St. Symeon, Believing is not seeing the Resurrection

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship, the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One! We venerate Thy Cross, O Christ, and Thy Holy Resurrection we praise and glorify; for Thou art our God, and we know no other than Thee; we call on Thy name. Come, all you faithful, let us venerate Christ’s Holy Resurrection! For, behold, through the Cross joy has come into all the world. Let us ever bless the Lord, praising His Resurrection. By enduring the Cross for us, He destroyed death by death! – Orthodox Liturgical Hymn

St. Symeon The New Theologian, Resurrection
St. Symeon The New Theologian

St. Symeon makes a great deal of that initial phrase, that tiny word, “beheld.”

Most men believe in the Resurrection of Christ, but very few are they that have a clear vision thereof. Those who do not behold it cannot even worship Christ Jesus as Holy and Lord. As Scripture says, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit,” and, elsewhere, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

That most sacred phrase which is daily on our lips does not say, “Having believed in the Resurrection of Christ,” but, “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One.”

How then, does the Holy Spirit exhort us to say, “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ,” which we have not seen, as though we had seen it, when Christ has risen once for all a thousand years ago, and even then without anyone seeing it?

Surely Divine Scripture does not wish us to lie? Far from it! Rather, it urges us to speak the truth, that the Resurrection of Christ takes place in each of us who believes, and that not once, but every hour, so to speak, when Christ the Master arises in us, in splendid raiment and flashing forth rays of incorruption and Divinity. – Discourse 13, St. Symeon the New Theologian, Discourse on the Resurrection.

Believing is not Seeing the Resurrection:

The entire discourse on Christ’s Resurrection is needed and important, especially among those of us who believe that a mere assent to the doctrine suffices. We make it a dividing line between those who believe the resurrection and those who deny the resurrection, feeling a superiority if we do believe. Yet, St. Symeon notes there is another difference, between those have beheld the Resurrection (in a vision) and those who believe.

In reading one of the three canonical saints in the East, he notes there is the blind man who stumbles but manages (the believer), the dead (the unbeliever), and the one who is awake to the mystical, the one who has his or her soul unified with Christ without confusion. He goes on to suggest that the believer who does not do works in accordance with his or her belief is only believing in part. Yet, the one who has truly beheld the Resurrection (v. the Western need to focus on the Crucifixion) will indeed work out their own salvation.

Now, I guess, what does it mean to actually behold the Resurrection in a vision? What is the mystical experience Christians should have in regards to the Resurrection and how does it follow in our individuals lives?

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can United Methodists believe in purgatory?

This actually comes from a conversation this morning via wherein I “jokingly” suggested it would be easier for Osteen and Marcion to get out of the netherworld than it would be for Calvin, et al. But, it started a good conversation.

Article XIV reads,

The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshiping, and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God.

That is pretty cut and dry, I guess, except it is not that cut and dry. Indeed, this “Romish” adjective is both a descriptor of the doctrine and an insult, held over by Wesley from the Anglican Church. I believe a clear reading of the Reformers will show that when “Romish” was used, more often than not the writer meant to set aside the corrupted doctrine and instead attempt to see the pure doctrine behind it. In other words, using “Romish” would not automatically disqualify purgatory as a doctrine worthy to be explored, only the Romish version.

Early Christian Fresco depicting Christ in Pur...
Early Christian Fresco depicting Christ in Purgatory, Lower Basilica, San Clemente, Rome, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And yes, there are other doctrines of the intermediate state available to us. The East, while not calling it purgatory and in many ways differing from Rome in some regards, has a hope for a final liberation.

Thus the Latins receive both the temporal and the eternal fire, and call the first the purgatorial fire. On the other hand, the Greeks teach of one eternal fire alone, understanding that the temporal punishment of sinful souls consists in that they for a time depart into a place of darkness and sorrow, are punished by being deprived of the Divine light, and are purified—that is, liberated from this place of darkness and woe—by means of prayers, the Holy Eucharist, and deeds of charity, and not by fire. The Greeks also believe, that until the union of the souls to the bodies, as the souls of sinners do not suffer full punishment, so also those of the saints do not enjoy entire bliss. But the Latins, agreeing with the Greeks in the first point, do not allow the last one, affirming that the souls of saints have already received their full heavenly reward.

John Wesley, ever reaching to a more sound theology, was looking to this intermediate state even in his own growth.

John Wesley believed in the intermediate state between death and the final judgment “where believers would share in the ‘bosom of Abraham’ or ‘paradise,’ even continuing to grow in holiness there,” writes Ted Campbell, a professor at Perkins School of Theology, in his 1999 book Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials(Abingdon).

Yes, Wesley did not seem to believe sanctification was finished in this life.

]], a current Wesleyan theologian (yes, we have a few in existence today), writes,

Indeed, I am convinced that when Christians take sanctification seriously, they will find the doctrine of purgatory to be a very reasonable implication. The doctrine of purgatory rightly understood underscores the point that sanctification is essential, not merely an optional matter for the super spiritual, and that we must cooperate in our sanctification. We cannot ignore the call to holiness our whole life and expect that God will zap us and perfect us the instant we die. But again, the demand for holiness is the demand of a loving God who wills our true happiness and flourishing, and he insists on cleaning us up not as act of punishment, but as an act of gracious love.

The question, then, is not “if” or “should” but “can” a United Methodist believe in an intermediate state where, as one FB commentator said, the dross is melted away from all?

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A Muslim protecting Christian doctrine; Unknowingly!

Read here

nj-easter-egg-huntI said it once and I will say it again! Those who devise non bibilically prescribed customs and feasts to the Christian faith are the ones who are “doing the work of the devil” reducing Christianity into a “fairy tale” with Santa Claus, Eastern Bunny and, of course, egg hunts, and certainly a few other childish parties.

Oh, of course these are such innocent things that they will hardly affect anyone, or any child’s forming faith, right? Wrong! You talk to your children about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, along with teaching them about Jesus, then you expect that they will grow up and filter off the childish things and realize that none of these characters are real and for some miraculous reason, you hope that they will keep Jesus as a “truthful” character… What a hope!

Before you say it, as an avowed Calvinist I shouldn’t worry because after all God will preserve his own. It is right there in the “P” of T.U.L.I.P, or, “perseverance, (also preservation) of the saints, right? Wrong again! Yes, God will preserve His own but that doesn’t relieve you of your parent responsibility in raising your child in the most pure form of Christian faith!

Oh, I am all in favor of enjoying our liberty in Christ and I am all against legalism in any subtle or conspicuous form it rears its ugly head (and legalism’s head is in the rear), so, I am not talking about turning your child into an outcast, devoid of contact with society, and not participating in some “innocent” play, although such an “innocence” is debatable. What I am talking about is this militant stance in defending these types of activities not prescribed in the Bible as if they were somehow to be revered as something directly from heaven’s throne room! And how some do that? Answer: by calling anyone who opposes to such celebration a “anti-Christian” waging a “war on Christianity”, especially if one is not a Christian.

I said it before and I will say it again: God has used anyone to speak for Him, including a donkey, and God will also use those who are currently the enemies of His Gospel if that is what it takes to remove the attention from a stupid egg hunt that, in my view, a Church should not be promoting, and make the Church really turn their attention to what we are celebrating that day, that is, if we indeed celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. When a Muslim is outraged because of something that he was told is a Christian thing, read that outrage as perhaps God speaking through a donkey preventing us from turning the Gospel into a fairy tale sort of nursery rhyme, devoid of its meaningful and sacred and eternal meaning, and the ever changing power that it has been through the ages. Think about it!

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The Resurrection is the Exodus in Luke

Here’s the deal – I am not much in the writing mood today, and I would really have to research this out to see how many other people picked up on this. Plus it is not something I’m going to waste a lot of time researching because of other outstanding projects.

I have others things to do, but as were were reading something a few weeks ago in Sunday School class, the thought occurred to me that the Resurrection is the Exodus event. I base this first on Luke 9.31, better translated in the NLT:

They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. (Luk 9:31 NLT)

My thought pattern is…

In Luke 9… Christ is to go to Jerusalem to perform His Exodus…. To lead people out, from captivity. Thus, the Resurrection is the actual Exodus Event. Parting the Red Sea = Harrowing of Hell in 1st Peter 3-4.

Lead His people free, lead the captives free, etc…

So, beyond the collective ‘duh’ from the more aptly trained theologians, is this something that is a valid interpretation?

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Thought of the Day – Weren’t we supposed to leave Emmaus?

Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus; ...
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That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him….

See, these guys were near Emmaus, leaving Jerusalem, after the crucifixion and the resurrection… Jesus meets them and asks them about what was going on. Perhaps had they not been so near to Emmaus, and instead been closer to Jerusalem, they would have recognized Him… They told Jesus about the cross, the hope in the Messiah and the women who told of the Resurrection, and about the vision of angels which spoke to them. Jesus upbraids them with some pretty strong words:

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”

They were too near to Emmaus to recognize Christ and the Scriptures…. Even when He upbraided them, they still didn’t recognize Him until He opened their eyes, and even then, in their stupor, they failed to understand what had happened until they were …

And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter. “

It was only when they were on their way back to Jerusalem, leaving and going far from Emmaus that they were able to comprehend Jesus –

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. (Luk 24:13-48 NLT)

In all sincerity, the Resurrection was yesterday, but Today we live that Witness.

Away from Emmaus.

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Quote of The Day – The Indelible Moment

The resurrection of Christ is not the fruit of speculation or mystical experience: it is an event which, while it surpasses history, nevertheless happens at a precise moment in history and leaves an indelible mark upon it. The light which dazzled the guards keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb has traversed time and space. It is a different kind of light, a divine light, that has rent asunder the darkness of death and has brought to the world the splendour of God, the splendour of Truth and Goodness. – Pope Benedict XVI

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The Nazareth Inscription

Just thought that this might be interesting

THE NAZARETH INSCRIPTION TRANSLATION

1. EDICT OF CAESAR

2. It is my decision graves and tombs—whoever has made

3. them for the religious observances of parents, or children, or household

4. members—that these remain undisturbed forever. But if anyone legally

5. charges that another person has destroyed, or has in any manner extracted

6. those who have been buried, or has moved with wicked intent those who

7. have been buried to other places, committing a crime against them, or has

8. moved sepulcher-sealing stones, against such a person I order that a

9. judicial tribunal be created, just as concerning the gods in

10. human religious observances, even more so will it be obligatory to treat

11. with honor those who have been entombed. You are absolutely not to

12. allow anyone to move . But if

13. , I wish that to suffer capital punishment under

14. the title of tomb-breaker.

NOTES AND COMMENTARY ON MY TRANSLATION

While the Greek word “decree,” “diatagma,” used in line one of the Nazareth Inscription may suggest to modern readers some sort of imperial legal process, the fact of the matter is that the Nazareth Inscription is almost certainly a rump or abridged version of an imperial rescript. As will be seen below, a rescript was a letter of response sent by the emperor to some sort of an imperial official. It was not uncommon for imperial rescripts to be treated as legal decrees. See Charlesworth, Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Claudius and Nero, p. 14 where the Emperor Claudius himself calls one of his rescripts on Jewish rights “touto mou to diatagma” or “this decree of mine.” As will be seen below, there is an imperial rescript of the Emperor Claudius which fits the pattern of the Nazareth Inscription very well. The rescript process will also be discussed in detail below. (here)

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Tough Questions of the Resurrection

Resurrection: Son of God Jesus triumphs over d...
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I am teaching Sunday School for about 15 minutes in the morning.

I was looking for ‘tough questions’ – more than, ‘Why Would God Kill His Son’  – so I found these,

1. How do you account for a bunch of Jews who believed in, at best, a future resurrection suddenly believing they had seen one?

2. How do you account for strict monotheists suddenly believing they had witnessed the Son of God, and worshiping him as such?

3. How do you account for the lack of refutations of something so public?

4. How do you account for the change of heart and behavior of the disciples? What was their motivation to perpetuate a lie at loss of their lives?

5. How do you account for the rapid spread of Christianity, despite severe persecution?

I’m not sure that I will ask these for several reasons.

1.) it wasn’t at best – the Resurrection was a growing belief for a while, especially among the community which provided the thought world of the New Testament.

2.) Strict monotheists? No. Not just yet.

4.) Sorta is a circular logic thing. We know about the change of character only from the Gospels which were written for a specific reason.

Anyway… do you have any questions or concerns which seem to undermine the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Note that these are tough questions ‘of’ the Resurrection, not ‘on.’ There is a reason.

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