Monday, May 18, 2020

Trinity in the current

Keith Ward makes the following comments in the journal Philosophia Christi Vol. 18, No. 2, 2016, p. 280.:

The doctrine of the Trinity may sound rather complicated—but it is not after all surprising that human attempts to understand God should stretch the human mind as far as it can go. Despite these crude and faltering attempts to comprehend the threefold nature of God, it should not be forgotten that the idea of the Trinity is basically very simple. Christians worship God as the creator of the universe, always beyond and greater than the whole of creation. Christians worship God as one who enters into the universe, especially in the person of Jesus, to liberate persons from hatred and greed, and lead them to eternal life. Christians worship God as the Spirit who inspires, guides and strengthens the hearts and minds of created persons, and brings them into the closest loving union with God. God the sustainer of all creation, God revealed and known in the person of Jesus, and God active within human minds and hearts—all these are forms of the one true God. . . . Whatever their interpretations of the Trinity, these are the fundamental beliefs about God that all Christians share.18

Philosophy is current

A little reminder from Michael W. Austin, the president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

“In fact, philosophy is intensely practical. This might sound ludicrous, but philosophers explore issues like the character of God, the true nature of justice, the proper application of scientific knowledge, the structure of good arguments, and the nature of virtue and its connection to human flourishing. All of this is obviously relevant to our daily lives.”

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Where I come from

A little review of my religious background yields the following:

The Brethren in Christ (originally called the River Brethren – with perceived ties to the Dunkards) emerged from Mennonites in the late 1700’s – those living in Eastern Pennsylvania.  My ancestors migrated to Canada – moving to Ontario and then to Saskatchewan (Kindersley).

The emergence into the Brethren movement was based on an attraction that these Mennonites found to Brethren beliefs.  The Brethren originated in Germany in 1708, mixing Pietist belief and practice (deeply personal in reaction to formalism and intellectualism), along with Anabaptist non-conformity and biblical pacifism.

From this group comes a strong sense of an individual approach to matters of faith and a strong stress on loving relationships.

The Brethen in Christ movement was/is in-spired (motivated) by Christ.  You start with Jesus and live in Jesus as you live with others of like belief.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Living in tension

Our new age of the internet (OK, not so new!).

I received a notice to review the updated security and privacy terms on a program called WordFence.  This program helps protects my blog site and another website I own. 

I love to think that I can control everything.  But even security providers know that the Devil is still there!  Here is an excerpt from the updated terms:

Due to the complexity and open nature of the Internet, no transmission of data over the Internet can be 100% secure. There is always a risk that information collected by and/or displayed on the Service may be compromised or accessed notwithstanding the steps we take to secure your information. For example, a third party may unlawfully intercept or access transmissions or private communications, or other users of the Service may abuse or misuse your personal information. Accordingly, you agree that you are providing such information at your own risk.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Healing at a distance

Academics and practitioners are exploring the new world of COVID-19.  One of those explorations is whether healing can be done at a distance.  This is a science based discussion about ehealthcare.  Can conference meetings, data gathering and other health diagnoses be legitimate?

My mind went to Christian healing at a distance.  Is prayer/faith transmitted over a distance (virtually) able to heal the sick?  Do we need to be in the physical presence of someone to see them healed?  How do we see healing in Jesus’ name working?

My denomination has a notorious approach to healing.  James 5 (in the Bible) talks of the in-person approach – along with many other biblical passages.  We have gleaned from those narratives a sense of how Christian healing works – the actual in-person practises that promote healing.

We also play well with prayer requests for healing.  Again, there has been a long history of this approach right back to the beginning of the early Christian church.

And so, we are ready for a pandemic. 

Or are we?   A pandemic pushes us to re-examine how much we believe in healing at a distance.

Do we really understand how our “prayer” diagnosis for healing works?  Can we rightly pray healing in Jesus’ name and know with certainty that there is healing taking place – even if we never meet someone?  How do we monitor healing that happens virtually? 

Here is a thought . . .  

People truly shaped in and by prayer (the ultimate virtual conference meeting and virtual diagnosis center) may be our leaders in regaining a healthy sense of healing at a distance!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Into the future

I’ve just finished auditing three online post-secondary courses in the past two weeks.  Which really means I listened to around 120 videos (each about 10-15 minutes long).

All three courses were on history, basically covering from 0 AD through 2013 AD.

What a quick reminder of the place of the “people” in history.  We seek for power, wealth, and wisdom in deadly cycles.  We seem to affirm that to kill off our opponents will bring purity.  We act as though we are God.  That doesn’t work well.

And somehow in the battles and the reigns of kings and kingdoms, we see that old phrase arise – “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  And then that next phrase, “take heed lest you fall.”

And somewhere in the midst of “reading” all this history, I catch that glimpse when I look to the periphery, that there is a God – a “beyond us” being.  Who judges, and yet loves – who knows all, and yet gives free will – who controls all, and yet hears pleadings.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

He is Risen

I receive a daily reminder of events in Christian History over the centuries.  Today, Easter Sunday of 2020, had the following entry. 

April 12, 1944: The National Religious Broadcasters Association is founded in Columbus, Ohio, in order to represent and build the credibility of Evangelical Christian broadcasters after a set of regulations, proposed by the Federal Council of Churches, banned paid religious programming and limited broadcast personalities to denominationally approved individuals, effectively removing Evangelicals from the airwaves.

I wonder how the message of Christ resurrection would have been published in Jesus’ day?  Who would have published the headlines?  What would have been said? 

“He is risen.” 

How would this have been written – according to women, to soldiers, to disciples, to religious leaders, to the ordinary person?

Perhaps I’m asking too much.  As a person trained in archives, I know that documents don’t always survive.  The question then is whether the documents we do have are reliable.  I recognize that they may contain a bias.  But to the best of the author’s ability, is this reporting or just wishing?

Without turning this into a full-blown research paper, I go with what is found in the Bible.  Reliable and proven over the centuries through word and deed.

He is risen.  He is risen indeed.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

On dying

As I was writing this post, I received word that a friend of mine had just died of a heart attack.  The post seemed to make all the more sense!  Here is what I had written.

A best seller made the way around Europe – called the “Ars Moriendi”.  The date was around 1415 and was in part inspired by the Black death (the Bubonic Plague) of 60 years earlier.

The Art of Dying (Ars Moriendi) was read by a population that had experienced a pandemic of huge proportions.  The text was put together by the Catholic Church to help Christians address their own deaths.

In this last month we have become a society that needs to consider our own deaths outside of scientifically (psychologically, socially, medically, mathematically) proposed approaches.  In 2015 a book examining the idea of the Ars Moriendi was published.  The authours wrote an academic tome examining where we are at in the 21st Century – how we have moved from art to technology/scientism in our approach to death.  [Lydia S. Dugdale, editor.  Dying in the twenty-first century:  toward a new ethical framework for the art of dying well. MIT Press, 2015]. 

While I have not read the enitre text, here is a part of Dugdale’s text that describes the original “Ars Moriendi” from the 1400’s.

“These books emphasize that a Christian can prepare for a good death by leading a repentant and righteous life.  They argue that the dying faithful should not fear death, since God is in control of every moment including death itself.  The texts warn against temptations to unbelief, despair, impatience, pride and avarice and lead the dying through a series of questions for reaffirming belief and receiving consolation. 

The Ars Moiendi texts also prescribe specific practices and prayers that might be performed by attendants on behalf of the dying – activities that would , in turn, encourage them to prepare for their own deaths”

I wonder if it is time to write another book on the “ART” of dying versus the many texts we have on the “TECHNOLOGY” of dying?

Friday, April 3, 2020

An idea for the day

From a friend of mine (thanks, Carol).  One of those thoughts that just pop into her mind, formed in poetry and rich with content.

It seems to me that we’re in a time of:

Sketching all of our plans in pencil

Engraving our commitments in stone

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Church is changing

Well, a new age is dawning – and its not the age of Aquarius!

If church can be virtual, how is communion to be conceived?  Can this be done online, or do we need to be present together?  Who are the officiants?  And many more questions.

Here is a reply to one such thread that I posted today:

In the 1970’s, at Canadian Bible College, the question was whether we could hold communion off campus without a faculty member present. A question of the officiant (sacramental view).

Soon the question was whether there was real presence in the elements – and not just symbols. A desire to go deeper than just a picture but not as far as transubstantiation. A question of the efficacy of communion.

Then we moved to the matter of community – not just a selfish act but one of communion in community. A question of ecclesiology and how we combat selfishness.

Now we are into the whole question of virtuality. There is connectedness (community), but not presence (physical) of the participants. I have been affected by the Salvation Army over the years – they did not have baptism or communion for some time (although in the past decades they have questioned that). There would be no problem with virtuality in this case.

So, just studying historical precedents, you can pick one side or the other.

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