SanctiFusion

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Atomic Church

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atomic_bomb_dominic_truckeeFor a change in pace, there is an issue that has been “in the news” now for over 500, maybe a thousand years or so. What, and where, exactly, is the Church? At one time it was seen as a cooperative fellowship of Christian gatherings and communities. Then there came a trend of which bishop, province, or diocese had higher status for solving questions as they arose, and next there was a split between the Western churches “under” Rome and those in the East. About this time the bishop (pope) of Rome sent Norman English king Henry II to invade Ireland (where the Church was closely aligned with the Eastern churches) to make “good, Roman, Catholics of them.” This conflict is still in the news today!

Another five hundred years, and the Pope is excluding Martin Luther for holding to a doctrine which had been part of the Church’s dogma for twelve centuries, and Zwingli in Switzerland was declaring war on the Roman Church in the name of Renaissance humanism and Swiss patriotism. Soon there was bloody war from city to city throughout Europe, and when the smoke finally cleared there were three distinct parties, and no distinct winners.

The Protestant Calvinists held ground in the Netherlands and established a seminary there under none other than John Calvin’s son in law, Teodor Beza. When a Ph.D. Professor at that school questioned a fine point of Beza’s speculative theology (whether God had caused the Fall, yet without causing sin) that professor, and all who thought it was a good question were jailed, tried in absentia, and banished from the city at the cost of homes, property, jobs, and friendships. Fortunately, only one of them died.

Next, England’s Henry VIII decided to make use of the diminishing power of the Papacy by declaring the English Church independent from Rome’s influence. Over the next three hundred years the English Church would produce a string of godly divines who would devote themselves to rediscovering the core faith of the Church and, in the process, move the English Christianity significantly closer to the Eastern tradition. This did not, however, bring any reconciliation with the Irish, who remained loyal to Rome (and resentful of English hegemony) though their religion was still rather closer to the earlier Celtic Faith than to the Roman.

At this time another force was at work in England: The proud independence of Swiss Calvinism was gaining a following which would produce more wars, the “Glorious Revolution” which itself led to the senseless slaughter of whole villages in Ireland in the name of “establishing the Kingdom of God,” In time the English Crown was back on the throne and the Church of England was able to maintain control over the more deliberately, “Protestant” factions. Dissenters, generally “dissenting” over matters of prepared liturgy, the material used in building the altar/communion table (and which words were used), what the clergy wore, and how music was used in services. Many left the country over these questions, and many crossed over to North America to be free of interference with their beliefs (lit., in their own words, their “opinions.”)

Predictably, as this kind of Protestantism was being spread, beliefs and opinions became paramount in defining fellowship, and any difference of opinion was likely to spawn yet another division. Fast-forward this scene a few hundred more years, and we see not only a confusing array of “denominations” of Christianity, but subsets, breakaways, and “independent works” continually spawned off of each of them. Not that the break in fellowship is the whole picture: At every “birthing of a new movement” each party redefines what it believes in terms of its opposition to the other side of whatever the issue du jour happened to be, and rejects their what they understand the opposing party’s position had been on the issue. Of the whole of Christian doctrine “once delivered to the saints,” each successive generation receives a smaller portion. Whereas the early Church spent its energy spreading the Gospel through their towns and across the world, the main order of business today is to redefine the Gospel, and the Church’s energy is largely spent in a constant restructuring operation.

All this forces us to beg for answers: what is the Gospel? What is the Church? What, for Heaven’s sake, is a Christian, and how does one recognise them? There are answers, to be sure. Not necessarily easy ones, though…

Obviously, I have my own “opinions” about these things, but for the moment, what are yours?

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Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 13 October, 2009 at 22:53

Free Thought?

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It’s interesting, no, really crucial, to think of what it means to be human. Despite all the Hollywood glitz to the contrary man is the only creature on this planet with the ability to reason. The so-called “dumb animals” can react or respond, or follow hard-wired instincts, but as one anthropologist offered, after years of primate studies, the highest chimpanzee is intellectually closer to the cockroach than to humanity. Not to disparage our four-legged neighbors, but let’s consider this:

God has made us in His image and, though the perfect image has been deeply scarred, we do still have such marks as an attraction to goodness, desire to love and be loved, and the ability to reason and to create. The Bible tells us that “the world, the flesh, and the devil” are at odds with the God Whose image we bear, and so is intent on destroying that image. How do we see that? All around us are enticements to set aside any idea of love as being more than using others for personal thrills, or of goodness as more than self-preservation.  Our reasoning itself seems to be the greatest target, and the greatest threat to that three-fold attack on our humanity. Even the so-called “free thinkers,” more often than not, merely cluster around a popular myth, and if any hold a differing opinion, launch personal slanders against them and pride themselves on their “critical thinking.”

The truth is that, if God has indeed given us these divine “markers” in our lives we have a holy responsibility to use and develop them. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008 at 10:10

"Only Believe!" Or, not. . .

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“Believing is more important than what we believe.” It’s strange that nothing seen allows such an approach, yet we like to think that the Unseen is the same as the Imaginary. A child once thought that everything was just as it appeared. A box, with knobs and dials in the right placement, would play music. Another box, with the right markings, would tell the time. What he did not see made all the difference, didn’t it? An unknown belief or attitude in one’s fiance can make a world of difference in one’s life over the years, and a charge on a small bit of wire can change one’s whole outlook on life in an instant. When it comes to faith, it is just the same, only more so. In Romans we read that, “the gospel of Christ is the power of God for salvation.” Now, if one’s doctor says, “The instructions on this medicine bottle are crucial for your recovery,” how wise is it to leave that bottle on the shelf, or apply the medicine according to mood, opinion, or hearsay? Is merely possessing the medicine enough to restore health? If we will take the doctor’s advice on earthly matters so seriously, when the best he could do was allow us a few moments to this life, what of a message, that is proven by the life and resurrection of the Son of God, that promises us eternal life? What, exactly, is that message? Is there anything in this world more important than finding out? Rather than leave this hanging on such a precipice, we do have some definite signposts to follow. Please stay tuned for some crucial particulars!

Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 19 August, 2008 at 21:38

Good Intentions, but. . .

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Another conversation while in Belfast: The idea was that since, “God looks at the hearts, all that really matters to Him is our intentions!”. For a moment, this almost sounds reasonable, but isn’t the “real” intention the one that “stands up?” In the conversation, he was saying that a preacher doesn’t really need to know doctrine as long as he “means well,” but,
  1. 1. If the Gospel is God’s power on Earth to save [Romans 1:16], so,
  2. 2. The Church exists to uphold the Truth [1 Timothy 3:15], then
  3. 3. All Word ministry is equally crucial- Study, Teaching, and Preaching[1 Tim. 4:13 & following], because (See #1). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 18 August, 2008 at 0:17

War on Terror, and Faith

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The “War on Terror.” The US has, in the past, declared war on poverty, and on drugs. In both cases little progress was made on those fronts. It’s really hard to wage a negative campaign against a negative concept. In this one we seem to have a war with a few more concrete objectives and photo-ops, but until the Western governments get what, and why, it is they’re fighting they stand to lose a lot more than their confusion lets them see. The war that has embroiled the “Western Powers” is far more far-reaching than a bush operation against a motley bunch of sand bandits, as the American Press would have us believe. What we are looking at is an ideological war- a campaign of values, ethics, and dogma that forges the rival Islamic sects and nations into a de facto coalition, and either joins Liberal Western leaders with them or at least keeps them out of the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 7 August, 2008 at 20:42

Western Myth Number Five: That Jesus was "a great teacher."

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“Jesus was a great teacher.” The ultimate subject of all of Holy Scripture is Christ, and what He said and did doesn’t allow us that option. (We can debate whether Mohamed was a “great teacher” based on his teachings and his life. It’s not hard for most people to see that loving others on the same level as ourselves is a more godly approach than waging war on civilians in the name of one’s religion, but that seems to be changing.) C.S. Lewis said that Jesus does not give us the option of saying that He was a good moral teacher. A moral man would not make the claims that Christ made, of being in the Godhead before the days of Abraham, of having the power to forgive sins against God, or of having the power to die, and rise again, of His own will. Such claims would have to come from a liar, or a lunatic. A liar, though, would surely have changed his story when facing torture and death, and a lunatic could not have backed up his claims with such miracles (Remember, His miracles were so widely recognised by friend and foe alike that for the first several centuries afterward it wasn’t His divinity, but His humanity that was hard for people to comprehend!) “Which is easier,” He asked, “To say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” At His word, the paralytic rolled up his mat and went home. The only option left us is that He truly is the Lord of Creation, and of life. How does that affect your life?

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 6 August, 2008 at 17:38

Western Mythology, Part Three: An Omniscient "Science"

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Oh, and here’s one: That the Bible is true in as far as it can be scientifically proven. As long as there has been “science,” the Bible has served as its guide. Sure, there will be instant reaction here, about Galileo and Copernicus, but the religious establishment was complaining, not about any contradiction with Scripture, but against Aristotle and Archimedes! Remember, this was a time when church scholars were debating things like whether women have souls, or, reportedly, how many angels can dance on a pin head! Church position depended on social rank, and classical Greek “science” was the latest fad in the universities. The discovery of ocean “paths” that sped the sailing ships to new worlds came from hearing a Psalms reading, and when Western man “discovered” that the world is, in fact, round, it was a reading from Isaiah 40 that started the ball rolling. On the other hand, if we start off reading the Bible with “scientific” limits to what we are willing to accept, then we’ve already lost before we’ve started, haven’t we? At that point the basic science of logic has been overlooked: John Wesley offered this explanation: The Bible is either the work of good men and angels, bad men and devils, or it is from God. If the first, then why would the good make such claims about miracles, about God becoming Man, or about the Resurrection? Clearly, the Bible is not the work of good men, or angels! Could it then be the work of bad men, or even of devils?

Why would the evil ones go to the trouble of creating such a work that condemns their own activities? Clearly, again, it does not come from an evil source. The only choice left to us is that it comes from God, and if God has gone to such lengths to communicate with us, then that message might just be important enough to command our full attention.

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 27 July, 2008 at 21:37