Category Archives: Holiness

Mark 9.42-48 – Sexual Discipline and Child Molesters, of which there is no hope

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In a recent class, I heard someone say that the bible doesn’t speak to sexual ethics. I was, well, stunned. How utterly stupid. But, I digress. One of the many helpful insights which I found in the NOAB NRSV are snippets of information such as this:

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mar 9:42-50 NRS)

According to rabbinical language, Christ is speaking to sexual discipline. You can find more of the explanation here. (Actually, at that link, there are a lot of good thoughts about sexual discipline, but I don’t feel like exploring them at the moment)

Of particular note is v42 which speaks to children. The NOAB notes that rabbinical literature has the same language and it is speaking of sexual abuse of children.

I notice something here. Of the other sexual sins (read the link), there is a remedy, but of child molesters, Christ condemns them to the justice of the waters of chaos which ceases to exist in the New Creation:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. (Rev 21:1 NLT)

(Although I admit that I may in fact be confusing authors and their cosmology, regardless…)

Christ doesn’t give them a remedy, unlike he does other sexual sins.

So does love actually win? For everyone?

 

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Meister Eckhart on what Sanctification really is!

Church of St. Petri, Hamburg. On the left befo...
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Now the question arises what is sanctification, since it has so lofty a rank. Thou shouldest know that real sanctification consists in this that the spirit remain as immovable and unaffected by all impact of love or hate, joy or sorrow, honour or shame, as a huge mountain is unstirred by a gentle breeze. This immovable sanctification causes man to attain the nearest likeness to God that he is capable of. God’s very essence consists of His immovable sanctity; thence springs His glory and unity and impassibility. If a man is to become as like God as a creature may, that must be by sanctification. It is this which draws men upward to glory, and from glory to unity, and from unity to impassibility, and effects a resemblance between God and men. The chief agent in this is grace, because grace draws men from the transitory and purifies them from the earthly. And thou shouldest know that to be empty of all creature’s love is to be full of God, and to be full of creature-love is to be empty of God. – From his sixth sermon

I am not a Wesley scholar, nor will I pretend to be. Instead, I will say that from what I’ve read and the little work that I’ve done on Wesley and the East, I see in Eckhart a synergism of the two. (Or maybe Wesley pulled a lot from Eckhart who mirrored the East in several ways.) At the very least, both see sanctification as something not attained to immediately but a process.

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More with Meister Eckhart

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I am studying some of the medieval mystics in the West, and one which keeps coming to me is Meister Eckhart. There is a society devoted to studying him. You can read some of this sermons, an analysis of this doctrines, and even a modern Roman view.

  • Whoever possesses God in their being, has him in a divine manner, and he shines out to them in all things; for them all things taste of God and in all things it is God’s image that they see.
  • People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are. If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant. If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous. We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works.
  • It is a fair trade and an equal exchange: to the extent that you depart from things, thus far, no more and no less, God enters into you with all that is his, as far as you have stripped yourself of yourself in all things. It is here that you should begin, whatever the cost, for it is here that you will find true peace, and nowhere else. Talks of Instruction
  • In 1985 the Pope, John Paul II, said: “Did not Eckhart teach his disciples: ‘All that God asks you most pressingly is to go out of yourself – and let God be God in you’? One could think that, in separating himself from creatures, the mystic leaves his brothers, humanity, behind. The same Eckhart affirms that, on the contrary, the mystic is marvelously present to them on the only level where he can truly reach them, that is in God.
  • Here in time we are celebrating the eternal birth which God the Father bore and unceasingly bears in eternity, because this same birth is now born in time, in human nature. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • The soul in which this birth is to take place must keep absolutely pure and must live in noble fashion, quite collected, and turned entirely inward: not running out through the five senses into the multiplicity of creatures, but all inturned and collected and in the purest part: there is His place; He disdains anything else. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • Here God enters the soul with His all, not merely with a part: God enters here the ground of the soul. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • Though it may be called a nescience, and unknowing, yet there is in it more than all knowing and understanding without it; for this unknowing lures and attracts you from all understood things, and from yourself as well. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • The soul is scattered abroad among her powers, and dissipated in the action of each. Thus her ability to work inwardly is enfeebled, for a scattered power is imperfect. [German sermon 2, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • Do not imagine that your reason can grow to the knowledge of God.  [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • No. Be sure of this: absolute stillness for as long as possible is best of all for you. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • You should know that God must act and pour Himself into the moment He finds you ready. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • To be receptive to the highest truth, and to live therein, a man must needs be without before and after, untrammelled by all his acts or by any images he ever perceived, empty and free, receiving the divine gift in the eternal Now, and bearing it back unhindered in the light of the same with praise and thanksgiving in our Lord Jesus Christ. . [German sermon 6, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • Since it is God’s nature not to be like anyone, we have to come to the state of being nothing in order to enter into the same nature that He is. . [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • So, when I am able to establish myself in nothing, and nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked being of God, which is the naked being of the Spirit. [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • There is a power in the soul which touches neither time nor flesh, flowing from the spirit, remaining in the spirit, altogether spiritual. . [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • One means, without which I cannot get to God, is work or activity in time, which does not interfere with eternal salvation.   ‘Works’ are performed from without, but ‘activity’ is when one practises with care and understanding from  within. [German sermon 9, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • It is a certain and necessary truth that he who resigns his will wholly to God will catch God and bind God, so that God can do nothing but what that man wills  [German sermon 10, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • If you seek God and seek Him for your own profit and bliss, then in truth you are not seeking God. [German sermon 11, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • We find people who like the taste of God in one way and not in another, and they want to have God only in one way of contemplation, not in another.I raise no objection, but they are quite wrong.  [German sermon 13a, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • I declare truly that as long as anything is reflected in your mind which is not the eternal Word, or which looks away from the eternal Word, then, good as it may be, it is not the right thing.  [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • For he alone is a good man who, having set at nought all created things, stands facing straight, with no side-glances, towards the eternal Word, and is imaged and reflected there in righteousness.  [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • The human spirit must transcend number and break through multiplicity, and God will break through him; and just as He breaks through into me, so I break through into Him.  [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]
  • Above thought is the intellect, which still seeks:   it goes about looking, spies out here and there, picks up and drops. But above the intellect that seeks is another intellect which does not seek but stays in its pure, simple being, which is embraced in that light. .  [German sermon 19b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

Something struck me as I was reading this quote by Ursula Flemming,

Meister Eckhart says that the man who finds no taste of God wearies of looking for him. One of the criticisms of Christianity, and one of the reasons why many young Christians turn to the East, to Buddhism or to Hinduism, is that in Christianity there is no apparent help with method. How do we find God? How do we even start? Eckhart is one of the Christians who faces this and accepts it as a problem. Good intentions are not always enough. We need instruction in how to make ourselves fit to receive the revelation of God, to receive the eternal birth. (Fleming, 1995)

What struck me was the similarity in thought to John Wesley,

“It may be needful to specify whom I mean by this ambiguous term; since it would be lost labor to speak to Methodists, so called, without first describing those to whom I speak.

“By Methodists I mean, a people who profess to pursue (in whatsoever measure they have attained) holiness of heart and life, inward and outward conformity in all things to the revealed will of God; who place religion in an uniform resemblance of the great object of it; in a steady imitation of Him they worship, in all his illimitable perfections; more particularly, in justice, mercy, and truth, or universal love filling the heart, and governing the life.” — John Wesley, Advice to the People Called Methodists (ht)

Both seemed to be searching for the holiness of the heart found only in God.

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A Hell to Shun and a Heaven to Win – Phrases I no longer like to hear

I was listening to the radio the other day and a song with these lyrics came on the radio. Guess I hadn’t thought about it much, but you know, I don’t like that phrase. For several reasons, but for one, because I cannot win ‘Heaven’. I cannot gain it, or conquer it, or earn it.

For my ESV readers –

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation….Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Rom 5:8-11,18 ESV)

So, what is it that I have to win exactly that has not already been given to me?

Whatever Happened to Modesty? What’s that?

I more than agree with Michael on this one. I am the father of two young girls, and for the life of me, I don’t understand why parents let their children wear the things that they do. I remember sitting someone listening to a nurse talk and laugh about her three year old who could do a perfect imitation of a stripper, pole and all. Really? Anyway, Michael says it well and lays out four guidelines for modesty –

Here they are: “Four Guidelines for Modesty”:

  1. If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
  2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
  3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
  4. If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

Read the rest here:

Whatever Happened to Modesty?.

James McGrath, Holiness Preacher

This has to be one of the best sermons on holiness, as I understand it, that I’ve read in a long time.

…..The assumption here is that, just as purity seemed to be more powerful than holiness, evil seems to be more powerful than goodness.

In the symbolism of the purity language in the New Testament, I find a powerful challenge to strive for infectious goodness. A goodness that can easily be corrupted is fairly weak and superficial – it probably means that one doesn’t desire that which is good, and so can only imagine people choosing the good if other choices have been hidden from view…..

Exploring Our Matrix: Contagious Holiness.

I came from a holiness, supposedly, congregation so these ideas interest me. Read the entire post as it is a powerfully good one.

Validation of Experiences

I have to wonder how many times we judge others by our own experiences.

I am speaking, of course, of the religious experience. If we have a religious experience (insert you own definition here) in one place, under one doctrine, or one person, or even with one bible, then is it possible that we then judge the experiences of others by our situation.

Examples – the KJVO myth. Some people who hold to this doctrine often times denies the salvation of another if they were saved under the reading of an NIV.

Or charismatics and pentecostals and others.

Just some passing thoughts here, but if we have a religious experience, why is it always assumed that it was the external factors which produced the results – bible, doctrine, ‘move’ – and not us?

The same thing with Atheists. Because they have never had one, of have had one and then justified it, then they assume that all others are equally wrong.

Biblical Proof for a Charismatic Style Service?

…Brian asks here.

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Who will be a Prophet?

We often like to read from and quote the prophets. But if you’ve ever met a real prophet you know that being in the presence of a real prophet can be very disturbing. Prophets were famous for goring every one’s ox. No one left the presence of a prophet untouched. So troubling were the prophets of old, including Jesus, that most of them were persecuted, jailed, stoned, exiled and killed. Most of the Biblical prophets were beyond controversial they were way over the top. Prophets denounced sin and injustice in the strongest language announcing doom to a nation that refused to repent. Many Israelites thus considered them unpatriotic and downright dangerous. They justified throwing them into prison for their lack of patriotism and for the way their words questioned and upset the status quo and the judgements of those who held power. To many,  these were dangerous men who had to be stopped. – Msgr Charles Pope

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John Calvin on the Holiness of the Church of Jesus Christ

Never I fan of Calvin, I am reading Stroup’s Calvin (Abingdon Press, Pillars of Theology Series) and noticed a comment referring to the ‘c’hurch of Jesus Christ in Calvin’s writings. For me, I can think of no other name under heaven (for salvation) for in heaven (the royal family) which I rather be under than that of the Lord’s. Further, why not have the Body named after the Head? Or the Espoused carry the name of her Husband? So, it interested me this small reference.

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