Dwight at 10:48 PM
Matthew 9:16-17 have never really made sense to me. Particularly in context...

Matthew 9 NRSV
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  Comment by Blogger Jackson at 12:12 PM, August 18, 2006
I've got to admit that for the longest time I tried and tried to come up with an interpretation of that verse that both 1) makes sense and 2) has anything at all to do with the context. I'm still working at it.
do you think the Pharisees could be the old wineskins?

(Here's the same passage in Mark and Luke)
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  Comment by Blogger David at 2:11 PM, August 19, 2006
I think he may be talking about it with respect to law. Perhaps with the idea of fulfilling the law, that the law was incomplete (stretched to its limit perhaps). but then there's the part where people like the old wine better, but maybe he's suggesting that they shouldn't. You should ask Joe Daniels about it. I seem to remember him giving me a pretty good explanation of it once.
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 11:16 PM, August 20, 2006
The immediate context is John's disciples asking Jesus why His disciples don't fast. Jesus says the attendants don't fast while the bridgroom is with them but they will later when he is gone. No one sews unshrunk cloth as a patch on shrunk cloth. No one puts new wine in old wineskins.

It is that quick... no transitions or anything.
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 11:01 AM, August 26, 2006
old wineskin: the law
new wineskin: grace through jesus' blood.

no one wants the new wineskin, the new covenant. they want the old. they like it. hard to change. but... God send His son and it changes things. Jesus is not a patch to be sewn onto the old traditions and ways. you need a new life in him. etc.

so i think. but anyway, i'm away from my bible and can't elaborate more for now about the context.
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Friday, August 11, 2006
The Word
Posted by Nicholas at 9:46 PM








If anyone is interested in watching a really great spiritual film (that happens to be in a foreign tongue), then I couldn't more highly recommend the following film:Ordet (1955-Danish for the "The Word") dir. by Carl Th. Dreyer (In Danish with Eng. subtitles) - Story of a family struggling with being Christian. A father and three sons living on a farm near the Danish coast. The father is a widower and older believer just learning how to begin to pray. The eldest son is an atheist and married to a Christian woman about to give birth to their first child. The middle son has read too much Kierkegaard and thinks he is Jesus Christ, literally. The youngest is interested in marrying the daughter of the founder of a rival Christian sect down the road. All conflicts converge in the conclusion. A meditation on the Christian life, in all its complexity and simplicity. Not to be missed.



Another spiritual film which must be seen:

The Promise (1996- La Promesse, if you're looking for it on Netflix) is the best film that I have seen this summer. Written and directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, it was inspired by the conversation in "The Brothers Karamazov" concerning whether it is possible to be "guilty for all." A young white boy lives with his slumlord father on the Belgian-French border. His father sneaks illegal immigrants over the border from France to Belgium in order to extort money and labor from them. One day, a black immigrant from Sierra Leone dies unexpectedly, leaving his wife and newborn with serious debts. He asks this young boy to promise him to take care of his wife and child. The boy does. "The Promise" is about whether the boy keeps his promise to care for strangers whom his very own father is manipulating and abusing. Is blood thicker than the waters of righteousness?

If anyone sees either of these films, let me know what you think.

-Nick Garklavs

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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 8:18 PM, August 14, 2006
I'm about Art Housed (i.e. any movie that has wheat on it's cover) out for the time being...

But I will put that on the front of the back burner :P
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  Comment by Blogger lam at 8:28 PM, August 14, 2006
Thanks for the tip, Nick. We are always on the lookout for good films (and have taken to Netflix, as we live a rather secluded life out here...)
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Sunday, August 06, 2006
Love Always Trusts
Posted by Jared at 12:12 AM
People keep making claims on me.
They'll pop a fact I'm not sure how to check,
and I dunno whether to hold it as true or ignore the statement.
I hear love always trusts.

So how do I love informants while keeping my facts straight?

Examples of people making claims:
~the media tells me Daily News
~pastors mention extrabiblical historical/cultural info in sermons
~Gedaliah's situation in Jer. 40:13-16
(Gedaliah trusted Ishmael wouldn't kill him.
Should Gedaliah have trusted Johanan over Ishmael?)
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  Comment by Blogger Sir Robert at 9:32 AM, August 09, 2006
You were probably going along in life just fine before that fact was told to you. If you can't check it, just take it for what it is (something someone told you) and move on. Don't repeat it as fact unless it is.
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 2:54 PM, August 09, 2006
Huh. Thanks, Sir; it seems so clear and obvious now.
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Monday, July 31, 2006
Quick Question
Posted by Matt Talamini at 12:33 PM
Does anybody know what the phrase "World without end" means? Why does it come at the end of prayers sometimes? What's the verb?
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  Comment by Blogger Rhonda at 1:16 PM, July 31, 2006
This is the (one?) prayer it's from:

Glory Be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end, Amen.

I think it's some sort of adjective clause, describing the "beginning, now, ever shall be" (whatever part of speech that is).

(Grammar police?!?!?!)
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 5:24 PM, July 31, 2006
Check out the greek, (without accents, I couldn't figure them out, save for the ones I didn't need :P)

It could also be translated: "Unto ages of ages"

"From eternity to eternity"

something like that...
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 5:26 PM, July 31, 2006
actually:
"From eternities to eternities"
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 3:15 PM, August 03, 2006
where's this phrase from?
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 5:12 PM, August 03, 2006
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloria_Patri
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Sunday, July 23, 2006
Israel AND Judah
Posted by Jared at 12:36 PM
I was reading Jeremiah and noticed that Israel and Judah are paired like they're synonyms or something. (Jer. 5:11,5:20, 31:31) What's up with this? I thought Israel was Judah's dad, so Israel is the country and Judah is just one of the provinces.
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 4:10 PM, July 23, 2006
There may be more to this (I haven't looked at that part of Jeremiah before writing this) but in the OT, Israel sometimes means "the northern kingdom", or "All of the tribes except Judah" whereas Judah means "the southern kingdom" or the tribe of Judah.

This split occured after Solomon died.
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  Comment by Blogger Sir Robert at 10:17 AM, July 25, 2006
There was this big split that occurred (Dwight mentioned it). Basically, the Israelites went all nutso for a while and decided to put their own king on the throne who wasn't of the line of David. Obviously that's no good -- remember God's whole thing about the line of David? But Judah kept on worshipping God and doing what was right and submitting to the rightful heirs. So, for a time, Judah is considered all of Israel because they were the only ones who were following the faith of Israel (the man) and were were all of the nation that was faithful to God. At one point there was even a war over it (and the good guys won).

It's the same principle that Paul speaks of when he says, "Who is a son of Abraham? One of his blood or one of his faith? It's the one's who keep to the faith of Abraham that are his children" (paraphrase). It's why I feel free to call myself a Jew at times when it is helpful in evangelism (I'm a faithful son of Abraham, and therefore one of his descendants).

Judah was Israel for a while.

P.S. You can check it out in 2nd Chronicles (and other places).
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  Comment by Blogger David at 11:08 AM, July 25, 2006
I think God was actually the one who put a new king on the throne of Israel. Israel (the nation) was composed of 10 tribes (each tribe being the descendants of one of the sons of Jacob [roughly. Joseph and Levi were not given an inheritance in the land. They were replaced by Joseph's sons, Mannaseh and Ephraim.]), and Judah was composed of two. There's the passage in I Kings 11 where God sends the prophet Ahijah who tells Jeroboam (Israel's first king) that he will be king over 10 tribes. As I understand it, God does this because of Solomon's idolatry. Later, in chapter 12, Rehoboam does some really stupid stuff (being cruel to the people), so the rest of Israel decides they want no part of it. Then they appoint Jeroboam as their king. The problem is Jeroboam thinks "If we worship God, these people I'm ruling will decide to rejoin with Judah (and the line of David)", so Jeroboam turns to idolatry cause he doesn't want to lose his throne, and that's pretty much that. The idolatry sticks; if I remember correctly, not one of the kings of Israel is noted for following God.
If you note, however, Judah (and it's kings) keeps one of the tribes: the tribe of Benjamin. It seems to me Judah and Benjamin have an interesting relationship throughout the OT. I think it starts in Genesis, when Judah takes Benjamin to Egypt. He tells his father Jacob that his life will be forfeit if Benjamin is harmed. Later on, at the end of Judges, Benjamin revolts, and Judah volunteers to go out and fight against them. Then you get Benjamin remaining with Judah at the split. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but it seems of any of the tribes these two have some interesting interactions.
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  Comment by Blogger Sir Robert at 10:06 AM, July 26, 2006
Touche, Dave.

I just went back and checked my memory against the text -- you're right =)

1) Solomon commits his various idolatries
2) God gives the 10 northern tribes to Jeroboam to rule (via populace support)
3) God gives Rehoboam (Solomon's heir) the other two tribes.
4) Jeroboam gets all wacky and Godless
5) Bad things happen.

I had forgotten all about the prophet and the aborted battle (between Rehoboam and Jeroboam). I checked to see what I was thinking of ... I figured it out =) (This is just a side note, btw). I once heard someone ask the question, "Why don't we see the Bible follow the kings of Israel for a number of generations, but focuses on the kings of Judah instead?" The answer (as it came) was that it was because the scriptures (as holy scriptures) focused on the line of David. The nation of Israel (as such) was the focus of various annals and historical chronicles. Sorry about that, Jared!
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  Comment by Blogger David at 3:45 PM, July 26, 2006
Well, interestingly I beleive the passages don't really indicate any clear connection between Israel's departure and the prophecy, at least from their side. It seems their reason for going home is they're fed up with Rehoboam. So I think you could technically say that indeed "Israel went nutso for a while and decided to put their own king on the throne". At this point I have trouble tracing the causality. But in either case, at least from Jeroboam's position, I think his throne is legitimate, though clearly not the line of David. God gave him the throne. The real problem comes when Jeroboam gets that screwy idea in his head. Which kinda makes you wonder what might have happened if Jeroboam had remained faithful. But that's just speculation.
The histories do in fact trace the line of the kings of Israel as well. If you look at I Kings 15-17 you'll get the first accounts of Israel's rulers up to Ahab. At the point the stories about Elijah begin. There's also a big section for Elisha, and a fair bit of that takes place in Israel as well. The rest of the kings of Israel are kind of interspersed up till about II Kings 17 when Israel falls to Assyria. Again though, the histories do focus on the kings of Judah (so the kings of Israel are easy to miss), if at least because the northern kingdom fell about 130 years before the southern kingdom. Also, there's a fair bit of historical narrative outside the histories proper - post-deportation (Ezra, Nehemiah), and fair bit at least in the major prophets (Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekial) - most of which focusses on Judah. The messages of those three prophets in particular do in fact take place around the fall of Jerusalem (by which point Israel is gone), and are primarily addressed towards Judah, especially in regards to the fate of the line of David in the coming Messiah.
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  Comment by Blogger Sir Robert at 11:46 AM, July 27, 2006
I agree regarding it being an action of the people -- that's why I was hoping to convey by calling it a thing God did "via populace support" -- or "by way of the support of the people." I'm not sure if it was a rebellion against God for them to pick a new king... Were the people obligated to God to prefer an heir of the line of David? I'm not sure.

I strongly suspect the causality here is something like the "geist" of that "zeit" was the holy "geist" (a la Chompsky).

I don't think it would have mattered much in the long run whether or not Jeroboam had stayed faithful. The kingdoms would have come back to David's line (per the infallible promise of God) when God's wrath against the line was satisified. It would, however, have made things much better for the Israelites if he hadn't freaked out.

Also, I didn't mean to imply that the non-Davidic kings are simply ignored -- it just doesn't follow them in the same way (as far as I can tell). There's a general scriptural focus on the seat of the line of David, and it is the focus of the prophecies (as you pointed out), and -- for obvious reasons -- the important bloodlines.
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  Comment by Blogger Jared at 3:04 PM, July 27, 2006
Cool; thanks,guys :)
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 12:18 PM, July 28, 2006
The Northern Kingdom gets taken off into captivity and does not return with Nehemiah and/or Ezra...
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Friday, July 21, 2006
Creed
Posted by Rhonda Ortiz at 10:24 AM
Statement:

"A creed is a profession of faith that aims to unify Christians in truth."

Yes, no, or maybe so?
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  Comment by Blogger Rhonda at 11:24 AM, July 21, 2006
Interesting notes on the Nicene Creed and each line's relation to Gnosticism/Arianism here:
http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/history/creed.nicene.txt
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 2:52 PM, July 21, 2006
here is an alternate/working definition:

A creed is a profession of faith that aims to unify Christians in truth, but usually lists the reasons one group doesn't want to hang out with another...
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  Comment by Blogger dydimustk at 1:06 PM, July 22, 2006
creeds are practically more of a litmus test than a common confession
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  Comment by Blogger Rhonda at 1:50 PM, July 23, 2006
Example?
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 4:14 PM, July 23, 2006
The Apostle's creed was written because the Non-Gnostics didn't want to hang out with the Gnostics.
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  Comment by Blogger Rhonda at 10:27 AM, July 25, 2006
Right and not right. I don't think it's motivated by not wanting reconcilation (i.e. not wanting to hang out with the other). I think it's motivated by the need to reassert the truth as revealed by Christ, as we come to understand it more and more. Reconcilation through correction is at the end of this.

Gnostics believed that God never /really/ became incarnate. So, assert the Trinity, assert the Incarnation, assert the inseperatable dual-nature of the God-Man. Because that's the truth, right? Assert the truth so that the faithful know what the truth is and can unify over it and not be led away by wolves in sheep's clothing.
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  Comment by Blogger Sir Robert at 11:00 AM, July 25, 2006
I've never really had much use for Creeds and Confessions and Mottos and such, myself. I'm not against them, mind you -- I just never had much use for them.

If someone wants to know what I believe, they can ask me. If they want to know what I believe in a nutshell ... well, they can still just ask me. I'll tell them gladly =) If they tell me I believe something wrong-headed, I'll ask them what they mean and what it is, and how they know and such. Then I'll give it it's due consideration. There are some points I won't budge on, no matter what (there are infinite articulations of these few points, and each of those could be called a creed (or confession, or slogan, or whatever), but I don't care about the articulations, really).

Anyway, the point is, I don't care one way or another about creeds and such. I know people who know very important creeds and confessions very thoroughly and confess agreement with them and who have grown in holiness by the grace of God through their contemplation or repetition (or whatever) of them. I'm thrilled. I've also known people who seemed to know very important creeds and confessions very thoroughly and confess agreement with them, and who have at other times also demonstrated themselves to be such as "universalists" or "atheists" (did you know there's a group of people who call themselves "atheist Christians?" Some of them even adhere to the various creeds -- they just fiddle with the definitions.)

As for me, I've never been able to make them mean anything to me, really. I mean, I understand the formal content, and I'm cool with it, but it generally isn't how I would articulate what my Dad did for me. Also, I'm probably fairly juvenile with regards to certain things (I only have the vaguest and most formal understanding of what a "lord" is (being an American, and me being slow about such things) -- though we're working on it! -- so I don't really call him "Lord" much when we talk. I think it's the Next Big Thing we'll be working on. He surely is my Lord, but I don't really know what it means yet.)

I've had some creeds of my own over the years. I have some now, even. They're like security blankets: when the enemy comes to try to shoot me down, I put on the full Armor of God (tm) and then, on top of that, I put on the Cape of my Creeds, because creeds -- like scriptures as such -- are much easier than faith.

God gives me all that good stuff that protects me (shield, breastplate, belt, etc.). I provide myself with a cape (or others offer me some, and I pick out the ones that fit my armor nicely and are decorated to my taste) to help me feel more secure (and rather dashing ;). It's like a wrapper around my armor. So when I see other people with the same cape, I don't have to examine all their armor (which may be a different style), to know that we're both in the League of Heros. The problem is, sometimes a Villan puts on a cape too. Villans cannot put on the armor, because it's issued by The Man Upstairs, but they can put on the cape, because we give them out freely (public confession =). So sometimes there's this naked dude walking around with a cape. If I see enough of that, and if I forget what the cape is, I'll start trusting that the cape will protect me in battle, and forget to put on my armor first when I go out. Then, while we're at the clubhouse, someone comes in and laughs villanously, and we all stand up and protect ourselves with our capes, and bad things happen.

Ok, this has gone on long enough =) I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I've been enjoying writing it!
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Environmental Management in the 21st Century
Posted by Dwight at 9:52 PM
I haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth yet, but I thought This speech by Michael Crichton was pretty good (and maybe relevant?)
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006
a question for the protestants
Posted by Kristi at 12:57 PM
I was wondering this past weekend, in part due to conversations with a friend, what most protestants would consider to be the focus of a protestant worship service? Is there something to which everything in a service is centered upon, or does the service need to be taken as a whole and not broken up into pieces of greater or lesser importance? If there is a focus or center or climax to a general worship service, what is it or what should it be, and why (is it the focus)?

Obviously, we could all say that Christ should be the focus, but for the sake of the question I was taking this as the granted and understood foundation of everything in worship. The question is more directed at what in the actions of the church is of primary importance, if anything?

I am personally interested in feedback from those who would attend protestant services, mainly because it is perhaps more ambiguous for me what their focus is; but I will be happy to open up the floor to other traditions sharing their perspective assuming that some of the resident protestants will also speak up. :)
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 9:49 PM, July 19, 2006
In the Lutheran tradition, the progress from confession and absolution (a quasi-sacrament) to the Lord's Supper is the focus. Lutherans believe that the Sacraments are Lords Supper and Baptism (with Confession and Absolution being sometimes said to be a sacrament, sometimes not)

To be a sacrament, Lutherans have 3 requisites:

1. Established by Jesus
2. Confers Grace
3. I can't remember how they put this one, but practicable by all believers. (e.g. This is why marriage is not a sacrament for Lutherans, because not all believers can or should be married)

I'm still pretty confused by "conferring grace"and the nature of the Lord's Supper.

Sacraments are pretty much a mystery to me.
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  Comment by Blogger David at 10:42 AM, July 20, 2006
Most mainstream evangelical churches have pretty much the same format for services in my experience (I think I would make this statement for protestants in general, though with reservation as my experience only extends so far.). They basically seem to have a time for singing (worship?) and a time for a sermon, usually in that order. There is often a time for prayer, but that, in my estimation, often gets lumped into one of the other two sections. Also, some churches will end with worship, but it's usually a shorter period, especially if they had one before the sermon. A third and fourth possible section in many protestant churches is communion and baptism, but these are much more variable. Most EVs do baptism infrequently, and often will hold seperate services for it. Communion varies as well. It's placement and frequency within the services is much less consistent from congregation to congregation. I visited an orthodox church once. Their 'sermon' as it were did not seem to hold such a prominent position in the service. Perhaps it seemed the service was more fluid. I'm not sure. Anywho, my observations.
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  Comment by Blogger Rhonda at 11:18 AM, July 20, 2006
David - With the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, the service is split into two: Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist (the terminology the Catholics use, I don't know how the Orthodox phrase it). The sermon ("homily") falls at the end of the first. Homilies typically are not very long - around 10-15 minutes long. The longest one I heard was given by an African priest in Pflugerville, TX - about 40 mins. (By the way, Africa sends us missionaries. Interesting.) Homilies tend to be shorter than those of the typical evangelical service because we receive at every Mass instruction in the Word and reception of the Word-made-flesh in Holy Communion, whereas, as mentioned above, communion for EV can be sporadic.
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  Comment by Blogger lam at 7:22 PM, July 20, 2006
The Westminster Confession, that "admirable statement of Reformed doctrine" describes the characteristics of Christian religious worship and observance of the Sabbath day in Chapter 21, complete with too many scripture proofs to post here. Here are some of the main themes:

-Worship to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit alone.
-Prayer with Thanksgiving, in the name of the Son, with reverence, humility, etc...
-The reading of Scriptures with godly fear, sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, with understanding, faith, reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart, as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ...

So it seems the main thrust of it is: Worship, Prayer, and the Scriptures, along witht the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper...
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  Comment by Blogger lam at 7:24 PM, July 20, 2006
By the way, ooh-rah to the Pflugerville church (St. Elizabeth's?) for having a 40 min homily! Those Texans must really need it:)
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  Comment by Blogger Matt Talamini at 11:09 PM, July 20, 2006
I come from a nondenominational background. For us, the message is central. We're very message-oriented. Jesus preached, Paul preached, John the Baptist preached, the prophets preached, so we preach. We love preaching.

I do wish that worship was more fundamental to the service.

With regard to sacraments, we're very simple. If Jesus said to do it, we do it. We know that there's some theological stuff about Baptism conferring grace, but for the most part we don't understand it, and we trust that if we do what Jesus said to do He'll look after us. He promised He would.
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  Comment by Blogger Kristi at 7:20 AM, July 21, 2006
Matt: "I do wish that worship was more fundamental to the service."

Is preaching not worship? How do you define worship? Are you just thinking of worship "songs"?

All: Laura cited the Westminster Confession of Faith, which I have read and which my church is in agreement with. I don't rightly understand who is and is not "Reformed" in protestantism, and who would and would not agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith, so, for other Reformed and non-Reformed folks, are there other confessions your church is in agreement with? (Enlighten me! :) )
Council of Trent for RCC?
Heidelberg anyone?
Canons of Dordt?
...?
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  Comment by Blogger Rhonda at 7:36 AM, July 21, 2006
Ooh-rah, yeah! It was great. A lot of priests feel pressure to keep Mass to an hour (especially here in Annapolis, where St. Mary's has 2 church buildings and only seven active priests - plus 2 deacons - and running a total of 11-12 Masses plus 2 sessions of confession on a weekend for its 15,000 parishioners). That of course means a short homily, because everyone's on a tight schedule.

This is not the case everywhere, as Pflugerville proves. They had a little more time to spare, praise the Lord. I do like a good sermon.

p.s. LAM - do you want that Wedding Notebook back? I've had it for 2 years and keep meaning to give it to you. We're moving soon, so we've got this pile of things to return to people. :-)
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  Comment by Blogger Rhonda at 7:54 AM, July 21, 2006
@Kristi -

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is divided into four sections: What we believe(Apostle's Creed), the celebration of the Christian Mystery (Sacraments), The Christian Life (Christ's commandments, 10 Commandments), and Christian Prayer (The Lord's Prayer). In terms of creeds, the Apostle's Creed is the foundational creed; the Nicene Creed (from the Council of Nicea) is recited at Sunday Mass, unless there is a baptism, and then we recite the Apostle's Creed and a renewal of baptismal vows.

There was a very important cathecism that came out of the Council of Trent as a response to widespread ignorance of priests and laity of their own faith - a part of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The new one builds heavily on the CoT catechism as well as the Second Vatican Council documents, and, of course, Scripture.

Vatican Resource Library (Bible, Catechism, Code of Canon Law, Vatican II docs, etc.): http://www.vatican.va/archive/index.htm
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  Comment by Blogger Dwight at 2:46 PM, July 21, 2006
I don't think the Lutheran Church is "Reformed" in the sense that it is used today.

The Lutheran Church uses the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed (with the "and the Son" bit), and the Athanasian Creed.

Then there are confessions. They have a whole mess of them in the Book of Concord, but the main one is the Augsburg Confession.

I'm not sure what the difference is between a Creed and a confession, but I know that Luther and all the Lutherans after him did not write any new creeds.
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  Comment by Blogger Nate at 8:46 AM, August 04, 2006
Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes, the Episcopal church I'm attending now, regularly runs between an 1.5 and 2 hours for its high mass. I'm very grateful that they don't feel constrained to an hour, as it would make everything feel too short -- there's simply too much content to cut it off like that.

I was raised Evangelical, and there, too, the focus of a Sunday service was the sermon. Hymns are good and fine, Sunday School very important (we even called the older equivalent "Adult Sunday School"), but in the end, what one really came to hear was what Pastor had to say.

This approach has a lot of problems, but I do find that, in general, non-Evangelical sermons/homilies tend to be far less substantial and, therefore, generally less interesting than those sermons I was raised on. I learned a lot of great theology that way.
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