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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Catholics, Catholicism, and Our Spiritual Pilgrimage

The fathers of the Catholic Church referred to our path to Christ as The Way. In choosing to walk in His footsteps we have set forth on a journey of salvation and charity. From the harrowing travels of the
Israelite's, chronicled in the Book of Exodus, to the long and treacherous roads taken by Paul and Timothy; the Bible, and therefore the whole of Christianity, is a story of passage. This passage is found, both literally and through analogy, various times in scripture and in the observed traditions of the Catholic Church.
As previously mentioned, the exodus of the Hebrews is a foundational theme of Catholic Spirituality” . The people of YHWH found themselves in the desert under the guidance of Moses, who himself was an agent of God. While in the desert, the Hebrews were tested time and time again. Many failed and many persevered. Even as Moses conversed with The Almighty Himself, the Hebrews grew restless and were reduced to idol worship:
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” (NRSV, Exodus 32:7-8).
In this passage alone, Moses must travel down the mountain, and God denounces the actions of those he has brought out of Egypt. In reading of the collective travels of the Hebrews into the Promised Land, one must understand that this travel is spiritual in addition to physical. The hardships and temptations they face in the desert can be seen as symbolic allusions for those we face in life, and Israel is a metaphor for the salvation and eternal life we strive to achieve in Jesus. The desert is seen as both a place of cleansing renewal, and as a place of solitude and temptation. This theme is evident again in the New Testament when Jesus retreats to the desert prior to His ministry. It is there that He is tempted by Satan, and it is there that He stands firm in His righteousness (NRSV, Matthew 4:1-11).

One often imagines traveling as a solitary undertaking. Whether or not one is in a group of people it is easy to internalize the experience. As members of the Church, however, our journey is all inclusive. Pope Paul VI had this to say in reference to The Church in a state of pilgrimage:
All the members ought to be molded in the likeness of Him, until Christ be formed in them. For this reason we, who have been made to conform with Him, who have died with Him and risen with Him, are taken up into the mysteries of His life, until we will reign together with Him. On earth, still as pilgrims in a strange land, tracing in trial and in oppression the paths He trod, we are made one with His sufferings like the body is one with the Head, suffering with Him, that with Him we may be glorified (Lumen Gentium 61-64).
From this passage we can see that Pope Paul VI intends for us, as Christians and members of the Holy Mother Church, to continue to follow and suffer with Him until we reach our final destination. The Second Vatican Council underscored this journey as a social undertaking that touches each and every one of us, regardless of socioeconomic standing, sex, or age. Together, as Children of Christ, we make our pilgrimage. Just as Christ struggled, so do we, and it is the knowledge that each person around us is suffering that we must exercise compassion and charity. We have been blessed with the opportunity to help others as Christ has helped us. As members of The Church community, we travel with Christ as both a spiritual companion and the arbiter of our heavenly destination. The Apostles made the same pilgrimage with Christ, even unto His crucifixion and, for many, their eventual martyrdom. In their travels, the Apostles' faith grew, as did the number of disciples to whom they witnessed. We experience the same spiritual maturity through our walk with Christ.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Questionable Authorship In The New Testament... and Why It's OK!

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work (NRSVC 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
In today’s world, if an author were to claim authorship of a text that he had not written the public outcry would be substantial. Society would consider the act fraudulent and unethical. While the usage
of pseudonyms and ghost writers are not completely unheard of, they are not considered a societal norm. Using contemporary standards of authorship, many find it difficult to understand or accept the fact that there is no real feasible way of verifying exactly who it is that wrote the Gospels. The very fact that there are names attached to the books in question only serves to confuse those who cannot comprehend this mystery. To further complicate the situation; the general consensus among scholars is that the Gospels were a collaborative effort. Despite these revelations, it is crucial that one understands that our inability to definitively know the names of the authors of the Gospels does not, in any way, subtract from the inerrant truth of salvation that the texts contain. Our belief that the Bible was divinely inspired by God, does not negate the humanity of the authors. Because of the disparity this creates, modern methods of Biblical interpretation have been formulated to aid one in interpreting the intent of biblical authors critically. Fortunately, many of the reasons we have for discerning the intent of the authors, are also proofs to the actuality of various authorship. Furthermore, insight into the world of those who composed the varying books of the New Testament, also serves to help us understand why it might be necessary for the Gospels to be attributed to others. Among the methods of Biblical interpretation are: source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, literary criticism, and contextual criticism.

Source criticism is the search for evidence that the authors of the Bible may have been influenced by, or directly copied, text from another source. This works in conjunction with form criticism, which is the attempt by scholars to try to identify the oral tradition that the text is based on. Together with redaction criticism, a form of criticism deals more directly with the author's particular influence on the text, these three historical-critical methods serve to inform different aspects of the historical development of the Gospels. Using these methods affords us the ability to examine what we know and what can be deduced to try to answer questions about the authors of the Gospels. For example, it is more than plausible that Jesus' exploits had already been established as oral tradition prior to their being written down. Because of this sharing of information, through various orators, and the traditions that rose up around these stories, there would occasionally be what could be seen as discrepancies among the authors of scripture (source criticism). Also, if the oral history being maintained is attributed to a specific person or that person's school of thought, when that oral tradition is finally set in writing (form criticism) it would often be attributed to the person to whom the oral history is credited. This is why the authors of the Gospel would attribute them to somebody else. Redaction Criticism comes into play when trying to ascertain how each of the authors influenced the collected knowledge they set to paper. How does the author's intentions and interpretation color his writings. Redaction critics must try to understand whether or not the author took it upon himself to add or subtract from the writings or oral traditions that came before. This is why books that are attributed to the same author may vary in tone and message. Literary criticism can also help us identify differing authorship. Literary criticism is an effort to identify the literary form the author was utilizing when writing. Was the text in question meant to be literal, parable, or symbolic? Are the writings a poem, narrative, letter, or otherwise? A good example of this is how form and literary criticism together shape many of the arguments that scholars have that the Johannine works were written by different authors. Contextual Criticism involves the necessity to take the authors environment, time period, and cultural factors into account when studying the bible. When, where, and why did the authors wrote is perhaps the most telling part of why the Gospels may be credited to authors who did not write them. Simply put, the social, academic, religious, and literary norms of the Hebrews living in the Levant, and authoring these books support the claims that several various authors wrote the Gospels of the New Testament.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spirituality vs Christian Spirituality vs Catholic Spirituality. What's the difference?

The progression from “spirituality,” to the more precise “Christian spirituality,” and the even more definitive, “Catholic spirituality” is an exercise in precision. These terms become increasingly more easily defined by specificity.
 
“Spirituality,” in the broad sense of the word, has become a generalization. The word alone, without context, is not definitive at all. Just as the word “hat” in no way serves to illustrate the type of hat in question, neither
does the term spirituality. However, just as “hat” serves to describe an item of clothing that one wears on their head, for either fashion or utility, so does “spirituality” serve to describe the facet of our being that illuminates all other aspects of our life through a perceived sense of existential truth. Often times, this also involves a person feeling as if they have discovered some formerly unknown greater purpose to their life. As with most things, spirituality, as an idea, has become increasingly secular. The search for direction, without the perceived restrictions that accompany religion, has resulted in spiritualities that are strangely vague and agnostic.
“Christian spirituality” is much more easily defined, in that it refers to a select group of people with largely similar views of life, death, and the deity that resides at the heart of the fold. Like other religions of the Abrahamic tradition, such as Islam and Judaism, Christianity is monotheistic. What separates Christians from the likes of these other religions is our belief in the Holy Trinity. Christians believe that God, through His son Jesus, has bestowed upon humanity the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit informs our knowledge of Jesus, and therefore God. Christians agree that through the Holy Spirit we are able to become disciples of Jesus, and follow in His footsteps. This allows us to come closer to God spiritually by way of our faith, our acts, and our lives in general.
Christianity, as an institution, has splintered throughout the last 2,000 years, The result has been a collection of religions that are derivative denominations of Catholicism. While this does not mean that the spirituality adhered to is not Christ centered, it does mean that it is different in many key areas. The tenets of Catholicism serve to communicate an even more direct definition of spirituality to it's adherents. In studying a uniquely Catholic spirituality, the operative word is catholic. The best translation of the Greek “Katholikos” is “through the whole.” The “through the whole” translation has been applied two different ways; “quantitative catholicity,” and “qualitative catholicity.” In defining quantitative catholicity St. Cyril said it best:
The Church is called Catholic because she is diffused throughout the whole world from one end of the earth to the other, and because she teaches universally and without curtailment all the truths of faith which ought to be known to men whether they concern visible or invisible things, heavenly things or the things of earth; further because she brings under the yoke of God's true service all races of men, the mighty and the lowly, the learned and the simple; and finally because she tends and heals every kind of sin committed by body or soul and because there is no form of virtue, whether in word or deed or in spiritual gifts of any kind whatever, which she does not possess as her own (Thurston, “Catholic”).
The undiscerning number of people that the Church will evangelize to, and the great breadth of what shall be taught is what makes this quantitative. The Catechism of the Catholic Church does an excellent job of explaining “qualitative catholicity”:
The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection "in seeking and loving what is true and good.”
By virtue of his soul and his spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an "outstanding manifestation of the divine image" (Catholic Church 1704, 1705).
The CCC is illuminating what makes Catholic Spirituality qualitatively catholic. The presence of the Holy Spirit in this process is what qualifies our spirituality as Catholic. By the virtue of the Holy Spirit and the Church we become disciples of Christ.

Source: Thurston, Herbert. "Catholic." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton  Company, 1908. 25 Jul. 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03449a.htm>.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why the Lord’s Prayer is “the fundamental Christian prayer.”

I am a first year catechist for my local church. In teaching, I am learning that my catechumens often already know The Lord's Prayer. More than any other prayer, ritual, or scripture, they know these words.
The anticipation of teaching my first class had me feeling anxious. What would they know? How would I explain the grand concepts and mysteries of faith to six year old children? My first class, and therefore my first lesson, was “Who is God?”. On that first day, when I asked the children “Who is God?” I had a resounding “Our Father!” returned to me. I was impressed. Their knowledge of the Lord's Prayer did not give them deep theological insight, but it certainly gave them a very real and truthful spiritual understanding of God's place in their lives and the love they both expressed and received.

Jesus's acknowledgment of God as “our” Father is a two fold blessing. He is revealing His position as the true Son of God, while also including His Church and disciples as children of God. As we age, we should be cognizant not to suffer the pitfall of dismissing the word “Father” as simple metaphor. Children understand God “our Father” as a truism, and we should do the same. The Lord's Prayer is both a declaration of love and obedience, as well as a plea for fatherly provisions and protection.

The first series of petitions carries us toward him, for his own sake: thy name, thy kingdom, thy will! It is characteristic of love to think first of the one whom we love. In none of the three petitions do we mention ourselves; the burning desire, even anguish, of the beloved Son for his Father's glory seizes us: "hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done. . . . " These three supplications were already answered in the saving sacrifice of Christ, but they are henceforth directed in hope toward their final fulfillment, for God is not yet all in all. The second series of petitions unfolds with the same movement as certain Eucharistic epicleses: as an offering up of our expectations, that draws down upon itself the eyes of the Father of mercies. They go up from us and concern us from this very moment, in our present world: "give us . . . forgive us . . . lead us not . . . deliver us. . . . " The fourth and fifth petitions concern our life as such - to be fed and to be healed of sin; the last two concern our battle for the victory of life - that battle of prayer (CCC 2804-2805).
Just as I am able to depend my our earthly father for care, I am able to petition the Lord with prayer.
Children are taught The Lord's Prayer at such a tender age because it is fundamental to the Christian state of life. As we grow older, and are better able to contemplate the spiritual implications and tremendous depth of this prayer, we can honestly appreciate Jesus' gift for what it is. Both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas recognized the scope of this concept. St. Augustine said: “Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord's Prayer” (CCC 2762). St. Thomas put forth that: “The Lord's Prayer is the most perfect of prayers... In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them” (CCC 2763).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Unity of the Church

The Holy Trinity is the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, and Christianity the world around. There is not a single page of the bible that does not extol the virtues and greatness of the Holy Spirit, God the Father,
or Jesus Christ. “Ideally the church is called to mirror the tri-unity of God, the indivisible unity that binds
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and at the same time acknowledges the distinctive properties of each. In praising one of the three aspects of God, you are praising the three. Understanding the unity of the Trinity is helpful in understanding the unity of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church details this unity in a way that is both succinct and easily understood:
The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this  mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit." The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body." The Church is one because of her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity." Unity is of the essence of the Church (Catechism Catholic Church 813).
Just as the different aspect of the Trinity serve their own distinct purposes, so do the separate congregations and individuals who make up those congregations unify to make the whole of the Catholic Church. Though each person may bring their own individual charisms to the table, and each nation brings it's own specific traditions and idiosyncrasies they all serve the same purpose. They unite as the Church in service to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We serve God the Father as a communion of His people, for it is He that has gathered us together and baptized us in His name. We are People of God. As one, we form the Body of Christ. Jesus is our head and we are His body. As the Head all actions are driven by Him. We are able to fulfill these roles because at we are Temples of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we are moved by, and bound to God the Father, and Jesus Christ.

There are, however, deep wounds to this unity. An organization as large and varied as the Church is just as susceptible to dissidence as any two people would be; in fact, more so. Even the most well mannered and amicable people will find themselves at odds over the most petty of things over a period of time. Why then would a group of people, such as the Church,  contemplating such weighty issues, such as the salvation of our eternal souls and the correct way to worship God the Father Almighty, be any different. Whether or not these divergences are avoidable or not, they happen. Unfortunately, these conflicts have fractured the unity of the Church, and wounded her for the time being. Threats to the Church's unity appeared almost instantaneously upon her inception. Were it not for these wounds, the ecumenical councils may not have been necessary at all. While the first seven ecumenical councils could be said to be dealing with minor wounds, it was the eight council that dealt the most critical blow; culminating in the Great Western Schism. Then again in the 16th century the Protestant Reformation wounded the Church even more. These divisions, along with the discordance amongst the current leaders of the Church, have caused great harm to the unity of the Church. Attempts to quell the bleeding still continue in hopes of once again making the Church whole.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Comparing and Contrasting The Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke both contain accounts of Jesus’ early life in what bible scholars refer to as the Infancy Narratives. Similarities occur in that they are both telling the same tale; minor differences and
changes in focus do exist however. The Matthean and Lukan gospels do not cease to work toward the elucidation of Christ's childhood and divinity.

The common bonds shared between the gospels of Matthew and Luke are many. Both narratives chronicle the angelic visitations that prophesied the virgin birth, that he would be savior, and that he would be named Jesus. Both tell of the conception of the baby Jesus by the Virgin Mary to the Holy Ghost. Matthew and Luke tell of Mary's pregnancy during her betrothal to Joseph. The when and where the birth takes place correlate (Bethlehem and after Mary and Joseph have come to live with one another).

While Matthew and Luke had many similarities, the differences were there. One example of such a difference would be the location of the story. In Matthew, Mary and Joseph live together in Bethlehem and the child is born there at Joseph's house. In Luke however, the couple resides in Nazareth and must travel to Bethlehem where they are denied a room at the inn and forced to bring Jesus into the world in a barn. Another event that is often associated with the birth of Jesus is that of the Magi. These wise men feature prominently in the Gospel of Matthew, however, they do not feature at all in the Gospel of Luke. Perhaps the most crucial difference is the inclusion of Herod in Luke. Herod's fear of the prophecy colors Matthew's telling with angelic visions, mass slaughter, and the eventual death of the king. Luke does not mention Herod at all. The focus on the roles of Mary and Joesph differ as well. Mary plays a more prominent role in Luke than she does in Matthew. Mary is shown to be a consenting and faithful participant in the conception of Christ, while in Matthew her reaction to such a responsibility is not mentioned. Matthew instead gives more attention to Joseph. Matthew tells of Joseph’s visits from the Angel foretelling the birth of Jesus, the exile due to Herod, the family’s return, and subsequent settlement in Nazareth. Luke gives accounts of John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus at the inn, and Jesus’ circumcision, while Luke tells of the wise men, Herod’s murder of the children.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Difference Between The Abrahamic Covenant and The Mosaic Covenant.

The book of Exodus continues the story of the Israelites descended from Abraham. As a people they have come a long way since the Abrahamic covenant. The Covenant made between Abraham and God was fairly
simple and not very demanding compared to the Mosaic covenant that would be established later. Abraham's covenant with God consists of three. The first is the promise of land divinely chosen by God. The second is the assurance of offspring with which to establish a nation. The third is the guarantee of God's blessings and salvation for the descendents of Abraham. Abraham's side of the covenant is comprised of two parts. The the first part requires him to be Holy and obedient. The second part is the covenant of circumcision that dictates that Abraham, his descendents, and those around him must be circumcised as a covenant of the flesh. Those who refuse to be circumcised shall be cast out and removed from the covenant.

Between the time of Abraham and the Patriarchs to the the time of Moses and the Pharaoh the Israelites  had become multitudinous and enslaved. Though they were slaves, they were many and strong. Their strength and numbers were the catalyst for pharaoh's condemnation of the newborn sons to the Hebrews. The fear fostered by this death sentence is what lead to Moses' being placed in a basket and eventual place at court. God had fulfilled his promise to Abraham of many descendents. Their numbers were enough to form a nation of their own. The only remaining promise required to satisfy the treaty was land. The Israelites still needed to be blessed with freedom, leadership, and deliverance to the Holy Land. Moses became instrumental in God's plan for the Israelite's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During their time in the wilderness, en route to the Promised Land, God made another covenant with Abraham at Mount Sinai. God instructed Moses to have the Israelite's complete a series of tasks. Included in these tasks are  the exact items to be sacrificed, how to present that sacrifice, the making of a tabernacle for Him to reside, the exact dimensions and furnishings of  this dwelling, the designation, roles, and adornment of priests, creation of a census, the role of the Levites as caretakers of the tabernacle, the laws of Sabbath, and holiness. Among these laws is the “ten words” or “ten sayings” which have become known as the Ten Commandments. The Mosaic covenant has definite rules, regulations, stipulations, and commands. The Abrahamic covenant was more of a commitment to faith, holiness, and obedience. The covenant with Moses is essentially a verbal and written document detailing the holiness and faith that the Israelites had been expected to exhibit thus far anyway. The Most crucial and radical separation between  the covenant of Abraham and the covenant of Moses is the inclusion of the word “if.”
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel. (Exodus 19:5)
God's covenant with Abraham was unconditional. God's covenant with Moses changed that.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Great Kings of the Old Testament: A Legacy of Good and Evil

With the exception of a certain character found in the New Testament, not a single person in the bible, hero or villain, is without fault. As a matter of fact we find that those who are most prone to great shows of
faith and fidelity are also those who's failures are the most striking. The very first people to make an appearance in the Old Testament disobey God when told not to eat of the fruit. Noah was found drunk and naked, Moses took credit for an act of God, and David was a philanderer and murder. So as it was with the Patriarchs, so it is with the good kings in Deuteronomistic History. How is it that the two Great Kings of the Old Testament, David and Solomon, are seen as both good and evil?
Chronologically, David came first. While David is widely known as a great warrior and one of the two greatest kings of Israel, his sins are often overlooked when telling his tale. He was, however, guilty of a great many. The most prominent of David's sins is the adultery that he commits with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife. It is the sin the ultimately led to other sins. After the affair, Bathsheba finds herself with child.  David then calls Uriah back from the battle front in an attempt to hide the child's true identity. Uriah refuses and David sends him back to the front with orders to have  Uriah abandoned to fight alone and die. David's heinous plan succeeds and he takes Bathsheba as his wife. The Lord is angered:
I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your   master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and  Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you  despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to    you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord (2 Sam. 7-13).
For this David lost his son by Bathsheba, and his other son Absolom went into rebellion. Eventually, David's disobedience resulted in Absolom's death as well. King David also incurred the wrath of God by breaking the covenant and taking a census of all the fighting men in Israel. This time, God's wrath would come in the form of a three day plague that killed seventy thousand people. David's sins were great and many; yet so were his virtues. David's faith in God and bravery in the face of almost certain death helped him slay the giant, Goliath. He was willing to do what the army of Israel was not. This would not even be his only conquest. He would go on the be one of the most revered warriors in Israel. Another testament of David's goodness is his loyalty to God. While he was rife with imperfection, even in the face of sin David would repent and turn back to God. David owned his sins. At no point in time did he blame God for the wrath he received, as a matter of fact he frequently showed remorse for his actions. This goes hand in hand with another attribute of David's; his humility. David was not only faithful to God, but he knew that he would not be able to do anything if it were not for the grace of God. All the good things that King David accomplished were credited to God. Even in slaying Goliath, David had assured Saul that his victory would come with the Lord's aide.
            David's successor was Solomon. He too had trials and tribulations that resulted in both holiness and evil. Just as David was king, so was Solomon. Because of this, Solomon's actions would affect the entirety of Israel.  Unlike David, who's death would still find the kingdom whole, Solomon's legacy would be that of the last king of a united Israel. His exploits as one of the two great kings of the Old Testament are well known. Also much like his father, Solomon's sins tend to get glossed over when reveling in the more positive aspects of his character. Solomon's trajectory toward sinfulness is chronological. As his rule continued, and he got older, Solomon's faithfulness descended into apostasy and disobedience. Solomon was used to living in splendor and opulence. As time went on, Solomon took more stock in his earthly possessions than he did in obedience to the Lord. This desire for luxury extended to his love life:
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—  Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in   love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods,  and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. So the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.  Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the   hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen" (1 Kings 11).
This passage from 1 Kings 11 gives testimony to Solomon's evil deeds. His lavish and heretical marriages, the apostasy that ran rampant due to these wives, and offered up sacrifices to foreign gods. None of this could go unpunished. God swears to divide the kingdom in punishment. Through all of this Solomon remained unrepentant. He died with his kingdom at war, and a promise of division in his heart. Despite these grave trespasses against the lord Solomon was a great and wise king. The story of how Solomon attained his knowledge is also one of humility. When Solomon was made king, God asked him what he desired. Solomon said that he simply wanted wisdom and the discernment of right and wrong to be a good leader for the Israelites. He did not request riches, or lavish things. God was pleased by this, and granted Solomon both wisdom and wealth. The tail of his wisdom is the stuff of legend: 
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as     measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom (1 Kings 4).
Solomon's wisdom helped him do much for the Kingdom of Israel. Along with his great knowledge of the earth, plants, animals, and otherwise; Solomon was a wise judge. People heeded his word, and trusted his judgment. “When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice (1 Kings 3:28).”

Both Solomon and David were great and wise. They were both greedy and vain. They both serve to illuminate that even men of God can commit sins against the Lord.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Abrahamic Covenant

Abraham  makes his first appearance in the Pentateuch in the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis. Abraham is the first founding father, or patriarch, mentioned in the Old Testament.  He is chosen to establish a
covenant with God that eventually results in the 12 tribes of Israel. The Bible makes mention of the covenant between God and Abraham three times in the Book of Genesis. First in Genesis 12, then Genesis 15, and finally again in Genesis 17. This third telling of the covenant is the most comprehensive of the three. It more thoroughly outlines God's intentions for Abraham, and also states what God requires of Abraham in return:
    When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.' Then Abram fell on his    face; and God said to him, 'As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land   where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.'  God said to Abraham, 'As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.  This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.' (Genesis 17:1- 14)
This covenant consists of three promises from God to Abraham. The first is the promise of land divinely chosen by God. The second is the assurance of offspring with which to establish a nation. The third is the guarantee of God's blessings and salvation for the descendants of Abraham. As mentioned above, Abraham's side of the covenant is comprised of two parts. The the first part requires him to be Holy and obedient. The second part is the covenant of circumcision that dictates that Abraham, his descendants  and those around him must be circumcised as a covenant of the flesh. Those who refuse to be circumcised shall be cast out and removed from the covenant.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jesus Christ: Not a first and last name.

“Jesus Christ” has come to seem like a first and last name in modern Christianity. That is not, however the case. Jesus is His name, and has its origins in the Hebrew “Yeshua” or “Yahweh saves.” “Christ” however is
a title. It means “Anointed One.” Being anointed, in itself, was not something that could be considered unique to Jesus. In Hebrew tradition many (priests, prophets, the dead, kings, and kings to be) were anointed with oil when they could be said to have been “commissioned by God.” Jesus could be seen as a culmination of all of these. Prior to His crucifixion Jesus was widely seen as both a prophet and priest (Rabbi). What sets Jesus apart from any of these other people who history had shown to be “anointed” is His death and resurrection. The Cross of the Crucifixion was inscribed with “King of the Jews,” an acknowledgment by Pilate to what Jesus' disciples had been calling Him all along. His Resurrection fulfilled the Messianic prophesy of the Jews that a descendent of King David (and therefore King) would rise from death as King to restore city and the Temple.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Development of the Canon of Scripture

The Catholic Church has identified the canon of Scripture as the entirety of the Bible that Catholics use today. A modest answer to the how the Canon of Scripture came to be is that “It was by the apostolic
Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New (Catholic Church 120).” The simplicity of this statement does, however, belie the great lengths to which Church Fathers went to settle on these 73 books.

The development of the Old Testament had been 1000 years in the making upon the inception of the New Testament. Where it was previously thought that Hebrew Canon had been established far before the arrival of Christ, recent discoveries have shown that it may not have been fixed until as late as 3rd century AD. These Hebrew books were translated into Greek and called the Septuagint. While the Septuagint is a translation of these Hebrew texts, it is believed to have been the work of early Alexandrian Christians. The Septuagint is the basis for the Catholic Old Testament and incorporates  texts that are traditionally not accepted by Jews or Protestants (due to the inclusion of text not found in the Hebrew Bible). These books are known both as Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books. As with the New Testament the Old Testament, and it's inclusion of the “Hidden” Books, were confirmed at the Council of Trent, Vatican 1, and Vatican II.

            By comparison, the compilation of the New Testament was not as lengthy as that of the Old Testament. This is do, in large part, to the struggles of the Church to repress heretical and false teachings, such as that of Marcion, who rejected the Old Testament in favor of an abridged combination of both the Pauline Epistles and the Gospel of Luke. “Thus an official list of accepted writing had the twofold function of insuring the integrity of Christian teaching while rejecting other writing that distorted its meaning (Marthaler 267).” The Protest Reformation instigated the  solidification of the New Testament at The Council of Trent in 1546.

Source:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition. 2nd ed. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney,
         Auckland: Doubleday Religion, 1994. 120. Print.
 Marthaler, Berard. The Creed. 2nd ed. Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty Third Publications, 1993. 267. Print.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The resurrection of Jesus as both a transcendent and a historical event.

Jesus's resurrection three days after his crucifixion seems to be a sticking point for many Christians and non-Christians alike. Many believe that the story of His return might be fabrication made only to fulfill the
prophesies of the Old Testament and placate the wounded spirit of the grieving apostles. With the resurrection itself in question, the transcendental nature of the event would be beyond disbelief as well. The Church however has answers to the questions that arise from these concerns.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness (Catechism of the Catholic Church 639).”  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all agree that the first people to witness indications that Christ had risen were Jesus's female followers; one of whom was Mary Magdalene. The gospels also agree that Jesus appeared to His followers and made Himself known as the Resurrected Christ. The Bible even states that not all of the apostles were convinced of Jesus's authenticity. Some believed that they were seeing a ghost. The often sited tale of St. Thomas goes on to tell of how Jesus allowed Thomas to probe His wounds to verify the legitimacy of the His claims. Paul's letter to the Corinthians claims that Christ appeared to more than 500 people. Another claim to legitimacy is the fervor with which the Apostles spread the good news of Jesus's return. Many of these people were martyred proclaiming his resurrection. Paul had been a Pharisee who had actively persecuted Christians and held the garments of those who wished to stone St. Stephen to death. It was only Jesus's appearance to him on the road to Damascus that converted him.

The transcendent nature of Christ's resurrection is of equal importance as it's historic validity. “Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles' encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history (Catechism Catholic Church 647).” This transcendence is at the heart of the apostle's faith. It was not as if Jesus had simply been resurrected into the same flesh He had inhabited prior to the Crucifixion. He was more. He was, and is, divine. The gospels tell us that He had the ability to enter a room through closed doors. He had the ability to appear to whomever he wanted however he wanted. The resurrection was not a continuance of a previous life, but the assumption of a new everlasting life. This is what He promised, and this is the basis of our faith in life after death. Jesus's new life is a culmination and unity of the Holy Trinity. God, through the Holy Spirit, raised and elevated Jesus to Lordship. All of these happenings lead to his Ascension to the right hand of the Father where he will return to judge the living and the dead.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How historical-critical method of interpretation of the New Testament can enrich our understanding of the Apostle's Creed.

For many the new testament telling of the story of Jesus is joyfully accepted as it is written. It is enriched by the inclusion of allegorical embellishments, spiritual warfare, and divine intervention. There is, however, a
school of thought that touts an analytical approach to the gospels. This technique is called the “historical-critical-method.”

The use of historical criticism in conjunction with the Creed serves to illuminate and give it a depth that it might not have otherwise. “Historical Jesus,” while simplified compared to the gospels as a whole, is considerably more detailed than the accounts of Jesus in the Creed. While the Creed goes to great lengths to espouse the divinity and spirituality of Christ, it does not however, say much about the actuality of Christ’s physical being on Earth (as it is accepted by Historians). The very title of “Apostle's Creed” is given credence by this method due to the historical plausibility of the disciples (apostles) He gathered around him through his teaching. Another positive aspect of the historical-critical method is that it stands to illuminate the world in which the bible took place. Contextually, we serve to learn much about the living world that Jesus and his disciples were a part of; politically, economically, and socially. Without the context that this method provides it would be difficult to ascertain the realism that is present in the gospels. For those on the outside looking in, it takes themes from the Bible from the realm of story telling to that of historical fact.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Catholicism: Upside Down and Backwards

To many non-Catholics the idea that Catholicism is an upside-down backward semblance of reality (as they believe it ought to be: is not far-fetched at all. The Church, rather than simply moving in unison with other
christian denominations, has not “changed with the times.” While some aspect of Catholicism have changed, the recent re-wording of Mass for example, changes to actual doctrine is rare. Even the aforementioned re-wording of mass is only the third such instance of this in the lengthy history of the Church. When the Council of Trent was called in 1545, in response to the protestant reformation, the Church did not soften it's position on subjects that were considered difficult or prohibitive. They reaffirmed them. This was counter to everything that was sweeping the world of Christianity at the time! Ashley McGuire, of The Washington Post, had this to say on the idea of change and the backwardness of the Church:
“Our call to live counter-culturally is as old as the church itself. We believe in a God who lived among us, died for us, and showed us the way to live lives of courage and conviction--whatever our culture. Catholics are called, yes, to engage with the society around them, but not to adapt ourselves to the popular sentiments of our time. Instead, Catholics are called to live in radical service to our God. This includes loving our neighbor as ourselves. This also includes letting go of pleasure as the path to happiness (spoiler: it’s not). There’s nothing modern --or moderate --about that (McGuire).”
In a more metaphorical sense, Catholicism is upside-down in that it acknowledges the fact that our world is just that. It is “upside-down.” That is to say, that the world is upended, dangling, and dependent on the Triune God. Our semblance of normalcy is fragile and wholly contingent on the love of God the Creator. “He who has seen the whole world hanging on a hair of the mercy of God has seen the Truth

Source:

McGuire, Ashley. "The Catholic Church Can't Change." Washington Post [Washington, D.C.]      13 February 2013, n. pag. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.    <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/the-catholic-church-cant-change/2013/02/13/a0b1933a-75fe-11e2-95e4-6148e45d7adb_blog.html>

Monday, April 1, 2013

Reasoning and Faith (Pt. 3): Harmony and Religious Freedom

The harmony of faith and reason in the Catholic Church is an old institution. The knowledge that reason can
serve to illuminate and reinforce the battlements of ones faith is indisputable. It is only through God's authority that we can reason at all.
Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth (Catholic Church 159)." “The miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church's growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability "are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all"; they are "motives of credibility" (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is "by no means a blind impulse of the mind (Catholic Church 156).
Man's God given ability to reason is ultimately a search for the truth. This truth can only be found in God. He is the supreme Truth. This search for the truth, however, is not something that can be forced upon somebody. To do so would be an imposition on free will; a gift which God has given us. That being said religious freedom must be allowed. The knowledge of God's Truth through faith and reasoning can be the guide an individual of another faith needs to be led to the Church. The CCC has this to say on the matter:
To be human, "man's response to God by faith must be free, and... therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act." "God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. "For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it (Catholic Church 160).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reasoning and Faith (Pt. 2): Catholic Universalism

The Catholic Church's knowledge of the necessity for openness and universalism is not as commonly known as we would like it to be. The Church realizes that in order for the faith to flourish and survive, that truth, no
matter where it is found, must be accepted, cultivated, and natural. Belief cannot be forced, and reason cannot be disposed of in the search for faith. In Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II illuminates the reasons why openness and universality are an indisposable part of the Church.
“Faith's encounter with different cultures has created something new. When they are deeply rooted in experience, cultures show forth the human being's characteristic openness to the universal and the transcendent. Therefore they offer different paths to the     truth, which assuredly serve men and women well in revealing values which can make their life ever more human.... To everything they do, they bring something which sets  them apart from the rest of creation: their unfailing openness to mystery and their boundless desire for knowledge. Lying deep in every culture, there appears this impulse towards a fulfillment. We may say, then, that culture itself has an intrinsic capacity to receive divine Revelation. Sought accepted and not coerced (Fides Et Ratio: John Paul II).” 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Reasoning and Faith (Pt. 1): The Transcendental Precepts

The act of reasoning seems like a simple task. People reason things out all the time. You take the environmental stimuli available in conjunction with the knowledge you already have and you make a rational
decision. This decisions making process is called reason. It is, however, more complex than it seems. The cognitive operation of reasoning involves not only a plethora of different sensory inputs (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smell), but also a cavalcade of mental processes. This involves deduction, evaluation, formulation, deliberation and the like. Without processing what it is being experienced in this way, reasoning is impossible. When attempting to understand the reasoning of another, or even yourself, there are considerations that must be made. These considerations involve questions one must ask themselves about the nature of the theories and ideas being put forth. This is because we are striving for truth . In his encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II said;
Through the centuries, philosophers have sought to discover and articulate such a truth.... people seek in different ways to shape a “philosophy” of their own—in personal    convictions and experiences, in traditions of family and culture, or in journeys in search            of life's meaning under the guidance of a master. What inspires all of these is the desire to      reach the certitude of truth and the certitude of its absolute value. (John Paul II).
To find the truth we must ask who, what, why, when, where, and how were these ideas and philosophies formulated? What outside factors colored the reasoning of the person making these claims? In asking these questions one must also inquire about the intentionality and awareness of the person doing the reasoning to these outside factors. Reasoning for the benefit of others necessitates a certain level of accountability. Bernard Lonergan formulated a method to aid with this utilizing the Transcendental Precepts. These precepts espoused the necessity to be attentive, reasonable, intelligent, and responsible. To approach a moral philosophy without the transcendental precepts would result in fallacy. Fortunately, for philosophers and theologians alike, these precepts can be applied to understanding/formulating both theology and philosophy.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Catholicity of the Saints

cath·o·lic·i·ty
n.
1. The condition or quality of being catholic; breadth or inclusiveness.
2. General application or acceptance; universality.
3. Catholicity Roman Catholicism.


Theologian, Jesuit, and Cardinal Anthony Dulles formulated and illumined the notion of the Catholicity of Saints brilliantly in his 1985 book “The Catholicity of The Church.”
Hardly any practice is so distinctively Catholic as the cult of the saints. The Catholic esteems the saints as living embodiments of the gospel and archetypal instances of it's transforming power... Christ's 'being for others' takes root in them. The merits of the saints, though they serve to build up the Church, are not directed only to the Church as a closed community. The Church would not be Catholic if it were simply a mutual aid society based on mutual interest. Its catholicity it to be open without restriction. The saints are those in whom Christ's totally selfless love is present and operative. (Dulles Chapter 5).
What is written here is both succinct and accurate. Saints are venerated, or honored, by practitioners of the Church because of the holiness they exhibited by them through thought and deed. The veneration we have for the saints is different than the adoration associated with God, though those who are not familiar with the faith can find this confusing.

One of the Saints held in most high regard is Saint Francis of Assisi. His life, and subsequent death has influenced people since the 13th century. His example has lead to the formation of the Franciscan order, more recently he has become the namesake for Jorge Mario Bergoglio (the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church), and art and literature beyond measure. Saint Francis was an ordinary Italian man from the small city of Assisi. He lead the stereotypical life of a young wealthy merchant's son. After a brief stint in the army Francis had a vision. In his vision a crucified Christ appeared and said "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins." This vision combined with a life changing sermon in which he heard a reading from Matthew saying:
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave (New Oxford Annotated Bible With The Apocrypha. Matt. 10:6-12).
Francis took these words and vowed to live by them. He gave up all the worldly trappings of wealth, and made it his mission to help those less fortunate than he. He would strive to commit good deeds, and to adhere to a lifestyle of poverty and charity. He was determined  to be a living testament to the life and works of Jesus Christ. Much like Christ upon which the Church is founded, he selflessly gave to all, man and animal alike. His love was universal, and therefore Catholic.

Source: 

Dulles, Avery. The Catholicity of The Church. Oxford Scholarship Online/Oxford University Press, 2003. Chapter 5. eBook. <http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/0198266952.001.0001/acprof-9780198266952-chapter-5>.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Apostolic Succession

How does the apostolic succession of bishops, and of the Pope, contribute to the mark of the Church as “apostolic?”

The Catholic Church regards Saint Peter as the original Pope, and the first in a line of Apostolic succession. “It is as a consequence of the special revelation associated with him that we have the image of “Peter the
confessor of the true Christian faith,” and “Guardian of the faith against false teaching (Marthaler 306).” The apostles became the first bishops of the early Church. Each bishop has a successor, leading to a continuity that endures to this day. This continuity is the basis for the Catholic Church's apostolic. The direction of the Church by these bishops is what is called episcopal authority. It is unbroken and God given.

The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
 - she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles," the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;
- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;
- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor": 
                                                You are the eternal Shepherd
                                                who never leaves his flock untended.
                                                Through the apostles
                                                you watch over us and protect us always.
                                                You made them shepherds of the flock
                                                to share in the work of your Son. . . .(CCC 857).

The sacramental authority bestowed upon the Apostles, the first bishops of the Church, by Jesus, is
what allows for the creation of new bishops through the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Source:

Marthaler, Berard. The Creed. 2nd ed. Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty Third Publications, 1993. 306. Print.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Substitutionary Atonement and The Nicene Creed

How could one Man die for another's sins?

The Creed, though brief, makes specific references to The Passion of Christ within it's first sentence. It is the
last sentence however, that makes reference to the “forgiveness of sins” that is associated with Jesus's death. Many question how it is that another man could die for another persons transgressions against God. There are several different approaches to that subject.

St. Paul believed that it is not God who needs to be mollified for the wrongful conduct of man, it is man who needs to be cured of his apostasy; “God is aggravated by sin, but, like a caring parent, God continues to love the sinner... it is not God's wrath that needs to be propitiated, but the vicious cycle of our rebellion and rage against God that needs to be expiated (Marthaler 156).” Paul also believed that through original sin Adam had doomed himself and his descendents to slavery through sin. It was with Jesus's sacrifice at Calvary that purchased our freedom from sin.

St. Anselm's Theory of Satisfaction is another path to the sentiment of Jesus's dying for “our sake.” Anselm's Satisfaction theory, in essence, posited that the lowly status of man, in comparison to God, would make it impossible for him to truly recompense for his transgressions. Man's punishment could not possibly meet that standard. It was only when God became flesh that he was able to atone both as a man and as a God.

There are also those who believe that to view Christ's sacrifice as purely objective lessens the importance of the subjective nature of what it was he actually did. This does not change the fact that His Crucifixion was something that He did for man, it does alter the emphasis. It takes the emphasis from being on what His sacrifice accomplished as far as reconciliation for sins, and placed it on the fact that Christ lay down His life for those who believe in Him. Theologians seem to agree that Christ's sacrifice must be viewed as both subjective and objective.

Source: Marthaler, Berard. The Creed. 2nd ed. Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty Third Publications, 1993. 156

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Title of "Christ" - Death & Resurrection

How is the Christian meaning of the title “Christ” connected to Jesus’ death and resurrection?

“Jesus Christ” has come to seem like a first and last name in modern Christianity. That is not, however the case. Jesus is His name, and has its origins in the Hebrew “Yeshua” or “Yahweh saves.” “Christ” however is
a title. It means “Anointed One.” Being anointed, in itself, was not something that could be considered unique to Jesus. In Hebrew tradition many (priests, prophets, the dead, kings, and kings to be) were anointed with oil when they could be said to have been “commissioned by God.” Jesus could be seen as a culmination of all of these. Prior to His crucifixion Jesus was widely seen as both a prophet and priest (Rabbi). What sets Jesus apart from any of these other people who history had shown to be “anointed” is His death and resurrection. The Cross of the Crucifixion was inscribed with “King of the Jews,” an acknowledgment by Pilate to what Jesus' disciples had been calling Him all along. His Resurrection fulfilled the Messianic prophesy of the Jews that a descendent of King David (and therefore King) would rise from death as King to restore city and the Temple.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Analogy of Being

At times it seems like the very idea of God is far beyond description. There's a reason for this; He is! The words we use... words like "Father" are misleading in their inability to truly illuminate what He Is. These
difficulties have resulted in what the Church calls The Analogy of Being. The Analogy of Being makes meaningful knowledge of God possible.

The Analogy of Being posits that any observations we as humans may make about God, using ourselves as a reference, are basically true, but far from the actuality of His being. What knowledge we can glean from our own situations pales in comparison to His actuality. We have being, but God is being. The words that a man might use to explain an attribute of God, even at it's most noble, is so inferior to the actuality of God that we must accept it as an analogy. What makes the language we use to give attributes to God so powerful and meaningful is that they are the words we use to describe ourselves at our very best. Humanity at it's best is as close as we can get to the true meaning of God.