Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Protoevangelium of James

The Protoevangelium of James

Trying to find a good critical commentary on the Protoevangelium of James.

Friday, November 20, 2009

the NT Evidence

Matt 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Matt 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

The key phrase “before they came together” would not make any sense if Mary was under a pledge to remain a virgin even after her marriage to Joseph.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

American Flag in the Sanctuary

I was watching a History Channel show on the battle flags of the North and South used during the Civil war. Feeling frustrated by the discussion recently on the subject of the flag in the church sanctuary. Quote "the flag represented their comrades ... who had fallen trying to carry those flags". It is hard to disregard such emotions about the flag.

History of the Canon of Scripture

I was questioned about the Canon of Scripture by an Orthodox person. The Orthodox/Catholic argument goes something like this:
An example of this is the Church proclaiming a certain canon of scriptures. What was the rule used to deem some inspired and true and others not and can we not use this same rule in areas like the veracity of Mary’s ever-virginity?
The Jews were split on the OT canon some only taking the first five books and others taking the entire OT. I accept their selection of the entire OT without becoming a Jew myself. I don’t go and get circumcised because I accept that Genesis is part of the canon.

Same with the NT canon. A particular set of early Christians selected the canon from among a number of competing books. I accept the NT canon while not accepting their Deuterocanonical choices (Macabees, Tobit, Bel and the Dragon, etc). That doesn’t mean that I have to accept everything they believed any more than I have to become a Jew today because I accept the OT canon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Bible and Self-Defense

Seems to me that Jesus was in favor of self defense using deadly weapons under certain conditions
Luke 22:36 Then said he [Jesus] unto them [His disciples], But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Healthcare debate

What I find missing in this whole health care debate is that nobody is stopping anyone else from paying for the health care of anyone that they choose to pay for. What I object to is the idea that someone should be forced to pay for the heathcare of ...anyone else. If someone can't afford to pay for healthcare why should someone else be forced to pay for their healthcare?

Friday, September 18, 2009

ACORN Prostitution/Fraud

Your tax dollars fund ACORN "members" thugs to allegedly develop an underage international prostitution ring.

ACORN Voter Fraud in Chicago

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Talk about Mary - Part 2

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calvinist witnessing

Children not named after father

One of the arguments in favor of the children being cousins is the claim that the Jews did not name their children after the father (see note 62 referring point). However, the following shows that is not true:
Luk 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Here's a link to a goarch article on the Ever-Virginity of Mary. Here's their comments on the historical question:
Indeed, to suggest (a) that the tradition about her perpetual virginity could have been introduced after apostolic times, (b) that this tradition would have gone little noticed by a Church in the throes of questioning everything about what it believed in the first millennium, (c) that such a novel tradition should be considered inconsequential enough to pass without discussion before it became universally proclaimed, and (d) that such a tradition should have no discernible literary or geographical origin and yet be universally accepted from very early in the Church's history, is to form a very unlikely hypothesis.

Word for cousin/kin

In this passage, the mother and brothers of Jesus come to see Him:
Mar 3:31-35 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
The Greek word used here is αδελφοι, or brother. There are other uses of the word brother which imply a broader use than brother however, there is a Greek word for cousin/kin, συγγενεις and that word is not used here.

Talk about Mary - Part 1

Piece of an Orthodox and Evangelical conversation about Mary.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cal the Robot

More Calvinism

Calvinist mumbo jumbo

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Elder = Bishop (Titus 1:5-7)

This passage equates the two Greek words, presbuterous (elders) and episkopon (bishop).
Tit 1:5-7 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders (πρεσβυτέρους) in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer (ἐπίσκοπον) must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain... (NASB)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Ignatius and the bishop

Ignatius shows quite a different view but claims to be contemporaneous to the other texts. He presents a single bishop and multiple presbuteros (pastors/priests). In The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians Chapter 2, v 12, he writes:
...attend to the bishop, and to the presbytery, and to the deacons....
There is some discussion of the genuineness of these writings.

Here's an even more detailed discussion of the contents and dating of Ignatius.

The seven letters of Ignatius figure prominently in the testimony of most converts to Orthodoxy from Protestantism as well as the Orthodox apologetic for key doctrines of the church. It is used to bolster claims to the authority of Bishops as found in Orthodox Church structure as well as the doctrine of the Eucharist. Therefore its claims should be examined closely.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Polycarp and the Presbuteros

Polycarp (in the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians) describes the duties of the presbuteros (bishops) in Chapter 6. Once again, the focus is not on a monarchical bishop, but on a local pastor:
And let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always “providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man;” Rom. xii. 17; 2 Cor. viii. 31. abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unjust judgment; keeping far off from all covetousness, not quickly crediting [an evil report] against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin.

Pastor, Priest, Bishop, Elder

Hard to believe but the four terms Pastor, Priest, Bishop, and Elder are all used interchangeably in the NT to describe the same function/office.

Pastor
The English word Pastor is only used once in the KJV:
Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
The Greek word used is ποιμενας poimenas, or shepherd. Matt 9:36 uses this same Greek word:
Matt 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Priest
The English word Priest is mostly used in the Old Testament. The KJV does not use the word Priest in the NT to specifically refer to Christian ministers although all believers are described as being part of the holy priesthood.
1Pet 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Bishop
The Greek word is επισκοποις or episkopois. It is a different office than that of deacon. Paul addresses both bishops and deacons as distinct:
Phil 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Elder
The Greek word is πρεσβυτερους or presbuteros. The English word priest is cognate for this Greek word. This seems to be the same office as bishop. It has the same list of requirements. At the direction of the Lord, Paul went into each church that he had previously preached and ordained elders.
Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Clement of Rome

Clement of Rome, Chapter 42, is one of the earliest references to bishops outside of the New Testament.
The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from Or, “by the command of.” the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from Or, “by the command of.” God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, Literally, “both things were done.” then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established Or, “confirmed by.” in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, Or, “having tested them in spirit.” to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe.
This is early evidence that the ministry of bishops continued beyond the establishment in Acts. However, the role of bishops here seems once again to be that of local church pastor.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What is a Bishop?

Key to Apostolic Succession (AS) is the bishop. The bishop has Biblical origins. The role is bishop in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) seems to be different than the bishop as described in the New Testament (NT) in several ways.

In the EOC and RCC, bishops cannot be married. In the NT, bishops are allowed to be married:
1 Tim 3:2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
In the EOC canons there can't be more then one bishop in a given city. In the NT, there were multiple bishops in Philipi.
Phil 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
The NT bishop is more like the role of priest in the RCC and EOC. His sphere of influence seems to be a city rather than a large area or country.

The differences noted here are studied as the "rise of the monarchical bishop" in church history.

Apostolic Succession in general

As someone examining the claims of the Eastern Orthodox church (EOC), the claim to apostolic succession (AS) by the EOC is an interesting subject.

Wikipedia defines AS as:
Apostolic succession is the doctrine in some of the more ancient Christian communions that the succession of bishops, in uninterrupted lines, is historically traceable back to the original Twelve Apostles.
The Orthodox Wiki defines AS as:
Apostolic succession is the tracing of a direct line of apostolic ordination, Orthodox doctrine, and full communion from the Apostles to the current episcopacy of the Orthodox Church. All three elements are constitutive of apostolic succession.
Note the three elements of AS are:
  • tracing of ordination
  • teaching
  • communion through time

The site catholic.com defines AS as:
Apostolic succession is the line of bishops stretching back to the apostles. All over the world, all Catholic bishops are part of a lineage that goes back to the time of the apostles, something that is impossible in Protestant denominations (most of which do not even claim to have bishops).
Further, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) claim has historically been that:
The Greek Church, embracing all the Eastern Churches involved in the schism of Photius and Michael Caerularius, and the Russian Church can lay no claim to Apostolic succession either direct or indirect, i.e. through Rome, because they are, by their own fact and will, separated from the Roman Communion. - Catholic Encyclopedia
Among the specific reasons for the RCC rejection of EOC claims to AS is:
During the four hundred and sixty-four [sic: years] between the accession of Constantine (323) and the Seventh General Council (787), the whole or part of the Eastern episcopate lived in schism for no less than two hundred and three years: namely from the Council of Sardica (343) to St. John Chrysostom (389), 55 years; owing to Chrysostom's condemnation (404-415), 11 years; owing to Acadius and the Henoticon edict (484-519), 35 years; total, 203 years (Duchesne). - Catholic Encyclopedia
I intend to dig into these claims in subsequent posts.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Apostolic Succession in Sweden

It seems to me that the case of Sweden in this regard is interesting. In 1524, Pope Clement VII, in Rome, consecrated Petrus Magni bishop. Petrus Magni returned to Sweden as bishop of Västerås. In his turn, Petrus Magni, who was one of the last Catholic bishops in Sweden, consecrated Laurentius Petri bishop in 1531 and Laurentius Petri became the first Swedish Lutheran archbishop. As I understand it this succession continues on through the present day.

The division in the 1880s that happened with Waldenstrom and led to the formation of the Free Church in Sweden was over the understanding of the atonement. Waldenstrom took a view, similar to the Eastern Church view, and his followers were booted out of the Lutheran State Church.

A poster on the Energetic Procession BLOG added the following:

Laurentius Petri himself consecrated only two bishops in his whole archiepiscopal career (which extended from 1531 to his death in 1573), both of them in the 1530s; one of them died in 1555 and the other in 1563. Starting in 1540 the king decided to abolish the episcopate, and as bishops died or were removed they were replaced by unconsecrated “Ordinarii” or “Superintendents” who received authority *from the king* to conduct ordinations and oversee the clergy as bishops had done in the past. In 1554 the Bishop of Abo in Finland died, one of the bishops whom Peder Mansson had consecrated in 1528. The king decided to divide Finalnd into two “superintendencies,” and the two men who the king appointed received “a blessing after the Lutheran fashion” (as a contemporary chronicler recorded) by one of the two surviving bishops whom Petri had consecrated in the 1530s. One of these men died in 1563, the other in 1579. After Johan III became king in 1568, those superintendents who held old bishoprice resumed the title of “bishops,” withiout undergoing any form of episcopal consecration. When Archbishop Petri of Uppsala died in 1573, his son-in-law Laurentius Petri Gothus, was appointed his successor. The king insisted on an elaborate consecration of the new archbishop, which happened on July 14, 1575. Four bishops participated in the act of consecration: three Swedish bishops who themselves had received no “consecration” when appointed to their positions, and the one surviving Finn who had in 1554 received the ambiguous “blessing after the Lutheran fashion” when he had been appointed a “superintendent” in 1554 (his title had later been ungraded to “bishop”).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Humanity in a Divine Organization?

I'm struggling to come to terms with the controversies going around in the Orthodox Church. I've added links to the BLOGs on the left side of this page which show both sides. Combat and words are being thrown around that make the Calvary Chapel battles of the past 13 years seem tame in comparison.

The part that scares me is the authoritarian nature of the responses of the leadership of these churches reminds me so much of the unaccountablility of the non-denominational churches of my earlier Christianity. Calls for audits are met by denials of financial wrongdoing as well as claims that it would be a waste of the Lord's money to conduct audits. Heard this story in Calvary Chapel, the Vineyard movement and now in I am hearing it again in Orthodoxy.

How do I come to terms with an organization which has such high claims of authority and at the same time such low professional standards? There are established canons which are appealed to and perhaps are being ignored.

Clergy are mass demoted from bishops to auxiliary bishops under the metropolitan. Is the metropolitan now the bishop? How does it all work out?

Seminary students are withdrawn from Orthodox seminaries days before they are supposed to start classes and told to move long distances to other seminaries. All of this is allegedly because the Metropolitan has a grudge against the seminary because there is a BLOGger they haven't shut down. I feel this personally having taken my family across the country to go to seminary. What would it have been like for me to told I needed to undo that and move to another place days before classes were to start? With a wife days from delivering a child?

Some on the BLOGs say just to wait it out. The current head is old and will someday die. They said that about Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel some 15 years ago. He's still hanging in there at 82 years of age. Still running the show.

Others say that the Antiochians are just the wrong place to be. From what I can tell they are the best place for a convert. Did I choose wrong?

I've long ago given up on a search for the "perfect church". I haven't believed in that possibility in a very long time. Is this pragmatism or am I just disillusioned?

Is this all the fall?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lutherans, Homosexuals, Minnesota and a Calvinist Prophet


John Piper has stated in his BLOG that the tornados that struck the Twin Cities were God's judgment on the Lutheran body meeting to decide the place of homosexuals in the ordained ministry in the ELCA church. The secular press has picked up the story.

Perpetual Virginity of Mary

The claim has been made by some Orthodox that:
For about 1,600 years the entire Church affirmed the ever-virginity of Mary. The notion that she did not remain a virgin was introduced by the Anabaptists and some Calvinists long after the Reformation was an established reality.
I don't believe that is historically accurate.

The teaching that Mary was ever-virgin is, as Michael Hyatt has noted (MP3) a major sticking point for some in conversion. For me it's the biggest theological point I have remaining. I've studied it and from what I can tell it was not the uniform teaching of the Orthodox church from the beginning.

There was a diversity of opinion about this view at the time of Origen (ca 248 AD), for instance. Origen wrote about the origin of the teaching and the diversity of opinion on the matter:
The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the firstfruit among men of the purity which consists in [perpetual] chastity, and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity" (Commentary on Matthew 2:17 [A.D. 248]).
Tertullian taught that Mary lost her virginity in the conception of Christ. (De carn Chr. 23.) Tertullian also believed that Mary had relations with Joseph after Jesus was born (Adv Marc 4, 19 de monog. 8, de virg vel. 6.). Tertullian also believed that the brothers were actually borne by Mary.

At the time of Jerome, there were people who rejected the view. Example, "The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary Against Helvidius," ca 383 AD. Helvidius maintained that the mention in the Gospels of the "sisters" and "brethren" of our Lord was proof that the Blessed Virgin had subsequent issue, and he supported his opinion by the writings of Tertullian and Victorinus.

At the time of Augustine, there were people who rejected the teaching:
Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband" (Heresies 56 [A.D. 428]).
The Antidicomarianity and the Arian Eynomius openly taught that the brothers of Jesus were borne by Mary. Basil of Caesarea did not agree, but admitted that the view was widely held and is not incompatible with orthodoxy (Hom,. in sanctam Christi gen (PG 31, 1468 f.))..

Also, it seems to me that there are two competing and contradictory claims about who the "brothers and sisters of Jesus" were. One is that they were children of Joseph from a prior marriage. Another contradictory view is that they were cousins of Jesus. Both can't be right but both claim ancient origins.

The phrase "ever-virgin" did not come into vogue until post-Nicaea.

Chrysostom pointed out Mary was a sinner (e. g. hom in Matt 44:2, in John 21:2). In fact, at that time, only in Syria was Ephraem calling her free from every sin, like her son (Carm, Nisib 28, 8).

Hilliary denounced those who denied the perpetual virginity of Mary, demonstrating that there were people who denied it at his time (Comm in Matt 1, 3 f.).

Jerome invented the theory that the brothers of Jesus were actually cousins, not his brothers.

Interestingly the heretic Pelagius (who believed in the possibility of living a sinless life) believed that Mary lived a sinless life. Augustine agreed with Pelagius, but taught that Mary was a singularity.

The Lateran synod of AD 649 was the first to stress the threefold character of Mary's virginity.

Thus, contrary to the Council of Trent, the perpetual virginity was not a concensus of the Fathers.

Evidence of prayers to Mary in the first four centuries of the church is almost non-existent (Kelly - Early Christian Doctrines, pp 491-on).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Emergent Theology and Orthodoxy

One of the podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio concerned the four (struggling for the right word here) "angles" on the church. What surprised me was the speaker dealt with not just Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox but with the Emergent Church. I had expected interaction with the other older traditions, but to hear them grappling with the meaning of the emergent (post-modern) movement was unforeseen.

On a different podcast, Metropolitan Philip of the (American) Antiochian Archdiocese was asking questions about shape of the liturgy in the future. He asked if the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom would be used by future generations or if they would have a liturgy all their own. It is interesting to see the Orthodox dealing with the questions of cultural relevance.

The Ancient Faith


A couple of things have caught my attention recently.

Ancient Faith Radio


I've spent the last couple of days listening to podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio. Some great material on there ranging from Liturgies to seminars to preaching and teaching.

Energetic Procession


A buddy of mine, Perry Robinson, has a great BLOG on Orthodox subjects, called Energetic Procession, which focuses largely on philosophy/theology. Sometimes the intricacies of the material can be hard to follow, but if you try hard you are guaranteed to learn something.

There are a lot of different subjects discussed including free will and determinism. If I had to sum up the BLOG in one short sentence the takeaway I get is "character counts". We form what we become by our choices.