Archive for October, 2013

For All Saints Day

October 31, 2013

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through* Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

So Scalia believes in the devil? Gasp! #scotus #scalia #Satan

October 17, 2013

Most of the time I do not agree with United States Supreme Court Associate Antonin Scalia. He is brusque. He comes off as indifferent to the problems of real people, he has the tong of a piranha, and the wit of a Grand Inquisitor. He recently gave a wide-ranging interview to one of those east coast magazines designed entirely for the amusement of the tea and crumpets crowd. I believes that flogging is not forbidden by the Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” I disagree, but I understand how he worked the equation, and, well….. he’s just one of those free-thinking intellectuals.

Justice Scalia admitted a belief in the devil and he is now catching the devil. Yes, it is a part of Roman Catholic theology for two-thousand years. The Hebrew Bible contains references to a supernatural accuser who walks back and forth upon the earth. Let’s not forget that clever snake of Genesis 3. Jesus Christ was tempted by him. Paul notes that Christians must be well-armed to face his formidable attacks.

To believe in Satan, one must accept the existence of an unseen world in which invisible forces are at war with each other. That may sound pretty wacky. Justice Scalia’s critics certainly think so. While I think the judge gets a lot of things completely wrong, this devil thing is not one of them. Just look around.

This is not to say that you can prove the existence of a devil, but the possibility of a spiritual world existing alongside the material order seems reasonable. You can’t prove that it is not so, and please understand that I realize this is not a very fair assertion on my point. To suspect that there are forces of good and evil at work around us is something that might be reached by experience. Again, this is an imperfect argument, but it might still need a closer look.

The materialist view is that, if you can not see or measure something, it does not exist. That is fairly stout and it presupposes the exclusion of the supernatural, even though the creation itself suggests some sort of Something or Someone behind it all. The very distinctness of humanity is another strongly suggestive aspect of our world. Animals communicate, but nothing communicates like people. Christians believe that we are meant to communicate with the much higher Someone behind it all.

This may be crossing some sort of line, but if the material world came into being on its own and evolved unaided by a plan from somewhere else, why would one exclude mysterious unseen beings from the process? Over time, humans have discovered a lot of surprising things.

If this Someone just plain enjoys life, why would he restrict himself to only the material. It makes perfect sense that there would be invisible (that is, invisible to us!) angelic beings. If there are personalities and free will, it seems natural to have rebellion and rebellious angels. So, hell yes, I am right with Justice Scalia on this one. There is a devil, and he has an army of demon soldiers who are doomed to an eternity of endless suffering. They will be joined by some rebellious people, and that is not much of a surprise either.

So what do you say? Has Pat taken leave of his senses? The comment box awaits.

Ken Cuccinelli Is Amazed God Hasn’t Punished America For Abortion

October 15, 2013

Cuccinelli is running for Governor of Virginia. He is pro-life, as am I. He has been soft-peddling his own position on abortion on the advice of political consultants who have held sway since the days of desegregation. “You can’t do good if you don’t get elected,” or so it goes. He has a lot of nerve to criticize the Roman Catholic church for being “soft” on its moral teaching. Here is a little quote from today’s story, followed by a link and a few pithy comments from me.

Ken Cuccinelli Is Amazed God Hasn’t Punished America For Abortion

By Laura Bassett Posted: 10/15/2013 9:40 am EDT  |  Updated: 10/15/2013 10:43 am EDT

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been trying to downplay his outspoken opposition to abortion rights in his campaign for governor this year as part of an effort to win back the support of women voters.

But in his speech to the Christian Life Summit last year — unearthed Monday night by NBC12 — Cuccinelli said he is surprised that God has not yet “imposed” more judgement on America for allowing abortion to be legal.

“Really, given that God does judge nations, it’s amazing that abortion has run as far and foully as it has, without what I would consider to be a greater imposition of judgment on this country,” Cuccinelli said. “Who knows what the future holds?”

Cuccinelli also criticized the Catholic church for its “soft and weak” leadership on social issues.

Ken Cuccinelli Is Amazed God Hasn’t Punished America For Abortion.

Deep breath.

Yes, God does punish countries. He did a pretty good job with Nazi Germany after WWII. There is, however, a lot of historical evidence to the contrary concerning divine retribution. Have things really gotten any worse for Russia? It has been pretty consistently awful for hundreds of years (thousands?) but can we really discern punishment? How about Iran? All of Europe is hopelessly secular, and I mean in the wrong sort of way. And, yes, the good old United States of America comes to mind. Has American been punished for the sin of abortion? I have two things here.

First, considering the economic collapse of 2008, does Cuccinelli not feel a little bit punished himself? Does he expect that Christians will escape the punishment? Our lives may be spared, but we are still right here, still salt and light. Perhaps, Mr. Cuccinelli, an examination of conscience is in order.

Secondly, by the way he poses the question, the would-be governor,demonstrates that he has misdiagnosed the offense. Yes, abortion is almost always wrong. The common practice is an offense against Almighty God, but abortion is not the chief shortcoming of America. The real problem is our selfishness and materialism. So long as a handicapped child represents an intolerable inconvenience, we have a problem. It is not that we kicked God out of our schools, it is that we kicked God out of the everyday life of most Americans.

This is a country that has heard of Jesus, and rejected his gospel. Our churches face little fear of persecution because many have long ago rolled over to accommodate the idolatry of consumerism and narcissism. Messing with the status quo would require a real love for our neighbors and the living God. We treat compassion as a despicable sign of weakness and respect as a joke. That is what God is going to punish, and the smaller issues, such as abortion, will take care of themselves.

A “thank you” to everybody who helped me on the journey to my Master of Ministry

October 10, 2013

In the fall of 2007, Rev. Dr. Mark Quay, now Senior Pastor of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Birmingham, Alabama, started pestering me about joining his new school. It was to be called “Anglican School of Ministry,” and the old Anglican Mission in America was interested in developing well-educated lay leaders. Oh, THOSE were the days my friend!

I kept giving Mark the brush-off until he resorted to his stockpile of WMD’s. “It really doesn’t matter, Pat,” Mark said, “you probably don’t have the self-discipline to complete the program anyway.” The program? I discovered in my files a “Certificate in Christian Studies.” The goal eventually became a Graduate Diploma in Theological Studies as a terminal credential. I also completed sufficient work to have earned the Certificate in Anglican Studies and the Certificate in Diaconal Studies. I have completed 72 graduate credit hours in biblical studies, theology, Anglican studies, and Christian education. That is probably enough for a guy who is not on the ordination track. My emphasis is in Christian Education.

Mark taught me how to do competent research and writing projects, and how to think like an educational professional who is also entrusted with the care of souls. I am in Dr.’ Quay’s debt because, by opening the doors of learning, he made me a millionaire. Mark brought a guy named Henry Baldwin in from the Netherlands to take over as Dean at the school. Baldwin is a retired nuclear submarine captain (in OUR navy! ROFL!) and had a high-powered doctors degree in New Testament studies from some big time institution (see below). Dr. Baldwin quickly became both a trusted friend and mentor. I am so very grateful to him and Mrs. Shirley Baldwin, his wife and former ASM Registrar, for encouragement and good advice. I miss Henry and Shirley like crazy. He is now the Dean at Holy Cross Anglican Church in the Atlanta area.

Issuing my diploma is probably one of the final official acts of the Anglican School of Ministry. Dr. Art Going, the current Dean, put my document in the mail and there was no “Pomp and Circumstance.” I am sure they played “Taps” instead. This final outcome for ASM is very disappointing, especially in light of the sacrifices made by so many to keep this school running.

ASM has been folded into Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh. I am told that Trinity maintains the ASM academic files. It is a wonderful seminary and I envy anybody who has the time and money to attend. ASM specialized in distance learning, parish level mentoring, and reasonable tuition. The faculty was made almost entirely of dedicated Ph D level instructors. If I am ever able to scrape together a few nickels, the quest for further theological education may continue.

There are a number of people who deserve to be thanked for helping me through the past seven years. If I have left anybody out, it was an error and I am sorry. Please drop me a line and I will make good! Here goes.

My bride, the lovely Marie, who encouraged me and prayed for me even in my moments of exhaustion.

Rev. Dr. Mark Quay, Founder, and former President and Dean of ASM. He is a retired Air Force major (prior-enlisted), having served 23 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Southeast Missouri State University, Diploma in Arabic from the Defense Language Institute, a Diploma in Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge, an MDiv from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a DMinEd from American Christian College & Seminary. He recently completed the DMin in Leadership with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he wrote his dissertation on mentoring theological students.

Rev. Dr. Henry Baldwin, Dean, mentor and friend. He earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy and holds the MAR in New Testament Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary. He received the PhD in New Testament Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Mrs. Shirley Baldwin, former ASM Registrar, Librarian, friend, advisor, and encourager.

Rev.. Joel Pugh, retired Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, the mentor for my final semester. Every minute you spend in Joel’s presence is like a minute in heaven. He is a quiet man of great wisdom with way more education than most of us could handle.

Rev. Dr. Don Shepson, Associate Professor of Ministry, Leadership, & Spiritual Formation, Department Chair at Toccoa Falls College.He is a graduate of Wheaton College (BA Sociology, 1990), Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (MDiv, 2001) and received the PhD in Educational Ministries at Talbot School of Theology. He taught all of my Christian Education courses and Anglican Worship.  His gracious assistance made my studies much more profitable.

Rev. Michael Pahls, Pastor of Trinity in the Fields Anglican Church in Marion Arkansas. He is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (MDiv) and Central Bible College (BA). Michael is currently completing his dissertation a PhD in Historical Theology at Saint Louis University. He is the author/co-editor of two scholarly books. He is a former mentor and my instructor in systematic theology, sacramental theology and church history,

Dr. David Sims earned his doctorate from the University of Durham in 2006. He earned a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary in 1994, his Juris Doctor in 1986 (University of Florida College of Law) and his BS in Business Administration/Finance in 1983 (University of Florida). David was in instructor in systematic and moral theology.

Dr. Joel Anderson holds an MA in Old Testament from Trinity Western University, and a PhD in Old Testament Theology from the University of Pretoria (South Africa). He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Evangelical Theological Society.

Mr Bill Elkins, ThM is a Dallas Theological Seminary grad. His love of scripture is infectious. Bill taught me numerous classes on Old and New Testament, along with Biblical Inspiration.

Mr. Mike Forrest, ThM is another DTS guy. Great teacher of Old Testament exegesis, and wonderful help, source of good advice and many good books.

Bob and Pauletta Baxter, who have never failed me.

Mr. Joshua Baxter

Mr. John Kooistra

Mrs. Gail Douglas, a former student in the Foundations program, constant encourager.

Mrs. Perri Neale and Dr. David Neale. Such friends are hard to find.

Jim and Judy  De Vries

Rev. Sam Murrell

Ken and Barbra Benson

Mr. George Norton

Ms. Laura Neale

Mrs. Carla Thommason

The many students of the Anglican School of Ministry. Although we were often separated by many miles,  you  gave me new ideas, challenged my old ideas, and sharpened my mind. It was a pleasure knowing every one of you.

So here I am, 63 years old and wondering what door God will open. This is one of the very few times one can put a check mark on the “to do” list. It may be that I have more than 20 useful years remaining and I am sincerely optimistic. Thanks to the God in heaven who provides for all our needs.

Send the Bill For the Shutdown to the Evangelicals

October 2, 2013

Here is a blog post by Frank Schaeffer on the influence of Evangelicals in the congress that contributes to the present federal government shutdown. I do not agree completely with every assertion here, but Schaeffer makes some darned good points that need consideration. After reading this item, scroll down to the previous item on Glad Streams for another perspective. The link for Schaeffer is below, and here is his opening paragraph.

Don’t like the shutdown? Send the bill to the evangelicals. People schooled to live in a make-believe magical facts-be-damned world took over the Republican Party. The Tea Party is the pro-life evangelical subculture reborn with a few libertarian nuts thrown in. I’m talking about the bedrock mostly southern and mountain state evangelical conservatives that are anything but conservative. The pro-life, home-school, anti-government far right is the evangelical movement. And it’s radically anti American. Without this movement the 40 extremists in congress who are the radical right of the far right would not have been elected.

Send the Bill For the Shutdown to the Evangelicals.

Would Jesus shut down the government? #congress #shutdown

October 1, 2013

Now that I have your attention, let us agree that the headline is misleading and highly manipulative. I am anxiously looking forward to somebody’s biblical analysis that will prove the federal shutdown to be part of the divine punishment for … well, you name it. Honestly, America has a lot of punishment coming.

But you cannot easily say that some modern event is traceable to some biblical principle or prophesy. Yes, God works in the world and he sets up human governments, and brings others toppling down. There is an eternal purpose being worked out here and some of it is hinted in the pages of scripture, but we must be careful.

With a due sense of caution, let’s try to think about the shutdown of many federal government services in biblical terms. This is a political question, so I want to be sure to stay out of partisan disputes. This national train wreck is to a very large degree the result of deep divisions among factions that are also very personal. How we treat each other is a moral issue. In this hard situation, Christians have a positive message.

Unfortunately, over the past 30 years, or so, it has become common the demean those who hold different viewpoints. Fair disclosure demands you be informed that I have frequently been on the receiving end of the verbal abuse. The name calling happens on a two-way street, so everyone is due criticism. For goodness sake, we are seeking insight and, now of all times, the last thing anybody needs is finger-pointing over who got called the worse names. Let us stipulate that things have been bad all around.

So what? Well, there is that little matter of Gen 1.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27, ESV)

Man is a little bit like god. He is similar, or in the divine “likeness.” Man is formed out of the ground. He is body and spirit. God and man both communicate. This is an attribute that makes humanity distinct. No other creature communicates with the volume and variety of the human person. Before the fall, God and man had a perfect face-to-face relationship. This is exactly what God wants, and it is what human beings need to become competent custodians of the material world.

Since the entry of sin, God communicates with man by way of revelation. That can be done through nature or by inspired scripture. Man talks to God in prayer. The Eternal is working on a program of restoration. Christians believe that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice made it possible for God and man to enjoy a harmonious relationship.

The point of all this is that mankind is unique and has a particular duty toward mutual respect and kindness. In his book Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard spends several chapters looking into Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. After dealing with the Beatitudes (Matt 5:2-12), he asks how should our righteousness exceed the scribes and the Pharisees? That bunch was very big on keeping small points of the law (of course all of the law is important) and parading around to show what extraordinary law-keepers they were. The problem with the Pharisees is that their hearts were not into it. All that rigid observance was for show.  According to Jesus (v. 20), it is necessary for anybody who wants citizenship in the kingdom of heaven to have the right kind of heart, the interior religion.

Willard proposes that the Sermon is a self-contained unit and that it is deliberately organized in a particular order. Imagine that, Jesus did things in order! There is a concept. Anyway, anger is item number one of the agenda of negative traits. Anger is the moral equivalent of murder (v. 21-22). If you believe anything Jesus ever said is trustworthy, anger is very serious business. The person who is angry is subject to judgment. The one who says “you fool” is subject to the “hell of fire” (v. 22).

Anger is the kind of unchecked emotion that would kill somebody if no one were looking. Anger seeks to belittle and destroy. Anger wants to dominate and to intimidate all on-lookers. Anger is pride gone wild. It is an expression of egotism that throws itself up into the face of God. It is an intolerable sin. Now, ask yourself this question; “how much anger do I perceive in American politics? How much derision? How much insult?”

It would be very hard for a Christian to hold public office, and if you ever wonder why our viewpoint has lost credibility, now you know. Forget about the lying (we will catch that some other day), a Christian is forbidden to take part in killing another person’s reputation.

Yes, American politics has always been bad. George Washington saw his own image burned by unhappy crowds, and he is supposed to be just about the best President we ever had. The press has been ugly. The debates have often been personally destructive, but I would contend that today there is a greater use of the name-killing gotcha’.

But isn’t that the way the game is played? Back in the days of segregation, “good” southerners used to excuse their association with racists and racism by saying, “you can’t do good if you don’t get elected.” They got right down in the sewers and that might have been alright when all there was down there was a little human feces. Today, they add in hazardous chemicals and a little radioactive waste on the side. People die in the political sewer.

What is a Christian to do? Do we sit at home and hide in the basement? That is hardly any way to be “salt” and “light.” Christians have to start taking part and it is necessary to recognize the political poison for what it is. Christians may never succumb to anger, name calling, or personal attacks. This is not the recipe for success. Expect to get your brains beaten out. Expect to be beaten without mercy, and be nailed to a cross. isn’t that just what they did to Jesus?

Doing what Jesus requires will make things happen. We are not able to see from here exactly what might take place, but it is bound to bring more people into God’s kingdom. The martyrs of the early church had no way of knowing how much they inspired others to faith. Leave the final victory to Jesus. His promises are explicit and his followers will rule with him. It will be the right kind of government; just and merciful in the perfect proportions.

The day will come when Jesus comes back in triumph to shut down every human government. In the meantime, as Christians seek to be more Christlike in every respect, the hardness of heart that plagues so many of our neighbors may begin to ease. People can live together with respect and patience. The door will be open for the gospel to be heard and to touch the hearts of self-righteous and murdering people.