Pope Francis, meet Rob Bell: Pope Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics #universalism
May 23, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Gosh, I love a good old-fashioned stoning, this story from Vatican City has plenty of fuel to make the boulders fly. I have some commentary on the jump, but first, here is the briefest outline of what is going on, and link to the full story.
Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.
During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the importance of “doing good” as a principle that unites all humanity, and a “culture of encounter” to support peace.
Using scripture from the Gospel of Mark, Francis explained how upset Jesus’ disciples were that someone outside their group was doing good, according to a report from Vatican Radio.
I am writing this “on the fly,” so I am sure that many better minds will have comprehensive and thoughtful comments over the next few days. My first reaction is that, despite the current media-driven tendency toward immediate rage, we owe it to Pope Francis to interpret his remarks in the most favorable light and should not do otherwise without the strongest evidence.
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May 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is right about 98.94% of the time. His excellent essay on the Old Testament is squarely within the bounds of his typical sound judgment. He also gives me one more opportunity to shamelessly plug my upcoming Old Testament Introduction, for which the syllabus is posted here Syllabus CFM OT. It is a great 12-week discussion and available “live” online.
Mohler observes the causes of Old Testament neglect and several ways in which it is misused by some preachers. You can read it all on the link below.
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus rebuked those who should know, who should see, who should hear, who should believe—and yet, will not. Jesus indicted the people who claimed to be not just the sons of Moses, but also the sons of Abraham—yet would not hear, believe, and be saved.
The Jews said to him,… ”Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him [cf. John 5:37: “His voice you have never heard”]. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:52–58)
But these words also rebuke the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in our own generation for our misuse and neglect of the Old Testament. In our own way, we can commit the same insult to both Christ and the Scriptures. For many, the Old Testament is simply a problem. Throughout the history of the Christian church, there have been those who have struggled to understand what to do with the Old Testament. Some of the sources of the problem are ideological and theological.
May 19, 2013 § Leave a Comment
O GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending* to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
May 16, 2013 § 2 Comments
Surely somebody must be kidding! Someone understandeth not those things appertaining to modern culture and language.and is plainly repugnant, but not me! The Articles are old-fashioned, clumsy, authoritarian, and bear more than a slight whiff of Anti-Catholicism. Many Anglican seminaries do not teach them, although the Anglican School of Ministry (where with God’s help, I will finish my Master of Ministry this summer) is an exception to the rule. One or two (I am trying to be very diplomatic here) include the Articles in curriculum, but do not actually believe them. The Episcopal Church moved the Articles into a previously nonexistent section of the so-called Book of Common Prayer, 1979 edition known as “Historic Documents.” That is the place of exile where doctrinal standards go to die.
It is a healthy thing for doctrine hawks such as myself to remember that what we do about the gospel of Jesus Christ is a lot more important than how we work out the official belief of divine inspiration or the attributes of God. It is very important for modern Christians to face down attacks on the faith with a clear and articulate understanding of official teachings. This takes a lot of work, and we are busy people. The problem is that, in some of his last public teachings before being taken bodily into heaven, Jesus unequivocally commanded his followers (us!) to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). And how exactly would one do that? Yes, Jesus often taught by example and through signs. He often resorted to teaching, a transaction in which information is passed from one person to another. The person receiving the information is expected to retain and use it. Jesus is very specific about “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (v. 19). If you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus, you are an instructor. There is no place for freeloaders.Jesus has set the curriculum to include “all that I commanded you.” The material is to be found in the four gospel accounts and the other divinely inspired texts which are the source of church teaching, including our Anglican Articles.
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May 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
O GOD, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
May 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
May 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
In fairness, one probably cannot lay blame for the liturgical neglect of Holy Thursday at the grave of Gregory Dix. Modern “reformers” have, however, done much harm. Those of us who worship in the tradition of the church understand that belief is molded by prayer; lex orandi, lex credendi. Modern revisionists have been hard at work reshaping the minds of unsuspecting lay people.
The old practice of the church locates the observance in accord with the biblical text, 40 days after the resurrection. This is a Thursday. It is a central feast of the church that brings completion to the Easter cycle. Jesus is crucified and laid in a tomb, from which he is raised incorruptible and the first of a new kind of humanity. This talk about a literal bodily resurrection is most obnoxious to the supposedly enlightened mind. The notion that the glorified body of the Savior is taken into the heavenly realms brings the Easter narrative to fulfillment. It is a period at the end of a theological sentence. Full stop.
The Lord has risen indeed and is now enthroned on high and ever intercedes for his people. As a Thursday observance, the Ascension stands on its own in the church’s timekeeping. Moved to Sunday, it is just another weekly observance, and much less troubling to those who doubt the salvation of the cross, the actual resurrection, and the Ascension into heavenly glory.Well I mean, who would believe such a story anyway?
The traditional collect for Ascension Thursday also contains one of the coolest words in the Book of Common Prayer. How many times in your life will you get to use the word “thither?” The collect is a wonderful snap shot of our own union with the ascended Christ. Don’t forget Ascension Thursday.